January 23, 2016

The Denver Broncos have three finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2016, and all of them will serve as honorary captains for Sunday's AFC championship game against New England.

Safeties John Lynch and Steve Atwater and running back Terrell Davis will participate in the coin toss against the New England Patriots, who will be represented by former cornerback Ty Law.

Hall of Fame elections will be on Feb. 6 in San Francisco.

''That's awesome,'' Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. ''I played with one of them, coached the other ones. They're great players, great Broncos, great players in this league, great people. So, it'll be a great day all around and having them with us to start, that'll be pretty cool.''

Patriots owner Robert Kraft invited Law to participate.

''Ty Law has been a part of so many big playoff moments for our franchise over the years,'' Kraft said, ''and I am so glad he can join us once again for Sunday's AFC championship game in Denver.''

Another former defensive back, safety Adrian Wilson, will serve as Cardinals honorary captain. Wilson works for the team as a scout.


I LIKE IT, I LOVE IT: The Pro Football Hall of Fame has lined up Tim McGraw for its Concert for the Legends on Aug. 5, the night before the induction ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.

McGraw is better known in the sports world for being the son of the late Tug McGraw, a standout relief pitcher with the Mets and the Phillies. But McGraw, also a noted actor, who has had roles in such football-themed films as d ''Friday Night Lights'' and ''The Blind Side.''

''I love football. It teaches us so much about life, commitment, courage and integrity,'' McGraw says. ''I'll be joining my buddy Brett Favre, along with more than 100 Hall of Fame Gold Jackets and thousands of fans for a celebration of this great game.''

Favre is a finalist for the Hall of Fame's class of 2016. McGraw recently co-produced and narrated a documentary, ''Favre Returns,'' about the former quarterback.


A BIG HIT: The winner of Denver's big hit award for the week? None other than defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

The 68-year-old coach was standing on the sideline last weekend against Pittsburgh when Martavis Bryant collided with him after the Steelers receiver got pushed out of bounds. Phillips landed hard on the ground, but quickly bounced back up.

On Thursday, Phillips, the architect of Denver's top-ranked defense, said he was feeling fine. He's hoping Bryant is all right, too.

''They say he's not going to play until next August,'' Phillips cracked.


VERNON'S VOYAGE: Denver's Vernon Davis hasn't caught a pass since Dec. 20. Still, the veteran tight end is preparing like he could be the difference on Sunday against the Patriots.

''I always visualize myself getting in there and helping this team win,'' Davis said.

The Broncos acquired Davis from San Francisco on Nov. 2 in a move that was viewed as a strong addition for Peyton Manning. Davis was a big target over the middle, just like Julius Thomas when he was with the Broncos; Thomas left last year for Jacksonville as a free agent.

''Coming here, I expected myself to jump right in and be Superman,'' Davis said. ''Doesn't always happen like that.''

Davis has gone three straight games without a catch. He's not sulking, though, just working more. He's staying late after practice to catch passes and studying extra film, just to get a better grasp of the complicated offense.

''I wish I had gotten here during training camp. That would've been nice,'' said Davis, who's caught 20 passes for 201 yards since joining Denver. ''One thing about sitting back and watching your teammates win - it gives you extra fire. It gives you a sense of urgency. It gives you the will to go and practice and work even harder.

''Because you never know when your time is going to come.''


NICE AND TIGHT: Looking for a blowout in the NFC title game Sunday? Don't count on it, if recent history is a fair guide.

In each of the last eight conference championship matchups, the margin of victory has been one score. The most decisive victories were a pair of seven-pointers: Arizona over Philadelphia 32-25 in the 2008 season, and Green Bay over Chicago 21-14 for 2010.

Want some extra excitement? Four of the last eight NFC championships have gone to overtime, including two wins by the New York Giants, one by New Orleans, and one by Seattle last year.


AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this notebook.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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