Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Jun 2005

Jerry Green Headed to Hall of Fame

Jerry Green, longtime NFL reporter for the Detroit News, is this year's winner of the Dick McCann Memorial Award and will be inducted into the writers' wing of the NFL Hall of Fame this summer. Green is one of five reporters to have covered every Super Bowl, and is on both the regular HOF selection committee and the seniors subcommittee. He's also a graduate of Brown University, which means that the school that spawned Football Outsiders is also the alma mater of two of this year's five HOF inductees (Fritz Pollard being the other).

On the subject of media members in the Hall, Richie Wohlers pointed out this article from Pro Football Weekly touting John Madden for the Hall. The problem is that the McCann Award is only given to members of the print media, and Madden's coaching career was probably too short to be considered worthy of enshrinement on its own.

Here's a list of all McCann Award winners through 2003 (last year's winner was Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News).

Late add: It turns out there is a broadcasting award, the Rozelle Award, although the winners aren't technically "enshrined" in the Hall. Madden did win this award a couple years ago; this year's winner is the retiring Myron Cope.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 28 Jun 2005

30 comments, Last at 29 Aug 2005, 7:40pm by Richie


by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 11:09am

The linked article refers to Joel Buchsbaum. Does anyone know how he died? At the time that he died I heard people talk about what a shocking tragedy it was, but I never knew the cause. I heard a rumor that it was anorexia. It bothers me how often the media won't report cause of death, as if it's something to be ashamed of or something.

I personally think John Madden belongs in the Hall of Fame as a coach. He really had a phenomenal record.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 11:40am

Check out the link for what I could find in 5 minutes.

by MDS (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 11:58am

Thanks, Matthew. What a sad story.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 12:45pm

I agree - Madden should be in the Hall as a coach. He coached the Raiders ten years, totalling a 103-32-7 regular season record and a 9-7 playoff record. I also think he should be in as an announcer as well, possibly more than any other TV announcer should be. Even as he's lost a lot these days, he's still one of the better, more informative announcers.

by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 4:14pm

HOF discussion can always be interesting when you have to discuss high-peak, short-career candidates such as John Madden or Terrell Davis. 10 years seems like a pretty solid career length to me. Long enough to turn over the majority of a roster during his tenure. That's usually the proof of great coaching, when you can continue to win with the next generation of players.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 06/28/2005 - 5:52pm

I haven't compared to other non-HOF coaches, but a .730 winning percentage, a winning playoff record, and a Super Bowl win, in a ten-year era in which his team competed in the same conference as the great Steelers and Dolphins teams, strikes me as worthy.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 2:05pm

Madden was never thought of as an innovative coach. He was more of a players' coach than a strategist. People get upset that coaches like Hank Stram and George Allen get into the HOF while Madden doesn't, but Stram and Allen were two of the greatest innovators in NFL history. That said, I would put Don Coryell into the HOF before Madden.

Also, Al Davis gets a lot of credit for making the Raider organization a winner from the mid-60's to the mid-80's. Madden inherited a 12-2 team in 1969, and every year until 1976 it seemed the Raiders would fall short in the playoffs. Madden has a 1-6 record in the AFC Championship game. The guy Madden replaced (John Rauch) took the Raiders to the Super Bowl, and the guy who replaced Madden (Tom Flores) won two Super Bowls.

by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 3:47pm

Madden's regular season Win-Loss PCt is the best of any NFL coach. Better even than Vince Lombardi.

IIRC he went to the playoffs 8 times in 10 years, won 1 Super Bowl, appeared in 5 consecutive AFC Championship games, and won 7 AFC west titles. Never had a losing season. Those are pretty good statistics by anyone's count.

To me, being able to motivate and get the best out of your players year-in/year-out is one of the hardest skills around. He didn't use gimmicks or innovations to achieve it.

BBS :-)

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 4:16pm

Win-loss records before free agency seems like a somewhat sketchy way to evaluate performance, especially if you inherited a quality team. With the lack of personnel movement, if you have a team like the Raiders, shouldn't you win 75% of your games?

Also, I'm not really for coaches making the Hall unless they either win a whole lot in the playoffs (i.e. Noll during that same period) or innovated in some revolutionary way. I think Madden is really close, and if he put up the same record today I'd think he should be in there.

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 4:22pm

BTW, after doing some math (having fun with stats and my TI-89), I found that even given a 70% chance of winning, a coach will only win as many games as Madden about 29% of the time. So I guess I'm really not sure and will leave the debate to those that actually saw him coach.

On another note, that 1-6 AFC championship record is pretty tragic, but at least he won the one he made. Unlike another current coach with a 1-4 AFC championship record...

Sorry about the double post.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 4:31pm

That's a 1-4 NFC championship record, right?

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 5:31pm

I really don't give a crap if a coach innovates or not. If he can get his team to win a Super Bowl and a higher % of games than anyone else in history, I don't care if he does it with the Single Wing, the Wishbone, the Run n' Shoot, or some crazy offense we haven't heard of yet. Who really cares how you win, isn't the whole point just to win? Or have we all turned into college football pollsters for whom style points and crazy offensive styles are more important than just having more points at the end of the game than the opponent?

And why is tactical 'genius' or crazy newfangled strategy more important than skills like tailoring your strategy to match the talent (or conversely, finding talent to match your strategies), or getting everyone to work together the most efficiently? Why is it supposedly a knock on someone who realizes his team is bigger and more talented and can just line up and knock 'em over? Isn't the usual criticism of Martz that he's 'too smart for his own good' and is more concerned with displaying his fancy offense and his own genius than just with winning? How then can we turn around and say Madden wasn't a good coach because he just won 80% of the time but didn't draw up any plays that displayed his 'genius'?

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 6:20pm

I don't think Madden was a bad coach, and I wouldn't begrudge him making the HOF, I was just pointing out some criticisms of Madden.

I think innovations are important in the overall history of the NFL moreso than winning a playoff game in 1973; they have more of a long-term impact.

Coach A has a 114-62 record, a % of .648, and a 10-5 postseason mark.

Coach B has a 92-59 record, a % of .609, and a 10-4 postseason mark.

You'd think these coaches would be relative equals, but not many people mention George Seifert (Coach A) in the same sentence as Bill Walsh (Coach B).

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 6:59pm

OK, reading back over my comments I think I came across too douchelike. Long day at work and all, I guess. And definitely innovation is important - after all, I have campaigned for Paul Brown as best coach ever because he was among the best at both innovation and winning. Certainly when coaches have roughly equal success, the ones that have the biggest lasting impact on the game should be more highly regarded. Just trying to point out that there's still a lot to be said for good ol' fashioned winning, is all.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 8:08pm

I suspect that if Seifert had never taken the Panthers job, he'd almost certainly have made the HOF. He still might, although it is far less certain.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 06/29/2005 - 8:15pm

Gotta agree about Seifert - there's a pretty good case to be made for a guy who was DC for a dynasty, then won 2 Super Bowls while coaching a consistent playoff team. But finishing your career with 15 straight losses has a way of taking the luster off of a career, and bringing out the 'worst coach to win 2 super bowls' and 'a good coach would've won four with that team' comments. I know I've gone back and forth on him many times, much more than I would have had he never coached the Panthers.

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 12:42am

Re #11:

I was referring to Cowher and his painful record in the AFC title game...

Also, I didn't mean to imply that winning wasn't important, just that in the context of the 70's when you could hold on to a high number of great players that it's much different than a run like Belichek's today. Finally, when I say innovation, I mean something that either benefited the game as a whole or helped someone win a whole lot of games. Martz running his circus makes him a historical footnote, not an innovator. The last person I can think of who truly fits that category might be Bill Walsh...

Like I said before, I guess I'm largely undecided about Madden and'll leave it to people that actually saw him coach (considering the peak of his run was a while before I was born). Overall, I just think that coaches in the HOF should be kept to a minimum.

(Man do I need some actual football action)

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 12:48pm

I hope Herschell Walker gets in before Madden. I've always thought Coryell deserved to get in.

Martz is really derivative of the "Air Coryell" attack.

People forget that he also deeply influenced HOFer Joe Gibbs, who was his assistant coach at SDU, San Diego and the Rams before hooking up with the Redskins.

Last year when he came back, Gibbs hired Ernie Zampese. He was Coryell's chief assistant with the Chargers.

And while NFL coaches have a certain reputation for being first class jerks, Coryell was always a gentleman, an affable guy to talk to and a genuinely nice man. Selfless. He realized early on that the game of modern football would involve highly complex passing schemes, and he worked to get the brightest players on his squads, always insisting that it was more important to have a probing, thoughtful and interested athlete than a stud.

"The country is full of good coaches. What it takes to win is a bunch of interested players."

Some say nice guys finish last, but Coryell rarely did, always "winning with honor," which was his trademark.

Now if I could just convince Senser that Walker and Guy belong in the HOF, too...

by senser81 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 2:03pm

I would be in favor of Herschel Walker's enshrinement...once they open up the new USFL wing.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 3:06pm

Can you think of any failed innovative coaches? I'm sure they exist. Martz is a bit innovative in his disregard for the value of timeouts.

Surely there are coaches who attempted innovative strategies, but were not successful.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 3:15pm

When Madden began as Raiders head coach, his quarterback was Daryl Lamonica. His RB's were guys like Pete Banaszak, Hewritt Dixon, Marv Hubbard, Charlie Smith and Larry Todd. His receivers were Fred Biletnikoff and Warren Wells. Pro Bowlers: Butch Atkinson (db), Fred Biletnikoff (wr), Willie Brown (db), Billy Cannon (rb), Dave Grayson (db), Daryle Lamonica (qb), Gus Otto (lb), Jim Otto (ol), Harry Schuh (ol).

Incomplete list of notable non-skill-position players:Butch Atkinson (db), Dan Birdwell (dl), Willie Brown (db), Dan Conners (lb), Ben Davidson (dl), Dave Grayson (db), Wayne Hawkins (ol), Tom Keating (dl), Bill Laskey (lb), Ike Lassiter (dl), Kent McCloughan (db), Gus Otto (lb), Jim Otto (ol), Harry Schuh (ol), Art Shell (ol), Gene Upshaw (ol), Nemiah Wilson (db).

By the time he won a Super Bowl 7 years later, his QB was Stabler. RB was Mark Van Eeghen. WR was Cliff Branch (and Biletnikoff).

Pro Bowlers: Cliff Branch (wr), Dave Casper (te), Art Shell (ol), Ken Stabler (qb), Gene Upshaw (ol), Phil Villapiano (lb).

Incomplete list of notable non-skill-position players:Butch Atkinson (db), Willie Brown (db), Dave Dalby (ol), Ted Hendricks (lb), Henry Lawrence (ol), Mike Reinfeldt (db), Art Shell (ol), Otis Sistrunk (dl), Jack Tatum (db), Gene Upshaw (ol), Phil Villapiano (lb).

Looks like most of the main contributors were completely different. I think Madden passes the test of turning over the talent on his inherited roster and continuing to win.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 3:18pm

I think George Seifert even passes the roster turnover test. The 49er roster was largely different in Seifert's 1994 championship season, than it was in Walsh's 1988 championship (and final) season.

The biggest names to play for both teams were Jerry Rice, Harris Barton, Jesse Sapolu and Steve Wallace.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 3:25pm

re: post #20

I remember Marty Mohrningweg had an innovative overtime strategy after winning the coin flip...

by senser81 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 3:32pm

re: post #21

Most people were noting Madden's win percentage, and I don't think you can convince me that inheriting a team that was 12-2 and goes 12-1-1 in your first season on the job doesn't affect Madden's win percentage.

Interestingly, under John Rauch in 1968 the Raiders defeated the Chiefs 41-6 in the playoffs...under Madden in 1969, the Raiders lost to the Chiefs 17-7 in the playoffs.

Its true that Madden had to retool to win the Super Bowl in 1976, but a lot of coaches have retooled their team to win a championship. What sets Madden apart from other coaches who have won one championship is his win percentage...which IMO is affected by inheriting a great ballclub and never having those 4-10, 3-11 rebuilding seasons.

by Carl (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 4:58pm

I think Madden, ultimately, will get in on one of those odd combo votes. Some reporters will recall his coaching years, which were good, and others will favor his "contributions" as an analyst of the game for TV.

That said, I still would like to see DC in the Hall and then Walker and Guy.

Come on, Aaron! Do a thread about punters!

by senser81 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 5:36pm

I think Guy was a very good punter, but I don't know if he is a HOFer because he didn't change the way punting is done (like Horace Gillom did), nor was he THAT much better than every other punter.

Guy led the league three times and had a punting average of 42.4 yards for his long career. Jerrel Wilson, essentially a contemporary (starting and ending his career about eight years earlier), led the league four times and averaged 43.0 overall. Guy does have 7 pro bowls to his credit, but thats about all that seperates Guy from other punters like Rohn Stark and Sean Landeta.

Anyway, I think Rat Guy is a tad bit overrated, and is merely a figurehead for the "Lets get a punter...any punter...into the Hall of Fame" campaign.

by MDS (not verified) :: Thu, 06/30/2005 - 6:35pm

The punting stats available don't tell you the whole story. From what I've read Guy always had good averages because he just boomed them as far as he could, but he wasn't very good at the other things like pinning the ball inside the 10-yard line. It's too bad we don't have more sophisticated stats. It's nearly impossible to judge a punter from the pre-Schatz era.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 07/22/2005 - 4:57pm

I think Cliff Branch should be in the hall of fame. Consider that he played on great Raider teams of the 1970s and early '80s and was a big part of three superbowl winners and other contending teams, making big playoff catches in the process. His numbers and big game performances compare favorably to Lynn Swann who only sports one more SB ring than Cliff.

by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 7:39pm

In this weeks' MMQB, Peter King discusses John Madden's HOF chances. He is a suporter. But part of his reasons for not having Madden in the hall is that he only coached 10 years with 1 championship.

He lists George Allen as a HOFer who has more seasons (12), but ZERO championships! Madden had a much better winning percentage than Allen (.760 vs .710).

He also lists Weeb Ewbank as one of the many coaches of Madden's era that are already in the HOF, and that there may be too many in. Geez. New Yorkers suck. Is Weeb in the HOF for any reason other than winning Super Bowl III? He coached 20 years and had a record of 130-129-7! Yikes! Ewbank had only seven winning seasons, and won 10 or more just twice. Is there something about Ewbank that I don't know? I didn't realize he was in the HOF.

by Richie (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2005 - 7:40pm

I guess Ewbank also coached the Colts to victory over the Giants in 1958. Apparently his claim to fame is that he coached (and won) in 2 of the "greatest games in NFL history" Funny that both games involve NY teams and the Colts.....