While remembering a time when it was actually an advantage to have a bye in the first round of the playoffs ...


I talked to Emmitt Smith for a column I did in today's paper. I asked him about Adrian Peterson's contract situation. Peterson is due to make $10.72 million in 2011. After that, his contract is due to void. Would Smith hold out if he were Peterson and he didn't have a long-term deal by the time training camp rolls around.

Smith, who held out for the first two games in 1993, his best season, said he would. Smith said he doesn't think the Vikings will let it come to that, even though it's obvious the team has about a zillion other things it has to take care of before it can climb back to a competitive level in the NFC North.

"I believe the Minnesota Vikings shouldn't force Adrian to [hold out]," Smith said. "It's amazing how teams want players to be committed to them, but they aren't committed to players. In Adrian Peterson's case, he is a special kind of guy. and if the Minnesota Vikings believe in Adrian Peterson the way I think they do, then they will do something so that he doesn't have to make that decision to hold out."

Peterson and his agent, Ben Dogra, probably will be looking for a long-term deal in the neighborhood of $25 million guaranteed. That's some spiffy neighborhood, but if any running back has earned it, it's Peterson.

BTW, I don't know how many Vikings fans would want to spend a weekend with a former Cowboy, but if you do, go to this website to see how you can win a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's enshrinement weekend (Aug. 5-7), where Smith would serve as your host.

BTW II, Emmitt's 18,355 career yards rushing is 4,951 yards ahead of the next active rusher, LaDainian Tomlinson, who ranks sixth. At 31, LT obviously won't catch Smith.

The closest active player still in his 20s is the Rams' Steven Jackson, who ranks 44th overall. Jackson is 27 and a mere 10,407 yards behind. Peterson, 25, is 12,573 behind Smith.

BTW III, I asked Emmitt to settle the ongoing spat between Adrian Peterson and the Titans' Chris Johnson. So, Emmitt, who's the best back in the league: Peterson or Johnson.

Emmitt went with Door No. 3.

"Right now, this year, it has to be [Houston's] Arian Foster," Smith said. "He led the league in rushing, right? That's who the best is right now. Chris Johnson was the best last year, but last year was last year. The thing about the National Football League that I appreciate that most people may not appreciate is the consistency it takes. Do you want to be the best running back one yar, two years, three years, five, 10? I always tried to be the best back every time I stepped foot on the football field."


I also asked Smith about this year's Hall of Fame class. Smith went in last year in his first year of eligibility. The combined time that it took the selection committee to discuss the merits of Smith and Jerry Rice took about 30 seconds.

"I think Deion Sanders is a shoe-in, a lock this year," Smith said. "I don't think there's any question about his ability and his contribution to the game. I'd also say Marshall Faulk is a guy who is going to be chosen. Those would be my two picks. After that, it's a toss-up."

What about Cris Carter, I asked Smith. If Sanders and Faulk are the only two he sees as certain picks, that would leave Carter battling 12 other modern-era candidates for potentially three spots.

"This year should be a good opportunity for him to get in," Smith said. "But you also have Tim Brown out there. Andre Reed, too. I think Cris has had a Hall of Fame-type career and probably deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Good guy. Been a great player. Overcame adversity. His story is a great story, but I just don't know if with the new players coming up, whether people are going to make that vote for him. I can't make that call."


Man, when Bill Belichick dumps you, you fall hard, dontcha?

Randy Moss spent 26 days with the Vikings, cussed out the Tinucci's caterer, got cut, got signed by the Titans and then disappeared.

Meanwhile, things haven't gone all that well for Laurence Maroney since Belichick shipped him off to Denver. Maroney had just 74 yards rushing on 36 carries (2.1) for an awful team. And now he's been arrested on weapons charges in St. Louis.

Of course, Belichick didn't have a good weekend, either.

His upset loss to the Jets dropped the B & B Boys (Belichick and Brady) to 0-3 in their last three postseason games. The first loss came in the Super Bowl when they were 18-0. The second one came at home in a 33-14 pounding by the Ravens last year. And Sunday's came when they were 14-2. And it came against a Jets team they had beaten by 42 points six weeks earlier.

Belichick still deserves the utmost respect and will win more Super Bowls with this young team. But there's no question he'll have to fight Rex Ryan every step of the way from here on out. In the past two years, Ryan and Belichick both have 24 victories. As for postseason wins over the past two years, Ryan leads 4-0.


The next time a coach harps about the importance of earning a bye for the playoffs, feel free to call baloney on him.

Since 2005, teams that get the bye are 12-12 in their first games. They were 2-2 this year, and the two that lost were the top seeds in each conference (Atlanta, New England).

What gives? These two teams were a combined 27-5. They got a week off to rest and prepare. They got to play at home. And they lost.

Home-field advantage just isn't what it used to be. For example, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is 24 and in only his second NFL season. Yet he already has four road playoff wins. That's as many as Dan Marino (one) and Brett Favre (three) had combined in their entire careers.

Favre was 3-7 in road playoff games. Aaron Rodgers is now 2-1 and actually favored as a No. 6 seed to win at Chicago and advance to the Super Bowl.