Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Hall of Shame, I say!

One more bit on the Hall of Fame.

There are 235 men in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and from my count about a third of them (85) were either elected in their first year of eligibility or in the early (1964-1969) stages of the Hall, when there was no finalist system.

I guess you'd call them the Super Hall of Famers, the 85 men about which there was no doubt that they belonged in Canton. It's an interesting distinction, this notion of a two-tiered Hall, and there are some surprises.

Willie Davis, Packers.
Watching the NFL Network's piece on the 1966 Packers, it seems plain wrong that Davis was passed over seven times, and wasn't even a finalist his first year. This defensive lineman played every game for 10 years in Green Bay, and on five title teams. Want to hear the most amazing stat you'll hear today? Over Davis' 10 year tenure, the Packers' scoring defense was never worse than fourth in the NFL -- and they were 1st or second his first seven years. Not a no-brainer? Hey, I didn't see him play, but I think if was around back then Davis wouldn't have had to wait so long.

Fran Tarkenton.
I know the poor guy lost the big ones for the Vikings, but he was one of the best QBs in the league for an incredibly long time -- 18 years as a starting QB. His numbers are incredible -- he's still fifth all time in passing yards despite playing in a non-passing era, and ran for 3,674 more. It's sick that he had to wait three years.

Jim Kelly.
See Tarkenton, above. If Fran wasn't good enough his first year, neither was Kelly, who freakin' signed with the USFL out of college and lost all four of his Super Bowls. Warren Moon could fit this category too, but I give him more credit for his work in the CFL, back when black QBs were truly discriminated against.

Earl Campbell. Look, I was nine when Earl was playing, and the guy certainly impressed me then. He was something special, even my young eyes knew that. But he only had three great years and three OK years before he was done. And the Oilers didn't win anything. First-ballot Hall of Famer? No.

Dan Fouts. He was kind of the Drew Bledsoe of his day -- slow, passed for a lot of yards, a lot of INTs, never really won the big game. A good player, but definitely not a first-shot HOF.

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