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Thursday, January 15, 2004
 



ELWAY AND SANDERS, SURE. BUT WHO ELSE SHOULD MAKE FOOTBALL'S HALL?


A couple of them are easy. Elway. Sanders. No-brainers. But that ain't enough. The Pro Football Hall of Fame will welcome no fewer than four (and no more than seven) into Canton next summer, so the voters who will gather in Houston on Saturday, Jan. 31, have some tough choices to make.

Tough? Not for the members of the Writers' Bloc, who never met a challenge they couldn't block, tackle, punt pass or kick . . . even if they've never heard of the Hall of Fame candidates they're kicking around. So the Bloc's David Schoenfield put it to them. Who do you like? Carl Eller? Bob Hayes? Gary Zimmerman? None of the above?


David Schoenfield
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

The NFL has announced 15 finalists for the Hall of Fame.

Barry Sanders
Barry Sanders has his eyes on the Hall of Fame, but who else will make it?
Who would you put in? (I mean, besides Elway and Sanders.)

The finalists:

John Elway
Barry Sanders
Bob Brown
Bob Hayes
Art Monk
Richard Dent
Carl Eller
Jim Marshall
Bob Kuechenberg
Cliff Harris
Gary Zimmerman
Lester Hayes
Rayfield Wright
Harry Carson
GM George Young


Dan Shanoff
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Maybe some of the WB's very own "Senior Committee" can enlighten some of us young 'uns about a few of these pre-'80s names!


Kevin Jackson (special guest appearance)
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Just for fun, I'll help you, and offend everyone.

(Geez, young people ...)

Bob Hayes
Bob Hayes was popular with the fans during his days with the Cowboys.
Cliff Harris = John Lynch
Lester Hayes = Champ Bailey
Art Monk = Jimmy Smith
Harry Carson = Derrick Brooks
Bob Hayes = Joey Galloway (before the injury -- and with better hands; don't kill me, R-Dub)
Gary Zimmerman = Walter Jones
Richard Dent = Dwight Freeney
George Young = Bill Polian
John Elway = George Patton
Barry Sanders = The Tasmanian Devil


Alan Grant
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Ah man, KJ ... allow me to school you a little bit!

Cliff Harris: Even if he ever found the tackle box, still couldnt hold Lynch's jock.

Lester Hayes: Easily the most physically dominating corner since Night Train Lane, but nowhere near the athletic phenom that is Champ.

Art Monk
Art Monk went over 1,000 yards receiving five times in his career.

Art Monk: Close to Smith in physicality and fluidity of movement; but in terms of route running, Smith isn't in Monk's league.

Harry Carson: Without LT and Carl Banks, is just an ordinary 'backer with a patent on the Gatorade shower.

Derrick Brooks is a new breed of backer -- the oversized safety with the ball-hawk skills of a corner.

Bob Hayes: More like Renaldo Nehemiah, just bigger and more explosive ... with better hands.

Gary Zimmerman: More pedestrian protector, sort of like Jon Runyan.

Richard Dent: I'll give you this one as Freeney, quick and undersized, is sort of like the old-school pass rusher of the eighties.

George Young: Hmm ... front-office exec. All the same.

John Elway: Early eighties version of Steve McNair.

Barry Sanders: No comparison. Any species.


Kevin Jackson
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

All right. I can go with most of that. (It ain't easy to find the equivalent. In some of mine, the original was better. In others, the new version was better.)

With one glaring exception: Bob Hayes was a football player who was also a world-class sprinter. Skeets was a hurdler and nothing more. Bullet Bob was the real deal.


Alan Grant
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Okay, KJ, you got me with Skeets ...


David Schoenfield
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Alan,

As someone who actually played "against" Art Monk (albeit not in his prime), would you consider him a Hall of Famer?

As an outsider I view him as a guy who played a long time and played on great teams; but I see him as a little short of "great," despite all those catches (940). He was a possession guy, not a deep threat, and was never a big TD guy -- only 68 career, never more than eight in one season. And made only three Pro Bowls.


Alan Grant
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Dave,

Sure, Monk was a "possession" receiver; but in my humble opinion, it takes a lot more to be a "possession" receiver than it does a deep threat. The former always has a much broader understanding of the game; he reads coverages with the same efficiency as the QB. The latter usually just runs fast.

For instance Alvin Harper was the quintessential deep threat, but what else could he do? I mean, as big as he was, he couldn't really even block anyone and was terrified of crossing routes.

That said, I think Monk deverves to be called great.


Dan Shanoff
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Dave,

Interesting point, Dave, so let me throw this at you for an apples-and-oranges-converted-back-to-apples question, tapping your MLB expertise:

Aside from the fact that the Pro Football HOF is a lot tougher to get into than the Baseball HOF, what's the difference between Monk -- someone with all-time-best "career" stats -- and those hitters or pitchers who happen to hit certain Hall-happy career milestones without ever being spectacular?

I'm on the fence about Monk myself; there's something to be said for consistent productivity over a long period of time. Maybe the resurgent Joe Gibbs love will add an extra nudge (kind of like resurgent Parcells love did to Carson).


Dave Schoenfield
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

Dan,

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is EASIER to get into the MLB Hall of Fame. They elect a minimum of four guys a year and usually the maximum seven. Baseball never elects seven guys in a year.

As for Monk, he was in the first generation of receivers who played their whole careers in the "passing" era, so his once-impressive stats are being matched all the time now. But he is probably similar to a pitcher such as Don Sutton, who was never the best but was very good (or great at times) for a long time. And longevity has to count for something.


Eric Neel
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Pro Football Hall is a bit of a mystery to me. If you play an offensive position like receiver, running back or quarterback, we do a numbers-based analysis on you. If you're an offensive lineman, of course, or even a fullback, that's really no measure. And so then what? Then it's about testimonials? Consensus? Impressions? The overall quality of your team during the years in which you played?


David Schoenfield
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

The overall quality of the team seems to play a HUGE role. I mean, who isn't in the Hall from the '60s Packers or the '70s Steelers?

Yet, there sits Carl Eller, who made six Pro Bowls and played in four Super Bowls but still isn't in the Hall.

P.S. Dan, he was a defensive end.


Jim Caple
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

I'm just waiting for the Hall committee (which has, what, nine people?) to snub Carl Eller again. Any museum that has room for Wilbur (Fats) Henry but none for Eller is suspect. And if you need a good laugh, check out the bust and cartoon for Wilbur in Canton. Wilbur, by the way, was 5-foot-10 and 230 pounds, and his claim to fame was drop-kicking a 50-yard field goal.


David Schoenfield
To: Writers' Bloc
Subject: Pro Football Hall of Fame

I thought Jim was joking, but Fats Henry is, indeed, in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

From the HOF's Web site:

"Seemingly both short and pudgy, he looked soft and fat at 5-11 and weighing 245. But his looks were truly deceiving. Henry had the swift reflexes of a man-eating tiger."

Carl Eller, of course, only had the swift reflexes of a common house cat; thus, his exclusion from Canton.