NFL Hall of Fame Debate Saturday

Before getting to the Hall of Fame dispute, here is a Coors Lite knockoff commercial that is a hilarious spoof of the tirade from a couple of years ago by Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy.

Michael Irvin’s Hall of Fame Speech is one that should be played to every child in every school across America.

As for 2010, 25 men have been nominated as semifinalists for the 2010 NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement.

Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith are locks to be first ballot entries. This is as close to beyond dispute as beyond dispute can be. The other 23 is where the debates come in.

Lack of Super Bowl rings cannot be a deciding factor. Dan Marino has no rings. Trent Dilfer has one.

Statistics do matter, and great players can be on bad teams. Teams should not be rewarded for too few entries or too many enshrinees. Also, the bias against special teams players is nuts. They play football.

Also, the notion of having too many players from one position entering at the same time should be discounted. It does not matter.

Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Tim Brown are the top 3 receivers of all time. Rice had the most touchdowns, Carter had the best hands, and Brown excelled as a receiver and a return man. All 3 of them merit inclusion since they are the 3 very best.

Cliff Branch should get in, but he will not this year. Some will say that a conspiracy against the Raiders exists. This is true, but not for the reasons people think. Exactly 9 players from the 1970s Raiders and Steelers are in Canton. The Raiders and Steelers play this week, and the voters might not want more Raiders than Steelers in the Hall from that era simply because the Steelers won 4 Super Bowls. As great as those Raiders were, one reason John Madden took so long to gain entry was that they only won one Super Bowl. They went to 5 straight AFC Title Games, the only team to ever do so.

Also, while the Steelers were the team of the 1970s and the 49ers the team of the 1980s, that artificial metric is just that. From 1976 to 1985, and equally valid time period, the Raiders were the best team, winning 3 Super Bowls. Nevertheless, Branch was not as good as the top 3 of all time.

For this reason, Andre Reed and Shannon Sharpe will get in, but not this year. Also, Reed and Branch worked with the same quarterback. The top 3 had multiple quarterbacks and still excelled.

With Running backs, Smith is in. Terrell Davis is a very close call, but he eventually should get in. Gale Sayers only played 6 years, and he is in. The Broncos do not win anything without Davis. He played in the Super Bowl with a migraine. He is not first ballot. Roger Craig was good, but not Hall of Fame good.

The Quarterbacks are Randall Cunningham and Phil Simms. I do not think either of them get in. They belong in the “Hall of very good,” not the Hall of Fame.” Both of these quarterbacks played with ferocious defenses, and when people think of their respective teams, Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor come to mind, as do Buddy Ryan and Bill Parcells. The offenses were quite good, but these were defensive teams.Had the 1998 Vikings not had a spectacular playoff collapse, maybe a case could be made, but it is still close.

With offensive linemen, Russ Grimm gets in. None of “the Hogs,” are in and that should change. Dermonti Dawson of the Steelers played after legendary center Mike Webster, but Dawson was not as good as Grimm. The Redskins won Super Bowls by running the Counter Tres.

7 linebackers are nominated, all of them repeat nominees. Charles Haley, John Randall, Chris Doleman, Kevin Greene, Cortez Kennedy, Richard Dent, and Ricky Jackson are all knocking on the door. The Hall has more offensive players than defensive ones, and their is a sensitivity to a perceived offensive bias. The problem is that the top 3 receivers were more impressive than the top defensive backs.

Haley, Randall, Doleman, and Greene all had plenty of sacks. Jackson played on one of the top linebacking corps of all time with Pat Swilling and Sam Mills. RIchard Dent complemented Mike Singletary, and Cortez Kennedy played with Jacob Green and Joe Nash. Doleman and Randall are often rewarded for their personalities, especially Randall. Greene was the long haired guy that rushed for 3 teams. Yet most of them will have to wait. Haley is the lord of the rings, with 5 of them. He gets in this year. Randall, Doleman and Grenee could get in later on, while Jackson will have to wait longer and Dent even longer than that. Kennedy has the slimmest chance.

As for contributors, Paul Tagliabue, Art Modell, and Don Coryell are nominated. “Air Coryell” must get in. Sid Gilman is in, and Gilman taught Al Davis and Don Coryell, whose AFL teams combined for 80 point games. Mike Martz learned from Don Coryell. So did Bill Walsh. The Chargers never won the big one, but the Cardinals under Coryell were very good, and sunk after he left. Art Modell may get in, but not yet. Coryell is more deserving. Moving the Browns was a black eye for the league, and while Davis moved the Raiders, he also moved them back.

Paul Tagliabue followed a legend in Pete Rozelle, but Rozelle followed a legend in Bert Bell. Tagliabue absolutely should get in. The modern NFL, including fat television contracts and labor peace, belong to Tagliabue. He might have to wait one more year only because Coryell is on the ballot.

Cornerbacks are represented by Lester Hayes and Aeneas Williams. Williams gets in. He played on some terrible Cardinals teams, and shined. Hayes played on some great teams, and in 1983 he was not even the best cornerback on the team. Mike Haynes was all world, and Hayes benefited from playing with Haynes. The stickum was irrelevant. Hayes was a great player. Hayes might get in, but Williams is more deserving.

Special teams is a an area of shame with the hall. Jan Stenerud is the only special teams player in the Hall. Ray Guy is the greatest punter of all time. Steve Tasker is the greatest special teams player of all time. Blocked punts turn around games, and Tasker had them. As for Guy, the 1980 Raiders beat the Chargers in the AFC Title Game because Guy had a 56 yard punting average, including a 71 yarder. They are both deserving, and will both get screwed again. Eventually they should get in.

Another area of shame is that coordinators and other staffers do not get consideration. Sometimes a guy is not qualified to be a head coach, but is an amazing assistant. Football is a specialized game. Bob McKittrick was and Joe Bugel is great with offensive lines. Dick Lebeau is a defensive mastermind. The Zone Blitz defense was passed from Lebeau to Dom Capers, and it stopped the West Coast Offense. It is better than the 46 Defense of Buddy Ryan and Jeff Fisher. Dick Lebeau should absolutely get in one day, and it is ridiculous that coaches below the head coaching level get shafted.

So the final 8 should be Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Don Coryell, Russ Grimm, Charles Haley, and Aeneas Williams.

Let the debate begin.


Now on to this week’s games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers At Carolina Panthers

(Panthers by 5.5, they cover)

St. Louis Rams At Chicago Bears

(Bears by 9, they win but fail to cover)

San Diego Chargers At Cleveland Browns

(Chargers by 13.5, they win but fail to cover)

San Francisco 49ers At Seattle Seahawks

(Pick em, Seahawks win)

Minnesota Vikings At Arizona Cardinals

(Vikings by 3, they cover)

Dallas Cowboys At NY Giants

(Cowboys by 2.5, upset special, Giants win outright)

New England Patriots At Miami Dolphins

(Patriots by 4, they win but fail to cover)

Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers

(Packers by 3, upset special, Ravens win outright)


2 Responses to “NFL Hall of Fame Debate Saturday”

  1. I’d slightly disagree with your “should be in” list. I say:

    Rice, Carter, Brown – yes, this should be a WR heavy year. It’s just a quirk of history that these guys all came in around the same time in an era of pass-heavy teams in the NFL.

    Smith – yes, no doubt about it. Not the greatest back of all time, but definately one of the all-time greats, and he certainly played with the most heart ever for an all-round back. I’ll never forget when he almost broke his neck diving for a TD – IN THE PRESEASON!

    You waaaaaay underestimate Sayers. His career was just as long as Davis’, and Davis played for a team that was always destined to win SB’s if only they had a rushing game. With Shanahan, they had that rushing game, and sure enough Davis and the Broncos benefitted greatly from that. Sayers did not have the prolific rushing yards Davis had, but remember, he also was a brilliant receiver and return man, and he played in a very different NFL era, with a shorter season and a tough road for running backs, especially in the NFC and his division. He was a brilliant all-round athlete. Sayers should most definitely get in.

    I agree with you about Simms and Cunningham (I don’t even think Simms was all that “good”). Both are generally considered very “good” players. Cunningham, if anything, was teribbly underestimated, blamed for everything that went wrong for the Eagles in that time, and in the times that he played, his particular strengths were not considered very useful in the NFL. He was always considered more of a college-style option QB. He was better than that. Had he played for different teams, or in different times, he probably would have won a ring or two. Cunningham was the better of the two, but I agree that neither should get in, at least not now.

    I can’t believe Modell is even in. After what he did to Cleveland… well, let’s just say what he did to that historic NFL city overrides every good thing he ever did for the NFL, IMHO.

    Don Coryell is an interesting pick. He’ll be a fav among coaches and sportswriters. I think he’ll get in.

    Where ever Grimm goes – as a player or a coach, teams win. That’s pretty much all you need to know about him. I like him in.

    Charles Haley must get in. He was truly that great.

    As for Williams and Hayes, I think again it comes down to historical context. Hayes may have played for great teams, but he certainly didn’t have it easy. The AFC was brutal in those days, and that division only got better as his career went on. Rushing was everything in those days and so he didn’t have the opportunities to make plays that Williams had, especially considering ridiculous amount of time Williams spent on the field because of those dreadful offenses on his teams. I don’t know if either should get in this year.

    As for who will get in…

    Smith, Rice, Carter, Simms, Coryell, Grimm, Haley. It’s gonna be a Dallas Cowboy HoF.


  2. blacktygrrrr says:

    Clarification is in order. Gale Sayers was one of the great football players of all time. He is in the Hall of Fame, as he absolutely should be. My comment about Terrell Davis as it relates to Sayers was that playing only 6 years should not be a disqualification automatically. Davis is a close call, Sayers was an easy call.


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