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The Georgia Bullddogs' dynamic duo should be on NFL rosters at some point in the next 72 hours. Which will be the better pro? That depends on what kind of running back you're looking for.

07 Dec 2011

Scramble for the Ball: 2011 Hall of Fame

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

But They're All So Good ...

Tom: So, Mike, the Hall of Fame recently announced the list of 26 semifinalists for the modern era version of this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame class. The only first-year eligible candidates are Bill Parcells and Will Shields, so there aren't the same number of slam-dunk candidates you know are going in that there have been in the recent past.

Mike: You don't think Bill Parcells is a slam-dunk?

Tom: I think Parcells has an excellent chance of getting in. As I recall, it's something of a misnomer to refer to him as a first-year eligible, as there was discussion about him between jobs in the past. This is just his first year as an eligible candidate after what, I think, everybody now thinks is his last NFL head coaching job.

Mike: Right.

Tom: The difficulty with the Hall of Fame list is there are few players who make even the semifinalist list that I don't want to see in the Hall of Fame.

Mike: It's true, although I will say that Dermontti Dawson needs to get in.

Tom: The only two people on the list that I'd really object to being enshrined are Roger Craig, who I'm not convinced was more than a good player in a great system, and Eddie DeBartolo, who I'm not sure did more than cut checks. And you could probably convince me otherwise. As I recall, I mentioned in a past discussion that I'm a big supporter of Dawson's candidacy. Beyond Craig and DeBartolo, the other guy I'm not sold on is Steve Tasker. Our mantra is that special teams are roughly one-seventh of the game.

Mike: You're not opposed to Jerome Bettis? I think most people are.

Tom: Would I vote for him? No. Would I picket the Hall of Fame voters for putting Bettis in? No.

Mike: Fair enough.

Tom: If I were the kind of person who picketed people, I would picket them for putting Ray Guy in. But Guy's not a semifinalist this year, so I don't want to talk about him again.

Mike: Fair enough.

Tom: The argument for Tasker runs along similar lines, though. Special teams are so much less important than either offense or defense that a player has to be much more dominant to be worthy of enshrinement in my eyes.

Mike: Well, that's only if he's competing with offensive and defensive players. Shouldn't being the best at special teams be worth something?

Tom: Sure, it's worth something. In the Hall of Fame discussion, though, you have to judge whether a great special teams player is more worthy of enshrinement than a great center like Dawson, a great left tackle like Willie Roaf, a great wide receiver like Cris Carter, or a great coach like Bill Parcells. And I don't think I'm willing to enshrine somebody because they're the best at something just because they're the best. Unless I think that being the best was particularly valuable.

Mike: Fair enough.

Tom: Lorenzo Neal was considered the best blocking fullback in the NFL for a long time. He has no shot at the Hall of Fame.

Mike: Personally, I'm much more opposed to Terrell Davis.

Tom: I'm actually pretty open to Davis's case.

Mike: Just because of his short shelf life and the great situation he had in Denver.

Tom: I think the player you compare him to is Earl Campbell. They had in some ways a similar career: a very short but very high peak, and then not much after that. Campbell had more volume after his peak, but not much added value. I'm not sure he was an above-average back after 1980. Davis, of course, didn't have much volume after 1998, but he had some particularly exceptional playoff performances in 1997 and 1998. Obviously, he was in a great situation, but his peak value is about as high as it gets. I don't think I'd vote for him myself, but I see a good argument for him.

Mike: See, I think "exceptional playoff performances" really sums up his candidacy. I try not to weigh playoff heroics more than exceptional regular season play.

Tom: Sure. His 1997 numbers aren't 369 carries for 1,750 yards and 15 touchdowns in 15 games, but rather 481 carries for 2,331 yards and 23 touchdowns in 19 games, with 112 carries for 581 yards and 8 scores in four particularly important games. Ditto 1998. Not 392 carries for 2,008 yards and 21 touchdowns in 16 games, but 468 carries for 2,476 yards and 24 scores in 19 games. Even in a great situation, to me those are just mind-boggingly great numbers.

Mike: I see your point, but I don't think we'll agree on him.

Tom: I did say I don't think I'd vote for him, but I see why his candidacy makes a lot of sense. The only running back I can think of not in the Hall of Fame I want to see enshrined is LaDainian Tomlinson, and I'm not too worried about him. Adrian Peterson is also on track, but it's much too early for me to think about his candidacy.

Mike: True.

Tom: The other position group that will probably plague the Hall voter this year and in years to come are the wide receivers. How do you sensibly sort out Tim Brown, Cris Carter, and Andre Reed, plus all the other guys who with great numbers who will come up for election in the future.

Mike: I think at some point the elections are going to have to take into account the absurd passing environment we have been in for quite a while now.

Tom: I think in the past the selectors have been able to rely on volume as a proxy for quality, and with the candidates coming up now, that relationship basically doesn't exist. They're instead stuck relying much more on subjective standards of quality, which is a much more difficult, amorphous task. Especially because every player will have smart people testifying in favor of their candidacy about how awesome they were. And half of it will be true even for guys like Jimmy Smith.

Mike: True.

Tom: So, voter, good luck with that!

Fantasy Football Update

Tom: Well, I had the meaningless-but-momentous showdown against the second-highest scoring team in the league for the top seed and the regular-season title. As you expect from a good team, he had a couple of strong performances, particularly Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, and James Harrison. No matter, though, as I got 20-plus points from Drew Brees, Wes Welker, LeSean McCoy, Robert Meachem, and Clay Matthews, and won by 38 points. I also withstood a strong Monday night performance by another team to finish with the league's best score for I believe the sixth time. For the season, I averaged 310 points. My vanquished foe averaged 287. My first-round playoff opponent averaged 240. The league's third-highest scoring team averaged 268. If I don't win the league championship, I'm going to be really, really angry.

Mike: Thinking like that is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

Tom: I'm sure this week DeAngelo Hall, Patrick Peterson, and Aqib Talib will all have multiple interception returns for a touchdown, Michael Turner will destroy Carolina's run defense, and I'll lose in the first round of the playoffs. But dammit, this is my championship, and any other outcome would be wrong.

Mike: Hah. I went into this week thinking that I had to win to make the playoffs, but I didn't realize that I could knock my opponent out in the process.

Tom: I hope you did.

Mike: That is precisely what I did, on strong games by Brees, Ray Rice and a decent game by Vincent Jackson. Enough, even, to overcome Cam Newton's absurd 40.26 points, which accounted for nearly half my opponent's total.

Tom: I could have used Newton in that game in my other league.

Mike: Still, I won convincingly, got a better seed in the now-starting playoffs, and I've pulled a relatively weak third seed. My other opponent was only saved from curb-stomping status by Maurice Jones-Drew's 27.8 points and Rodgers' 31.96, but it didn't matter, because I had five roster spots put up more than 20 points ... Brees, A.J. Green, Rice, Shonn Greene and Rob Gronkowski.

Tom: Well, I did get curb-stomped. My opponent also had Vincent Jackson, who was only his fifth-highest scorer.

Mike: Jackson actually didn't have that great a game.

Tom: Eli Manning, McCoy, Jones-Drew, and Gronkowski all had more than 20 points for him.

Mike: My main concern going into the playoffs is what to do about Steven Jackson. I'm really not sure I can trust the Rams offense against anyone at this point, but there just aren't many options.

Tom: I'm sure Tom Brandstater is going to really put a scare in the Cardinals' defense next Monday night. Who else do you have?

Mike: The only back I have on my bench is Ryan Torain. I've lost three running backs to injury at this point.

Tom: Ouch. I think you're still better off starting Jackson in that case.

Mike: I'm all right at receiver with Brandon Marshall, Vincent Jackson and Julio Jones. But it's a glaring weakness on a marginal team, unlike the receivers in my other league, where I get to pick and choose between Green, Mike Wallace, Jones, Jeremy Maclin and Deion Branch.

Tom: That's terrible, having to pick between those players every week.

Mike: I know! First world problems.

FO Staff League Update

Known Chumpsky (Rivers, 6-5) 123 def. That's Great Hustle! (Sean, 8-3) 93

A sound thrashing for the formerly-top team in the league, continuing a disappointing late-season slump. Interestingly enough, the "ideal" start/sit for this game would have resulted in a close win for Sean, due to Pierre Garcon's mind-bending 27 points left on the bench, paired with a few minor upgrades. Still, props to Rivers, who is somehow second in the East with a 6-5 record. The East kind of stinks.

Intentional Rounding (Danny, 5-6) 107 def. Equipo del Jefe (Aaron, 5-6) 97

Not even a blue-moon performance by the Steelers DST could get Aaron over the hump this week, although Mario Manningham's injury didn't help. Hakeem Nicks was at least the partial beneficiary of Manningham's absence, to the tune of 20 points. CJ-1.5-ish-K came up big for the Roundings, with a team-high 27 points.

Los Pollos Hermanos (Rob, 6-5) 79 def. Reverse Jinxes (Elias, 6-5) 63

Like two embarrassing ships passing in the night, so does Rob's ascendant team pass Elias's severely under-performing outfit. Although this victory is nothing to write home about, considering Los Hermanos' ideal roster would only be 11 points richer (thanks to Robert Meachem) and lose any of this week's other games. Still, he managed to do better than Elias and his powerhouse running back, James Starks. Wait, what?

Dyscalculia Plus Ones (Will, 8-2) 109 def. Parts Unknown Mufflers (Ben, 2-9) 107

With this victory and Sean's loss, the Plus Ones take over sole spot at the top of the league, in part due to aforementioned insane day by Newton (at least the Panthers won, this time). Ben's downfall was surprising Loser League feature back LeGarrette Blount and his mighty one point. It must be really depressing for Ben to come so close in such a big game, but to fall just short. C'est le football d'imagination.

This is a Normal Day at FO HQ

Tom: To be honest, I'm not sure why we haven't discussed one of these Subway commercials yet.

Mike: The premise of this doesn't even make sense. Although, to be fair, they're by no means the worst offenders.

Tom: It was bad enough when it was "just" ridiculously annoying whiny kid voices. Now they're trying to add elementary-school soap opera to the commercial.

Mike: Which doesn't even make sense. This coming from a connoisseur of elementary-school soap opera. On a more serious note (ha!), I remember elementary school, and I never remember any boy giving his lunch to any girl. Girls still had cooties then.

Tom: Lunch, no. I think I do remember the sharing of dessert items being a sign of affection. Or at least the communal bounds of friendship, for sure.

Mike: Yes, sharing being the important part.

Tom: True. And that looks like a footlong sub, not a six-inch one. If you're going to give a sub away, share half your footlong.

Mike: Also I'm pretty miffed about the portrayal of women in this. Both female characters are harpies bent on stealing the man's lunch with their feminine wiles, but they sound like children. Which both makes it creepy and gives the impression that we are training girls to be this way.

Tom: Note the plot. The first woman is the evil harpy, and in giving his sub to the other woman, the man's made his protest against her evil ways. In a ridiculously over-the-top Clio Awards presentation, I call this "the Modern Lysistrata."

Mike: See, you're making a key assumption, that the brunette isn't just as bad. You're giving too much impetus to the clearly spineless man.

Tom: Well, we have no evidence one way or the other. We just know that she has his sub. It could have been a gift freely given.

Mike: I don't know ... note the look the second woman gives the first. That is the "there is nothing you can possess that I cannot take away" look: insane fictional female version.

Tom: Well, she is in the next cubicle to him. She may have to listen to him pining after Samantha all day, about how she takes his sub and never does anything for him. And taking Todd's sub and giving Samantha that look is just a way of improving her work life.

Mike: I can't believe you're the one not playing the cynic.

Tom: See, it is sort of cynical. By taking Todd's sub, Sally is doing her best to reject all of this soap opera nonsense that's preventing her from getting her work done.

Mike: Now you're just making up epileptic trees to cover your tracks. I'm on to you, Gower.

Loser League Update

KICKER: Small consolation for the Rams: Your shutout didn't make Josh Brown the league's lowest-scoring kicker. Mike Nugent was this week's low man with the traditional -1 from one made extra point and one missed field goal.

WIDE RECEIVER: If you don't think receivers the quality of Lavelle Hawkins and Early Doucet could finish with 0 points because they couldn't get ten yards receiving on two catches, well, I have bad news for you. They are.

RUNNING BACK: LeGarrette Blount and Jackie Battle each had 1 point. You were probably unsurprised by one of those names.

QUARTERBACK: Yo Gabba ... wait, you mean it's not Blaine Gabbert this week? You'd have been better off picking Matt Ryan than you would have Blaine Gabbert? No kidding? Instead, it's ... Joe Flacco, who threw for 158 yards, no touchdowns, and fumbled for 5 points.


KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: We weren't really sure what to think of him last week, but after he missed this week's game with a reportedly unrelated injury, what was Josh Freeman thinking going shooting with a heavy-duty pistol after he suffered an injury to his throwing hand that affected his play? While it isn't literally an axe, this is as close to KCW purism as it comes.

MIKE MARTZ AWARD: As difficult as Jason Garrett tried to make this decision (ask Marv Levy about the wisdom of deciding to settle for long field goals), your Scramble writers are still choosing to honor John Fox and Leslie Frazier for the final series of this week's Broncos-Vikings game. The Broncos had first-and-goal at the Minnesota 4-yard line with 1:12 to play. The Vikings could not prevent the Broncos from running the clock down to the end of the game and kicking a short field goal for the win. Naturally, Fox decided not to settle for a 97 percent chance or so of winning the game and decided to run the ball. The Vikings could have let the Broncos score and tried to use a minute or so of clock and a timeout to get their own touchdown. Frazier, though, remembered when the Vikings had blocked a kick in a similar situation and thought the same quite-rare event would happen in this case. It did not, so Fox was saved from the consequence of his own sub-optimal decision-making by even worse decision-making. Hooray!

COLBERT AWARD: Midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Falcons, Gary Kubiak had a dilemma on his hands. His Texans faced fourth-and-1 at the Falcons 9-yard-line in a tie game. The obvious decision is to kick the field goal, take the lead, and rely on your defense to hold the Falcons. Kubiak, though, eschewed such a conservative choice, and chose to rely on his offensive line's ability to convert fourth down (and probably also was influenced by his concern about having to rely on his untested rookie quarterback to drive down the field for another score). The Texans converted, and Arian Foster went into the end zone two plays later for a touchdown and a 17-10 lead. The Falcons then failed on fourth down in field-goal range later, and failed again on a Hail Mary at the end of the game. Instead of the Falcons kicking two field goals that could have given them a 16-13 lead if the Texans had settled, Kubiak's boldness forced them to go for a tying touchdown.

Scramble Mailbag

Flores: Last week was a disaster for my RBs. And Andre Johnson getting hurt. Again. So this week, Wes Welker and Darren Sproles (who saved my team) are locks, but my other slots are a mess. I think I have to trust DeMarco Murray for the second RB slot. But for WR and flex, not sure about: AJ ( I assume yes if he's healthy, but what if he's not?), Julio Jones (easy match up but they could just run all day on the panthers), Santonio Holmes (blegh), S. Jax (did awful against SEA last time and thinking with that offensive line it's pointless to try playing him), Mike Tolbert (good match up, question is snap count).

For QB, I apologize to everyone for asking this again but I admit to being horribly indecisive and a worrier, so...Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger? :) Eli's game is more likely to be a shootout, but CLE pass D is worse (although surprisingly only by a bit).

Tom: From what I've seen of them, Cleveland's pass defense is Joe Haden and a lot of people you can exploit. Maybe I'm just paranoid, though, but I'm worried about divisional games on short weeks.

Mike: I am the wrong person to ask about that game, but Pittsburgh's offense just has so many weapons, and Cleveland's defense is worse than Dallas's.

Tom: The University of Michigan blog MGoBlog has a 1-10 meter of fear/paranoia/desperate need to win each week. I'm guessing yours is at 9.9 for this game.

Mike: The Steelers need to win out, really. Well, don't need, but considering their schedule, they should be expected to.

Tom: Oh, I expect them to win this week. I'm just not confident Roethlisberger will put up big numbers in doing so.

Mike: I like his chances more than Eli.

Tom: There's a much broader range of uncertainty in my mind in Ben's numbers than there is in Eli's.

Mike: That seems strange. Roethlisberger has been pretty consistently very good this year.

Tom: I can see the Steelers' going with a run-heavy gameplan, and something like 200 yards passing and a touchdown. Or 300 yards and four touchdowns as Ben shreds the secondary. I think Eli is more likely to get both volume and numbers.

Mike: Fair enough.

Tom: Beyond Welker and Sproles, go ahead and start Murray at running back.

Mike: I think for your receiver you go Jones if Johnson isn't healthy, and then Tolbert for your flex. Past Murray, yes. Your other options just aren't that great.

Tom: Yeah, what you said.

Remember that mailbag responses after crushing playoffs losses are always 75 percent more hilarious and angst-ridden than the norm! Send your questions to scramble-at-footballoutsiders.com or on the forum now!

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 07 Dec 2011

131 comments, Last at 10 Dec 2011, 8:25pm by nibiyabi


by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 5:33pm

Looking at the semifinalists list, I wonder if I should be happy or sad. Three of my top five favorite players in my life (Steve Atwater, Curtis Martin, and Karl Mecklenburg) are on the list, but two of them (Atwater and Mecklenburg) have zero chance of ever making it in and the other's chances seem to me to be a coin flip.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 5:53pm

I think of Martin as a borderline candidate. There may be less deserving candidates who are already in, but he's not a great choice. Still, after Tomlinson, he's probably the best back not already in. I would MUCH rather see Curtis Martin enshrined than Bettis.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:01pm

I was honestly shocked when I first heard Bettis's name come up for HOF consideration. I never even thought he was good, let alone Hall of Fame level.

I don't think Martin is really a great choice, either. He's one of my favorites, but his production honestly is borderline. I was always massively (probably overly) impressed with his ability to avoid fumbles, something which rarely gets any attention and even if it does is almost never valued highly enough.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:11pm

The thing that impressed me most about Martin was just how HARD he ran. He didn't have the great Earl Campbell power-runner reputation, but yet he always seemed to be giving a hit, not taking the hit. Some people might prefer flashy speedsters who can turn the corner and take the ball 80 yards. I've always preferred the backs who make their living running inside.

And I suppose that he somehow seems like the only top player in recent history to play within 100 miles of ESPN studios and still be a media afterthought counts in his favor with me, too. He was never about telling the world how great he was. He was businesslike and let his game speak for itself.

"something which rarely gets any attention and even if it does is almost never valued highly enough." - to me this quote sums up his whole game, not just his lack of fumbles.

I would agree, though, that the numbers themselves paint a borderline picture. It won't be any sort of tragedy if he doesn't get in, but he certainly wouldn't cheapen the place, either.

by dan harmon (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:38pm

diehard bears fan, but martin is one of my 3 or 4 favorite runners of all-time. the numbers aren't spectacular (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/M/MartCu00.htm) but what is fascinating is the consistency. started pretty much every game for 10 years (at RB!), 300+ carries, and averaged around 4 per touch every year. i also remember someone bringing up the fact that even his median yards per carry fell right around 4. meaning he wasn't a streaky runner. every time he touched it, he got you 4 yards. it's sad that being a workhorse at that position isn't going to get him in the hall, even when those workhorses don't exist anymore (i'd say AP may be the last of the kind).

by Mikey Benny :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:11pm

Did you catch the first half of Bettis's career? He was a short yardage back for YEARS after his peak, which killed his YPC, which really is the main knock against him.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:15pm

In his first 5 years Bettis was very effective. He's production went down after that but he kept plugging away for a long time.

I don't really know if either back is Hall worthy, but if they're not what backs from early 2000s are?

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:47pm

Here is his career vs. league average ypc
1993: 294 attempts, +.94
1994: 319 attempts, -.54
1995: 183 attempts, -.49
1996: 320 carries, +.57
1997: 375 carries, +.44
1998: 316 carries, -.22
1999: 299 carries, -.24
2000: 355 carries, -.21
2001: 225 carries, +.72
2002: 187 carries, -.59
2003: 246 carries, -.88
2004: 250 carries, -.42
2005: 110 carries, -.72

Here is his career in FO's numbers (DYAR (Rank)/DVOA (Rank)):
1993: 342 (1)/18.4% (3)
1994: -183 (39)/-21.7% (34)
1995: -78 (38)/-18.8% (39)
1996: 313 (1)/15.0% (4)
1997: 223 (4)/5.3% (10)
1998: -15 (27)/-9.7% (27)
1999: 62 (16)/-3.9% (19)
2000: 237 (6)/7.2% (8)
2001: 102 (10)/2.3% (11)
2002: 89 (20)/2.4% (15)
2003: -34 (38)/-11.9% (36)
2004: 172 (9)/7.6% (12)
2005: 94 (13)/8.9% (11)

So, in that "very effective" peak includes two awful seasons by any measure, two very good seasons by any measure, and one good but not great season per carry with a lot of carries.

The mythology that he was some sort of great back early on who then selflessly carried on as a folk hero short yardage back simply isn't accurate. He had two great years with two godawful seasons in between and then was never anything more than an average running back who happened to play in Pittsburgh after that.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:01am

Inspired by a poster in another thread who used the Goodfellas example, "'F' you, pay me." That was Bettis. Imagine a running back who didn't get chunks of yardage all the time, but every time he ran into the line, "'F' you, three yards." It doesn't matter that you know I'm going to do it. It doesn't matter that you have 9 in the box. "'F' you, three yards." Low YPC, but pretty valuable, yes? Actually if you're really on that 100% of the time, you get a touchdown every single drive. Obviously nobody has ever been that, but Bettis is as close as I've ever seen. As currently constituted I'll agree with the sentiment of others that Bettis is a borderline candidate, but he's not being considered without merit.

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 2:07am

Why is it that no one provides any evidence to back up these assertions?

Was he really particularly good at gaining yards against nine in the box? Was he really "probably the greatest short-yardage back of the modern era?" We have plenty of data for investigating these things, but for some reason no one seems to be presenting it when defending Bettis. Instead, we get special pleadings for his pedestrian numbers.

If Bettis isn't an invisible, floating, heatless dragon, one would think that someone could present some evidence of it.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 2:30am

Because that requires effort, and not everyone wants to go to the trouble. I don't even know where I'd begin looking, and if I did I'm not sure I'd find it worth the time. This is a form of entertainment.

As to your last point, I was, with little effort, able to procure evidence of his non-gravity-and-light-defying-cold-lizardness. https://www.google.com/search?gcx=c&q=jerome%20bettis&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=e...

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 2:48am

In case that was too idiosyncratic of a reference:

"'A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage.'

Suppose I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

'Show me,' you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle--but no dragon.

'Where's the dragon?' you ask.

'Oh, she's right here,' I reply, waving vaguely. 'I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon.'

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

'Good idea,' I say, 'but this dragon floats in the air.'

Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

'Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.'

You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

'Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick.'

And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so."

-Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 3:16am

Ah, I did not get the reference at all, but I like it. Thanks for sharing. There's a similar concept we use in mathematics called "observable equivalence." We'd say that the dragon existing and the dragon not existing are observably equivalent and so for our purposes the same thing. There's also a bit of "argumentum ad ignorantium" which is a fallacy whereby the lack of proof of something is taken as proof of its inverse.

by Dean :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 11:36am

Bettis was discussed at length in a previous thread. Probably around the time he retired. A lot of metrics were dug up at that point and discussed. For the most part, they showed that he was actually a lousy short yardage back. Sadly, I'm too lazy to go dig them up.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:39pm

Remember Cowher's record after leading by 11 or more points in any game? It was something like 105-1-1. Part of that is having a good defense, but I believe a large part is having Bettis for most of those years. You could spend the whole second half handing off to Bettis play after play and get first downs. It's true he did this mostly 3 or 4 yards at a time instead of 5 or 6 at a time; but he really frustrated and wore out defenses, and helped keep the other offense off the field.

He's a uniquely productive, durable, big back, who happens to be #5 all time in rushing yards. I agree that there are too many RB's and QB's in the hall of fame, while truly all-time great players (like Dawson) are still waiting to get in. But Bettis deserves the discussion. (Plus, a full half of his pass attempts were TD's!)

I would be very interested to see RB's ranked by number of first down conversions achieved solely by running plays, with a breakdown of first downs achieved in 1, 2, or 3 plays. I imagine Bettis would rank at or near the top in how many times he carried the ball 3 plays in a row and got the first down.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:48pm

Can someone clarify for me why Martin would be in the discussion and Bettis would not be? Their numbers look strikingly similar, and my perception of them when they were playing is that they were very similar players. I don't know if they should be in or not, but I saw them as very, very similar players.(nor do I care. The HOF selection process is a joke as far as I'm concerned, but whatever) dan harmon's post at 15 above could almost read like he was writing about either.


by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:56pm

Martin: 29 fumbles, 3518 carries (1 fumble per 121.3 carries)
Bettis: 41 fumbles, 3479 carries (1 fumble per 84.9 carries)

That's one big difference.

Martin-484 catches, 3329 receiving yards, 10 receiving TD
Bettis-200 catches, 1440 receiving yards, 3 receiving TD (and some very ugly receiving DVOA numbers)

by dan harmon (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 2:17pm

i'm sure this thread is dead but i thought i'd throw in two more cents:

i see significant differences between bettis and martin, even besides fumbles and catches. again, martin's consistency is astounding to me: 274 carries or more in every of his first 10 years, missing only 8 (EIGHT) games in his 11 year career with that kind of workload, and only one less TD than bettis in 2 fewer years. he also has 2300 more yards from scrimmage than bettis, again in 2 fewer years (and again, mostly because of his receiving difference). that's 1.5 seasons of excellent RB production.

i seriously can't see a case for bettis, who's only great claim was being a short yardage machine. but so was mike alstott: 1 TD every 23 carries, compared to bettis' 38.

by 'nonymous (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:02pm

The main difference I recall is that Martin had more receptions. I think Bettis may have more effective at pushing piles to get the 2 or 3 yards you needed, when everyone knew he was coming. Also, Martin came from Pittsburgh; Bettis came to Pittsburgh. I agree they're incredibly similar.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 8:41pm

Curtis Martin was a very good football player who was, on average, a slightly better runner for, on average, drastically worse football teams. He could catch as well as run, and was never not the best runner on his team (both things that cannot be said about Bettis).

I agree that Martin is borderline Hall of Fame, although he is an incredible Hall of Very Good candidate. There is no question he was a starting-quality-or-better player in the league for longer than most players can be at the running back position. I'm not sure that gets you into the hall.

Jerome Bettis has the same number of good seasons as Terrell Davis. His bad seasons are pretty bad. The only thing he ever led the NFL in was carries. He is not a reasonable candidate.

by Mike Kurtz :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 8:59pm

I'm personally not sure that Bettis is a Hall of Famer, but I think your casual dismissiveness is way off. Bettis had pretty good numbers for the beginning of his career, and he did accumulate a lot, but those aren't the main argument that I see in his favor; Bettis was probably the greatest short-yardage back of the modern era. I know the urge to wave that off as mere justification, but it's a position taken so seriously that most teams in the league have either a dedicated short-yardage specialist (thunder and lighting) or a platoon half-featuring a bruiser (change of pace). Even leaving the clear demand aside, the strategic benefit of having a player who can get 2-3 yards despite everyone in the galaxy knowing he is running it up the middle is huge, especially on run-heavy offenses (such as the Steelers of the late 90s and early 00s) who find themselves often in third-and-short but must convert a number of them to drive effectively.

So you're left in the end with a question about whether the qualifications for being in the hall are absolute statistical tests, or whether being one of the best ever at an important and oft-required skill, despite apparent statistical inferiority, is sufficient. Personally I have my doubts about Bettis, but I will say that this isn't the baseball hall of fame. Numbers are instructive, the player's effect on his team and his opponents is also very important.

by David :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 5:22am

2 points.

1. As Tom says in your discussion re: special teamers, simply being the best isn't really a good enough reason to put someone in the hall. It's got to be something important and, despite your protestations, short yardage backs are shuffled around the league like blocking fullbacks. It's a specialist position, but specialism isn't the same as importance

2. As the other posts above state - prove to me that Bettis was the best short yardage back of all time. Personally, my feeling was that Bettis was good, but not great, and hung around as a change of pace back. Take away the stiller connection, and that the superbowl happened to be in Detroit (did you know Bettis was also from Detroit?), and he's a footnote, remembered at the same level as Larry Centers (best pass-catching fullback ever...)

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 6:19am

it reminds me of that Leroy Hoard quote 'Coach, if you need one yard, I'll get you three yards. If you need five yards, I'll get you three yards.'

by Dave G (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 4:13pm

Actually, my recollection was that he produced a lot of 1-2 yard runs punctuated by the occasional 8+ yard run. I would guess a lot of these were against 8-9 man defensive fronts, but I'm not interested enough to look up the stats. The biggest difference between Bettis and other backs was Cowher's willingness to sit on a modest lead and had off endlessly in the 2nd half. There aren't many coaches that manage the clock that well nor teams that play that well with a lead. As I recall, the phenomenal record after amassing an 11+ point lead was regardless of the amount of time remaining in the game.

by Spoon :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 5:41pm

You touched on it briefly, but the HOF standard for Wide Receivers has me baffled. Only three players currently in the hall ended their careers after 1989. Jerry Rice is the greatest of all time, Michael Irvin made it because he owns three Super Bowl rings, and it took Art Monk eight years of hoping. That's it. Three guys from the past 25 years are considered worthy.

Mike said "I think at some point the elections are going to have to take into account the absurd passing environment we have been in for quite a while now." Haven't the members of the committee already done so? Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Tim Brown, guys with plenty of volume, are still on the outside looking in. Peter King, a voting member, has already come out and said that he's not sure he would vote for Marvin Harrison. If Marvin's career doesn't meet the standard, whose does?

Why has the selection committee essentially stopped voting for Wide Receivers?

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:11pm

Receiver passing stats have exploded since the 80s. Voters probably have no idea what separates very good from HoF right now. I know I struggle. Look at the stats for Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Issac Bruce and Terrell Owens, and tell me which is which?

That said, I'm pretty sure Cris Carter and Randy Moss need to be in the Hall.

Also, James Lofton is in the Hall, his career ended in 93.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:31pm

Personally I think pretty much all those guys you mentioned should get in. Harrison, Owens and Moss on the first ballot. They're the great receivers of their era; I'm dumbfounded anyone would even consider them borderline candidates let alone undeserving. Holt, Bruce and Carter I'm a bit more equivocal about, but I could easily see myself voting for any of them depending on who they came up against.

by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:06pm

Terrell Owens and Randy Moss are no-brainers. Marvin Harrison is a bit doubtful because he only played with one quarterback... who happened to be the greatest of all time... but I think his achievements merit inclusion anyway.

Carter is a good take, I think. Bruce and Holt are okay, but it's neither or both, and do you really want both?

Thing is, once you let the three of them in, aren't you stuck with Derrick Mason (who is with Curtis Martin in the Hall of Very Good category, and whose resume differences from Bruce amount to the failure of the McNair Titans to score at the last minute? And aren't you stuck with Jimmy Smith, and (going to be) stuck with Reggie Wayne and Chad Ochocinco? None of THOSE guys belong, do they?

It should be pointed out that the explosion of passing statistics owes somewhat to rules changes, but ought to be credited to the people catching the passes at least a little bit. Likewise, as much as people think of people like Shaun Alexander... I don't see it.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:37pm

Marv is probably not 1st ballot worthy (and I doubt he gets in 1st ballot) but he's definitely a HOF. He's the only guy in my mind that Manning didn't "make". Reggie Wayne is kind of as well, but Marvin, to me, would have been a pro-bowl/all-pro caliber receiver without Manning.

Bruce and Holt are interesting. Their peaks only meshed with the GSOT. Bruce had some good years before Martz/Warner. Holt had some very good years with Bulger. I would think they are right below Moss/Owens/Marv, who are to me the best receivers in basically the post-Rice-in-SF era.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 11:31pm

Harrison played 2 years with Jim Harbaugh. Both were 800 yard years.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:27am

Interesting points you raise. More than anything, I think you demonstrate that the distinctions between very good players are usually pretty slight, and unless you insist that only absolute slam-dunk candidates get in, you're going to end up making some pretty arbitrary distinctions. You play the salami-slicing game to group Bruce, Holt, Mason, Wayne, Jimmy Smith and Ochocinco together. I could come back and argue there's no meaningful difference between Jimmy Smith and Andre Rison and Joe Horn, and so on until until we're down to Nate Burleson and Jabbar Gaffney.

Anyway, I'd probably go with Holt over Bruce and Mason. Torry just seemed to instill more fear in opponents (arbitrary distinction alert!). Mason I think of as a good leader and a consistent, productive, exceptionally durable guy who never cared to attract attention. The Curtis Martin comparison is apt. HOFer? Not quite. Bruce I'd put a bit above Mason, but a more borderline guy than Holt. Don't forget he put up pro bowl numbers catching balls from Tony Banks and a washed-up Mark Rypien, though.

Do people really think that much of Shaun Alexander? The year he was voted league MVP I thought he was the fourth most valuable player on the Seahawks' offense (Hasselbeck, Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson).

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 12:27pm

I'm really not sold on Harrison as clearly better than Bruce and Holt. My perception of the tiers is basically:

Second best of all time at the position


No brainer first ballot


Should definitely get in at some point

Carter, Brown


Harrison, Bruce, Holt, Ochocinco

Should under no circumstances be allowed in without a ticket

Mason, Rod Smith, Jimmy Smith, Ward

Still in or near their peak and plausibly on course

Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, AJ Green

Might well have been a slam dunk with better health and quarterbacking but in reality probably won't do enough in his remaining years to make it

Steve Smith

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 3:12pm

I love the designation on Steve Smith. I think his prime was as good as, if not better than, Terrell Owens; his 2005 in particular should have gotten him the MVP. I see him as a charter member of the Hall of Might Have Been, with Vinny Testaverde, Sterling Sharpe, and Greg Cook.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 5:41pm

I think Joey Galloway belongs too.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 4:31pm

Moss, second best? Are you forgetting Jerry Rice?

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 5:43pm

I'm obviously slow today - is that a Don Hutson joke, a Jerry Rice in odd and even numbered years joke, or something else entirely?

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 12/09/2011 - 9:37pm

No, you're totally up to speed. It was a Hutson joke (not a good one, I admit).

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:18am

When you say "no-brainers," you mean a lock for the HoF, or that they act in a manner consistent with brainlessness?

Harrison's having played with only one team isn't a negative. He was never suspended by his own team, never publicly questioned his QB's sexuality, was never cut twice in the same season, never compared the CBA to slavery, never used his fame or wealth as a justification for doing stupid things, was probably polite to caterers, etc.

by John (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 11:03am

I played pool next to Harrison at a local bar once, and I can attest that he threw no dishes, fired no weaponry, and assaulted no servers. He just talked on his bluetooth headset to some business partner in real estate the whole time (best that I could tell from fragments of conversation).

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 11:06am

Probably couldn't fire his gun since he lent it to a buddy /cheapshot

by Jerry :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 8:04pm

It's like relievers in the Baseball HOF - the electors haven't gotten their heads around the new numbers yet. Also, I'd imagine that there are arguments among supporters of Carter, Reed, and Brown - if they ever decide to elect them one at a time, they'll all be in in three years.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 8:08pm

This. I'd go Brown, Reed, Carter, but I'd vote for any of them if they came up alone.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:26am

I would take Brown & Carter over Martin & Bettis any day of the week 2010s or 1990s. I'm less enamoured with Andre Reed, who I think benefited more from his teammates. The lack of WRs in the HoF is scandalous (if not quite as scandalous as the lack of DL/Defense). Especially when those WRs include Stallworth...

by RickD :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:09pm

"Why has the selection committee essentially stopped voting for Wide Receivers?"

recent inductees
2007: Michael Irvin
2008: Art Monk
2009: Bob Hayes
2010: Jerry Rice
2011: no WR, (but Shannon Sharpe at TE)

That's a lot of votes for WRs from a committee that has stopped voting for WRs.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 5:48pm

On Eddie DeBartolo...

He created an enviornment where NOTHING was allowed to get in the way of winning.

The story I heard Joe Montana tell way back when was that one day a player whose name has been lost to history was a few moments late for a meeting. When asked why, he said he was waiting in line at the water fountain to get a drink.

The very next day, construction crews were on-site at the practice facilities installing several additional water fountains.

Whatever it took, Eddie D was willing to do.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:13pm

DeBartolo was a pimp who did one thing right, he hired Walsh. He then put so much pressure on Walsh that he ended up making him quit. He threatened to fire Walsh after they didn't win in 87, that would have been smart wouldn't it?

He actually put his lawyer (and fellow arsehole) carmen Policy in charge as GM despite him having no qualifications at all.

He can keep his damn fountain.

(It may have become clear that this poster doesn't like Eddie DeBartolo)

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:39pm

If you read stuff about Walsh (I would recommend 'The Genius'), you see that Walsh felt like retiring countless times. Walsh put an immense amount of pressure and strain on himself.

I don't know if Eddie D belongs in, but he's got a pretty good case.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:59pm

I would also heartily recommend The Genius, it was one of the anecdotes that made me feel that it was totally OK to refer to DeBartolo as a pimp. You send a guy a whore, you're a pimp. I got the impression that Eddie didn't really understand what Walsh was about or how great he was.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 5:53pm

If Lezlie Frazier made a bad decision that must imply Fox made the right decision, right? I'm confused. How can you say that the Vikings should let the roncos score, and then say the Broncos should have tried to score?

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:12pm

I think they're saying Fox should have knelt, not tried to score by running.

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:19pm

The Broncos should have taken a knee. The Vikings should have let the Broncos score if they didn't take a knee.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 5:57pm

Personally, I don't think either of the Harpy sisters could down a twelve inch sub, and if they could, I wouldn't want anything to do with either one - obvious candidates to become TV land housewives that sit home and eat bon-bons all day while poor Todd busts his butt to keep her happy. Oh wait, this is real life. Never mind.

by akn :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:25pm

I'm positive that if either of those two women downed a full footlong sub, there would be quick trip to the bathroom soon afterwards, and their breath would stink.

That said, passive-aggressive Todd is a coward.

And finally, those chalkboard-scratching voices remind me of that migraine-inducing Geico commercial with the screaming pig.

Not sure I would want my food product associated with this wreak of commercial. The Suh Subway commercials are more preferable.

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:29pm

I think both Guy and Terrell Davis are deserving of the HOF.

Guy-The HOF should be for the Best Players at each Position. No Coach would consider entering into a game without a Punter or Kicker on their team yet when it comes to HOF voting neither deserves recognition?

**In regards to Lorenzo Neal and Fullback, I would argue that in this era, fullbacks are rarely used by many teams so being the best of a dying and rarely used group is not very impressive. The Best fullbacks of the 60s and 70s deserve enshrinement but not in the 00s since the position has all but died.

Davis-Being the Best Player on a 2x Super Bowl Champion should be automatic induction.

Personally I hope Martin and Bettis never make it. Both belong in the Hall of Very Good (they can join Steve McNair and Testaverde). When I think of both, what comes to mind isn't transcendent play/talent but rather durable stat compilers

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:37pm

As recently as 2006, the Falcon's entered 2 games with a single player as a punter/kicker.

Also, if punters and kickers were as important as you imply they would have backups. No other position in the game, would a coach not enter the game without at least 2 players who can do the job.

You could argue it's because they don't have to worry about injuries, but whenever they do happen, frequently the coach doesn't even know the backup plan. There are often stories about them asking "when's the last time anyone's kicked a ball around here."

If you support the best players at each position does that mean you also want long snappers in the hall?

by ChicagoRaider :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 6:59pm

In general don't the punter and the kicker back each other up? And I see lots of games where teams do not have two players who can "do the job" for lots of jobs. Hell, a certain person named "Sabby" was starting and could not do the job.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:01pm

My do the job I mean at least two players listed on the roster with the job title.

As far as I know it's actually rare for punters and kickers to back each other up. Suh kicked for the Lions a couple times, and I remember a non-punter kicking for the Eagles when Akers got a hurt a few year ago.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:00pm

Marc Simoneau.

Welker kicked an extra point for the Patriots against Cleveland last year, and in 2004 he kicked an extra point and a field goal against the Patriots while playing for the Dolphins.

Seems to me that nowadays most of the time the punter is the holder, which is why he doesn't back up the placekicker.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:31pm

"As far as I know it's actually rare for punters and kickers to back each other up. Suh kicked for the Lions a couple times, and I remember a non-punter kicking for the Eagles when Akers got a hurt a few year ago."

My understanding is the opposite. For one thing, when Suh kicked for the Lions, he missed the FG attempt. I don't recall the case with the Eagles, but I do seem to recall a lot of cases when a punter kicked off or a kicker punted.

It'd be a waste of a roster space to have a backup kicker or punter when these specialists are so rarely injured. But I know the Redskins did have two placekickers as well as a punter just a few years back. They had one guy with a leg for kickoffs and another guy with more accuracy for FGs and PATs.

by DEW (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:03pm

And yet most teams promptly stopped carrying one punter and one kicker. Why? Because the positions were important enough to the game that it was necessary to burn an extra roster spot so that the skills could be separated. Moreover, it's very rare that a team gets into a situation like the Lions did this year (and how did that work out for them?). It *is* an injury-related situation, because kickers and punters almost never get injured, while you can pretty much guarantee that someone in other positions will go down. Plus, backups for every other position in the game except for quarterback are routinely used in other roles--defensive linemen work in rotation, nickel and dime backs work in a variety of packages, tight ends, RBs, and WRs all go into the game in different offensive looks, and offensive linemen will fill in at a variety of different positions so one OL backup can replace up to five different injured starters.

The only position in the entire game of football where there is a backup that does nothing but wait around in case one single player gets injures is the quarterback. No one is arguing that kickers or punters are more important than quarterback. The question is, whether the best players on special teams are worthy, merely by being good at special teams, of getting into the Hall of Fame. Steve Tasker might be a stretch, but the skills of a great punter, a great kicker, and a great return man can be directly observed in their effect on field position and points.

That being said, Garrett playing conservatively is probably less dubious than Fox and Frazier, but when you add in the issue of his clock management and calling time out to take away his own team's winning FG, how is that not the Martz award-winner?

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:08pm

I never actually said that specialists shouldn't be in the hall of fame. However, "no coach would enter a game without a punter and kicker" is patently false, and spurious reasoning even if it was true.

Also, you think teams have a single offensive lineman who can play all 5 positions? I think that might be rarer than teams entering games without a punter and kicker.

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 8:57pm

Have there been any recent games where a team willingly went into a game without a kicker and punter? I sure cannot recall this happening and suspect I would since it would garner significant attention

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:00pm

As I already said, the 2006 Atlanta Falcons tried to use one player for both.

by milo :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:39am

In 1979, the Saints drafted Russell Erxleben with the 11th pick of the draft to punt and placekick, which helps to explain why it took the Saints 21 years to have a winning season and 34 years to win a playoff game.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:41pm

Frazier over Garrett is ridiculous. I'm not even certain that what Frazier did was incorrect. It certainly was defensible. Garrett wasted two timeouts and settled for a long FG when he could have taken a timeout with time on the clock equal to half the time it took the Packers to drive 60 yards.
Timeout, short pass, timeout, FG. It's like Garrett hasn't watched any late-game drive by Brady, Manning, Rogers, Brees, or any of the other leading QBs in the past ten years.
The only defense for Garrett is "he's so terrified of Romo throwing a pick that he won't let him pass," and that's not much of a defense. But I think what happened is he thought "we're in field goal range" without thinking about how shorter FGs are often much easier to make than longer ones.

by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:00pm

Yes, there probably should be some long snappers in the Hall of Fame. If you are Historically Good at your position then you deserve the recognition

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:24pm

Anyone happen to know offhand who are considered the greatest long snappers of all time? Like if they decided to induce one long snapper, who would it be?

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:30am

The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl

by DGL :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 11:20am

Eh, not so much. If the difference between a player being historically good at his position and being merely competent at his position makes no difference to the success of your team, I see no reason to enshrine him in the HoF. While there's a big difference between a replacement-level LS and the guy who plays around with it for ten minutes during practice and fills in when the LS gets hurt (see James Harrison in week 8 of the 2008 season), I would argue that the difference between a replacement-level LS and a "historically good" LS is minimal, and of almost no impact on the game.

Imagine ROBO-SNAPPER, who delivers every punt snap precisely at the punter's midsection, with the laces up, and delivers every FG snap precisely at the holder's hands, at 45-degree angle with the laces forward. How much better, really, is that than a street FA long snapper? How much does he improve the team's chances of winning over even a 15-year career?

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:41pm

They also don't have backups because the chances of a punter or kicker getting hurt is a lot less than the chances of any other player getting hurt.

Personally, I think if you are historically great at punting/kicking, you should be in. I think Vinatieri will get in (although his 'greatness' is almost purely built of post-season field goals). I think Lechler, or Ray Guy before him should.

The more interesting case to me is Devin Hester. What he did was a lot more quantifiable, just because he (along with his blockers) directly scored points for the Bears. I think he will get in.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:11am

_if_ another place kicker were to be elected sometime in the next decade, wouldn't you think it'd be one of the Anders(e|o)ns rather than Vinatieri?

by dryheat :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 9:04am

Yep. Morton Andersen first, Gary Anderson second, and frankly, if Jason Hanson spent his career kicking for even an average team, like the Seahawks or Dolphins, I think he'd have a pretty good chance too.

The case for Vinatieri is usually one of those "It's called the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Greatest Players" type arguments. Vinatieri is probably the kicker most non-football fans have heard of.

As for Ray Guy, he's generally considered the best punter in history because his former coach has been espousing that POV from his post-coaching pulpit for 30 years now.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 9:43am

Well, Hanson did spend the first nine years of his career kicking for an average team. Five of his seven highest field goal totals came during the '90s with a team that was in the playoffs as often as not. (Oddly, in five playoff appearances, he was just 3 of 4 in FG attempts: two of those five games gave him zero opportunities.)

Five of his seven most accurate years, though, were this century, and his 2011 season is close behind.

By the end of this season, Hanson should be fourth in points scored; if he plays next year, he should pass Carney for third. He'd likely pass Carney for third in FG attempts next season (Kasay is close behind but is also a year older; it should be interesting to see what happens with his career, too).

However, he's just 18th in accuracy, which is saying something for a guy who's played at least 9 games a year indoors. (Six of the guys in front of him are in their 20s, for what it's worth: p-f-r includes pretty much everyone who's active.) Of course, maybe it's just saying that he's had a lot of long-range attempts. He's 48 of 85 from 50+ yards, and no one ahead of him on the list has even half as many attempts from 50+. Even Janikowski only has 54 attempts. If you cut his attempts from 50+ in half (and keep the same percentage from that range), his overall accuracy moves up to 8th.

Despite all that, I'm not sure I could make a case for him yet. He's a solid long-range kicker, but again, he's played more than half of his career indoors. (Then again, so did Morten Andersen.) For him to have a decent shot, I think he's going to have to play late into his 40s. That would probably put him in range of Andersen's records for points scored and field goals made, and then he's at least have a similar case to Andersen.

by Dean :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 11:43am

The Andersons first.

Then David Akers. Especially if he continues on record pace this year.

Then Vinitieri.

Then folks like Jason Hanson.

(if you're going to induct kickers)

by dryheat :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 12:14pm

My point was actually that on a better team, or almost any team besides the Lions, he'd have a lot more points by now. If he were drafted by the Steelers or Colts, he might already have the all-time record.

I don't think you can make a case for him in actuality.

by 0tarin :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:21pm

I'd think there's an argument to be made that in an era where fullbacks are fading out of existence, being good enough at the job to actually earn a roster spot as one these days is all the more impressive. Back in the 60s and 70s, every team had a fullback; now that it's considered an expendable position, carrying one is even more a sign of quality.

Which is not to say that I think Neal should be in, just that I don't think the dearth of fullbacks these days should automatically rule him out.

by Jerry :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 8:18pm

In the '60s and '70s, both halfbacks and fullbacks carried the ball regularly; Franco Harris was officially a fullback. The distinction became so unimportant that the league just called both "running backs". Even Jim Braxton, who was O.J.'s lead blocker, would get more than 100 carries a year.

by 0tarin :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:37am

The same might be said of today; these days, we're simply dispensing with using the "fullback" term entirely. Instead, we have "running back by committee". Not all teams necessarily meet the same qualifications as in the past, but a great many certainly employ a "finesse" back and a "short yardage" one, for example.

For a recent example of a fullback who still had a great many carries, simply see McClain of the Ravens two years ago. Or generic Giants back of a year or two further. It's certainly not with the same frequency, but I don't think it makes sense to argue that things are entirely different now.

by Jerry :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 3:13am

40 years ago, teams ran two-back T-formation offenses. Either might get the ball on a given play. Now, with rare exceptions, the fullback is a blocking specialist if the team doesn't prefer to use an H-back or an extra wideout. Only one committee member tends to be the field on any given play.

I had forgotten that McClain was the Ravens' leading rusher in 2008. Of course, he went from 232 carries that year to a much more normal fullback load of 46 carries in '09 as Rice established himself.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:32am

McClain didn't play fullback that year though did he? I thought he actually played halfback that year.

by 0tarin :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:46pm

Both years he was ostensibly a Fullback, as far as I am aware. While many people considered him a halfback based on performance, his roster spot didn't change.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:32am

McClain didn't play fullback that year though did he? I thought he actually played halfback that year.

by 0tarin :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:52pm

Fair enough. I still don't necessarily think that all this should preclude current Fullbacks from even being candidates. That said, it's pretty unlikely that any will get in simply because, as our discussion shows, they are inevitably judged by the same criteria as Halfbacks, and by that standard none of the modern-day candidates will merit consideration.

by dryheat :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 9:09am

So were Jim Brown and Larry Czonka, among other Hall of Famers.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:23pm

I'm fine with Guy being inducted, but I'm not so sold on TD. He's really pushing the lower limit of how long a career could be for a Hall of Famer. I'd see Curtis Martin in before TD, even though his peak wasn't quite as high.

As for "Being the Best Player on a 2x Super Bowl Champion," well, I'm pretty sure Elway's already in. I know MVP voters loved TD, but it turned out he was pretty replaceable in the Broncos' scheme, didn't it? The Broncos have gotten a lot of production from the RB position since Davis retired, but they haven't had a sniff of that level of QB play since Elway retired.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:34am

if it wasn't for TD, Elway would have had to qualify via the "three time Superbowl Spanking" route - (see Kelly, Jim)

by deflated (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 12:30pm

Hmmm. Jake Plummer actually had a better season than Elway in a Shanahan offense; Denver RBs had good/great years after Davis but none of them came close to matching his '97/'98 seasons.

8 games, 1140 yards on 204 carries with 12 TDs. 5 of those games with over 150 yards from scrimmage, never averaged less than 4 yards per carry in any game. That is half-way to the best RB season ever, an extended run of excellence, and it was all in the playoffs. Every coach on the planet knew what was coming in those games but Denver still went into Pittsburgh and KC, handed TD the ball and let him run over the defense. Absolutely carried the Broncos to 2 SBs and just got better when the opposition was toughest.

Bringing playoffs into a HOF discussion is tough when so many great players just didn't get the opportunities but when the player in question is in the Jerry Rice class of post-season production you're talking about a special player.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 12:42pm

I don't think anyone denies that TD was great. The question is how to value peak production compared to career length. Davis had a really short career. I know people like to compare him to Gale Sayers in that he also had a short career, but I don't think that works because Davis played in the 30 years later and had access to much better medicinal technology and was still unable to stay healthy.

Edit: I guess Rick doesn't think he was that special, so lets go with "most people."

by Dean :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 11:44am

I'd love to see Lorenzo Neal get in. I think he'd make a great Old Timers candidate one day, and at that point, I think it could happen. I can't imagine him getting in any other way, though.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 2:02pm

I second your call for more fullbacks but I'd start with Tom Rathman. (I think I say this every year when this comes up.)

by Dean :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 3:29pm

I hadn't ever given Rathman much thought, and now that I do, I'm kinda torn. I can see your point, and it's intriguing enough that it's certainly worth of a reply, but I'm not sure where I stand on him.

Great pass catcher. If I was a GM assembling a WCO team, that'd be a position I'd spend a 5th round pick on every year until I found a Tom Rathman. He added an extra dimension to the offense.

But as a pass catcher, does that kinda puts him up against all the other "ball carrier" RBs? Is he, by virtue of his own success, someone whose career should be measured alongside Keith Byars?

I don't know the answer, but it's a great question.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:08pm

I can't remember thinking wow, this guy should be in the hall of fame when watching either Bettis or Martin. I'd rather see at least one receiver (I'd go for Tim Brown but would be happy for either Reed or Carter) a couple of offensive lineman (for me Dawson and Roaf) and a couple of the defensive linemen (my preference would be Doleman and Haley, for me the only reason to keep Haley out is his offensively bizarre off field behaviour. I'd put him in for five rings and possibly being the most disruptive edge rusher for the last two decades. He was havoc on and off the field, I wouldn't sit down for dinner with him but good lord he could play, a force of nature)

by akn :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 7:29pm

Is Tom trying to bait everyone into another Irrational Hester HOF debate? Because I thought ESPN already did that a few weeks ago.

by mansteel (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 7:00pm

It would indeed be irrational to debate Jesse Hester's HOF candidacy.

by Jerry :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 8:25pm

While I recognize Tasker's contributions on special teams, I don't support his candidacy. Donnie Shell was a terrific kick coverage guy his first couple years. But since he was good enough to become a starting safety (and make this ballot), he was taken off special teams.

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:25am

Tasker is more than just "the best special-teamer." The big difference is that he was so good at what he did, that the NFL had to change the rules so he couldn't do it any more. How many players can you say that about? The 2003 Patriots secondary? James Harrison and Ryan Clark?

by langsty :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 8:53pm

The HoF conversation was really interesting. Thanks guys.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 9:59pm

You're giving the Mike Martz award to a coach for not intentionally letting the other team score?

In another universe, you're giving the same award to the coach for letting the other team score, and then floundering on offense.

Indeed, I'd suspect that it's happening more often than not. Just what do you think the odds of the Vikings scoring a TD with less than a minute on the clock are? How many 1 minute TD drives do they have this season?

Maybe if your team has Brady, Brees, or Rogers behind center, you can assume that it's easy to score a TD with <1 minute on the clock.

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:26pm

We wrote a column last year where we agreed that in some cases it makes sense to let the other team score.

When the Broncos had first and goal, the Vikings had very little chance of winning the game. If John Fox did what we thought he should do and let the clock run down to :02 or so and kicking a field goal as time expired, the Vikings probably had about a 1% chance of winning the game (estimating 98% on 22-yard field goal attempt, OT 50-50). Even if their chance of scoring a TD is only 3%, the Vikings are clearly better off letting the Broncos score.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:49pm

Football really isn't a probabilistic game. My point remains, how are you estimating the probability of the Vikings scoring a TD with less than a minute on the clock? I don't think it's legitimate in this case to simply look at the typical team's ability to do so. We're talking about the Vikings, on this day, against that defense, starting a rookie QB with only one WR that anybody respects running routes.

My question remains: how many 1-minute TD drives do the Vikings have this season? Even if they had one in the middle of the game, it should be harder to pull it off against a prevent defense. These are the Vikings, with the 27th best passing offense in the NFL. That's not Fran Tarkenton back there, and they don't have Randy Moss running deep routes for them.

It's far from obvious that Frazier made the wrong call. At the very least, it's debatable. I haven't heard anybody defend Garrett's coaching decisions yet.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 11:08pm

It doesn't matter how he estimates it. If you think it's equal to or higher than 3%, it's the correct call.

by Alternator :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 12:16am

Heave it deep and hope for pass interference? That has to be a better chance than having the other team miss a 22 yard field goal, then winning the game in overtime.

Given the situation, the bar for success is REALLY LOW. That 1% chance looks pretty accurate, and if anything, it's too high.

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:09pm

I always laugh at that Subway commercial, at the "I got a phone call. Todd. ... This is Todd" part at the end. I love the delivery of the line, combined with the guys' face.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:43pm

The first thing the HOF needs to do to start being credible is to start admitting about 8 guys a year.

Also, the reason I'd favor Carter over other wr candidates is that he scored so many touchdowns, usually from the red zone. Being able to dominate that space, and thus get touchdowns instead of field goals, is pretty damned valuable.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 10:56pm

Agree completely that the NFL needs to start adding more players/year. The NFL has doubled in size since the 1960s (actually, it's nearly tripled in size) and they're still admitting players at the same rate. Fifty players/decade just isn't enough. Not as an upper bound.

The WR position is a case in point where the crunch is being felt badly. Also, I don't think the Hall should continue to ignore punters and kickers.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:17am

Man I was going to argue with the exact same reasoning. Across eras a random player's probability of making the HOF should stay approximately the same or maybe vary inversely with roster size. More teams, bigger league should mean more inductees.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 9:53am

It wasn't just touchdowns. Carter also caught a incredibly high percentage of his passes for first downs. Don't have the stats. But I remember several times announcers stating that over 90% of his passes in the late 90's were either for first downs or TDs. His routes were incredibly precise, which is one of the reasons the musical QBs at Minnesota at that time were so successful. I'm a Packers fan and I can't understand why Carter wasn't a first ballot HoF WR.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:39am

Carter should be HoF without a doubt. As a Raider fan, I love Tim Brown, and he played in such a terrible system for WR counting stats and with horrible QBs during his prime,but he was only in the discussion as the top WR* in the league, as Carter was, in some of those seasons. Carter was a stud for a decade.

*excluding Lord Rice of Candlestick of course.

by Travis :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 11:32am

Carter also caught a incredibly high percentage of his passes for first downs. Don't have the stats. But I remember several times announcers stating that over 90% of his passes in the late 90's were either for first downs or TDs.

More like 65% for his career, though he did get as high as 76% in 2000. NFL.com player pages have first downs for receivers from 1991 on, which includes most of Carter's career. (Note: touchdowns are also considered first downs - see Mike Vrabel's receiving stats.)

by Dean :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 11:46am

I disagree. Its very exclusivity is part of what makes The Hall special. Watering down the inductees will spoil that.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 12:02pm

It's not watering down. There is a large backlog of candidates who deserve to be in.

by Dean :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:09pm

And there should ALWAYS be a backlog of deserving candidates.

Lets say, hypothetically that there's 20 desrving candidates (purely for the convenience of using a round number). And lets say they start adding 8/year instead of 4. You'll burn through the backlog in 5 years. Then you'll have a year or two of newly elligible players who don't have to wait their turn because the line in front of them has been resolved. Then, yes, you DO have lesser players who are suddenly getting in because there's no one better in front of them and they have to induct somebody.

I don't want The Hall to add Jimmy Smith, Ricky Watters, Phil Simms, Art Monk (oops, too late) etc. And when you lower the bar, those guys become Hall of Famers.

Right now, by inducting 4/year, we're essentially stipulating that a normal year produces 4 Hall of Famers. A good year more, a bad year less, but a normal year, four. If you make it 8, then suddenly those #5-8 players, The Hall of Pretty Good, if you will, are now Canton-bound.

If that's not watering down, then what is?

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:24pm

What if there are more HoF players than that every year? Don't you think 32 teams and a population that has grown immensely produce more HoF players than the 1960s?

by Dean :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:38pm

No. I don't.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 1:41pm

When there is no longer a backlog, then you don't admit 8. Right now there is a huge backlog of deserving players, which means the distinction between being a HOFer and not being a HOFer is completely arbitrary and without reason. Institutions that act arbitrarily and without reason have no credibility, and sensible people ignore, if they can, institutions that have no credibility. Given that this institution claims in its mission statement that one of its roles is to....

" To educate the public regarding the origin, development and growth of professional football as an important part of American culture"

....it is explicitly harming the chances of accomplishing what it claims to be
one of its purposes, when it inducts members in a way that would cause a sensible person to ignore it. The people who vote on induction to the HOF are failing to perform their duty in a responsible way.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 2:01pm

My view is that it's time to get rid of the senior allocation and just have seven normal candidates. If a player can't get in over the course of his initial eligibility why put him in at all? Is there really any need to keep adding players from the days when there were only about 12 teams?

by dryheat :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 2:13pm

I must admit I don't see much in the way of a backlog of players who are clearly worthy of enshrinement.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 4:13pm

Off the top of my head......

Bob Keuchenberg, L.C. Greenwood, Chuck Howley, Johnny Robinson, Claude Humphrey, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Alex Karras, Jerry Kramer, Mick Tinglehoff, Lemar Parrish, Steve Wisniewski, Cliff Harris, Lester Hayes,George Kunz, Mike Kenn, Maxie Baughn, Randy Gradishar

......and with about 20 seconds of searching, I think I could easily double the list.

(edit) to illustrate the arbitrary nature of induction, the primary reason that Larry Little got in right away, and George Kunz is still out, is because Little played with great teammates on great teams, and Kunz did not. There was not that much difference in the quality of their play. The HOF has no credibility.

by dryheat :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 5:13pm

Well, I won't argue with those last five words. But I would hardly say that your list is a group that unequivocally deserves enshrinement. Most of the guys are borderline candidates to me. Of that list, I would say that Keuchenberg, Howley, Kramer, Karras, and Gradishar are the only ones who were wronged (disclaimer -- I'm on the friendly side of 40, and obviously there's a lot of people whom my only exposure to is highlight reels and written accounts). Hayes? Wisniewski? Kenn? Greenwood? Fine players, perennial pro-bowlers, but I would hardly call them all-time greats. And frankly, I think enough Steelers from that era are in the Hall.

Most of these HoF arguments (not saying yours) is of the "Well, he was better than player X, and he's in the HoF!" variety, which I think is a horrible justification.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 5:29pm

Thanks for making my point. When someone says that L.C. Greenwood is rightfully left out, not because he wasn't good enough (and really, how can we define who wasn't good enough, except in comparison to other players at the position?) , but because he has too many teammates who are in, arbitrary decisions, untethered from reason, have become the norm. Look, the guy either had enough outstanding qualities to his play, or he did not, and the quality of Terry Bradshaw's play has zero connection to that.

As to other players, let me give ypu some reason to think you haven't examined the issue enough. Paul Zimmerman has written that Mike Kenn deserves it, and Zimmerman watched more film of line play than all the other selectors combined, in all likelihood. Dick Butkus said the toguhest center he had to deal with was Mick Tinglehoff. I could tell a simialr story for nearly all the plyers I mentioned. The reason some get in, and some don't, is very, very, frequently based on arbitrary reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the player involved.

by dryheat :: Fri, 12/09/2011 - 2:40pm

I thought the point was that your list is entirely subjective...someone else will have a different list of players that are "no-brainers" in their eyes.

Regarding Greenwood...there are currently 9 players from the Steelers dynasty in the HoF...most of which everybody would agree should be there. Just how many people on one roster are likely to be among the greatest players of all time? The odds must be pretty well incalculable. Is it really likely that LC was a Hall-of-Fame caliber player, or more likely that he benefited enormously from playing with Mean Joe and the two Jacks, plus other solid, but non-HOFers like Furnace, Shell, etc, as well as benefiting from an unusually large amount of TV exposure those Steelers got? I don't think he was HoF caliber. There are enough Steelers in the HoF, but that's not my reason for exclusion.

Hell, I'm a Patriots die-hard, but I hope I don't walk into the Hall of Fame one day and see Deion Branch, Dan Koppen, Matt Light, Steve Neal, and Kevin Faulk in the Hall because they had the good fortune to win championships with Brady.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/09/2011 - 3:27pm

Wait, you just told me that Greenwood's chance of actually being HOF-worthy were astronomically small, because there are a lot of other Steelers in already, then you tell me you don't think Greenwood is deserving, but not because there are a lot of Steelers in. I guess I don't understand what you are arguing.

Yes, there is an irremovable subjective element to this, but that isn't the same thing as arbitrary. When someone tells me that Terry Bradshaw's play impacts how they view L.C. Greenwood's play, that is just pointlessly arbitrary.

As to the Pats you mention, lemme know when one of them make the Pro Bowl 6 times, under the selection procedures of the '70s, when one of them get first team All-Pro honors twice, and get selected to the HOF's All Decade team.

Finally, with limemen in particular, very few of the selecters, being for the most part sportswriters who are in stadium booths on Sunday afternoons, actually see as much football as even a very dedicated NFL fan. The Dr. Zs, who would live with film and video tape during the week, are huge exceptions. These people literally don't know what they are talking about. If this institution wants to be credible it needs to find selectprs who have put the work in to be knowledgeable. I'd suggest getting a jury of 10-15 former pro personnel directors, guys who spent 40 hours a week grading out the NFL players who were on rosters other than their employers'. If those guys tell me that L.C. Greenwood wasn't good enough, fine, I will concede the point.

by dryheat :: Fri, 12/09/2011 - 4:38pm

Wait, you just told me that Greenwood's chance of actually being HOF-worthy were astronomically small, because there are a lot of other Steelers in already,

I neither said, nor implied any such thing. You possibly inferred that, but it was no more than a semi-related aside from me.

When someone tells me that Terry Bradshaw's play impacts how they view L.C. Greenwood's play, that is just pointlessly arbitrary

Again, I said no such thing. The players I mentioned were all on the defensive side of the ball.

As to the Pats you mention, lemme know when one of them make the Pro Bowl 6 times, under the selection procedures of the '70s, when one of them get first team All-Pro honors twice, and get selected to the HOF's All Decade team.

Well that's silly, since they couldn't possibly be voted into the pro bowl under 70's procedures, since it's the 10's. And in the 10's, pro bowl selections is a worthless metric anyway. But I'm not arguing for any of the 00's Patriots. If I had a vote, Brady would be the only player in.

I don't disagree with any of your last paragraph. Z was the best...but he's still just one opinion. And much like when Ken Burns relied on Wynton Marsalis to tell him who was an important jazz musician, we get in trouble when we rely on one person. Unfortunately, in Z's case, there's no evident solution.

Will, my only point was that your list of no-brainers that are not in the HOF due to the yearly maximums is highly subjective. That is all. One of the best takes I've heard on Hall of Fames comes from Bill Simmons, whom I'm not a fan of...not even a little bit. But he wrote once that if you could give a history of the NFL through the years and not even casually mention a player as being instrumental, he's not Hall-worthy. Now I don't believe that exactly, since it would seem to discriminate against non-"skill" players, but my litmus test is me sitting down at 75 years old, giving my grandson a comprehensive history of the game. Assuming my memory is sound, if I can't imagine myself mentioning someone as someone I wish he could have seen play, then he's not HOF-worthy.

It is entirely possible my standards are to high, but I like some real exclusivity in my clubs.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/09/2011 - 4:59pm

I guess I don't know what this means.....

"Regarding Greenwood...there are currently 9 players from the Steelers dynasty in the HoF...most of which everybody would agree should be there. Just how many people on one roster are likely to be among the greatest players of all time? The odds must be pretty well incalculable...."

...in that it seems to be saying, by my reading, that the odds are incalculable that Greenwood would be the 10th player (which entails Bradsahw and other offensive players) on that roster to be among the all time greats. In any case, for a team which won 4 championships in 6 years, and in one of the years they did not, they had one of the greatest defensive years of all time, rendeered moot when everybody on offense got hurt, no, it doesn't strike me as astronomical odds that they would have another defensive player who deserves induction. Why Greenwood's worthiness would be impacted by the Steeler's offensive players just strikes me as very curious.

I have no problems with high standards. I just have yet to hear a standard yet which would exclude Greenwood, in comparison to the players who have been deemed worthy, and again, does not this exercise require such comparisons? "All time great", compared to what?

by Temo :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 10:21am

At least Todd got to keep his cookie and his drink.

by Anon (not verified) :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 4:26pm

Why wouldn't blocking fullbacks like Neal or late-career Richardson have a chance at being inducted in the Hall of Fame? Can't they be considered "offensive linemen in the backfield with more speed"? If they are so easily dismissed, I think you can as well dismiss guards too. Few teams have success running the ball in single back formations, usually the ones that do use some sort of Gibbs' zone-blocking schemes. And they aren't that successful neither.

Maybe because some FBs have been credited with more than their fair share of responsability regarding their team's RB's success (Foster and Leach, Johnson and Hall) has made some people think they are in fact superfluous to the game. But you seriously have to be a non-believer to disregard the evidence of RBs success running behind Neal or Richardson. I mean, LOOK AT THE JETS RUNNING GAME THIS SEASON, FOR CHRIST'S SAKES! Look at what happened in San Diego when Neal was gone, look at Tomlinson's numbers without Neal and with Neal and tell me there isn't a correlation like that of a HoF offensive lineman.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/08/2011 - 5:14pm

If you're right, then NFL front offices are grossly under-valuing fullbacks. Leach is the best lead blocker in the game; his contract this summer was for less than $4m a year. When Mughelli signed with the Falcons, he got $18m over 6 years. Neal got $5.1m over three years the same summer - and that was a record for a fullback at the time. Guards get paid an awful lot more than that.

I'm not saying they're not valuable. I'm just saying they're less valuable than players at any other position on offense or defense.

by nibiyabi :: Fri, 12/09/2011 - 11:31pm

Bit of a head scratcher for my flex spot in a TD-heavy league (TD 1-49Yd = 6, TD 50-99Yd = 10, 100RuYd = 6, 100ReYd = 6). Basically, yardage is 0 points unless you get into triple digits (rushing and receiving calculated separately; if a RB gets 99RuYd and 99ReYd with 0 TDs that is 0 points).

Greene or Green? They're both playing at home in what should be sunny but chilly games. Shonn is listed as probable with a rib injury and A.J. is not on the injury report.

It seems that, based on my calculations (using your reports and pro-football-reference), each of them is likely to get around 60-80 yards and has about a 50% chance of a TD.

I have Foster / Lynch / Welker / White locked in and I'm not considering Benson / Jacobs / Kuhn / DThomas / Colston / LRobinson / MWilliams(TB), but I've listed them here all the same just in case.


by Tom Gower :: Sat, 12/10/2011 - 2:03pm

Your league would drive me nuts.

I'd have a tough time starting Shonn Greene, as I'd rate his chances of getting to 100 yards as relatively low so you'd be dependent on touchdowns for value. The Texans aren't very good against opposing #1 receivers, Joseph struggled at times last game with Roddy White, and CB2, whether Allen or Jackson, is definitely an exploitable weakness. I'd go with A.J. Green.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 12/10/2011 - 3:47pm

I agree. I don't love AJ's chances of multiple touchdowns, but he's always a candidate for a long one and he should get some yardage against the Texans, as Tom says. I suppose Shonn might get to punch three in in a blowout, or something, but more likely the Jets defense will do all the scoring anyway.

by nibiyabi :: Sat, 12/10/2011 - 8:25pm

Thanks for the advice -- it drives me nuts too, but the league has been around since 1977 so the rules were formed in a time of having the sports section of the newspaper as the only source for stats. There were no yardage bonuses whatsoever, but ESPN was founded shortly after this league started up, and they showcased every player who scored a TD, every 300-yard passer, every 100-yard receiver, and every 100-yard rusher. Thus, the bonuses were enacted. I'm trying to get them to move to some sort of hybrid format, adding something like 0.5 points per 25 yards passing or 10 yards rushing/receiving, but it's slow going. They still insist that lineups be frozen 5 minutes before the first kickoff (since lineups were submitted via a phone call to your opponent Sunday morning until about 2001) on Sunday, so if you have a Sunday late afternoon/night or MNF player who is listed as questionable, you have to either roll the dice or bench him Sunday morning.