Sabol leads a stellar 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

You can expect a film crew like a Hollywood movie set this summer in Canton, Ohio  when pro football documenting  legend Ed Sabol of NFL Films and 6 other members of the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame class are inducted

Come this summer, the ranks of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will increase to 260 members.  The PHOF’s 44-member Selection Committee –- probably after some contenious moments — decided that that the greatest fraternity in sports should grow by seven new members.

In a new format that really added to the drama of the selection process, the new “Gold Jacket” brigade were announced live in primetime on NFL Network. I thought the selection committee did a great job in putting together an A-list enshrinee class that will surely fill Canton, Ohio come this summer.  Of course this non-voting scribe was pleasantly surprised that I got 5 of 7 picks right in my predictions — still have questions about Willie Roaf missing out though.

Unfortunately for another year some great names were left on the sidelines, like receivers Cris Carter, Andre Reed, and Tim Brown.  Also it had to pain first timers Jerome Bettis and Curtis Martin to not get in this time around as their phone never rang either – checkout my Top 10 list of players deserving to be in the Hall of Fame from a few years ago….Thankfully 3 people on the list are now in.  However I believe many of these NFL legends will soon get their day in the sun at Fawcett Stadium, but it just won’t be this year. 

I was probably most personally happy for Ed Sabol (94) of NFL Films.  As someone that has worked with his venerable organization on more than a few projects, I have to emphatically say that his ground-breaking work deserved the recognition.  If you ever want to know where the “flame” of the NFL lives, take a pilgrimage to Mount Larel, NJ . The patriarch and his son, Steve, through infinite miles of tape – ever since bidding $3,000 dollars to film the 1962 NFL Championship Game — have documented the journey of the National Football League from it’s crewcut rustbelt roots to the multiemedia giant that you see today.  Almost everything you see in filming sports started with the Sabol’s.  Ed will go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a “contributor”, which is a title that really doesn’t give him and NFL Films the credit that they deserve.

Alright that is enough debating, lamenting, and singling out as now it is time to celebrate the entire enshrinement 2011 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  • Richard Dent – Defensive End – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
  • Marshall Faulk – Running Back – 1994-1998 Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005 St. Louis Rams
  • *Chris Hanburger – Linebacker – 1965-1978 Washington Redskins
  • *Les Richter – Kicker, Middle Guard, Middle Linebacker —  1954-1962 LA Rams
  • Ed Sabol – Contributor (NFL Films), who has been associated with the league since 1966
  • Deion Sanders – Cornerback, Return man, Wide Receiver –  1989-1993 Atlanta Falcons, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-1999 Dallas Cowboys, 2000 Washington Redskins, 2004-2005 Baltimore Ravens
  • Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Predictions

When the names are announced for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011 on Saturday February 5th , Taking It to the House believes that contributor Ed Sabol (NFL Films founder) will be on the list

Super Bowl XLV is right around the corner as the Steelers and Packers are preparing to do battle.  But one of the bigger events of Super Bowl week is almost upon us too, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011 will be announced on Saturday, February 5th.  Being a historian of the game, I absolutely love the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions each July.  But each year when the classes are announced at the Super Bowl the controversy soon follows.

I am sure their will be some cantankerous moments when the PHOF’s 44-member Selection Committee try to decide on the inductees. No matter the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s fraternity will grow beyond it’s current 253 members as at least four and up to seven worthy candidates will be selected to the PHOF from the list of 17 finalists.

The 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame 17 finalists (15 Modern-Era and two Senior Nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years include:           

  • Jerome Bettis – Running Back – 1993-1995 LA/STL Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Tim Brown – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
  • Dermonti Dawson – Center – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Richard Dent – Defensive End – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
  • Chris Doleman – Defensive End – 1985-1993 & 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-1995 Atlanta Falcons, 1997-1998 San Francisco 49ers,
  • Marshall Faulk – Running Back – 1994-1998 Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005 St. Louis Rams
  • Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
  • *Chris Hanburger – Linebacker – 1965-1978 Washington Redskins
  • Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
  • Curtis Martin – Running Back – 1995-1997 New England Patriots, 1998 – 2005 New York Jets
  • Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
  • *Les Richter – Kicker, Middle Guard, Middle Linebacker —  1954-1962 LA Rams
  • Willie Roaf – Offensive Tackle – 1993–2005 New Orleans Saints
  • Ed Sabol – Contributor (NFL Films), who has been associated with the league since 1966
  • Deion Sanders – Cornerback, Return man, Wide Receiver –  1989-1993 Atlanta Falcons, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-1999 Dallas Cowboys, 2000 Washington Redskins, 2004-2005 Baltimore Ravens
  • Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens

Alright here is my best guess at predicting whom will join the greatest sports fraternity of them all in my opinion.  To me all of the candidates are worthy and I believe that there even might be a couple of other guys missing from the list — checkout my Top 10 list of players deserving to be in the Hall of Fame for some of the players that I felt should be in Canton.  It will be interesting to see whom my fellow PFWA members vote-in when they get in the room.

1. Deion Sanders – This is a no-brainer.  Yes…Prime Time was a showboat, wasn’t a physical tackler, and rubs some fans the wrong way.  But there is no denying that this man defined a “Shutdown Corner”.  Sanders was a tremendous athlete that had track sprnter’s speed, a short memory, and the swagger of a rock star.  Say what you want, Deion backed it up on the field.  Even in his later years after coming out of retirement to play for the Baltimore Ravens, this 8-time Pro Bowler and 6-time First-Team All-Pro could match-up with any NFL receiver.  And don’t forget Prime maybe the NFL’s greatest punt returner too. He truly was “Too Legit, To Quit”!   Finished his career with 53 INTs including an NFL record 9 going to the house.

2. Marshall Faulk – This one is a layup too as none of the other RB’s up for selection this season could do so many things, so well on the football field.  Faulk was a running back, who could block, catch, and run with almost anyone in NFL History.  The former San Diego State star, who should have won the Heisman (but that is another story), was the engine that made Dick Vermeil’s Greatest Show on Turf offense go.  This 7-time Pro Bowler and 3-time First-Team All-Pro left the NFL with a league record 19,154 combined rushing and receiving yards (12,279 rushing and 6,875 receiving) .  A former Rookie of the Year, MVP and Super Bowl winner….Faulk is in.

3. Shannon Sharpe – I can’t believe we are still having this conversation. This is a no-brainer, in my opinion.  This former lanky too slow receiver from Savannah State, who became one of the greatest tight ends ever, deserves to get into the Hall of Fame.  I know the loquacious Sharpe, who now works as a CBS analyst, can plead his own case for the Hall.  But his resume really speaks volumes with his 815 career receptions for 10,060 receiving yards and 62 touchdowns, which all were NFL career records for tight ends at the time of his retirement 5 years ago. The man longer known simply as Sterling’s little brother had a career that included 8 Pro Bowls, 3 Super Bowls rings (two Broncos and one with the Ravens) and 5 selections All-Pro.  Move over Mike Ditka and John Mackey as a new tight end joins your ranks.

4. Willie Roaf – If you needed to get 1-yard, running behind big Willie would be a good option.  This big physical offensive tackle, who defined the position in the 1990’s deserves to be in the PHOF.  Roaf was a massive man blessed with quick hands and good feet that cleared the way for running backs like Mario Bates, Ricky Williams, Deuce McAllister, and others.  This 11-time Pro Bowler and 3-time First-Team All-Pro was a quarterback’s best friend too as he held his own against NFL legends, like Reggie White. 

 5. Chris Hanburger – An old-school stay at home and make the tackle linebacker will finally get his due.  Hanburger is being nominated as a Seniors Committee candidate, but he should have been recognized a long time ago.  Played in a steady leadership type way throughout his distinguished 14-year career, all with the Washington Redskins.  He was the glue of George Allen’s great Over-the-Hill Gang defenses of the 1970’s.  Was an intregal part of Washington’s 1972 Super Bowl runner-up team.  This 9-time Pro Bowler & 4-time First-Team All-Pro finished with 19 INTs and 17 fumble recoveries in his career.

6. Ed Sabol – If you ever want to know where the history of the NFL lives, take a pilgrimage to Mount Larel, NJ . The patriarch of venerable organization, NFL Films, has been associated with the league since filming Super Bowl I back in 1966 and definitely deserves to be selected as a “contributor” into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.   Sabol and his son, Steve, have helped make the National Football League into a national media treasure with their breath-taking films that bring the heart  and soul of Pro Football to life.  It would be a travesty, if Ed Sabol does not get his day in the sun, this summer in Canton, Ohio.

7. Charles Haley – A dominating force at the defensive end position who won 5 Super Bowl rings.  Haley was a two-way end that quarterbacks feared and was equally stout against the run.  Though quiet off the field, this former small school find (James Madison) was a ferious game-breaker in getting to the quarterback and making big plays.  Though I still believe that Deacon Jones and Reggie White were the two greatest pass rushers of all time, Haley should join them as he was one of the greatest sack masters from the 1990’s. This 5-time Pro Bowler and 2-time First-Team All-Pro finished his distinguished career with 100.5 sacks and 26 forced fumbles.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2011 Finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Announced

All-World cornerback Deion “Prime Time” Sanders was recently named one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2011 Class.  And I am sure the talkative former cover corner will not need any football writers to plead his case for him

The 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2011 class were announced this week including first-timers CB Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, RB Marshall Faulk, RB Jerome Bettis, RB Curtis Martin and dominating former Saints Pro Bowl offensive tackle Willie Roaf. 

Besides the first timers, the majority of the 15-person finalist list is filled with players returning for another shot at being enshrined in Canton, Ohio.  Among the returning players that are hoping that “This will finally be their year” are pass catchers Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Shannon Sharpe.

The 15 modern-era finalists, along with the two senior nominees that were announced in August 2010 (former NFL linebackers Chris Hanburger and Les Richter) will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the PHOF’s 44-member Selection Committee – made mostly of PFWA members — meet in Dallas on Feb. 5, the day before Super Bowl XLV.

Remember, there is a maximum of seven people that can be inducted each year including five of the 15 modern-era finalists on the ballot, so some hard decisions are sure to follow.  To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent (35 votes). And I fully expect the selection committee to use at least six spots from the 17 candidates including at least one of the two senior committee choices.  In my opinion, you might as well send gold jackets for sizing to Sanders, Faulk and Roaf.

The 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame 17 finalists (15 Modern-Era and two Senior Nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years include:           

  • Jerome Bettis – Running Back – 1993-1995 LA/STL Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Tim Brown – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
  • Dermonti Dawson – Center – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Richard Dent – Defensive End – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
  • Chris Doleman Defensive End – 1985-1993 & 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-1995 Atlanta Falcons, 1997-1998 San Francisco 49ers,
  • Marshall Faulk – Running Back – 1994-1998 Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005 St. Louis Rams
  • Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
  • *Chris Hanburger Linebacker – 1965-1978 Washington Redskins
  • Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
  • Curtis Martin Running Back – 1995-1997 New England Patriots, 1998 – 2005 New York Jets
  • Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
  • *Les Richter Kicker, Middle Guard, Middle Linebacker —  1954-1962 LA Rams
  • Willie Roaf – Offensive Tackle – 1993–2005 New Orleans Saints
  • Ed Sabol He would go in as a “contributor”.  The patriarch of venerable organization, NFL Films, has been associated with the league since filming Super Bowl I back in 1966
  • Deion Sanders – Cornerback, Return man, Wide Receiver –  1989-1993 Atlanta Falcons, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-1999 Dallas Cowboys, 2000 Washington Redskins, 2004-2005 Baltimore Ravens
  • Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens

During the week leading up to Super Bowl XLV, I will post my best guess as to who will be selected for enshrinement in July.  Though I am pretty sure of a couple of names, I will reserve the right to wait until early February for my final predictions. 

Fans are also invited to voice their choice for the PHOF in Van Heusen’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan’s Choice at www.fanschoice.com.  But remember… fan votes only will matter to the contest’s sponsors as the 44-member committee have the only say.

Also checkout my Top 10 list of players deserving to be in the Hall of Fame.

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 announced

Legendary receiver Jerry Rice headlines the 7-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010

Somehow I never totally get my predictions for the Hall of Fame voting right, but at least I got 4 out of the 7 inductees right.  It is hard to believe for the 3rd year in a row receiver Cris Carter did not  get in and he was joined for the second year in a row by tight end Shannon Sharpe.

However the 44-member pro football writers panel did put together one pretty good class including first-ballot players Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice plus the two Senior Committee candidates.  Anyway, when I return to Canton, Ohio this July there will be one great class waiting to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010 is listed below:

OG Russ Grimm – Washington Redskins (1981-91)

LB/DE Rickey Jackson – New Orleans Saints (1981-93), San Francisco 49ers (1994-95)

CB Dick LeBeau* – Detroit Lions (1959-72)

RB Floyd Little* – Denver Broncos (1967-75)

DT John Randle – Minnesota Vikings (1990-2000), Seattle Seahawks (2001-03)

WR Jerry Rice – San Francisco 49ers (1985-2000), Oakland Raiders (2001-04),Seattle Seahawks (2004)

RB Emmitt Smith – Dallas Cowboys (1990-2002), Arizona Cardinals (2003-04)

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Predictions

Taking It to the House’s Editor Lloyd Vance believes that Shannon Sharpe will be part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010.  The announcement will be made Saturday in South Florida.

Super Bowl XLIV is right around the corner as the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints are ready to do battle.  But one of the bigger events of Super Bowl week is almost upon us, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010 will be announced on Saturday, February 6th.  Being a historian of the game, I absolutely love the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions each July, but each year when the classes are announced at the Super Bowl, the controversy soon follows.

No matter,  the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s fraternity will grow beyond its current 253 members as at least four and up to six worthy candidates will be selected to the PHOF from list of 17 finalists.

The 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame 17 finalists (15 Modern-Era and two Senior Nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years include:           

  • Tim Brown – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
  • Don Coryell – Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers
  • Roger Craig – Running Back – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings
  • Dermonti Dawson – Center – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Richard Dent – Defensive End – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
  • Russ Grimm – Guard 1981-1991 Washington Redskins
  • Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
  • Rickey Jackson – Linebacker – 1981-1993 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers
  • Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
  • Dick LeBeau* – Cornerback – 1959-1972 Detroit Lions
  • Floyd Little* – Running Back – 1967-1975 Denver Broncos
  • John Randle – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks
  • Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
  • Jerry Rice – Wide Receiver – 1985-2000 San Francisco 49ers, 2001-04 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Seattle Seahawks
  • Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
  • Emmitt Smith – Running Back – 1990-2002 Dallas Cowboys, 2003-04 Arizona Cardinals

Alright here is my best guess at predicting who will join the greatest sports fraternity of them all in my opinion.  To me all of the candidates are worthy and I also believe that there will definitely be several guys that won’t get the call on Saturday — checkout my Top 10 list of players deserving to be in the Hall of Fame for some other candidates that I felt should be in Canton. 

It will be interesting to see whom my fellow PFWA members vote-in when they get in the room.  I have been told by past voters, it can get very heated in the room as pro football writers from around the country usually are extremely passionate regarding players that they have covered.  To be elected by the 44-member Selection Committee, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.

1. Jerry Rice – In this year’s class, there are clearly two no-brainers.  I believe that Rice and Emmitt Smith will join the current group of 63 first- ballot Hall of Famers.  Probably the greatest receiver to ever play in the NFL and arguably the greatest football player of all-time.  Rice during his 20-year career set numerous records including most receiving yards (22895), most receptions (1549), and most receiving touchdowns (197).  The man they called “Gold Fingers” rose from tiny Mississippi Valley State University to being the most accomplished receiver in NFL history.  Rice may have not had blazing stopwatch speed, but he ran routes with precision and knew how to get separation when it mattered most.  Rice already helped to place his former Niners’ quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young in the Hall of Fame and now it is his turn.  A two-time NFL offensive player of the year (1987 and 1993), Super Bowl MVP (1988), 13-time Pro Bowler and 10-time First-Team All-Pro.

2. Emmitt Smith – When Jerry Rice and Smith both left football after the 2004 season, everyone knew these two all-time NFL record holders would go into Canton together as first ballot guys.  Smith is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher (18,355 yards) and has scored the most rushing touchdowns (164) in league history.  Over a 15-year career, Smith was the engine that powered the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in the ‘90s.  Sure other running backs may have been bigger or had more speed or moves, but the former Florida All-American reached the mountain top of runners by “determination”.  Smith running beyond great O-linemen like Nate Newton, Mark Stepnoski, Eric Williams, and Ray Donaldson always was able to run to daylight and kept the chains moving until taking it to the house.  Played for the Cowboys over 13 decorated years before ending his career with the Arizona Cardinals.  There was only one season where Smith didn’t reach 930 rushing yards in a season during his career.  NFL Rookie of the Year (1990), NFL MVP (1993), Super Bowl MVP (1993), 8-time Pro Bowler and 4-time First-Team All-Pro.

3. Shannon Sharpe – I thought last year that this one was a no-brainer, but I think 2010 is the year Sharpe gets in.  This former lanky too slow receiver from Savannah State, who became one of the greatest tight ends ever, deserves to get into the Hall of Fame.  I know the loquacious Sharpe, who now works as a CBS analyst, can plead his own case for the Hall.  But his resume really speaks volumes with his 815 career receptions for 10,060 receiving yards and 62 touchdowns, which all were NFL career records for tight ends at the time of his retirement 6 years ago. The man, who once stood in older brother Sterling’s shadow, simply put was one of the greatest pass catching tight ends ever.  The former best field-stretching tight end of 90’s had a career that included 8 Pro Bowls, 3 Super Bowls rings (two Broncos and one with the Ravens) and 5 selections All-Pro.  Move over Mike Ditka and John Mackey as a new tight end joins your ranks.

4. Cris Carter – Are you kidding me from the last two years when the man that ran the prettiest routes and had the stickiest hands in the ’90s didn’t get into the Hall of Fame.  Well in 2010, the doors in Canton, Ohio will open for one of my favorite players from Buddy Ryan’s Eagles.  Carter left the game in 2002 with 1101 catches, 13899 yards, and 130 touchdowns in a career that spanned 16 years.  The now ESPN analyst is too humble to toot his own horn, but the man known for “just” catching touchdowns in Philly was an artist especially on third downs and in the red zone for the Eagles, Vikings, and Dolphins.  Carter was physical and could make any catch low or high for the many quarterbacks that he played with including Hall of Famer Warren Moon.  It seems about time that Canton opens its doors to this 8-time Pro Bowler and 2-time first-team All-Pro player.

5. John Randle – With so many slam dunk type candidates for the 2010 class, some may overlook a player like Randle.  But I believe this undersized defensive tackle and former undrafted free agent from Texas A&M – Kingsville deserves to join football’s most elite fraternity.  Randle along with former Vikings teammate Chris Doleman were the cornerstone of one of the NFL’s toughest pass rushing front fours in the 1990’s.  This former 7-time Pro Bowl player and 6-time All Pro was not the biggest defensive tackle at 6’1, 290 pounds but he had an innate ability to beat larger offensive linemen off the snap and get to the quarterback.  Randle finished with 137.5 sacks in 219 games played.    As a high-motor player, Randle was an intense competitor who was known to paint his face and bark at the opposition.  Also this former Vikings stalwart over 11 years was a very good run stopper.  Over an 11-year period from 1991 to 2001, Randle averaged double-digit sacks with a high of 15.5 to lead the NFL in 1997. 

6. Dick LeBeau – There is a saying in the media, “Don’t Mess with the Seniors’ Committee”.  So if any year deserves a sixth candidate to enter the Hall of Fame, then it is this year as two worthy men (LeBeau and Floyd Little) were sent forward for voting by the committee.  Many may know LeBeau as the Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator of the current Pittsburgh Steelers. But there was a time from 1959 to 1972 that he was one of the fiercest cornerbacks in the NFL for the Detroit Lions.  During his heyday in the 1960’s playing for some very good Lions teams, LeBeau was a tough tackler against the run and also provided very good coverage.  Finished with 62 career interceptions (currently ranked 8th All-time) with a high of 9 interceptions in 1970.  A three-time Pro Bowl player with 11 seasons of 4 interceptions or more.  Much like 2006 inductee John Madden, if LeBeau is inducted it would probably be considered a lifetime award since most voters cannot forget his great work over the years as an assistant coach too.  Remember 2009 HOF inductee Rod Woodson lobbying for his former coach during his speech.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame 2010 Election Announced

Former Saints and Niners Pass Rusher Rickey Jackson was named as one of 17 finalists for the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame’s election

Three first-year eligible players, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice (all-time receiving yards record holder) and Emmitt Smith (all-time rushing yards record holder), were among the 15 modern-era finalists announced last week.

Joining the three first-year eligible players, are 11 other modern-era players and a longtime head coach.  The 15 modern-era finalists, along with the two senior nominees announced in August 2009 (former Detroit Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau and former Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little). The 17 candidates will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Hall’s 44-member Selection Committee – made mostly of PFWA members — meets in South Florida on Saturday, February 6, 2010.

To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent. And I fully expect the selection committee to use all six spots that they are allowed to fill each year from the 17 candidates including at least one of the two senior committee choices.  Also, for the first time fans are invited to vote for their choice for the Pro Football Hall of Fame with the Van Heusen Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan’s Choice at www.fanschoice.com but their votes only will matter to the sponsors of the contest.

The 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame 17 finalists (15 Modern-Era and two Senior Nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years include:           

  • Tim Brown – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
  • Don Coryell – Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers
  • Roger Craig – Running Back – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings
  • Dermonti Dawson – Center – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Richard Dent – Defensive End – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
  • Russ Grimm – Guard 1981-1991 Washington Redskins
  • Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
  • Rickey Jackson – Linebacker – 1981-1993 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers
  • Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
  • Dick LeBeau* – Cornerback – 1959-1972 Detroit Lions
  • Floyd Little* – Running Back – 1967-1975 Denver Broncos
  • John Randle – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks
  • Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
  • Jerry Rice – Wide Receiver – 1985-2000 San Francisco 49ers, 2001-04 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Seattle Seahawks
  • Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
  • Emmitt Smith – Running Back – 1990-2002 Dallas Cowboys, 2003-04 Arizona Cardinals

During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, I will post my best guess as to who will be selected for enshrinement in July.  Though I am pretty sure of a couple of names, I will reserve the right to wait until early February to predict. 

You can also checkout my Top 10 list of players deserving to be in the Hall of Fame.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

The Hall of Fame welcomes the man that brought pure speed to the NFL

bob-hayes

NFL “speed” trailblazer Bullet Bob Hayes will finally get his due as he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions that are held every year in Canton, OH are special for a number of reasons.   Each year the small-town in middle America welcomes the National Football League’s best,  making “The Place Where Football Legends Come to Rest” feel alive.  Of course every year ‘s induction class is special and this year’s group is no different with names like Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson, Derrick Thomas, Randall McDaniel and Ralph Wilson Jr.  However the crown jewel of this year’s Hall of Fame induction class, in my opinion,  will be a player who truly revolutionalized the game of football forever. 

 Ever wonder why football announcers are always enamored with talking about “World Class Speed” and NFL scouts are just as obsessed each year about potential draft picks forty-yard dash times at the NFL Combine.  The NFL’s obsession with speed has gotten so crazy over the years that teams were reportedly contacting current Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt about football, even though the Jamaican had never played the game.  The NFL’s “need for speed” can be directly attributed to an athlete named Robert Lee Hayes, who was affectionately known as “Bullet Bob” during his heyday with the Dallas Cowboys from 1965 to 1974.  “This guy revolutionized the passing game and forced them to come up with the zone defense, just like Wilt Chamberlain forced them to change certain rules in basketball,” Hall of Fame defensive back and former teammate Herb Adderley said. 

Hayes arrived on the pro football scene in 1965 and was already a worldwide star after achieving Olympic glory at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.  The “World’s Fastest Man” won gold medals in the 100 meters and 4×100 meter relay at those games – got his title after running an amazing 8.6 second relay split in a come from behind relay victory. His combination of size (5’11, 185) and speed were what attracted the Dallas Cowboys’ braintrust led by scout Gil Brandt to draft Hayes in the 7th round of the 1964 NFL Draft.  However the difference between Hayes and most “track” guys that attempted to play football was that he had no fear of contact and didn’t try to avoid being hit.  The Bullet had been a star running back at HBCU powerhouse Florida A&M while learning under legendary head coach Jake Gaither that physicality was part of the game of football and that he needed to harness his speed within the game. 

In his rookie season of 1965, the NFL was forever changed as Hayes piled up stats of 46 receptions for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead the Cowboys in those categories while only playing in 13 games.  In just his second regular season game, he gave the Redskins and the NFL a glimpse of the future of the fledgling league. He only touched the football twice in that game, however both times he found the end zone including a 45-yard touchdown catch  and an 11-yard touchdown run as Dallas won easily 27-7.  Hayes followed up his outstanding rookie campaign by setting career-highs of 64 receptions for 1232 yards and 13 touchdowns in 1966.  Though he played on a team geared mostly toward running the ball, Hayes went on to post six seasons of at least 800 receiving yards and went over 10 TDs in a season five times over an 11-year career

The three-time Pro Bowl player made the long bomb a staple in Tom Landry’s offense — of his 71 career touchdown receptions were 50 yards or longer — causing other teams to start looking for their own game-breaker (see the Oakland Raiders) plus causing headaches on the defensive side of the ball. Hayes didn’t just run a “nine” or fly route down the field every snap, but he also went inside in high traffic if needed. In addition to receiving, Hayes also returned punts for the Cowboys and was the NFL’s leading punt returner in 1968 with 20.8 yards per return average and two touchdowns, including a 90-yarder against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame safety and contemporary Larry Wilson paid Hayes a compliment by saying, “The difference between Hayes and other track men was that he used his speed in a ‘football sense’, than just trying to run as fast as possible”. 

During the 1970 season, Hayes put up amazing numbers of 34 catches for 889 yards and 10 TDs in leading the Cowboys to Super Bowl V against the Colts — lost 16-13 on Jim O’Brien’s famous game-winning field goal.  His yards per catch that season were an unthinkable 26.2 yards leading the NFL in that category – which should probably be renamed after him.  The next season in 1971, his last great NFL season, Hayes along with quarterback Roger Staubach and others willed the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl where they defeated the Miami Dolphins by a score of 24-3.  In the game, Hayes only had two receptions for 23 yards and one punt return for minus one yard.  But it was the consistent threat of his speed and his ability to run by the Dolphins’ secondary that kept them on their heels the entire game.  At age 29, Hayes led the Cowboys and the NFL with a scary 24 yards per catch average.

 In total, Hayes would play 10 years for the Cowboys before finishing with one non-descript season for the San Francisco 49ers, retiring at age 33.  Hayes was named first or second team All-NFL four times and led the Cowboys in receptions three times.  The Jacksonville, Florida native had 71 career receiving touchdowns (still a Cowboys record), which places him ahead of hall of famers Michael Irvin and Art Monk. Finished with career numbers of 371 receptions, 7414 yards, and an eye-popping 20 yard per catch average with a long of 95 yards. Hayes was enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2001 and Bullet Bob is still the only man to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.

Unfortunately on September 18, 2002, Hayes died in his hometown Jacksonville of kidney failure at age 59, after battling prostate cancer and liver ailments.  At the time of his death, it was feared by many that the man that brought true “world class speed” to the NFL might never get his just due of Hall of Fame enshrinement.  For years several voters danced around the issue of Hayes and substance abuse, which occurred after his playing days and also caused a brief prison stay.  Hayes non-selection year after year caused some voting pro football writers to question the whole selection process and in fact Sports Illustrated Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman resigned in 2004 from the selection committee after efforts to enshrine the Bullet had failed again.

Finally the prayers of Hayes’ many supporters were answered when the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s senior committee voted him into football’s highest fraternity in January 2009. It took 29 years after the Bullet first became eligible and seven years after his death, which is a travesty in my book.  But the moment of Hayes induction in Canton will surely be a thrilling one and  you know his former quarterback and fellow Hall of Famer Staubach will do him proud when he presents his former deep-threat for induction. After American football pioneer Jim Thorpe, Hayes will be the second Olympic gold medalist to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. 

Former NFL head coach Mike Ditka, who played with Hayes, said of his former teammate, “I know one thing and I played with him, he changed the game”.  Ditka added, “He made defenses and defensive coordinators work hard to figure out what you had to do to stop him”.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)