Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Jul 2011

OL Are Victims of Statistics in Hall of Fame Voting?

In an early appeal for Olin Kreutz's Hall of Fame consideration, Steven Schweikert at Windy City Gridiron makes the following case:

Which of these will be more remembered: that Receiver A retires with 12,950 yards and 140 touchdowns, and maybe two Super Bowl Rings, or Offensive Lineman A retires after starting at his position for twelve consecutive years, misses only one start, and while playing develops a reputation for being one of the best blockers of his time. Pretty sure, you'll be zeroing in towards the receiver's numbers ... The biggest reason why there aren't more linemen in the Hall of Fame is because there's no mainstream individual metric for offensive linemen to put them in any kind of perspective [sic] order.

Two thoughts here. First, it's an open question as to whether or not there are too few offensive linemen in the Hall of Fame. A cursory glance at the Hall's website reveals that, limited to the modern era, there are 35 Hall of Fame offensive linemen and 21 wide receivers. Granted, if we account for the fact that there are usually 2.5 times as many starting offensive linemen on a team as there are starting wide receivers, then there should theoretically be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 offensive linemen currently enshrined. However, I'm guessing one is not exactly arguing from a position of strength when the totals favor offensive linemen. After all, I dare anyone to engage a Hall of Fame voter in a discussion of actual versus expected values.

Second, although yours truly will probably zero in on the receiver's stats more than the offensive linemen's reputation, I (as of this writing) am not a Hall of Fame voter. Based on what Peter King has told us about the election process, I'm confident that the esteemed individuals who do decide whether or not a player gets into the Hall indeed have intimate knowledge of a player's career irrespective of his stats.

What do you think? Are there too few offensive lineman in the Hall of Fame? If so, is it because of a deficiency in statistical measurement?

Posted by: Danny Tuccitto on 09 Jul 2011

73 comments, Last at 16 Jul 2011, 4:01pm by bachslunch


by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 12:40pm

Too few OL for sure, but Olin Kreutz isn't the guy for whom this case should be made.

OL stats are hard to track down, but from 04-07, for example, he was the most penalized center:


Anecdotally, he's always good for an amusing aborted snap every time the Bears switch QBs mid-game.

by Independent George :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 2:06pm

If Olin Kreutz gets in, but not Dermonti Dawson, my head will explode.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 10:14am


I still do not understand why Dawson isn't in...

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 7:32pm

He's going to make it, I'm sure, but his not already being in is one of those weirdo instances that makes you question the entire process.

by Mike Elseroad (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 9:12pm

Me either

by Jerry :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 11:14pm

1. I keep reading that there is a feeling among some voters that there are already too many Steelers in the Hall.

2. The lack of available statistics makes an oversight less obvious. If Emmitt Smith or Jerry Rice hadn't gotten in, it would be easy to point to their record-setting numbers, but there's nothing comparable for an offensive lineman. (To be clear, I'm not suggesting that Dawson is Smith or Rice's equivalent, but whoever is will face the same issue.)

by bachslunch :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 1:54pm

Looking at 1st team all pro selections, pro bowls, and all decade teams, Olin Kreutz's HoF case should sit mired with all the other late 90s-and-00s era centers behind Kevin Mawae. Numbers are:

Kevin Mawae 7(3AP)/8/00s
Olin Kreutz 2(1AP)/6/00s
Tom Nalen 3(2AP)/5/none
Jeff Saturday 2(2AP)/5/none
Matt Birk 1(0AP)/6/none
Jeff Hartings 1(1AP)/2/none

As they used to say on Sesame Street, "one of these things is not like the others."

It's not unheard of for there to be only one center from a time period in the HoF, and logjams of the kind behind Mawae often result in no one being voted out of the blockade.

by Scott_Kacsmar (not verified) :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 1:45pm

The problem I have with a lot of the anti-HOF arguments that say there aren't enough OL or defensive players is that when you ask for a list of the players that are getting snubbed, it's usually underwhelming. Who are all these great OL not getting in? I expect Pace, Jones, Ogden, Dawson and Roaf will get in over the next decade. After that, it's pretty much the same couple of names that always come up (Kramer and Kuechenberg).

I do think the lack of performance metrics for OL hurts the position. And it's not just for HOF voting, but the annual PB/AP voting that basically determines the HOF voting down the road. I think a lot of guys get voted for those accolades based on draft status. Would Pouncey have been as popular if the Steelers got him in round 4 last year? What about Joe Thomas, Jake Long and Ryan Clady? I think trying to break down individual performance on the OL is one of the hardest things out there. It's easier to look at the OL as an unit, where if one player is not doing his job it could easily make everyone look bad.

by Drunkmonkey :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 2:11pm

I totally agree with the argument that the OL who are drafted higher seem to make it into the pro bowl quicker, but my only problem with that argument is that there is a reason that those players were drafted so high, and it's usually that they are better players. If Pouncey was drafted in round 4, he most likely wouldn't have been given the chance to start so soon, as that would have indicated that he wasn't that good of an OL yet, and therefore wouldn't have become popular. Same with Thomas, Long, and Clady. They were given their chances to start early because of their draft status, and therefore, people think they are superstars already.

I feel that the players drafted higher are given higher accolades because of their draft status because everybody knows who they are. I'm pretty sure that Reggie Williams was way overdrafted at nine back in 2004, but he stayed around a lot longer then other receivers because he was drafted higher. Same with DeAngelo Hall. He keeps getting chances not because of skill, but because of name recognition.

I do think that Thomas, Long, Clady, and Pouncey are really good players though, probably why they were all drafted in round 1.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 4:08pm

How about Steve Wisniewski? Oakland's guard from 1989 - 2002.

His resume is 8 Pro bowls, 8 All-pro selections, 1990s Team of the Decade.

Compare that to two Raider Hall of Famers ...
Gene Upshaw - 6 pro bowls + 1 All-AFL selection, 3 All-pro selections, 1970s Team of the Decade, NFL 75th Anniversary team plus 3 Super Bowl appearances.

Art Shell - 8 Pro bowls, 3 All-pro selections, 1970s team of the decade, 2 Super Bowl appearances.

by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 9:41pm

S. Wisniewski gerat and tremendous player. Bel;ong in Pro football hall of fmae tmorrow. Just another Raiders guy gettgin a togh time from the voters.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 7:40pm

Good example here of how there ARE numbers to judge linemen, but they're not the same numbers people are accustomed to using. Ask most people how many Pro Bowls a receiver went to and they probably have no clue, even if they know exactly where the guy is in career receptions, TDs, etc.

Flip side of that argument is that the lack of stats helps linemen make it back to the Pro Bowl in subsequent years because there's nothing much else to measure. If a receiver falls off the next season, he's likely not going back to the Pro Bowl. If the same happens with a guard, sometimes he makes it back based on inertia.

by bachslunch :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 1:42pm

Steve Wisniewski certainly has a HoF case at 5(2AP)/8/90s (note that I'm only considering 1st team all pro selections here, which numbers well less than eight). Note that Art Shell's numbers are 4(2AP)/8/70s and Gene Upshaw's are 6(5AP)/7/70s measured this way.

Unfortunately, one of the things that may hurt Wisniewski's candidacy was his reputation for flagrantly dirty play.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 3:16pm

Yes, you can tell that draft status affects OL perception, because highly-drafted OL who do pretty well often achieve a peak of fame in year 2. It's often the rookie OT of the year who gets votes, even on this site, for "best OT" the next year.

I remember when Clady, for instance, was getting votes for "best OT," and don't see those votes much any more. He's a good OT, and probably better than he was, but you couldn't tell by public perception. Okung has gotten a decent amount of press this off-season, but probably not so much next year, regardless of how he performs. I know the plaudits for Staley have steadily fallen, even though he's been pretty much the same guy. The only guy I can think of whose public stock has remained as high as ever is Joe Thomas.

by tuluse :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 3:57pm

Ok, but do you have evidence that reality differs from perception? Isn't it possible that the best linemen are scouted and drafted highly?

by bachslunch :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 1:33pm

At this point, there are a few o-linemen who I think belong in the HoF but aren't. They're all Senior-eligible only, though. My list, not including two-way guys:

Centers: Mick Tingelhoff
Guards: Dick Stanfel, Duane Putnam, Jerry Kramer, Walt Sweeney, Ed Budde
Tackles: Jim Tyrer, Dick Schafrath

If you add in older vintage two-way players, Duke Slater and Al Wistert and Riley Matheson ought also to be in.

Am basing all this on first-team all pro selections, pro bowls, and all decade teams.

I actually don't see too many current eligibles not in who won't likely be voted in. For example, Dermontti Dawson certainly belongs and I'm thinking he'll be elected down the road a bit. He's got about 15 more eligible years left, and I'll be amazed if he falls to the Senior list. Jim Ringo didn't get in until his 7th time as finalist and 9th eligible year, so there's precedent for Dawson's waiting a bit.

by bachslunch :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 3:01pm

For current eligibles: those who think Joe Jacoby belongs on such a list should keep in mind that his postseason honors numbers look a lot like other OTs of his approximate time:

-Joe Jacoby 3(2AP)/4/80s
-Marvin Powell 3(3AP)/5/none
-Mike Kenn at 3(2AP)/5/none
-Leon Gray at 3(3AP)/4/none

Looking at things this way, Jacoby's only major leg up for the HOF is being on an o-line with a fun nickname.

by Dean :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 4:49pm

I thought Al Wistert was in?

by bachslunch :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 5:07pm

Sorry to report, AL Wistert is not in the HoF. I definitely think he belongs in, and it would be nice if they elected him before he dies (he's still alive at ca. 90).

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 2:18pm

I guess I'd say two of the people I most strongly feel should be in the Hall of Fame and aren't are centers (Tingelhoff and Dawson) and that some of the least deserving existing enshrinees are wide receivers, but you're only talking about a couple of players in each case. If Ogden, Pace, Jones, Roaf, Shields, Allen, Faneca and Dawson don't all get in over the next several years, then I think there will be a more forceful case to answer. There is no Noughties center who belongs, though if I had to pick one I'm not sure it wouldn't be Wiegmann (who in reality has even less chance than Kreutz, Birk, Mawae, Saturday and Nalen).

by dryheat :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 9:35am

I think that Ogden, Jones, and Allen are the only gimmes in that bunch. If Dawson was going to make it, he probably would've done so by now. Roaf probably should go, but I think Ogden and Jones might hurt him. I'm not sure that Pace or Shields is HOF worthy, as fine players as they were. I'm quite sure that Faneca isn't HOF worthy.

by tuluse :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 3:54pm

I think Pace's peak performance was ever greater than Ogden or Jones. However, he was hurt an awful lot of the time.

by Marko :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 2:51pm

I have two comments:

1. There are maninstream individual metrics for offensive lineman that are used to put them in some kind of order: Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams made. Of course, this isn't always helpful, as once a player gets a reputation based on making the Pro Bowl or being named All-Pro, that player seems to receive such honors regularly in following years whether or not the player truly was deserving.

2. Kreutz has been a very good player, but I don't consider him a HOF player. I'm sure there are several other offensive lineman (including several centers) more deserving of him that are not already enshrined. Some of those players are named above. When Kreutz retires, he won't even be the most deserving ex-Bear center or offensive lineman. Off the top of my head, I think that C Jay Hilgenberg and LT Jimbo Covert from the 1980s Bears are more worthy of Canton than Kreutz is.

by tuluse :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 7:16pm

I agree with pretty much everything you said. Though Covert's career was a little short to be HoF worthy.

Kruetz was probably a top 5 center during his prime, but I don't think his prime was good enough to merit HoF consideration. He's a little like a Drew Bledsoe or Kerry Collins of centers. Certainly a useful player that most teams would want, but not quite HoF good.

by QQ (not verified) :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 3:03pm

Even with statistics, punters can't get in and kickers have almost no chance, which is insane. No current NFL coach would consider playing a game without a punter or kicker, yet when it comes to the HOF they might as well not exist

by andrew :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 3:55pm

Long Snappers will never get the consideration kickers get...

by Scott Kacsmar :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 4:19pm

The only "fame" a long snapper receives comes after the very rare instance where they screw up.

by tuluse :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 7:17pm

No current NFL coach would consider playing a game without out at least one backup at every position*, yet when it comes to the HoF they might as well not exist.

*except of course kicker and punter, wonder why that is.

by jebmak :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 11:24pm

Because the odds of one getting injured mid game are very very small in comparison?

by Aaron Brook's Good Twin (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 1:31am

Most kickers can punt, and many punters can kick. They more or less serve as each other's backup.

A couple of teams have ex-soccer players who can functionally perform kicking duties (Welker, Ochocinco, Suh).

by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 10:01am

There aren't that many truly great punters and kickers.

The test case will be Adam Vinateri. If he can't get in, than punters and kickers can't make the Hall of Fame, period.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 12:06pm

I believe some punters and kickers belong in the hall of fame. But when Vinatieri gets in I will be very, very cross.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 7:39pm

G. anderson, m. Andersen, N. lowery (even though KC cehif) better Ks than A. Vinatieri. Vinatieru make big kicks in playoofo games but overlall not good as other guys mentioned in ogther sentence.

by jebmak :: Wed, 07/13/2011 - 8:23am

And some of those big kicks were only because he missed previous ones. Wasn't he 1/3 in one Super Bowl? Still, the fame thing.

by bachslunch :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 2:08pm

I actually don't think Adam Vinateri is deserving of the HoF ahead of Nick Lowery, Morton Andersen, or Gary Anderson. Rupert Patrick has a (perhaps still unpublished) study of placekickers adjusted to era, using field goal percentage as a basis. Based on this, he thinks the five best kickers are Jan Stenerud, Lou Groza, Lowery, Andersen, and Anderson. Patrick did look at Vinateri, and he's apparently nothing special in this regard, about average for the time.

Patrick's comment on Vinateri on a pfraforum thread not long ago:

"...I think he is pretty much an average kicker who has had a long career and is getting in on the basis of two field goals. While playing most of his career with prolific offenses in New England and Indy, he has led the league in scoring once, in 2004. In 2010 he was third in scoring, and his next best finish was sixth. He was twice an All Pro, which is a low number for a HOF candidate. He is the only Kicker with four Super Bowl rings, which is a point in his favor, and he has two signature plays. In my opinion Vinatieri is arguably the most overrated player of this era."

I agree with this thinking.

See entries #11 and #19 on this thread:


by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 7:54pm

I do believe kickers and punters are overlooked, but the problem they face is there is such a fine line between "really good" and "average." That said, the NFL is going to have to figure out what to do with kickers because it's getting a bit ridiculous. The guy that's going to be an interesting case is Vinatieri. When he left the Pats, I heard lots of talk that he would someday make the HoF for being so clutch. But looking at the points leaders, he's awfully far down the list. (He's 12th right now, could pretty easily crack the top 10, but likely won't ever make the top 5.) Lots of guys ahead of him in points aren't in. If he would make it, does that put enough focus on the position that some of those guys get a second look?

by Kirt O (not verified) :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 6:13pm

It is something that can be looked at a little more objectively with something like a simple Chi-Squared test...so I did one really quick:
.....HoF actual...# in NFL...HoF expected.....X^2

I got the # in NFL 2011 by just going on to NFL.com and getting how many players were listed at each position right now. That should be a good approximation for what percentages has filled each position in the modern era. Total chi-squared value was 33, for which the p-value is very low (p<0.001, df=7).
So this would seem to suggest there is positional bias in HoF entry, but WR and OL don't really enter into it. There seems to be too many QBs and RBs, and too few DBs.

by Bearjew (not verified) :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 6:37pm

QB and RB are kinda important positions....

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 12:07pm

QB yes. RB no. RB is the only over-represented position in the hall.

by Independent George :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 12:11pm

RB in 2010, yes. RB in 1990, maybe. RB in 1970, absolutely not.

by Lance :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 2:52pm

I think even in 1990, the answer was "no".

by tuluse :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 7:12pm

I don't think number in the NFL is the proper way to look at it. 3rd stringers aren't getting inducted into the HoF, and just because a 6th DB is more useful on special teams than an 11th linemen doesn't mean there should be more DBs in the hall.

by BigJohnson (not verified) :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 7:47pm

there are still atleast 4 starting db's in every defensive formation as opposed to 5 starting linemen. there should be 20% more lineman in the HoF. Even without using 5th and 6th DB's there still should be more DB's in the HoF than there are (compared to offensive linemen)

by Nathan Forster :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 8:09pm

However, this assumes that greatness is proportional to the number of players on the field. There is no reason that this needs to be the case. For instance, if in 2010 teams changed their base formation to the run n' shoot, there wouldn't be twice as many HOF quality wide receivers than there were before.

by BigJohnson (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 3:04pm

Well said. But that leads me to 2 questions.

1. Should there roughly be the same amount of HoF players at every position?

2. Should there be more players voted in depending on the overall importance of the position? for example, qb is considered most important and should therefore have the most.

If the first question is a yes then the ironic part would be that offensive linemen are not the victims but instead are the least victimized position in all of football. Its ok with me however because they do receive the least amount of love during their careers.

by Kirt O (not verified) :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 8:36pm

There are a couple assumptions that I should point out with my above analysis
1) Current # of NFL players reflects the total number of players in the modern era if a) distributions have players have remained relatively constant and b) there is no appreciable difference in the longevity of different positions. Surprisingly a appears to be true (at least to a degree that would change the analysis), however b is not. I am not sure how large the effect is.
2) There is a random distribution of talent at all positions. I am not sure if this is true: It could be that superior talent concentrates in certain positions. However, each position above seems to be played best by a person of a certain body-type, which makes me think that this is unlikely. An elite QB can have a body type that would not make an elite RB, OL, TE, etc... It would seem that this would keep talent well mixed between positions.

Ultimately even if there is a bias for certain positions and against others, this is not to say that such bias is not appropriate. It could be argued that a superior QB has more impact on the game than even the best DB. Isn't one's selection to the HoF a reflection of one's total impact on game of football?

by Whatev :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 8:31pm

No, I think on 1b you are safe because you're basing the proportions on number of people in a position in the league at any given time rather than the number of people who EVER play that position professionally. HOF candidates have good longevity regardless of position because that is a selection criterion; the longevity of the average player at that position is irrelevant. So a position having a higher rate of churn means little in HOF consideration.

by Aaron Brook's Good Twin (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 1:34am

Was this modern-era only? Because if you include pre-50s data, you're getting zero TEs and a lot of those missing DBs were two-way players who were primarily RBs or QBs. Sammy Baugh once lead the NFL in completions, passes intercepted, and punting average -- but he only counts for HOF purposes as a QB.

by Kirt O (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 12:04pm

Modern era only

by Nathan Forster :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 7:58pm

Another related barrier to entry that offensive linemen have getting into the hall is the fact that they don't touch the ball. There is too much going on in the course of an offensive play to watch everything, and so casual viewers tend to focus on the player that has the ball. This wouldn't be a problem if the HOF was determined by votes from coaches (who microscopically analyze each football game from play to play), but where you have members of the media (who presumably don't regularly watch film), you have a collection of people who don't have much visual memory of the offensive linemen, and thus will be inclined to pick a player who performed more conspicuously. I suspect that has to do with the occasional silliness like when Jerome Bettis and Curtis Martin (who I would consider ho-hum candidates) were voted in over Willie Roaf.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Sat, 07/09/2011 - 8:19pm

Availability bias. I like it. That might explain the P, K, LS shortages in the Hall as well. Also, the DB shortage as ID'ed by commenter Kirt O above. Although, I'd also throw in commenter Scott Kacsmar's "they only get noticed when they screw up" theory too. The premise underlying both theories is just that outsiders evaluate players based on what they pay attention to. Whereas QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, DLs, and LBs are always in front of our mind's eye, no one's paying attention to Ps, Ks, LSs, and DBs until something forces us to (i.e., screwing up or making a spectacular play of some sort).

by Jerry :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 12:19am

Two other things about punters, kickers, and long snappers:

1. For a long time, the idea of specialists taking up a roster spot was anathema, so guys who played "real" positions would punt or placekick when necessary. Even when rosters expanded and specialization started to take hold, combination kicker-punters weren't uncommon. There were teams who just had their center do long snapping into the '90s.

2. Voters are probably reluctant to elect a player who only participates in a handful of plays a game.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 12:28am

not to mention quarterback-kicker-punters. although, a quick google search reveals this guy circa 2008.

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 10:03am

Relative to 1950, everyone in the NFL today is specialized.

by bachslunch :: Sat, 07/16/2011 - 4:01pm

It's true that kicking and punting specialists weren't much encountered until sometime in the 1950s. It was normal at the time and even later to have a position player handle these chores. Such punter examples include Yale Lary, Norm Van Brocklin, Sammy Baugh, Ace Parker, Bob Waterfield, Tom Landry, Ed Brown, Lem Barney, Jerry Norton, Max McGee, Del Shofner, Gary Collins, Verne Lewellen, Eddie LeBaron, Boyd Dowler, John Hadl, King Hill, Jerry Stovall, and Jackie Smith. Such kicker examples include Lou Michaels, Jerry Kramer, Paul Hornung, Lou Groza, Gino Cappelletti, Bobby Layne, Gordie Soltau, Les Richter, Wayne Walker, Doak Walker, Pat Studstill, Bobby Walston, Fred Cone, and George Blanda. It even looks like Cotton Davidson was a punter, place kicker, and quarterback simultaneously at one point, and Billy Atkins was a DB/K/P for a short while.

But surprisingly, there don't seem to be very many dedicated place kicker/punter combo specialists. Here's the full list of folks who actually did this for a significant part of their careers, as best I can find: Tommy Davis, Don Cockroft, Don Chandler, Danny Villanueva, Mike Mercer, Dennis Partee, Dale Livingston, Allen Green, and Sam Baker. That's only 9 players. Jim Bakken did both for two years and Fred Cox and Mike Eischeid and Roy Gerela did both for one season, but these folks had long careers solely as placekicking specialists.

And even back as far as the late 40s, 50s, and early 60s, there were specialists (or de facto specialists) such as Bobby Joe Green and Tom Gilburg and Dick Deschaine (all punters) and Ben Agajanian and Steve Myhra and Jim Martin and Pat Summerall and Paige Cothran (all place kickers).

by IAmJoe (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 2:09am

Based on what Peter King has told us about the election process, I'm confident that the esteemed individuals who do decide whether or not a player gets into the Hall indeed have intimate knowledge of a player's career irrespective of his stats.

What the hell? I had to read this paragraph like three times to make sure I understood it correctly. I can't tell if this is sarcasm or if OP is drunk, but since when do we ever just sit back and say "ah, I'm sure the authority figures will get it right"?

by Anders Jensen (not verified) :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 2:00pm

The thing about Kickers, punters, LS and holders is kinda funny. People dismiss en as not "real" football players, but always blame if they miss a FG, fumbles snap or cant punt out bounds to avoid the PR.

by Whatev :: Sun, 07/10/2011 - 8:40pm

The level of derision they get is completely undeserved given that the kicker's and punter's jobs are basically to wipe the rest of the team's ass when they shit the bed. There are teams out there that would never score if it weren't for their kickers.

by Jerry :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 2:04am

Whereas no one ever blames a quarterback for throwing an interception, or a linebacker for missing a tackle, or a defensive back for blowing a coverage, or a receiver for dropping a pass, etc.

by panthersnbraves :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 1:43pm

Absolutely. To fill our time waiting for the CBA, we had a "Greatest Panther of All Time" bracket. John Kasay was raised as a huge contributor over a long period of time, but there were two major counts against him that were raised by those opposed to him winning - a) he kicked a KO out of bounds, making him the singular cause of the SB loss in 2003 b) he's a KICKER!

There were games where the Panthers won and he was the only scorer, top blah in the blah stats, Last Original Panther, etc, but no way he was gonna win.

by Independent George :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 4:04pm

The only two possible 'Greatest Panthers' are Julius Peppers or Steve Smith. Sam Mills was arguably the best to play for the Panthers, but he didn't joint he team until he was 36 years old.

by Marko :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 5:14pm

The kick out of bounds obviously was a hugely important play, but I wouldn't say it was the singular cause of the loss in the Super Bowl. In fact, I wouldn't even say it was the biggest cause of the loss. I thought a much bigger cause of the loss was the decision to go for 2 points early in the fourth quarter when the Panthers had scored the TD to put them down by a score of 21-16. (I vividly recall telling those I was watching the game with that going for 2 was a mistake so early and that it would come back to haunt the Panthers).

If they had just kicked the extra point, they would have been down 21-17. Then, when they scored the next TD, they would have just kicked another extra point and been up 24-21. But they failed on the first two point conversion and then were pretty much forced to go for 2 after the next TD as well. That attempt also failed. So they were up only 22-21 rather than 24-21 if they had just kicked both times. Then when the Pats scored a TD, they obviously went for 2 (and succeeded) to go up by 7, 29-22. (If the Pats had been down 24-21 and then scored a TD, they would have kicked the extra point to go up 28-24 rather than go for two and risk failing and being up only 27-24.)

The Panthers then scored a TD and tied the game at 29, setting the stage for Kasay's kick out of bounds and the Pats' field goal to win by a score of 32-29. But if the Panthers had been down 28-24 before that TD (which would have been the case if they hadn't gone for 2 the first time), they would have been up 31-28 before Kasay's kickoff. So the Pats' ensuing field goal only would have sent the game to OT tied at 31.

Of course, the game might have played out differently at the end, with the Patriots playing for a TD to win in regulation rather than playing for OT. But the fact remains that the winning margin of 3 points consisted of the two points the Panthers left on the table by going for two twice (and failing) rather than kicking the extra point, plus the additional point the Pats got by a successful two point conversion (instead of merely kicking the extra point).

Here is the box score to show how all of this played out: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=240201017

by panthersnbraves :: Tue, 07/12/2011 - 9:21am

Wow - someone who has the same memory of that game that I do. I made the same post during the bracket.

I guess I should have put in a disclaimer that those were NOT MY opinions, but rather a constant theme of many who voted against Kasay.

by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 9:16am

I think it's more that INTERIOR offensive linemen are underrepresented than all offensive linemen.

Everybody know Roaf, Jones, Ogden, Pace, etc. will get in

Guys like Dawson, Wisniewski, Hutchinson will have a harder time. Randall McDaniel did not get in on the first ballot. The only guys since 1980 with more pro bowls are Rice, White, and Matthews.

The thing about punters\kickers\long snappers is they can play 15 years and probably be on the field for as many snaps as a center is in 2 years. That's a good reason it should be hard for special teams specialists to get in.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 12:10pm

Why shouldn't there be more tackles than guards? Tackles are vastly more valuable.

by Dean :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 12:23pm

In the post-Lawrence Taylor NLF, yes. But not prior to that. In the 70s, Guards were the most important line position and we placed a premium on their ability to pull and block in space. In the early/mid 80s, the center had a renaissance. They made up the apex of the pocket and had to keep 3-4 NTs from getting in QBs faces (I'm probably in the minority here, but I still think the center is the 2nd most important position on the line - despite how easy it is to give an overmatched center some help). Vince Lombardi was ahead of the curve with the Packer Sweep in the 60s and Bill Walsh was ahead of the curve in the late 80s in trying to figure out how to counter Taylor. The OT as a premium position, however, doesn't become a leaguewide phenominon until arguably as late as the mid 90s.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 6:47pm

It was interesting to hear Ross Tucker talk about interior linemen in this podcast http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=6745809 Sure he wasn't a great lineman but he did manage to start for several teams, and had at least 4 starts at all interior line positions.

He claims that in many of the modern blocking schemes that right guard is actually the hardest of the 3 interior spots to play, at least in the passing game, because it is the position that ends up in more 1 on 1 pass blocking situations.

Watching the Packers play, I noticed that Sitton would end up in the situations that Ross described. But then Sitton is a beast and setting up a scheme that took advantage of his skills and gave College more help made sense to me. But it was interesting to hear someone say that the line priorities might be LT, RG, RT, C, then LG.

I certainly feel that center is high value, but it did give me something to think about. With the right side often being the strong side of the offensive formation, the defensive line-up puts those great 3-techniques against the RG a lot too and of course the aforementioned higher likelihood that of one on one match-ups in pass blocking.

The comments on the affects of scheme in general were interesting to here too, though not as insightful as most people know that Indy and Pitt value different types of players on the line. McCarthy/Thompson look to be after different types of players than Sherman wanted too because of scheme differences.

I agree with the rest of your statement too. Guards were a major premium in the earlier NFL and the tackle premium is a modern NFL evolution. Also as mentioned later, a Hall of Fame guard or center will have a major impact on the game. Even just an "All Pro" type player. If you have guards that can always handle one on one situations you can have a weaker center, or you can get away with just serviceable tackles. Again I'm most familiar with the Packers, and Sitton is the best player on that line. The Packers are taking more advantage of that and against a team like Detroit with Suh, he makes a huge difference since as this site pointed out, he can handle Suh one on one.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 3:30pm

Or look how important Nicks and Evans are to the Saints. Particularly given the short stature of their quarterback, they're very important on passing downs, too, to open passing lanes for him to see through.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 7:36pm

I still think the center is the 2nd most important position on the lineagree with that. center very imrpotant. watch what happen when team lose center to inujruy. most of timd team have big probelsm.

by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 2:53pm

I guess that's the conventional wisdom but I don't know if I agree. Maybe a journeyman left tackle is more valuable than a journeyman guard since they have to contain the Dwight Freeneys and James Harrisons of the world but I think when you get to a hall of fame level player an interior offensive lineman can be just as or more valuable than an elite tackle.

Someone like McDaniel or Larry Allen or Dawson can do as much to take over a game as a Walter Jones or Jonathan Ogden. In the pre Lawrence Taylor era where rules favored defense and base offenses were built around traps and counters the IOL were even more valuable.

by dryheat :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 9:49am

Interior linemen are going to be further under-represented because unless they have height/weight deficiencies, the best ones move to the outside.

by drobviousso :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 3:42pm

That's a great point.

by Joseph :: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 12:01pm

Another consideration: at certain positions (QB, RB), greatness is easier to identify for the average fan or media member. I have learned a lot about O-line play from reading articles posted or linked to here, but I couldn't tell you what the difference is between Dawson & Kreutz & Saturday & Nalen, etc. I can notice and explain the difference between Kerry Collins and Payton Manning, though.