32 More NFL Hall of Fame Discussions

The Oakland Raiders flag is at half staff today with the loss of Jack “Assassin” Tatum. He played the game on defense as it should be played. The game of football is brutal, and the hit that made him infamous (unfairly) led to shortened life spans for the receiver and himself. Farewell Mr. Tatum.

Continuing with football, ESPN recently ran an outstanding column of 32 National Football League stars who should be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.


The goal was to name one player from each team. The list was not flawless. For instance, Kurt Warner is listed with the Cardinals even though any induction of him should be with the Rams.

Nevertheless, I shall continue the conversation by adding at least 32 more names. I am avoiding completely obvious names such as Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Ray Lewis.  Let the discussions begin!

Oakland Raiders: Ray Guy is the greatest punter of all time, This bias against special teams is insane. Special teams is a major part of the game. Shane Lechler is the best punter in the game today, and perhaps the best since Ray Guy. Regarding the Raiders of the 1970s, they already have 9 players in the HOF, equal to Pittsburgh. Given that the Raiders only won one Super Bowl, there is hesitation to put any more players in the Hall ahead of Pittsburgh. Coach Tom Flores won two Super Bowls but gets overlooked as a mere “maintainer” of a great team. Left tackle Steve Wizniewski went to 11 Pro Bowls.

Chargers: Don Coryell should have been inducted a long time ago. His recent death should not be a factor. The work of his football life merits inclusion. He was one of the greatest offensive coaches of all time. Lack of a Super Bowl ring should have zero baring in football.

Broncos: Terrell Davis—He should get in under the Gale Sayers exemption. Davis only played running back for six years, but the bottom line is that the Broncos do not win any Super Bowls without him. John Elway needed him, and his courage in playing in Super Bowl with migraines was epic.

Chiefs: Joe Delaney—This is a tough one because the HOF should be about heroism on the field. Yet sometimes off the field achievements are so great that exceptions should be made. Delaney was a promising running back in his 3rd year when he drowned on July 4th, 1983. Despite not knowing how to swim, he dove in the water, and saved one of three children. The other two died with him. He died a hero, and the Hall should somehow reflect that.

Rams: The Greatest Show on Turf could send several people to the HOF. Quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk, tackle Orlando Pace, and receiver Isaac Bruce all have legitimate shots. Yet the Mad Scientist of it all was offensive coordinator Mike Martz. He absolutely should get in one day, although there is an anti-Martz bias due to his perceived arrogance. His offenses back it up. He did not fix Detroit, but nobody has. His stint in Chicago will be a boost to his chances if he succeeds there.

49ers: So many great players and coaches have come and gone through this organization, especially during the dynasty of the 1980s and early 1990s. Yet the architects of the dynasty should be given a large share of the credit. Owner Eddie DeBartolo and President Carmen Policy should both get in. Debartolo may be denied due to his connections to a gambling sting involving former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. Yet as long as Debartolo did not bet illegally on football, he should get in. The late offensive line coach Bob McKittrick is praised as one of the very best.

Seahawks: While the team never won it all, the defenses of the 1980s had a standout front four including Jacob Green and Joe Nash. Neither of them alone may get in, but as a duo they wreaked havoc. In the current era, Walter Jones might be the greatest left tackle of all time.

Cardinals: In another example of off the field heroism, defensive standout Pat Tillman died serving his country in Afghanistan. He already has a special exhibit in the HOF, which may be enough. He only played four years in the NFL, and was very good. On the quarterback front, Neil Lomax and Jim Hart both had some great seasons, and being trapped on very bad teams should not be their fault. Hart benefited form being coached by Coryell, and the team suffered when Air Coryell left.

Dolphins: Dan Marino is the reason that a Super Bowl ring is not the determining factor. His receivers from the 1980s Mark Duper and Mark Clayton should be looked at.

Bills: With Ralph Wilson, Jim Kelly, and Thurman Thomas already in, Andre Reed should get in soon enough. With so many great receivers from Tim Brown to Cris Carter ahead of him, it may take longer than it should. Coach Marv Levy is a Hall of Famer.

Jets: Curtis Martin was a tireless workhorse in good times and bad. He was the heart and soul of the Jets for many years, and one of the best running backs of his era.

Patriots: Tedy Bruschi—This is another example where heart and desire should trump statistics. Bruschi was a great football player on a dynasty. Yet if his numbers alone did not seal the deal, his becoming the first NFL player to come back from a stroke to play football should be an inspiration to us all. The first collision he was in during his first game back was a routine, normal uneventful play. Yet it mattered. His three Super Bowl rings help his case.

Giants: Bill Parcells—If the Tuna would ever retire, he would get in. Football is his narcotic. The man has gone to five teams, and succeeded with all five of them in two seasons or less. His two rings with the Giants are good, but his legacy is his coaching tree that includes five more rings between Bill Bellichick, Tom Coughlin, and Sean Payton. Lawrence Taylor had his football skills enhanced by Parcells

Cowboys: Owner Jerry Jones has three rings, but even some Cowboys fans will never forgive him for firing Tom Landry. Nevertheless, he built the Cowboys into winners, and continues to set the standard for NFL owners in terms of marketing innovations, including his billion dollar stadium. Old school cowboys root for former President Tex Schramm. Besides, a Cowboys man named Tex…just feels right.

Redskins: The late owner Jack Kent Cooke turned the Redskins into the premiere entertainment event in Washington, DC. Politicians answered to him. With Joe Gibbs in, his players should be looked at, John Riggins ran the team to a Super Bowl. Also, with Russ Grimm in, Joe Jacoby and Jim Lachey should be looked at. Joe Theismann probably falls short due to all the help he had.

Eagles: A pair of coaches did not always have the best players. Andy Reid and Dick Vermeil both took over losers and turned them into winners. Neither of them won a Super Bowl in Philly, but they both did more with less.

Steelers: Coach Bill Cowher won one Super Bowl, but his team was virtually always in the hunt. Mike Tomlin won another Super Bowl mostly with Cowher’s team. While the entire Steeler family mourns the recent loss of his wife Kaye Cowher due to skin cancer, this is not about sympathy. She and her husband were a team, and he won many games with her at his side. Cowher is a winner.

Ravens: Ozzie Newsome is one of the best executives in the game. While he was a great tight end, his drafting of players has been superb. From a diversity standpoint, he has opened the door for many other minority executives, and he did it on merit. Left tackle Jonathan Ogden was one of the best.

Browns: I could get stoned to death for mentioning former owner Art Modell. Yes, his name is a curseword, and he should always have an asterisk next to his name for what he did to the city of Cleveland. Also, his stubborness led Jim Brown to retire while he was at the top of his game. Yet his nearly half a century of service as an NFL Owner is every bit as important as his fellow owners, many of who from that era are already in.

Bengals: The Bengals were so bad for so long that many people forget that this team had some good years in the 1980s. Quarterback Boomer Esiason and offensive lineman Anthony Munoz merit at least a look.

Vikings: Despite four losses in the big game, Bud Grant should be in the HOF. He coached the team that dominated the conference for an entire decade.

Packers: Vince ombardi is the Green Bay figure who towers over everybody, and rightfully so. Yet Bart Starr was no slouch. Guard Jerry Kramer made the most famous block in Pro Football history in the Ice Bowl, which merits some discussion. All the championships help matters. At some point, the Walrus, also known as Coach Mike Holmgren, should get in. His Super Bowl win is followed by a fabulous coaching tree consisting of Jon Gruden, Andy Reid, and several others. The late defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur should be looked at.

Bears: Chicago means defense, and defense means the 46. Defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan was one of the best ever at his position,  He was not bad as a head coach, better than average. This is one reason that the HOF should go beyond head coaches and look at coordinators and other assistant coaches. Devon Hester should continue to be allowed to return kickoffs and punts. It is mystifying that the Bears have reduced this electric playmaker for some wide receiver catches. He could get in if special team ever gets looked at again.

Lions: Special teams, again and again and again, must be looked at. Mel Gray was one of the best, and this was before the kickoff line was moved back. He was a game changer as a return man.

Colts: Peyton Manning is phenomenal, but he has been very lucky to have had  several rocks of consistency around him. Most quarterbacks do not get an entire career with the same center in Jeff Saturday, the same left tackle in Tarik Glenn, and the same offensive coordinator in Tom Moore. Moore is another example of an assistant coach who must get in despite not being a head coach. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd is among the best. President Bill Polian built the team. He is one of the best executives in the history of the NFL. His election should be a certainty.

Titans: While the tragic death of Steve McNair should not play any role in his selection, his career alone should get him in. However, pure heart and muscle should allow running back Eddie George in as well, Jeff Fisher is a Buddy Ryan disciple, and one of the best coaches in the NFL today. He should get in one day. For pure entertainment value, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson (of the Houston Oilers) should get in. Yes, he is the father of the modern NFL touchdown dance. Yet you don’t get to shake and bake if you are not scoring touchdowns. He was the best return man of his era, and the precursor to the modern return man. He was Dancing with the stars” before it ever aired.

Texans: It is hard to select anybody outside the obvious Andre Johnson on an organization that has never made the playoffs, and just had their first winning season. Yet owner Bob McNair can be looked at because he he borught football back to Houston when the entire football world thought Los Angeles had it locked up. Let’s see where he is in a decade.

Jaguars: Despite not winning a Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Tom Coughlin coached a great team that he built from the ground up, Wide receiver Keenan McCardell is a long shot, and quarterback Mark Brunell an even longer one, Yet old reliable running back Fred Taylor would be in every conversation if he played in a larger market. Owner Wayne Weaver merits a look, but it all starts with Taylor. Left tackle Tony Boselli was outstanding, but a career cut short by injuries places him just outside other tackles of his era.

Saints: Willie Roaf was a great offensive tackle, through all the losing years and some brief winning ones. The Saints had decades of frustration, but Roaf was a stalwart.

Buccaneers: While Tony Dungy was all about defense, he also had one of the best defensive coordinators in the game. Monte Kiffin built a defensive masterpiece around Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, and John Lynch. Buc Ball was ugly, but it won a Super Bowl. All of these guys should get in. On offense, Mike Alstott can be considered at fullback.

Panthers: Owner Jerry Richardson built a team from scratch, and success came right away, As a defensive coordinator, Dom Capers was one of the best. Yet as head coach he had short term success but not enough. Jake Delhomme was run out of town, but his most recent miserable season should not obscure some very solid seasons in the huddle. Another name that may cause some to laugh is Kerry Collins. The guy has so many detractors, yet all he does is win when he has talent around him. He is not a game manager. He is a leader.

Falcons: Deion “Prime Time” Sanders won Super Bowls with San Francisco and Dallas, but he became a household name playing with Atlanta. He was perhaps the best cover corner of all time. Playing on some very bad Atlanta teams only enhances how great he was. If not for a bad toe, he would have danced and scored for many more years.

Contributors: Commissioner Paul Tagliabue presided over 20 years of labor peace and saw the game reach exponential highs. Commissioner Roger Goodell is cleaning up the sport with a tough conduct policy. If the league can avoid a labor crisis in 2011, Goodell will be well on his way. Tagliabue left big shoes to fill, but so did Pete Rozelle before him.

John Madden is rightfully praised as one of the best if not the best color commentator of all time. He is in as a coach, but could easily have gone in as a commentator. Yet his sidekick Pat Summerall deserves in as well as a play by play man. He kept Madden from going totally off the rails, Al Michaels might be the best play by play guy of all time, the consummate professional.,

Red “First Down” Cashen was a fun referee who kept the game going cleanly and smoothly. Before him was Jerry “Smiley Ref” Seeman, who went on to become head of officiating.

If we have to eventually elect a mascot, Sir Purr from the Carolina Panthers should get in for mistakenly fielding a live punt in a critical game. The ref scolded him while opposing coach Cowher laughed. Sir Purr fell on it for a touchback, ending his statistics at one return for 0 yards.

As for cheerleaders, the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders made the most noise, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders are the most famous, but they should all get in for looking so stunning.

If fans get in, we can start with the Violator from the Raiders, and Fireman Ed from the Jets, in addition to the Hogettes from the Redskins, and the two men who argue at every meeting between the Cowboys and Redskins, one from each team. The “Aints” who wore bags on their heads deserve loyalty awards.


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