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Archive for the 'HOF' Category

Checkdowns: Seniors Committee nominates Dick Stanfel and Jack Butler for HOF

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 26, 2011

Dick Stanfel

Jack Butler

From Fifth Down friend Andy Barall:

The Hall of Fame seniors committee named Dick Stanfel and Jack Butler on Wednesday as finalists for election in the class of 2012. To be elected, they need the same 80 percent support as the modern era finalists when the full selection committee meets in Indianapolis on Feb. 4, the day before Super Bowl 46. A few thoughts about the nominees:

Although his playing career lasted only seven seasons, Dick Stanfel left his mark as one of the finest and most consistent offensive linemen of his time. In an era that valued technique over brute strength, Stanfel was fundamentally sound enough to be elected first team All-Pro five times and to be named to the N.F.L.’s all-decade team of the 1950s....

34 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Posted by Neil Paine on February 5, 2011

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the results of the 2011 voting tonight; here were those who made and missed the cut, along with the readers' opinions from our recent Hall of Fame polls:

"Does This Player deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?"
Player Votes "Yes, and he will get in" "Yes, but he won't get in" "No, and he won't get in" "No, but he will get in"
Inducted:
Deion Sanders 279 90.7% 0.7% 1.1% 7.5%
Marshall Faulk 345 96.8% 1.2% 0.6% 1.5%
Shannon Sharpe 139 77.7% 10.1% 2.2% 10.1%
Richard Dent 225 44.9% 30.2% 11.1% 13.8%
Ed Sabol 216 69.0% 23.6% 2.3% 5.1%
Les Richter 91 27.5% 14.3% 28.6% 29.7%
Chris Hanburger 110 74.6% 18.2% 3.6% 3.6%
Missed Final Cut:
Curtis Martin 191 68.1% 15.2% 5.2% 11.5%
Dermontti Dawson 154 68.8% 22.7% 4.6% 3.9%
Cortez Kennedy 250 43.6% 41.6% 11.6% 3.2%
Andre Reed 289 25.6% 29.1% 32.2% 13.2%
Willie Roaf 220 82.3% 14.6% 2.7% 0.5%
Missed 1st Cut:
Tim Brown 285 70.2% 17.9% 4.6% 7.4%
Charles Haley 135 20.0% 13.3% 31.9% 34.8%
Jerome Bettis 543 56.2% 7.0% 6.1% 30.8%
Cris Carter 280 79.3% 7.1% 3.6% 10.0%
Chris Doleman 137 47.5% 24.8% 19.7% 8.0%

Based on the voting, if PFR readers could pick seven players from this year's class to induct, they would be (in order from most deserving to least):

Richter was deemed the second-most undeserving of all finalists by the readership, ahead of only Charles Haley. Dent was also voted 6th-most undeserving, but Sharpe was narrowly behind Brown in terms of the % of readers who felt he did deserve the HoF.

PFR readers would probably consider the biggest snub to be Roaf, whom 96.8% of the voters felt was deserving; also, 91.6% felt Dawson deserved HoF honors, and both failed to survive the final cut. Brown over Sharpe, though, was so close in the voting that it's hard to call it a snub.

43 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns, HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Curtis Martin

Posted by Chase Stuart on February 4, 2011

I won't pretend to be objective here: Curtis Martin is my favorite player of all-time. To maintain credibility as a football writer, one must be objective. Still, I feel comfortable avoiding such responsibility this time as long as I announce it. I've sponsored his P-F-R page since we rolled out the sponsorship option several years ago, and have no plans of ending my sponsorship. The quote I use to sponsor him was uttered by Martin late in the 2005 season, when he finally had to shut it down for good:

But early last week, the pain prompted a visit to the coach's office.

''Herm said: 'Curtis, just for us to be having this conversation, it must be a very bad situation. There is no way you'd be sitting in Herman Edwards's office if this wasn't drastic,' '' Martin said Sunday afternoon. ''It was. Yesterday, I felt like there was probably no way we're going to be able to do it. We got up this morning and said no.

''If the Raiders had said, 'Curtis, we're not going to tackle you' and gave me the ball on the 1-yard line and let me run 99 yards, I don't even think I'd have been able to get it.''

In each off-season, Martin submits himself to savage workouts, to prepare his body for the inevitable punishment. Martin once played through a season with two severely sprained ankles. He played through another even though a ligament was tearing away from the bone in his buttocks. He played two consecutive seasons with torn knee ligaments that did not slow him.

31 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, History, HOF, Player articles

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Chris Hanburger

Posted by Jason Lisk on February 4, 2011

Chris Hanburger was born at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, just months before the start of United States' involvement in World War II, and when he graduated from high school, he served a stint in the Army as well. After the Army, Hanburger went to play for the University of North Carolina, and was twice selected as the all-ACC center. Hanburger's age (24 when he entered professional football) and the fact that he was more accomplished on the offensive side of the ball help explain why he lasted until the 18th and final round of the 1965 draft.

He was quite a find, though, as he moved into the starting lineup at linebacker late in his rookie year, and would remain a staple of the Redskins lineup for well over a decade. Hanburger may not have been the most explosive athlete at the position, but he was a heady and instinctive player who is often attributed with being a quarterback on the defensive side of the field. His knowledge and game smarts was a natural for George Allen, who had a strong preference for veterans, and Hanburger was a key member of the "Over the Hill Gang" that led the Redskins to their first Super Bowl appearance following the 1972 season.

18 Comments | Posted in Great Historical Players, History, HOF, Player articles

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Les Richter

Posted by Neil Paine on February 3, 2011

Moving on with our 2011 Hall of Fame finalist polls, here's Les Richter, a linebacker from the 1950s/60s who was nominated as a senior candidate in this year's class. The rundown on Richter's career:

What do you think? Is Les Richter worthy of HoF induction?

9 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, History, HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Deion Sanders

Posted by Neil Paine on February 3, 2011

I've been looking forward to this Hall of Fame finalist poll... Let's run down the fact list for Mr. Deion Sanders:

NumYrs Players whose career was of similar quality and shape
3 Bill Simpson, Joe Scudero, Shawn Springs, Ken Konz, Milt Davis, Herb Rich, Jerry Gray, Billy Stacy, DeAngelo Hall, Leon Hall
4 Jerry Gray, Bobby Dillon, Darren Woodson, Jim Marsalis, Ray Rhodes, Roger Wehrli*, Everson Walls, Mark A. Carrier, Abe Woodson, Darrell Green*
5 Darren Woodson, Jerry Gray, Charles Woodson, Everson Walls, George Saimes, Abe Woodson, Bobby Dillon, Frank Minnifield, Troy Polamalu, Lindon Crow
6 Kenny Easley, Darren Woodson, Charles Woodson, Bobby Dillon, Mike Haynes*, George Saimes, Eric Allen, Everson Walls, Abe Woodson, Frank Minnifield
7 Kenny Easley, Nolan Cromwell, Charles Woodson, Joey Browner, Roger Wehrli*, Merton Hanks, Asante Samuel, Bobby Dillon, George Saimes, Willie Brown*
8 Erich Barnes, Mike Haynes*, Eric Allen, Cornell Green, Roger Wehrli*, Aeneas Williams, Lem Barney*, Chris McAlister, Joey Browner, Mel Blount*
9 Roger Wehrli*, Mike Haynes*, Eric Allen, Lem Barney*, Aeneas Williams, Mel Blount*, Darrell Green*, Ed Reed, Erich Barnes, Cornell Green
10 Mike Haynes*, Paul Krause*, Lem Barney*, Mel Blount*, Champ Bailey, Mel Renfro*, Ronnie Lott*, Willie Wood*, Roger Wehrli*, Herb Adderley*
11 Mike Haynes*, Paul Krause*, Willie Brown*, Champ Bailey, Mel Renfro*, Lem Barney*, Willie Wood*, Ronnie Lott*, Aeneas Williams, Mel Blount*
12 Mike Haynes*, Mel Blount*, Willie Brown*, Paul Krause*, Ronde Barber, Night Train Lane*, Champ Bailey, Mel Renfro*, Willie Wood*, Lem Barney*
13 Mike Haynes*, Willie Brown*, Champ Bailey, Ronde Barber, Night Train Lane*, Mel Blount*, Willie Wood*, Lem Barney*, Aeneas Williams, Mel Renfro*
14 Mike Haynes*, Willie Brown*, Champ Bailey, Ronde Barber, Willie Wood*, Night Train Lane*, Lem Barney*, Mel Blount*, Mel Renfro*, Aeneas Williams
Career Mike Haynes*, Champ Bailey, Lem Barney*, Willie Wood*, Ronde Barber, Yale Lary*, Night Train Lane*, Willie Brown*, Mel Blount*, Mel Renfro*
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/3/2011.

So, does Canton make room for Prime Time?

15 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, History, HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Willie Roaf

Posted by Neil Paine on February 2, 2011

After covering Dermontti Dawson yesterday, we now come to the other offensive lineman in this year's group of Hall of Fame finalists: Willie Roaf. The facts on Roaf's career:

NumYrs Players whose career was of similar quality and shape
3 Stan Jones*, Gary Zimmerman*, Lou Creekmur*, Jim Parker*, Jonathan Ogden, Ralph Neely, Bob Brown*, Dick Stanfel, Tony Boselli, Gene Upshaw*
4 Tony Boselli, Gary Zimmerman*, Lou Creekmur*, Jonathan Ogden, Bob Brown*, Richmond Webb, Gene Upshaw*, Jim Parker*, Tom Newberry, Ralph Neely
5 Jonathan Ogden, Lou Creekmur*, Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Brown*, Tony Boselli, Marvin Powell, Larry Allen, Logan Mankins, Ralph Neely, Jim Parker*
6 Jonathan Ogden, Lou Creekmur*, Gary Zimmerman*, Jim Lachey, Bob Brown*, Marvin Powell, Mike Kenn, Gene Upshaw*, Kent Hull, Bob Vogel
7 Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Vogel, Dick Stanfel, Marvin Powell, Mike Kenn, Jonathan Ogden, Bob St. Clair*, Rosey Brown*, Lou Creekmur*, George Kunz
8 Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Vogel, Gene Upshaw*, Bob Brown*, Rosey Brown*, Randall McDaniel*, Stan Jones*, Marvin Powell, Jonathan Ogden, Ron Mix*
9 Gary Zimmerman*, Bob Vogel, Marvin Powell, Jim Tyrer, Rosey Brown*, Gene Upshaw*, Bob St. Clair*, Tom Mack*, Walt Sweeney, Alan Faneca
10 Gary Zimmerman*, Jim Tyrer, Rosey Brown*, Walter Jones, Alan Faneca, Bob Brown*, Lou Creekmur*, Tarik Glenn, Gene Upshaw*, Bob Vogel
11 Gary Zimmerman*, Jim Tyrer, Rosey Brown*, Walter Jones, John Hannah*, Jonathan Ogden, Mike Webster*, Richmond Webb, Bob Brown*, Alan Faneca
12 Gary Zimmerman*, John Hannah*, Gene Upshaw*, Rosey Brown*, Walter Jones, Richmond Webb, Jonathan Ogden, Randall McDaniel*, Jim Tyrer, Jim Ringo*
13 John Hannah*, Gary Zimmerman*, Gene Upshaw*, Jonathan Ogden, Rosey Brown*, Randall McDaniel*, Jim Ringo*, Walter Jones, Jim Tyrer, Art Shell*
Career Gary Zimmerman*, Jonathan Ogden, John Hannah*, Forrest Gregg*, Walter Jones, Rosey Brown*, Gene Upshaw*, Art Shell*, Jim Tyrer, Jim Ringo*
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/2/2011.

What's the verdict on Roaf?

12 Comments | Posted in Best/Worst Ever, Great Historical Players, HOF, PI Finds, Play Index, Player articles

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Ed Sabol

Posted by Neil Paine on February 1, 2011

Continuing our 2011 Hall of Fame finalist polls, let's get some opinions on Ed Sabol -- and, specifically, the role of NFL Films in shaping football's success in the second half of the 20th century.

Since 1964, when Sabol convinced the NFL that it needed its own motion picture company to document games for posterity, NFL Films has marketed pro football in an epic style that clearly resonates with fans. Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune summed up Sabol's influence nicely in an article this week:

"There are only 18 contributors in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Sabol never owned an NFL team or served as commissioner. But that doesn't mean this 94-year-old visionary doesn't deserve to be recognized for his unique contributions since starting NFL Films almost 50 years ago.

'I think NFL Films was as important to the growth and success of the NFL as any one single thing that ever took place,'' says former 49ers owner Ed DeBartolo, who lives in Tampa. 'It put the teams and players in the forefront of fans' minds.'

At some point in the 1960s, pro football vaulted past baseball as America's most popular sport; NFL Films played a pivotal role in that transformation."

Now, for some sample videos... This is 100% classic NFL Films:

And here's a good example of the modern NFL Films style:

So, what do you think? Should Sabol be in the Hall of Fame for his contribution to the NFL's success over the past 50 years?

25 Comments | Posted in HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Dermontti Dawson

Posted by Neil Paine on February 1, 2011

Shifting from defense to offense, our next 2011 Hall of Fame finalist poll regards longtime Steelers center Dermontti Dawson. This is what Chase had to say about Dawson in December 2009:

Teams almost never replace one Hall of Famer with another. The 49ers replacing Joe Montana with Steve Young, the Bears filling Bill George's absence with Dick Butkus and the Browns handing the ball off from Jim Brown to Leroy Kelly are exceptions to the rule. Things aren't supposed to be that easy for a team. But in Pittsburgh, fans didn't have to worry about their center for a quarter-century. From 1976 to 1988, Hall of Famer Mike Webster manned the middle for the Steelers offense. Pittsburgh drafted Dermontti Dawson in the second round of the 1988 draft, and he played next to Webster for one season. After Webster left for Kansas City, Dawson moved to the middle, and would start for the Steelers from 1989 to 2000. Those in Pittsburgh still debate who was the better center. But things didn't end there for Pittsburgh, as Jeff Hartings would replace Dawson similarly to the way Jeff Garcia followed Young. From '01 to '06, Hartings continued the Steelers tradition of excellence at the position: he was named to two Pro Bowls and two Associated Press All-Pro teams. But today, we're going to focus on Dawson, and his fantastic accomplishments during his twelve seasons in Pittsburgh.

6 Comments | Posted in HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Chris Doleman and Charles Haley

Posted by Neil Paine on January 31, 2011

It's time for your decision on two more 2011 Hall of Fame finalists: Chris Doleman and Charles Haley. And to help you sort out whether these feared pass-rushers belong in Canton, here's a re-run of Jason Lisk's January 2010 post about Doleman, Haley, and their contemporary Kevin Greene:

We'll talk about these three men together because they were contemporaries in the late 80's and early 90's, and regardless of their nominal position--outside linebacker in a 3-4, defensive end in a 4-3, they filled the same role throughout their careers: pass rush specialist. As I noted last year when talking about Derrick Thomas for the Hall of Fame, there were only six outside linebackers (now seven) who began their careers since 1950 who are in the Hall of Fame. More defensive linemen are in, but these three players are part of the generation that came of age right after the sack became an official statistic and began to define and quantify pass rushers.

In the last decade, we have seen two dominant all-around defensive ends who racked up high sack totals, Reggie White and Bruce Smith, go into the Hall. In the last two years, Derrick Thomas, Fred Dean and Andre Tippett have also been selected. These three players were not slam dunks, and they certainly don't give us enough precedent to know how the selectors are going to handle the post-1982 generation of pass rushers.

How will they view players who were known at times in their career as one-dimensional and focused on their sack totals? What will matter more, high peak, or longevity of getting consistent sack totals? How much will rings and post-season success outweigh raw sack totals?

Doleman, Greene and Haley's chances depend on the answers to those questions. All three were, at various times, game changers for the opponent to plan around, and team changers because they caused a few too many headaches in their own locker room or groused over their contracts. Like wide receivers who needed the spotlight, these three represent a new breed of pass rusher that came with the official tallying of taking the quarterback to the ground, and their tradition is carried forward by the various dances of the sack specialists today.

11 Comments | Posted in HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Jerome Bettis

Posted by Neil Paine on January 28, 2011

Yesterday's poll on Marshall Faulk was truly a no-brainer, with 98.6% of PFR readers considering him HoF-worthy. So let's challenge the voters with a more interesting question: is Jerome Bettis a Hall of Famer?

The facts on Bettis' career:

NumYrs Players whose career was of similar quality and shape
3 Robert Holmes, Don Bosseler, Marion Barber, Kevan Barlow, Howie Ferguson, Floyd Little*, Gary W. Anderson, Napoleon Kaufman, Travis Henry, Marshawn Lynch
4 Ted Brown, Lynn Chandnois, Reggie Bush, Brian Westbrook, John Riggins*, Greg Pruitt, Floyd Little*, Dickie Post, Kevin Mack, Alex Webster
5 Brian Westbrook, Frank Gore, Sam Cunningham, Neal Anderson, Delvin Williams, John Brockington, John Riggins*, Larry Csonka*, Jim Taylor*, Sherman Smith
6 John Brockington, Sherman Smith, Sam Cunningham, John Riggins*, Jim Taylor*, Neal Anderson, Delvin Williams, Chuck Muncie, Don Perkins, Larry Csonka*
7 Sam Cunningham, Don Perkins, Tony Nathan, Neal Anderson, Delvin Williams, John Riggins*, Floyd Little*, Mark van Eeghen, Earnest Byner, Larry Csonka*
8 Floyd Little*, Corey Dillon, Don Perkins, Neal Anderson, Earnest Byner, John Riggins*, Earl Campbell*, Greg Pruitt, Jim Taylor*, Ollie Matson*
9 Corey Dillon, Floyd Little*, Earnest Byner, John Riggins*, Jim Taylor*, Ollie Matson*, Ken Willard, Greg Pruitt, Don Perkins, Chuck Muncie
10 Corey Dillon, Floyd Little*, Freeman McNeil, Jim Taylor*, Earnest Byner, Ollie Matson*, Leroy Kelly*, John Riggins*, Ken Willard, John L. Williams
11 Corey Dillon, Freeman McNeil, John Riggins*, Earnest Byner, Floyd Little*, James Brooks, Jim Taylor*, Ollie Matson*, Greg Pruitt, Leroy Kelly*
12 Corey Dillon, John Riggins*, Earnest Byner, Freeman McNeil, Larry Csonka*, James Brooks, Ollie Matson*, Floyd Little*, Herschel Walker, Jim Taylor*
13 Corey Dillon, Earnest Byner, John Riggins*, Ollie Matson*, Freeman McNeil, Larry Csonka*, James Brooks, Floyd Little*, Herschel Walker, Jim Taylor*
Career Corey Dillon, Earnest Byner, Ollie Matson*, Freeman McNeil, Larry Csonka*, James Brooks, Floyd Little*, Herschel Walker, Jim Taylor*, John L. Williams
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/28/2011.

So what do you think about Bettis?

49 Comments | Posted in Great Historical Players, HOF, PI Finds, Running Backs

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Cortez Kennedy

Posted by Neil Paine on January 28, 2011

Before you vote in our next 2011 Hall of Fame poll, let's revisit Cortez Kennedy's career with a post Chase made in January 2010:

Outside of Seattle, the Seahawks are a blip on the radar of most NFL fans. The Seahawks are one of the youngest franchises in the league, one of the most geographically remote, one of the least successful, and have been one of the most devoid of star power. They've had only five superstars since Seattle entered the league in 1976. Steve Largent is the only Seahawk in the Hall of Fame and was one of the greatest wide receivers in league history. Safety Kenny Easley had his Hall of Fame-like career derailed due to injuries and kidney disease. Walter Jones and Shaun Alexander - both of whom may be Canton bound - helped form one of the most potent offenses in the NFL in the middle of this decade, and earned Seattle an NFC Championship. Bridging the gap between Largent and Easley of the '80s and Jones and Alexander of the '00s, was Cortez Kennedy.If you weren't paying attention, it would have been easy to forget about the Seahawks while Kennedy was there, with the Seattle sports scene dominated by the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. The most memorable football moments of the '90s from the Pacific Northwest are the split National Championship the Huskies won in 1991, Drew Bledsoe becoming the first pick in the 1994 draft, and Ryan Leaf taking Wazzou to its first Rose Bowl in 57 years.

Despite playing in Seattle for eleven seasons, Kennedy's teams played in just one playoff game during his tenure. But to forget the easily-forgettable '90s Seahawks would be to throw the 305-lb baby out with the bathwater. After starring at "The U" during its prominence -- Kennedy's Hurricanes went 45-3 during his time there -- Kennedy was the #3 pick in the 1990 NFL draft. He lived up to expectations quickly: his 1992 season is easily one of the most uniquely incredible seasons any defensive player has ever had.

11 Comments | Posted in HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Richard Dent

Posted by Neil Paine on January 27, 2011

Continuing our Hall of Fame re-runs/polls from yesterday, here's Chase's post on Richard Dent from January 2009:

Joe Namath. Larry Csonka. Lynn Swann. John Riggins. Marcus Allen. Those men aren't the first to pop into most minds when they think of Richard Dent, but that's my implicit association when hit with the question "Richard Dent: Hall of Famer?" All five men capped careers that were squarely "Hall of Very Good" with incredible playoff and/or Super Bowl performances that made them "Hall of Famers." They were the MVPs of Super Bowls III, VIII, X, XVII and XIII, respectively, and without those rings all of them would have had tough times making it to Canton. One day, we might remember the MVPs of Super Bowls XXXII (Terrell Davis) and XL (Hines Ward) the same way, as both of those players are still in the "HOVG" in most people's eyes.

How does this relate to Richard Dent? In the playoffs following the 1985 season, Dent recorded six sacks and five forced fumbles in three playoff games, culminating in being awarded the Super Bowl XX MVP trophy. Dent's fantastic performance isn't as fondly remembered as the men above, as his team's games were never in doubt. Chicago blew out all three opponents en route to being crowned champions; the Bears would score all the points they needed in the first quarter of each game. But while it lacked a dramatic flair, Dent's performance was still impressive. I noted that Terrell Davis set the single-season rushing record (regular and post-season combined) in 1998; well, Dent set the single-season official sack record (regular and post-season combined) in 1985, with 23 sacks. His 1985 season was one of the best in NFL history, as he also chipped in with 12 forced fumbles (regular and post-season, combined), scored a touchdown on an interception return, and was named first-team All-Pro on one of the greatest defenses of all-time.

9 Comments | Posted in HOF

2011 Hall of Fame Polls: Tim Brown/Cris Carter/Andre Reed

Posted by Neil Paine on January 26, 2011

With the 2011 Hall of Fame announcement coming the day before the Super Bowl, we want you to weigh in with your opinions on the candidates. To help get things started, here's what Chase had to say about a trio of receivers -- Tim Brown, Cris Carter, & Andre Reed -- back in December of 2009:

Over the past few decades, no position has evolved more than that of the wide receiver. It wasn't until 1986 that the NFL had its first ever 750-catch receiver (Charlie Joiner). Today, 28 players have hit that benchmark, with over half of them having begun their careers in the '90s or '00s. Wes Welker is now the fifth player with 330 receptions over a three-year span (joining Marvin Harrison, Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Herman Moore), and he's not even the best receiver on his own team. The average first-team All-Pro WR, as selected by the Associated Press, averaged 53 receptions, 961 yards and 9.5 touchdowns in the '70s; this decade, those averages are up to 97 receptions, 1439 yards and 12.5 scores. Wide receiver records are constantly being broken, and numbers that looked terrific in the '70s looked mediocre in the '90s and are underwhelming today.

With that backdrop, it makes sense to analyze Tim Brown, Cris Carter and Andre Reed together. Each player's HOF case largely depends on how he compared to his peers during his playing days and how he now stacks up against others already in Canton. Brown's and Carter's career perfectly overlapped; both were drafted in the late '80s, were elite for most of the '90s, and were still productive at the beginning of this decade. Reed was a couple of years older, but was still a contemporary of Brown and Carter, and peaked during roughly the same time. All three made the Pro Bowl in 1993 and 1994. All had long careers and then chose to play one final season in a new uniform over retiring. Reed played for 15 seasons with the Bills and then one with the Redskins; Carter played 12 years with the Eagles and Vikings, before finishing up with the Dolphins; Brown played for Al Davis Raiders for 16 seasons before reuniting with Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay. Ultimately, at least one but not all of them will make the Hall of Fame. So who gets inducted?

10 Comments | Posted in HOF

What is a Hall of Fame Player Worth?

Posted by Jason Lisk on August 9, 2010

I was watching the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony for Dick LeBeau, John Randle, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Jerry Rice, Floyd Little and Emmitt Smith on Saturday and among all the accolades from the pre-ceremony commentators to the introductions to the speeches, it got me wondering, "what is a Hall of Fame player worth?"

9 Comments | Posted in Approximate Value, HOF

Senior Candidates, 2011: Al Wistert

Posted by Jason Lisk on June 14, 2010

Back in February, we discussed profiling Senior nominees for the 2011 Veteran's selections, and solicited input from all of our great readers. I had hoped to start on the profiles after the draft but that did not happen right away. The two finalists are generally announced in late August, so we will be profiling players over the next month or so for consideration. Today, we start with Al Wistert.

Al Wistert is 89 years old and living in Grants Pass, Oregon. For most of the last forty years, he has had very little buzz around his candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but that has changed over the last few years. Last year, he was inducted into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame along with Randall Cunningham, and there have been online petitions to get him considered as a senior selection for Canton. So, is this a case of a sentimental selection for a living representative of a bygone era, when football was played both ways by players who rarely left the field? Or is Al Wistert an oversight by the Pro Football Hall of Fame that needs to be corrected by the Senior Selection Committee?

Before I get to that answer, a quick aside. When I was researching Al Wistert, I kept running into confusing references of Al Wistert playing for the Philadelphia Eagles the same year as he was playing for the University of Michigan. As it turns out, there were two Al Wisterts, who were brothers, and who played football at the same time. Actually, three Wistert brothers starred at tackle for the University of Michigan. Francis "Whitey" Wistert (born in 1912) played at Michigan from 1931-1933, and also played baseball and was signed by the Cincinnati Reds. Alvin "Moose" Wistert (born in 1915) did not go to college right away, served in World War II, and played at Michigan after the war, when he was already in his thirties. Albert "Ox" Wistert, the Al Wistert at issue here, was the youngest of the three, but played and starred at Michigan from 1940-1942, before the older Alvin Wistert.

Al Wistert was a natural athlete. He never actually played organized football in high school, and his first game of organized football came when he started for the University of Michigan as a sophomore in 1940 against California.

As an NFL rookie, Wistert was a member of the famous "Steagles" team in 1943, which combined the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia franchises for one season due to the war. The following year, his first officially with the Eagles, Wistert was selected first team all-pro for the first time, and he would go on to be selected by an awarding organization at least once in every remaining year in the decade. Judging by the number of awards each season, he was widely considered the best tackle in the game from 1944 to 1948. Before Wistert arrived in Philadelphia, the franchise had never had a winning record. He was a favorite of coach Greasy Neale and was captain of the team, and played in three consecutive NFL championship games from 1947-1949 as captain.

It's difficult to compare Al Wistert to other candidates for senior selection who played after 1950 because he played a very different game as a two way player, where versatility was far more important. From the accounts I can find, he was considered adept on both sides of the ball in both college and the pros, praised for his technique and variety in offensive blocking, and in his ability to make sure tackles and control his area defensively. Offensively, he blocked in front of Steve Van Buren for one of the best rushing attacks of the era, and defensively, he was part of teams that consistently ranked in the top 3 in both passing and rushing rate stats and recorded shutouts in the 1948 and 1949 championship games. The only way I know to assess Wistert's qualifications for the Hall is to compare him to contemporaries at the same position from the two-way era. During Wistert's time, and in the decade before, numerous awarding organizations named all pro teams, usually between 4 and 7 in a given year. They may have had different criteria, so it gives us a broad view of how players were viewed. From 1930 to 1949 (the unlimited substitution rule went into effect in 1950), 37 different tackles were named to at least one first team all pro team by an awarding organization. Here is a summary of all tackles for this two decade period who were named on at least five distinct first team all pros during this period, with the first column representing the total number of first team selections by different organizations, and the second column representing the total number of discrete seasons in which the player had at least one first team selection.

First Last All Pros Years as All Pro
Al Wistert 24 6
Joe Stydahar 21 5
Turk Edwards 18 8
Bruiser Kinard 16 6
Cal Hubbard 10 3
Dick Huffman 10 3
Bill Morgan 8 2
George Christensen 7 4
Baby Ray 7 4
Ed Widseth 7 2
Willie Wilkin 7 2
Al Blozis 5 1
Fred Davis 5 2

Joe Stydahar, Turk Edwards, Bruiser Kinard and Cal Hubbard, the four men who rank immediately below Wistert on this list, are all enshrined in Canton, and are the only four tackles from this era in the Hall of Fame. Wistert compares more than favorably against the other two way tackles from this two decade period, and clearly separates himself from any other tackle not in Canton. Arguably, by this rough measure of looking at awards, he was the most dominant tackle of this twenty year period, and is in any event, the equal of the other Hall of Famers who were honored long ago.

So why is Wistert still not in the Hall? I suspect it is just that he slipped through the cracks, and if the Hall had been in existence when he retired and he was eligible five years later, he would have been in shortly thereafter. The Pro Football Hall of Fame had its inaugural class in 1963, and was still in its infancy when Wistert was honored by the college football hall of fame in 1968 at about the same time the pro football hall of fame added Stydahar, Kinard, and Edwards. Then, the clear choices among the stars of the late 1950's and early 1960's, who played at a time when the game was hitting greater heights in popularity with television playing a greater role, were reaching eligibility, and those older stars who had not made it in were pushed aside by generations that remembered them less and less with each passing year. You would have to be near eighty years old now to have seen Wistert play, so there are few first hand accounts, and certainly no advanced statistics to rely on. Still, using the awards and how he was perceived at the time, it is pretty clear that Wistert is a glaring omission. He seems like the exact kind of player the Senior Committee should be considering as a strong candidate for inclusion.

18 Comments | Posted in Great Historical Players, HOF

HOF 2011: Senior Nominees, preliminary options

Posted by Chase Stuart on February 17, 2010

One of the most successful things we've done at the P-F-R blog has been the series chronicling the 2010 Hall of Fame selection process. The series was so successful because of the significant amount of quality contributions from our commenters. We appreciate and recognize how lucky we are to have so many knowledge, every-day readers, and we tried to show our appreciation by inviting some of the commenters to a roundtable discussion the week before the 2010 HOF Class was announced. As it turned out, the comments to that post were again terrific, and spawned a new idea.

Along with me and Jason, many of our readers were disappointed with the senior candidates selected by the Hall of Fame Committee. The rules surrounding the seniors committee choices are simple: any player or coach who has been retired for at least 25 seasons is eligible for induction via the seniors route. While Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little are now Hall of Famers, many of us felt that there were more deserving players who retired decades ago and still have yet to be enshrined.

Tom Martens pointed out that perhaps we could come up with suggest candidates for the seniors comittee for the Hall of Fame Class of 2011. Patrick W agreed with Tom, before Jason threw cold water on everyone. Since I fully agree with Jason's comment, I'm reprinting it below:

125 Comments | Posted in Announcements, HOF

Joe Namath is a legitimate Hall of Fame Quarterback

Posted by Jason Lisk on February 12, 2010

If you haven't been keeping up with the comments to the previous post about amazing stats and context, well, shame on you, because there has been a lot of interesting discussion about a lot of things. One of the things that came up was a discussion of player talent with some references to Joe Namath. I'm going to just quote some comments from BSK, responding to JWL:

Are you we thinking of the same Joe Namath? He of the 173/220 TD/INT ratio? Of the 62-63-4 record as a starter? Of the career completion percentage of 50.1%? Of the career 65.5 passer rating? And while perhaps Namath would have had a better career despite his injury, the fact is the injury happened, his career numbers were pretty poor, and by no legitimate statistical measure can you say he was a legit HoF. Take away the story of Super Bowl III and his personality and it wouldn't even be up for discussion. And that is the problem with the HoF.

And later . . .

Now, what happened on the field obviously went better for Namath than (Bo) Jackson, but neither really did anything particularly exceptional when it's all said and done with. My point was that there are supremely talented players who, for one reason or another, don't live up to that talent (or the perception of their talent). Unfortunately, we cannot give them credit for what they did not actually accomplish. Namath gets no bonus points for what might have been had he not hurt his leg before he even got to the NFL, just like Jackson gets no bonus points for what might have been. To say that Namath was a top 5 QB and then say that my statistical demonstration of exactly why he wasn't is off the mark is laughable at best.

If you read the title of this post, you might correctly guess that I am going to try to show that by legitimate statistical measures, Namath was a legitimate Hall of Famer. While I am quoting BSK here, because he just happens to be the one making comments in a post this week, I don't think he is exactly in the minority. I see lots of comments about Joe Namath not being a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback, or talking about how bad his numbers were. Joe Posnanski wrote about Namath and his "shockingly bad" numbers on his blog two years ago.

I guess I should first point out that Chase Stuart wrote a series of posts on the Greatest Quarterbacks of All-Time last summer, and in the most recent version, Namath ranked #24 all-time. Now, Chase is a Jets fan, so perhaps you think that Chase, just because he sponsors Namath's player page at PFR, was cooking the books to make Namath look better. Actually, we had a lot of discussion behind the scenes about that series. Chase was contemplating including a completion percentage calculation as part of the updated formula, and I am actually the one who deterred him by showing him some numbers about teams with similar YPA's and different completion percentages, and the resulting win/loss and points scored. I should probably do a separate post on that this off-season, so I'll just say that for now, it didn't appear that including completion percentage would actually better measure value. Namath, as we know, had a relatively low completion percentage, so including that would have lowered him in the rankings.

So, we see that in what I would hope would pass as a legitimate statistical measure, Joe Namath ranks as a valid Hall of Famer, even without "the guarantee" and the New York media. So let's break down that a little further and discuss why some think he is not, and why I think he is.

1. When we cite things like quarterback rating, completion percentage, and interception ratio, we are going to find that they do not favor Namath. Of course, quarterback rating is over-reliant on completion percentage, and interception percentage also plays a big factor, so mentioning those things and also citing qb rating is redundant.

2. As we know, qb rating does not include sack percentage, though I argued a few months ago that it should. This also disfavors Namath when we cite qb rating, because he had a quick release, which is statistically confirmed by his extremely low sack percentage relative to his era.

3. I talked about quarterback personality types this summer and one of the traits I used was the Gambler trait. If you threw more interceptions and more incompletions because you were avoiding sacks, you were a Gambler in my book, and Namath was an extreme Gambler. Of course, this isn't necessarily bad for your point production and value, even though it is bad for your blessed qb rating. I actually wrote a modest proposal for a Kansas City area sports blog entitled Matt Cassel needs to throw MORE interceptions, where I discuss some of these things. Holding the ball and taking sacks can be as costly or more costly than throwing some interceptions by throwing the ball before you are ready. In Namath's case, we are underselling how good he was when we don't also cite his sack data. His effective completion percentage (completions divided by total passes plus sacks) ranks him much better, and in my opinion, more accurately provides a full picture of a quarterback's contribution.

4. Completion percentage is vastly over-rated. Again, I will probably have a separate post sometime this off-season. I also looked at quarterbacks with similar passer ratings, but different sub-ratings in the four categories, and you will probably be interested in the results as they relate to how frequently, say, a qb with a 90 rating that is dropped down by a bad completion percentage wins and scores, compared to one that is propped up by a good one.

5. Most people agree that yards per attempt is a better indicator of passing value, and Namath exceeded 8.0 yards per attempt in 1967 and 1968, and was at 7.0 or higher every year between ages 23 and 32. Using our advanced passing table which adjusts to league average, he was above average in that category in every one of those seasons. He was insanely above average in 1972 (over two standard deviations above the league average).

6. When we look at adjusted net yards per attempt, which does include his sack rate and his interception rate (but does not include completion percentage), we see a well above average quarterback for most of his career. We don't have reliable sack data for individual quarterbacks before 1969, but extrapolating his career sack rate after 1969 (combined with his completion percentage and interception rate) we can make a pretty good guess that he was also good at avoiding sacks before 1969. From 1969 forward, which would be after he won the Super Bowl and most think he stopped being a good quarterback, he was over a standard deviation better than the league in 1969, 1971 and 1972. He was above average in 1973 and 1974 as well. The only year he was average was in 1970, when he played in only 5 games. So, using adjusted net yards per attempt, rather than quarterback rating, we see that he was a well above average quarterback from ages 24 to 31.

7. His numbers need to be put in context of his era, which we can do with things like our Advanced Passing Table, as interception rates and sack rates and completion percentage were all much lower than they are today.

Of course, all of the above is why he ranks in the top 30 all-time on Chase's list, but I just wanted to spell out why that was, and why I disagree with assessments that selectively cite things like qb rating and completion percentage. I don't know how talented he was relative to other quarterbacks. I do know that he ranks in the top 30 by what I think is a pretty good objective measure, which takes into account rate stats and total attempts to derive value.

And he is ranked in the top 30 despite missing a substantial portion of what would be the prime years for a lot of quarterbacks (missing 28 games between ages 27 and 30). The one year he played almost a full season during that stretch (1972), he led the league in passing yards, touchdowns, yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, net yards per attempt, and adjusted net yards per attempt. Oh, and he completed 50% of his passes, so he sucked. The Jets went 7-6 when he started that year, but it was because they ranked 19th out of 26 teams in points allowed, and not because they finished 2nd in points scored.

And he is ranked in the top 30 despite hanging around too long and playing broken down and on bad knees, and putting up awful numbers at the end of his career. We don't know what he would have been if he had stayed healthy (though it's not going out on a limb to say he would rank higher), but let's be clear. His career numbers were not "pretty poor", unless you worship at the Church of the Blessed Quarterback Rating, and ignore everything else.

90 Comments | Posted in HOF, Player articles, Rant

HOF 2010: Roundtable discussion

Posted by Chase Stuart on February 3, 2010

P-F-R has decided to close this series on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 by having a roundtable discussion where we argue about the candidates up for election. Below are the profiles P-F-R has written for the 17 men, of whom as many as seven may be called Hall of Famers by Saturday afternoon:

Finalists:

John Randle
Roger Craig
Russ Grimm
Dermontti Dawson
Tim Brown
Cris Carter
Andre Reed
Charles Haley
Cortez Kennedy
Don Coryell
Shannon Sharpe
Jerry Rice
Richard Dent
Emmitt Smith
Rickey Jackson

Senior's nominees:

Dick LeBeau
Floyd Little

You have read more than enough of my words over the past two months; joining me at this virtual roundtable will be Jason Lisk and four frequent P-F-R commentators: Jason W, Just Win Baby, Richie and Tim Treumper.

38 Comments | Posted in HOF, Player articles

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