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Hall of Fame Talk … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

As we hurry up-and-wait for the NFL owners and the current players to settle their labor dispute by ending the lockout and getting back to work, it seemed a good time to chat about several items involving the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

HALL OF FAME GAME IS UP IN THE AIR – Each day in this dispute that is ripped off the football calendar hurts the chances of playing the annual Hall of Fame Game on Sunday, August 7 in Canton, Ohio. The Rams and Bears are scheduled to play that night. But if the teams can’t get into camp at their scheduled times – July 22 (Bears) or 23 (Rams) – it’s going to bring into question player safety if they are asked to play a game without two weeks of preparation.

Pundits have been quick to dismiss the game as unimportant and that cancelling would not necessarily be a bad thing. Yes, it is a meaningless exhibition game, but it is an important evening for the Hall of Fame and Canton. The revenue that comes to the Hall from the fans that generally fill Fawcett Stadium for the game, to the money for television rights are two of the biggest sources of revenue for the Hall each year.

Losing that money would be a major financial hit for the Hall of Fame.

INDUCTION FOR CLASS OF 2011 WILL GO ON – The induction ceremonies on August 6 will happen no matter whether the owners’ lockout is over or not. So on that Saturday evening, Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Ed Sabol, Deion Sanders and Shannon Sharpe will be honored and will speak to the honor of receiving a bust in Canton, a Hall of Fame ring and that gold jacket.

This week, the Hall of Fame released the names of the people who will present the incoming Hall of Famers. The role of the presenters has changed in the last few years and they no longer give extended speeches, as the Hall of Famer is introduced by a video segment that’s put together by NFL Films.

But it’s always interesting to see who those going into the Hall choose to help them celebrate this great honor. This year, family roots run deep as former Packers WR Sterling Sharpe will present his brother Shannon. For NFL films creator Ed Sabol, his son Steve will be there. Former LB Chris Hanburger will be presented by his son Chris Hanburger, Jr. The late Les Richter will be represented by his son Jon Richter.

Agents are big this year as well, with Deion Sanders selected agent Eugene Parker and Marshall Faulk picking his agent Rocky Arceneaux. Finally, Richard Dent has selected a former college coach at Tennessee State Joe Gilliam.

For Chiefs members of the Hall of Fame, here is who they selected to present them in Canton:

  • Lamar Hunt – Billy Sullivan, owner of the New England Patriots (1971).
  • Bobby Bell – Hank Stram, coach of the Chiefs (1983).
  • Willie Lanier – Lamar Hunt, Chiefs owner (1986).
  • Len Dawson – Stram (1987).
  • Buck Buchanan – Stram (1990).
  • Jan Stenerud – Stram (1990).
  • Hank Stram – Len Dawson, quarterback (2003).
  • Emmitt Thomas – son Derek Thomas (2008).
  • Derrick Thomas – Carl Peterson, President/GM of the Chiefs (2009).

The most popular presenter in Hall of Fame history has been Al Davis. The managing general partner of the Raiders gave the presenting speech nine times, doing it for Lance Alworth, Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell, Ted Hendricks and John Madden.

SENIORS PROCESS UNDERWAY FOR 2012

Within the 44-person Board of Selectors for the Hall of Fame there is a separate group called the Seniors Committee. Five voters are part of that group each year and they meet in August to decide on the two seniors candidates that will be part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2012. Expect an announcement sometime in the next six weeks.

Although the Hall does not release information on the players that are discussed within the committee each year, we know that two former Chiefs have been part of the final discussion several times over the last 10 years – WR Otis Taylor and RB/FS Johnny Robinson. Both are deserving of having the chance to be discussed as a potential Hall of Famer during the voting process.

Amazingly, Taylor has never been a finalist in the process. Robinson was a finalist six times, the last year being 1986 (along with 1980-83 and 1985.)

Generally, the seniors candidates end up drawing enough votes to earn induction. In the last 14 years (1998-2011), only three of the 22 seniors did not gain admission – WR Bob Hayes (2004), RB Marshall Goldberg (2008) and DE Claude Humphrey (2009). Hayes was eventually inducted five years later.

Both Stram and Emmitt Thomas entered the Hall through the seniors process.

WHEN ARE PLAYERS ELIGIBLE FOR THE HALL?

This year the Board of Selectors will be considering the name of G Will Shields; he’s eligible for the class of 2012.

Players and coaches have a five-year waiting period before they are eligible for induction into the Hall. Once that happens, the player or coach has 20 years to earn induction. Shields last season of play was 2006.

When the player or coach is 25 years removed from his career and has not been inducted, he moves into the seniors group where in effect, he can stay for eternity.

For those that like to keep track, here’s how it works in the coming years:

Last Season Played

First Year Eligible

Chiefs players who might receive consideration for the Hall

2006

2012

G Will Shields

2007

2013

RB Priest Holmes

2008

2014

LB Donnie Edwards, QB Trent Green, WR Dante Hall

2009

2015

 

2010

2016

OLB Mike Vrabel

THE HALL OF VERY GOOD

Almost a decade ago, the Pro Football Researchers Association (PFRA) established what they call the Hall of Very Good. Begun in 2003, they seek to honor outstanding players and coaches who are not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and are not likely to ever make it to Canton, Ohio.

This is not a joke. There are no golden busts, no building to honor their accomplishments and no ceremony to introduce the inductees. There is a certificate and the knowledge that someone – in this case folks who are heavily involved in the history of the game – thinks their contributions were important to professional football.

Already a member of the Hall of Very Good are a trio of former Chiefs – RB/FS Johnny Robinson (2003), WR Otis Taylor (2006) and G Ed Budde (2010).

Just last month, the PFRA released the name of the finalists for the class of 2011. They are:

– QB Ken Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals 1971-86.
– LB Bill Bergey, Cincinnati Bengals 1969-73, Philadelphia Eagles 1974-80.
– WR Cliff Branch, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders 1972-85.
– OG Ray Bray, Chicago Bears 1939-42, 1946-51, Green Bay Packers 1952.
– C-HB-FB Charley Brock, Green Bay Packers 1939-47.
– DB Bobby Dillon, Green Bay Packers 1952-59.
– OG Ken Gray, Chicago/St. Louis Cardinals 1958-69, Houston Oilers 1970.
– FS Cliff Harris, Dallas Cowboys 1970-79.
– WR Harold Jackson, Los Angeles Rams 1968, Philadelphia Eagles 1969-72, Rams 1973-77, New England Patriots 1978-81, Minnesota Vikings 1982, Seattle Seahawks 1983.
– OT George Kunz, Atlanta Falcons 1969-74, Baltimore Colts 1975-78, 1980.
– HB Paul Lowe, Los Angeles Chargers 1960, San Diego Chargers 1961-68, Kansas City Chiefs 1968-69.
– DE Harvey Martin, Dallas Cowboys 1973-83.
– DB Eddie Meador, Los Angeles Rams 1959-70.
– RB Lydell Mitchell, Baltimore Colts 1972-77, San Diego Chargers 1978-79, Los Angeles Rams 1980.
– OT-C-head coach Ted Nesser, Columbus Panhandles 1920-21.
– LB Andy Russell, Pittsburgh Steelers 1963-76.
– Coach Lou Saban, Boston Patriots 1960-61, Buffalo Bills 1962-65, Denver Broncos 1967-71, Bills 1972-76.
– DT Tom Sestak, Buffalo Bills 1962-68.
– TE Jerry Smith, Washington Redskins 1965-77.
– HB-FB-DB Buddy Young, New York Yankees 1947-49, New York Yanks 1950-51, Dallas Texans 1952, Baltimore Colts 1953-55.

The class of 2011 for the Hall of Very Good will be announced before the end of October.


One Response to “Hall of Fame Talk … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • July 14, 2011  - Blake says:

    Willie Roaf




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