By Tom E. Curran
Asante Samuel belongs in the Hall of Fame like I deserve a Pulitzer.
What brought that on? This:"No one that's come into the league with me or before me that's played my position, or even, I'm going to say, any defensive back should be going to the Hall of Fame before me. That's just what it is. Nobody should make it before me."
That gem, uttered by the erstwhile Patriots corner, hit the ears of Paul Domowitch when Domo was down in Atlanta this month.
As the Hall of Fame presenter for the Philadelphia market, Domowitch has been having his posterior smooched by Samuel for years. So when the writer went to visit Samuel - who was traded to the Falcons for a seventh-round pick - Samuel saw an opportune time to lobby for his Hall-worthiness.
Hence, the delusional quote found above.
Asante Samuel has been a good pro since 2003 when he was a fourth-round pick out of Central Florida. Some years, he's been excellent. His ability to intercept passes is his forte. Great ball skills, great anticipation, terrific quickness. As an overall defender - coverage, tackling, playing within the scheme and making the entire defense better - he's a B player. Hall of Famers are A players.
Charles Woodson, a Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, and a seven-time All-Pro is the first guy I think of when Samuel says nobody should get inducted over him.
Then I think of Champ Bailey. Then Ty Law. And Darrelle Revis might be a post-Samuel corner who needs consideration.
Samuel's picked off 45 passes. He's returned five for touchdowns in the regular season and returned another four for scores in the postseason. Good stuff.
But when Asante Samuel truly had a chance to set himself apart and make some history Hall of Fame voters would remember when they do their deliberations, he would have done well to have caught the most important pass that ever came his way.
During the New York Giants' final drive in Super Bowl XLVII, Eli Manning threw high toward the right sideline and Samuel mis-timed his jump. The ball hit his hands and then the ground and - as it turned out, - that was the last, best chance the Patriots had to preserve the only 19-game perfect season.
Sooooo, that kinda leaves a mark. You gotta love Samuel for conning himself into believing he's one of the best ever. You also have to wonder where he gets his version of reality.