Cincinnati Bengals QB Ken Anderson

Hall of Fame Debates: Bengals Bonanza

There are very few Cincinnati Bengals players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's because the Bengals have been a miserable organization for most of their 53-year existence, because past Hall of Fame selection committees had a Pittsburgh Steelers fixation, and because the Bengals don't have many well-qualified candidates.

Few would debate the first point: the Bengals have endured 20 seasons of double-digit losses and won just five playoff games in over half a century of professional football. The second point is also hard to argue: the Steel Curtain Steelers, Lombardi Packers, outlaw biker Raiders and a few other dynasties dominated the Hall of Fame voting for decades, casting a shadow over many also-rans of the 1960s and 1980s, including the fine Bengals teams of the mid-1970s and early 1980s.

The lack of well-qualified candidates, on the other hand, is a point of contention. Bengals fans have planned a "Jungle at the Hall" rally for June 19 to advocate for the enshrinement of eight greats of yesteryear. Ken Anderson and cornerback Ken Riley are at the top of their agenda, which also includes tackle Willie Anderson, wide receivers Isaac Curtis and Chad Johnson, running back Corey Dillion, guard Max Montoya, and cornerback Lemar Parrish.

The Jungle at the Hall net is a little too wide, and the event poorly timed, to convince any Hall of Fame Seniors Committee voter. But several players on the list do deserve serious consideration. Let's explore which Bengals greats, if any, deserve to join Anthony Munoz in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Why There are So Few Bengals in the Hall of Fame

Munoz, one of the greatest offensive tackles in NFL history, is the only career Bengals star in the Hall of Fame. Charlie Joiner, Terrell Owens, and Bill Walsh are also enshrined, but not primarily for their Bengals accomplishments.

To understand why the Bengals and other also-ran franchises of the early Super Bowl era are under-represented, let's put ourselves in the wing-tipped shoes of a successful beat writer or sports columnist of the 1970s, the kind of journalist who voted for All-Pro teams and awards and shaped opinions and legacies back then.

You have an electric typewriter and a telephone, not a computer with Internet. There are no satellite packages, no NFL Game Pass, no Pro Football Reference or NFLGSIS to provide lots of sortable stats, no Thursday night or Sunday night games, not even VCRs to tape the games you missed when reporting from the locker room after an early-afternoon kickoff. You probably know your hometown team much better than a modern beat writer does, because coaches and players drank whiskey and smoked cigars with reporters in hotel fern bars in those simpler times. But teams and players outside of your division? They're mostly reputation, hearsay, quotes from the players and coaches who faced them, and scraps of stats, highlight clips, and Monday Night Football moments to all but the absolutely most plugged-in analysts.

Playoff games and Super Bowls were inordinately important to the reputations of football players of the 1960s and 1970s, because those games were nationally televised and much more of pro football and its media were available to watch/cover them. Perennial powerhouses who won lots of playoff games also earned more Monday Night Football appearances and late-afternoon national broadcasts. As a result, it was as impossible for a local fan (or, say, a regional reporter trying to stay abreast of the whole NFL) to catch a down-and-out team on television in the 1970s as it was to avoid watching the Steelers or Cowboys.

Writers of the time took their jobs seriously and had plenty of ways to get reliable out-of-town information. Still, the atmosphere of the era created a feedback loop for player reputations, which occurred at the same time that a handful of dynasties began to dominate the sport. The Lombardi Packers, Steel Curtain Steelers, America's Team Cowboys, and members of a few other teams became larger-than-life personalities. The teams that bubbled up to lose to them in the playoffs, having received little-to-no national attention during the regular season, began to look a little like Jabronis, even to those who should know better.

Now fast-forward to the 1990s. You have graduated from local columnist to Distinguished Local Columnist and Hall of Fame voter. The ballots are crammed with Steelers, Cowboys, Raiders, and Dolphins from the days of your beat, plus some leftover Packers and leftover leather-helmet guys. Also, the NFL just underwent an offensive revolution, and there are all sorts of guys with crazy stats entering the ballot. Oh by the way, do you remember those guys who got their butts kicked in playoff games in the 1970s? Can you find room to squeeze a few of them in?

The voters should have found room to squeeze more of them in. The final Lombardi Packers and Steel Curtain Steelers through the gate weren't exactly essential. The committee only selected four individuals in a few years, which is shocking when you consider the ever-increasing backlog they faced. Someone should have moved coaches and contributors to their own ballot decades ago, so Ken Anderson wouldn't get stuck on the same ballot as Joe Gibbs or Dan Rooney. But what happened, happened. The typical Hall of Fame class of the 1990s and early 2000s consisted mostly of guys who played for dynasties, plus perhaps one recent superstar and/or one overqualified candidate from an also-ran.

The seniors committee corrected some oversights in the last decade or so by grabbing a few old Oilers (Robert Brazile and Curley Culp, who also played for the great AFL Chiefs), Falcons (Claude Humphrey), and members of the ultimate 1970s "losers" (Vikings Carl Eller and Mick Tingelhoff). The Broncos helped themselves by winning Super Bowls in the late 1990s and creating a fresh batch of candidates. But the Bengals remained in limbo, despite the fact that several of their 1970s stars had cases which were at least as strong, if not stronger, than those of Brazile, Humphrey, or most members of the quirky 2020 Centennial class.


Ken Anderson, Willie Anderson, Ken Riley, and More

OK, Milhouse, we're finally at the fireworks factory: let's delve into the Hall of Fame portfolios of the players Bengals fans are about to rally for.

Ken Anderson

Anderson led the NFL in passer rating four times and in completion percentage three times. I've noticed that the analytics-minded types most likely to stan for Anderson absolutely loathe passer rating and completion percentage as statistics, except when they are being used as unassailable proof of Anderson's excellence.

I am being glib, of course. Anderson would likely have won DVOA titles in 1981 and 1975, and perhaps another year or two as well. But no one in the NFL was all that impressed with passer ratings in 1974 or 1975, when Anderson won the crown running Bill Walsh's proto-West Coast offense. Anderson was considered a very good quarterback running a system that had a reputation for being a little gimmicky in an era when quarterbacks only threw lots of short passes if they were incapable of completing longer ones. The fact that the Bengals went 2-6 against the Steelers and 0-2 in the playoffs during Anderson's 1973-1976 early peak did nothing for his reputation or his eventual candidacy. QB WINZ may not be a real stat, but they are a real line-item in a Hall of Fame conversation, like it or not.

Here's what I wrote about Anderson for Football Outsiders over a decade ago, as taken from my book A Good Walkthrough Spoiled:

People who advocate Anderson as a Hall of Famer point to his excellence from 1972 through 1975 and his MVP-caliber performances in 1981 and 1982, constructing scaffolding between those two peaks to suggest that Anderson sustained that level of performance for a decade. He didn't. Anderson was injured and very ordinary for the back half of the 1970s; the Bengals even drafted a potential replacement in Jack Thompson (the unforgettable Throwin' Samoan) third overall in 1979. I often compare Anderson to Kurt Warner, except that Anderson went 0-1 in Super Bowls instead of 1-2. Again, I don't think I should have to explain or justify why three Super Bowl appearances make a quarterback a much better Hall of Fame candidate than one.

I remain an Anderson Hall of Fame skeptic, but I have become much more sympathetic to his case since the Seniors Committee enshrined Ken Stabler in 2016. Stabler has little more than Anderson to offer except the Super Bowl ring and hagiography that come from playing for a legendary team. Stabler's induction suggests that the committee chose "studying the playbook by the jukebox light" tall tales over the story of how Anderson helped pave the way for Joe Montana and the modernization of NFL offenses. Frankly, the Hall of Fame could use a little less swaggerin' tough guy iconography and a little more respect for true innovators.

My gut tells me that the Seniors Committee will get around to Anderson at some point. But I am fairly certain they don't want to hear anything else about Anderson's completion percentages.

Willie Anderson

Anderson played during the same era as Tony Boselli, Orlando Pace, Walter Jones, Jonathan Ogden, and Willie Roaf. That made Anderson somewhere between the third- or fourth- and sixth- or seventh-best tackle in the NFL for most of his career, depending on who else was healthy and active.

Ah, but he was the best RIGHT tackle in the NFL for much of that era, argue some of the Bengals fans I interacted with on social media recently. As the best player at his position, it's inexcusable that he has not already been enshrined.

I mean, come the hell on.

Yes, the left tackle/right tackle dichotomy was grossly exaggerated in the wake of the book and film The Blind Side, to the point where left tackles of the last 25 years or so have been turned into superheroes while right tackles are often shrugged off as beefy bouncers. That said, NFL teams almost always put their most athletic lineman at left tackle and place a premium on drafting, signing, and compensating left tackles. Colleges also place their most athletic linemen at left tackle, where they are more likely to be drafted to play right tackle or guard in the NFL than the typical collegiate right tackle or guard. High schools follow the same pattern. Furthermore, the Boselli-Pace-Jones generation reinforced the Blind Side mythology by setting a new standard for left tackles in an era when increased passing and use of spread formations were making pass-protection more and more important.

None of this makes right tackles chopped liver by any means. But while claiming that Anderson was a peer of Pace or Roaf who just happened to play on the other side of the line and therefore didn't get enough props may sound clever on Twitter, it's an "umm, actually" argument that insults the intelligence of any Hall of Fame voter. If Bengals fans really want to stump for Anderson, they need to bury that talking point in a landfill.

A better argument for Anderson is that his career accomplishments are roughly on par with those of Alan Faneca, Steve Hutchinson, and Kevin Mawae, a trio of recently enshrined offensive linemen with long careers who had the benefit of playing on more successful/popular teams. Fitted among this tier of players, Anderson's case looks much stronger. Anderson is also helping himself by being an engaging social media personality, which will keep him in voters' minds.

Anderson is the only player on this list whose case is not in the hands of the Seniors Committee. He was a semifinalist last year and could sneak into the finalist ballot now that the Faneca logjam is mostly clear. Bengals fans who want to launch an Anderson campaign should separate him from the old-timers, drop the gotcha arguments, and work to generate some buzz around their candidate while there is room for him on the docket.

Isaac Curtis

Hall of Fame arguments about 1970s wide receivers make my temples throb, in part because the early 2000s selectors ended their Steelers spree with a Lynn Swann/John Stallworth double-shot. Based on the Swann-Stallworth selections, Curtis is a worthy Hall of Famer, as are Cliff Branch, Drew Pearson, Harold Carmichael, Stanley Morgan, and possibly a bunch of guys such as Nat Moore and Ahmad Rashad. If we write Swann and Stallworth off as a fever dream, Branch still deserves induction, Pearson (just selected by the Seniors Committee) deserves consideration, and everyone else—including Curtis and my childhood hero Carmichael (a Centennial Committee selection)—fit squarely into the Hall of Very Good.

The Seniors Committee appears to be circling Branch at this point. It would be lovely if the committee stopped doubling down on dynasty selections (Stabler, Jerry Kramer, etc.), but Branch is overqualified and deserves to get in. Campaigning for Curtis at this point is just a waste of energy, which brings us around to the next trio of Bengals legends.

Corey Dillon

Dillon finished among the top five in rushing yards twice, once with the 2000 Bengals and once with the 2004 Patriots. He's roughly as qualified as Stephen Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jamal Lewis, Fred Taylor, Ricky Watters, and Warrick Dunn, which means that he is not really qualified.

Chad Johnson

Not a serious candidate. His presence on the agenda weakens any case Bengals fans are trying to make.

Max Montoya

A solid starter at guard for both the Anderson teams of the early 1980s and the Boomer Esiason/Sam Wyche teams of the late 1980s I wrote about recently here at FO. Montoya is exactly the kind of player local Rings of Honor are made for.

Lemar Parrish and Ken Riley

The paradox we must deal with here is that Pro Bowl voters (read: fellow players) of the era preferred Parrish, but the bigger Hall of Fame push right now is for Riley, who passed away last June. Parrish earned five Pro Bowl berths in the 1970s and 1980. Riley was mentioned on a variety of end-of-season All-Pro teams, but he did not earn an official Pro Bowl berth or All-Pro recognition until 1983, when he intercepted eight passes and returned two for touchdowns for a Bengals team coming off a run of success.

Riley is tied with Charles Woodson for fifth on the all-time interceptions list with 65; Woodson's recent induction likely brought a little extra attention to Riley's case. Everyone ahead of Riley (Paul Krause, Emlen Tunnell, Rod Woodson, Night Train Lane) is a Hall of Famer, as are Woodson, Ed Reed, and Ronnie Lott just below him. Riley never led the league in interceptions, which reminds us that interception rates were much higher in the 1970s and didn't really go down much when passing exploded in the early 1980s. There are some not-quite greats (Darren Sharper, Dave Brown, Eugene Robinson, Bobby Boyd) not too far south of Riley on the leaderboards.

Parrish, on the other hand, returned a total of 13 punts, kicks, interceptions, and fumbles for touchdowns in his career. He's tied with many players for fifth on the all-time non-offensive touchdown list, behind Devin Hester, Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson, and Ronde Barber. Parrish played the latter part of his career in Washington but just missed that franchise's Super Bowl era. If he had played with the Hogs, John Riggins, and the young Darrell Green, he'd likely be a Hall of Famer.

The best cornerback of the late 1970s who is not currently enshrined is Broncos great Louis Wright, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-1970s team who for years was considered second only to Mel Blount at the position. If asked to stump for a cornerback from that era, it would be Wright. After that, I would happily advocate Parrish and/or Riley.


The Path to Canton

Hall of Fame voters have varying opinions about fan campaigns. Some voters told me in the past that they listen to campaigns and can be swayed while others said campaigns don't matter, and of course a campaign can be counterproductive if it turns annoying or nasty.

Based on what I have heard over the years, rallies won't impress most voters, letter-writing campaigns just turn into a hassle, and stomping and flexing across social networks is about as helpful as it sounds. But rallies and content creation about a former great's Hall of Fame candidacy, when done right, can A) raise public awareness about that player; and more importantly B) create an environment where it is easier to collect testimonials from former teammates/coaches/opponents about that player and thereby shed new light on his contributions.

So let's say the Bengals fan community makes Riley its top priority. Creating websites, blog posts, podcast segments, and such around Riley creates a forum for someone such as John Stallworth to offer his opinions on what it was like to be covered by Riley. Stallworth's remarks then jog Terry Bradshaw's memory, so he chimes in when appearing on a Cincinnati radio show during Super Bowl week. Wade Phillips then pipes up, telling stories from when he was on his dad's Houston Oilers staff. Sure enough, Mel Blount weighed in on Riley soon after the rally was announced. Voters take public testimonials with a grain of salt—old-timers often say one thing about their peers/rivals with a microphone in front of them but a very different thing at midnight in the cigar bar. But lots of public support could inevitably move Riley up the Senior Committee's very, very long backlog of applicants.

So a Jungle in the Hall-type rally can mobilize local fans and media to start the ball rolling on a campaign. After all, this article wouldn't exist if not for the rally! But it's important for anyone who wants to publicly stump for a player or players to realize that Hall of Fame voters are well aware of who Riley and Parrish, Ken and Willie Anderson and the others were. They know they were great players. They will also see straight through "completion percentage champion" or "best right tackle" arguments. And while many are sympathetic to the fact that some teams are underrepresented, they are sure to tune out long lists of local heroes, because there's not enough space on the ballot and not enough hours in the day for 32 such lists.

Bengals fans should enjoy their rally: a road trip to Canton with fellow fans after 15 months of quarantines sounds like a blast. Those fans should then should launch one or two good Hall of Fame campaigns around their best candidates, because the zany buckshot approach is more likely to hurt than help.

Comments

56 comments, Last at 27 Jun 2021, 6:33pm

1 PREACH

Frankly, the Hall of Fame could use a little less swaggerin' tough guy iconography and a little more respect for true innovators.

 

If you really must take yet another old school Raider, there are much better arguments for Flores and Plunkett. Plus, I really enjoyed all the pissing and moaning about Stabler's exclusion from the Hall.

 

I thought Johnson had a better case. He was an absolute monster from 2003 to 2007 and again in 2009, and I don't care about his antics. Maybe he qualifies for "Best guy not in the HoF."

4 Johnson has a good case…

In reply to by Harris

Johnson has a good case until you look at all the other receivers who have a good case.  Ochocinco isn't going to have a better case than Jimmy Smith, Torry Holt, Anquan Bolding, Andre Johnson, and loads of others.  There are just so many WRs with great numbers, and "great" is getting to be a bigger set of numbers every year.

5 Johnson had this habit of…

In reply to by Harris

Johnson had this habit of having monster games but pretty mediocre seasons. 03/05/06 were all definitely high end seasons, but 04/07/09... really weren't. I mean, Johnson led the league in targets in 2004, so the yardage isn't a surprise. He had the fewest yards/target of any Pro Bowl WR that year.

07/09 were much more reasonable years, but definitely not really top end years. I mean, in 09 he got the Pro Bowl nod (as a replacement selection!) due to basically being a player on a winning team.

Really you're talking about a two-ish year peak as a top player if you "smooth through" 03-04. And that's clearly not Hall worthy.

34 Sure, but when he doesn't…

Sure, but when he doesn't catch them, it's not a good thing. Bengals yards/target with Johnson as a target: 7.5 yd/tgt. With Houshmandzadeh: 9.0 yd/tgt. And the two had exactly the same yards per reception.

7.5 yards/target is bad for a WR. When I said he was the worst to make the Pro Bowl that year, it was by a half yard per target. 

6 I'd support Flores for the…

In reply to by Harris

I'd support Flores for the Hall. But Plunkett? No way.

Plunkett's sole credential for induction in the Hall is that he was the starting QB for two Super Bowl winners. We all know that he started his career by disappointing for seven years with the Patriots and 49ers. During those years, he never had a winning record, and never had a passer rating or ANY/A significantly above league average (his top Rate+ was 104 during his rookie year, and his top ANY/A+ was 106 during his fourth season). With the Raiders, he had just two seasons in which he started 10 or more games, and those two seasons were his Super Bowl-winning years. But even in both those years, his stats were barely above league average, and the Raiders were nowhere near the top of the league in passing. And neither of his Super Bowl wins depended on his performance - they were both blowouts sparked by the Raiders' defense.

People sometimes compare Plunkett's HOF case to Eli Manning's. I don't think Eli should be included either, but he has a stronger case than Plunkett. He played great games in two close Super Bowl wins. And to the extent that slightly-above-average QB performance is a HOF credential, Eli at least did so for much longer than Plunkett. Ironically, both players have .500 career records (Plunkett 72-72, Eli 117-117).

8 I'm not saying Plunkett has…

I'm not saying Plunkett has a good case. Eli certainly doesn't deserve it either. I'm just saying Stabler got in as much (or more) for being a hard-drinkin', hairy-chested, two-fisted he-man as much as anything he did on the field. Flores is the real snub as a two-time champ and the first Latino head coach.

14 Flores is being inducted…

Flores is being inducted this year.

I don't think Plunkett is a strong candidate by any means. I consider his case weaker than Eli's.

As for Chad Johnson, I echo what others have said about the sheer number of excellent receivers of the last 20 years or so. 

2 It is the Hall of FAME, after all

Do love the image of cigar smoking, whiskey swilling sportswriters packed into hotel bars with old players and relying on whatever media coverage dripped through to build up enough knowledge to start voting for candidates later. There's very much a "Fame" aspect to a candidacy, and Corey Dillon has been one of my standard arguments that, from a statistical perspective, he has a better argument for candidacy than Jerome Bettis, but Bettis had a great nickname, lots of Chris Berman highlight BOOMs, and he won the Super Bowl in his hometown, and that story added a lot to his candidacy even though he wasn't much of a contributor to that particular season. A likeable, engaging Corey Dillon with a few more highlights and a better relationship with some prominent media members and I don't have any doubt he could easily pull a Bettis and get into the HOF, but a surly Corey Dillon just can't overcome his good but not great statistical profile.

Bad teams don't get enough coverage to get players into the Hall; if Lavonte David had been on the Patriots instead of the Bucs over the last decade, he'd have a much higher profile, and a much better chance at Canton eventually. Maybe it happens now with that turnaround, but wallowing in the mediocrity of bad teams is a death knell for HOF candidacy, and that's pretty much the story of the Bengals for a very long time.

3 Part of the tough problem…

Part of the tough problem with looking at the guys who didn't get in due to sketchier candidates from higher-profile teams getting in is that, in my mind... it just hurts the overall debate.

I mean, Anderson's a better candidate than Esiason - especially from a history standpoint - but realistically the problem *isn't* that those guys didn't get in, it's that the *other* guys did. Which you can see here:

"but I have become much more sympathetic to his case since the Seniors Committee enshrined Ken Stabler in 2016."

That's the issue - you add a dicey candidate, and suddenly *lots more* guys are there that now suddenly look more reasonable. That's the way talent distribution works. It's the same problem as Stallworth/Swann.

Ultimately the players that *really* get hurt are the crazy starved positions (interior defensive line, linebacker, center, guard if you like guards I guess). I mean, Bengals fans have been crowing about Geno Atkins being a future Hall candidate and he might be their best shot for this era, but in my mind that's *miles* away from happening.

7 There are a few devil's…

There are a few devil's advocate arguments that can be made against players like guards, interior DL, and non-pass-rushing LBs.

First, those positions simply aren't as valuable. If a team has one of the top five QBs in the league, it's probably going to be a playoff contender (sorry, Texans fans). But there are plenty of cases where a top-five guard or DL has been on a terrible team.

Second, it's the Hall of FAME. It ultimately exists so that fans can relive their memories and learn about significant players from past eras. It's not fair to linemen, but if a fan thinks about, say, the 1950s Colts, they're much more likely to remember great plays by Unitas and Berry than they are to remember great blocks by Jim Parker, even if Parker was as good at his position as Unitas was at his. The simple fact is that glamour positions are more famous and more visible to fans.

10 I hate the "fame" argument…

I hate the "fame" argument. By that metric, Burfict or Ritchie Ingocnito deserve to get in if "infamy" is just the flip side of fame. Nobody who saw the game will ever forget Burfict splattering Antonio Brown.

13 It also just completely…

It also just completely defeats the purpose of the Hall to say "oh, no one's going to remember you even though it's really you guys who were responsible for that Super Bowl win." Like... isn't that the point of having people who know something about football vote people in?

The DT/DE difference is just flat out nuts, to be honest - contract wise, those two positions are valued very close at the top end from a salary point of view, and there are plenty of highlight plays for both of them. It's purely a media difference in how they're hyped. I might be making a bit of an assumption, in that I think at least 5 more recent DEs will make it in (bringing the total to 22) but I think only 2 recent DTs will make it in (bringing the total to 14).

17 Counter

Literally no one cares or actually remembers those specific guys outside of us. Maybe if you describe their career in exact detail they'll say oh yeah, but casuals certainly know Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, etc. The average person doesn't know Burfict, Incognito, Daniel Jones, etc. 

22 1) Casuals aren't visiting…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

1) Casuals aren't visiting the HoF unless they're dragged there by an obsessive.

2) Like Pat says, the whole point of the HoF is to remember guys who deserve to be remembered. Everybody knows Tim Tebow. He in no way deserves to be remembered by the NFL.

23 It's not the only point

It's not everyone that's known, is in. Obviously there is some level of play that needs to be met. It's not the main crux of getting in but it's an underrated proponent/angle. 

Hall of Fame. Hall of Greats. Hall of Guys who deserve to be remembered. It can be whatever you want I guess.  

24 Hall of Fame. Hall of Greats…

Hall of Fame. Hall of Greats. Hall of Guys who deserve to be remembered. It can be whatever you want I guess.  

That's because, really, the Hall is trying to tell the story of football. You put in the guys who you can't tell the story without. And the story's different to everyone.

And that's what ticks me the heck off about certain positions being massively underrepresented. You go look at game recaps, and the games are just QB to WR, RB runs, sacks, interceptions. Which is insane, because a ton of those plays are actually bad football - someone blows coverage, protection, bad angle, or bad throw. That's a terrible way to tell the story. And it's not that hard to pick out plays that are critical, but look boring because everyone does the right thing.

It's just all about what you want to focus on. Everyone tells the story of the Eagles/Patriots Super Bowl as "Nick Foles had this amazing once-in-a-lifetime game" but yeah, no. So much of that game was line play, and it just gets totally ignored.

28 Even looking at the Vikings…

Even looking at the Vikings game, though, recaps still paint the story as "oh, Foles was this mountain of a man and the Eagles had this pounding power running game."

Which... think about it. It's nuts. I saw bunches of Vikings fans say weird things like "the Vikings were getting a good amount of pressure, but Foles just avoided it!" Or "the Eagles receivers were just beating guys!" Like, what? They weren't getting pressure! Foles had plays where he had five seconds to throw. Yeah, he had to step a bit to avoid a guy, but that's not a big deal, he was still being blocked. Five seconds!

And both the Vikings game and the Super Bowl all had goofball plays - obviously the Philly Special, but a flea-flicker in the Vikings game as well as a "shift formation a billion times" touchdown. What do all of those plays need? Fantastic blocking - because the extra skill players can't help!  In all of those plays, the line was just a freaking wall.

I mean, I get it, when I watched the game live I was like "how the hell is Foles playing this well" and even through the next year I was torn on Foles. But I've watched those games enough now to realize that postseason run was all about how the Eagles line was just "yeah, we can block you and do anything we want." When you realize that, then the Vikings game and the Super Bowl make a ton more sense.

33 I feel as though the…

I feel as though the hypothetical and imaginary person who might someday try to mount a Nick Foles Hall of Fame argument has been completely obliterated by this thread. 

35 There's a very real…

There's a very real possibility that the only Hall of Fame player from the 2017 Eagles is a guy who didn't play in the Super Bowl, because interior line play (on both sides) is just totally ignored.

38 Three-time All-Pro, four…

Three-time All-Pro, four-time Pro Bowler, SB champion, doesn't miss games, good with the press, accomplished public speaker. I think Kelce gets in but he'll have to wait much longer than he should.

39 I'm less certain. It's Kelce…

I'm less certain. It's Kelce vs. Pouncey, and Pouncey's got a broader "respect" period. Literally one center a decade gets in (which, again, is bullcrap) so I'd bet on Pouncey.

Hope I'm wrong, though, Kelce was a freaking *beast* those games.

36 Then go ahead and make their case

Right here, right now. Without diminishing Foles while you're at it (because he DID play really well regardless of others even if they were also good themselves, that and literally no one is propping him).

40 I didn't say he didn't play…

I didn't say he didn't play really well. He just wasn't the reason they won. You could've plugged a dozen QBs in there and they would've done the same thing.

New England was throwing stunts, twists, disguised rushers: threw the freaking *book* at them and the line just picked up everything. So who do we credit for that? Gee, maybe the guy calling the protection?

41 Welp you failed

Gave ya a chance to be more specific instead of one SINGULAR MOMENT like I originally said, without diminishing Foles playing the most valuable position (about a dozen players could also play OL)...and ya blew it. 

Oh well, to expect and need the HOF to be balanced with positions doesn't and won't make sense. Foles aint making it but a lot of the greatest are pretty famous and have multiple moments unlike Foles.

45 Gave ya a chance to be more…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Gave ya a chance to be more specific instead of one SINGULAR MOMENT like I originally said,

Kelce's got 3 All Pro 1st team nods. If you're suggesting that the 2017 were a "singular moment" in his career... I have no idea what you're talking about. He's the entire reason the Eagles made it to the playoffs the next years when the entire team (and line!) was collapsing around him. Literally the only non-Hall center with 3 AP1 nods and I don't think he'll make the Hall because for some reason no one noticed that the Eagles suddenly seemed to plug almost anyone in at QB and get at least replacement level play. 

Oh well, to expect and need the HOF to be balanced with positions doesn't and won't make sense.

This is literally our entire disagreement. Excluding guys who don't play nearly the snaps that the main players do makes total sense. Excluding guys like centers, linebackers, defensive tackles who play practically equal snaps to quarterbacks and often exceed snap counts of WRs and DEs, for instance - that's just insane. For the longest time, that included safeties as well, but that seems to be being equalized now.

There's also a difference between being "balanced" and "not bat$#!+ crazy unbalanced." There are centers in the Hall of Fame (and I don't consider any recent guys locks). There are 24 QBs either in or destined for the Hall. I'm not saying they should be balanced - but that disparity is just wacko. The DT/DE split isn't nearly as bad (obviously) but it's obvious that it's harder to get in as a DT than a DE - I mean, Jared Allen was a finalist and Kevin Williams wasn't even in the semis. When I heard that, I practically chucked my phone. And I have my doubts that Seymour will make it in at all, too.

46 Ok

Let's slow down saying he was "the entire reason" why the Eagles made the playoffs. He's still a center and positional value still exists. Which...yeah might play apart, sorry, football isn't balanced like that. And again, he's not the entire reason "almost anyone in at QB" plays well. Far from the position, behind QB, that can do that. OL, especially iOL isn't that impactful. Otherwise Jim Marshall started the 6th most games of all time, which rightfully doesn't mean much. 

Now Kelces, he's 23rd in PFRs HOFm. Not the end all be all whatsoever, but despite playing a majority of the 2010s, he didn't make the 2010s HOF team. Some great years (all pros; according to some) but not many just good ones (pro bowls; according to others). But you're right all but him with all Cs with 3 AP 1st Team All Pros are in. But there haven't been that many. So who do you want to backdate to the HOF? They aren't/weren't as good but 7:24 isn't right. So is 8:23? No but closer, can't take anyone away though (unless you want to). So just have the next few classes be mostly Cs? Well...also probably no...Well IDK what you're solution is other than railing against the wind when Leroy Butler is put in after Steve Atwater and Troy Polam like me, despite being really good (the ice cream) and creating the most FAMOUS TD celebration (the sprinkles).

But hey I struggle with seeing why Kelly is in when Matt Ryan could meet his PB count next year yet we rail against Ryan getting despite a better peak. But when they only put in a certain amount each year, no more, no less, some years you're gonna get guys that are less of slam dunks like Rodgers, Brady, KUECHLY, etc. IDK what else to tell you unless you want to start a petition to change the process. 

47 He's still a center and…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

He's still a center and positional value still exists.[..]  OL, especially iOL isn't that impactful.

Sorry, this is just a mindset that makes no sense to me. Teams hold onto centers for multiple contracts when they find a solid one. That's not indicative of a position that they don't find important. When a team doesn't care about a position, it shifts extremely frequently - the Colts don't stick with Jeff Saturday for practically the entirety of Manning's career if they don't think he's valuable.

A counterargument to that is that their free agent value isn't that high, but I'm not a fan of that reasoning (which, again, would argue for "put all QBs in, period") - and that doesn't explain other disparities like DT/DE anyway, where the free agent value's nearly identical. Plus I think center's just a weird valued position - so much of free agency value is perception.

but not many just good ones (pro bowls; according to others). 

Because people don't know how to evaluate interior line play! Which is super-common - it takes forever for a center to become noticed. Kelce's 2013 was phenomenal and he didn't make the Pro Bowl at all. No surprise, he was only in his second year!

You're just going back and looking at standard media awards for these guys, which misses the forest for the trees. The reason the Hall is missing these guys is because standard media ignores these guys.

So just have the next few classes be mostly Cs?

I could fill a class with centers, linebackers, defensive tackles, and guards who deserve to get in but haven't, yes. If I pointed out people like Taylor, Willis, Kevin Williams, Saturday, Nalen, Seymour, you'd probably note "oh, many of those guys will get in" but I really doubt it. And to me those are just the obvious guys. I mean, Kevin Williams is easily as much of a slam dunk as Kuechly is, in my mind.

48 ...

Yet you don't see Cs making QB money for good reason. There's no data to backup that they're the ones leading most teams to the playoffs no matter how much they help. And IDK what to tell you if you think Saturday was in the realm of value Peyton was just because they kept him around at a price they thought was affordable. Not because they thought he was the most valuable.

Literally no one is advocating to put every QB in. But yeah, when they're more valuable, it's noticeable and their gonna have more in as opposed to a few centers dominating for a long time. 

But yes everyone but you doesn't know how to evaluate it. In 2013 his third* year put up 7 AV in 16 games. Fine. Meanwhile CAR Ryan Kalil had 13. SEA Max Unger had 9. Talk about being ignored. Yet here Kelce is with 3 1st Team AP All Pros, getting ignored I guess.

Go back to some ballots. Explain what they should've done differently. 

Kuechly had 1 more PB, won DROTY, and a DPOTY that Williams didnt. Even though Williams just became eligible last year. Kuechly 5th among HOFm ILBs. Williams 10th among DTs. If 5th among WRs can wait, so can Williams (actually was probably like 4th at the time).

Positional value is real, and it affects everything football. It will never be balanced. And it'll never be close enough for ya it seems. It's gonna influence things like this regardless.

49 it's noticeable and their…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

it's noticeable and their gonna have more in as opposed to a few centers dominating for a long time. 

Why does 'more in' have to mean 24 vs. 7 as opposed to 24 vs., say 10?

51 IDK

what's satisfying. Dont give up the crusade until they're within...1 or...10? Arbitrary. 

50 Yet you don't see Cs making…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Yet you don't see Cs making QB money for good reason

If money is the determining factor in putting players in the Hall of Fame, half the QBs in the league are Hall of Famers. It's not. So bringing it up is pointless. There've been more specialists put into the Hall of Fame in the past decade than centers.

There's no data to backup that they're the ones leading most teams to the playoffs

The fact that teams keep top centers for practically a decade is plenty of data. They'll switch out of the best kicker in the league to save a few million, but strangely the only time they move on from centers is when the guy's career's is functionally over (I mean, he might play a year more for another team, for love of the game and all). 

 In 2013 his third* year put up 7 AV in 16 games.

Do you have any idea how AV is calculated for offensive linemen? Any at all? Some part of performance is split among them all , and then there's a boost for Pro Bowls/All Pro/etc. The Pro Bowl portion tends to be dominant. So you literally just stated - again - that Kelce didn't make the Pro Bowl in 2013. Which - again - I said was wacknuts insane because voters didn't know anything about line play.

The Eagles offense in 2013 was crazy good for their skill position talent. Best rushing offense in the league. Top passing offense, with Nick Foles at the helm. In other words, they were great both passing and running. But because voters had no idea who Kelce was, instead, Ryan Kalil and Max Unger get voted in, even though Carolina and Seattle's offenses were dramatically more mediocre and a huge portion of those teams' rushing yards came straight from the QB. Max Unger, who the Seahawks would let walk two years later, instead of Kelce.

Go back to some ballots. Explain what they should've done differently. 

I have. Literally. Right here. Over and over. Kevin Williams not making the semis while Jared Allen made the finalists is wacko-insane. Kurt Warner shouldn't be in. Calvin Johnson definitely shouldn't have been first-ballot. Morten Andersen, are you kidding me?

Even just leaving out Warner and Andersen opens up two slots, which I'd rapidly give to Kevin Williams as a first-ballot HOF and Zach Thomas. Yes, obviously, you'd have to rejigger years around to do that, but that's easy. Owens and Faneca had already been waiting too long in 2017, Hutchinson should've been in in 2018, Thomas could've gone in 2019, and if you insist on Lynch going in (poor Butler!) he could've gone in in 2020, and then Williams is first-ballot in 2021.

52 Strawman

Again, no one said it was about money. But you tried equating C impact to QB. So asinine. 

Justin Tucker in going into his 10th season with the Ravens. In no shape or form is he more valuable than Lamar. They might (no have no data) keep Cs longer because they're willing to take less. 

You're just being so obtuse at this point. Gee. No one but you can evaluate line play, already know that.

And yeah Butler should've been long ago but I'm not gonna sit here and cry about it being unbalanced, when it never will, can or should be. I'm not forcing in a position. I want a great player, that also made one of the most FAMOUS celebrations, on top of the worthy play, in the Hall of FAME. 

53 Tucker plays a fraction of…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Tucker plays a fraction of the snaps the QB does! Of course he can't be more valuable! But Tucker's one of the best kickers in the league, which is why the Ravens have kept him around as long as they have. But no one except you even mentioned players who only play a fraction of the snaps.

You're just being so obtuse at this point. Gee. No one but you can evaluate line play, already know that.

There are plenty of people who can evaluate line play. They just don't vote for the Pro Bowl - they work for the NFL. After the 2013 season, the Eagles extended Kelce practically right away.

 I want a great player, that also made one of the most FAMOUS celebrations, on top of the worthy play, in the Hall of FAME. 

Whereas I want, y'know, actual football players. Crazy me. You keep crowing about me talking about centers, over and over. Yeah, they're the position I think is the most screwed. But I never implied centers have the same impact as QB. Years ago I would've said safeties are the most screwed.

There are a ton of underserved positions in the Hall. Defensive tackle. Guard. Center. Linebacker. All of those guys have slam-dunk Hall players just sitting there. Do I think the most-deserving player not in the Hall (from, say, 2000+) is a center? Nope - it's either Zach Thomas or Patrick Willis, depending on whether you think Thomas is in now that he made the finalists' ballot.

I mean, jeez, I'm not comparing Jeff Saturday to Peyton Manning. I'm freaking comparing Jeff Saturday to Eli Manning.

54 You're still arguing in bad faith

I can't have a discussion with a guy that thinks impact only comes from snaps as if Jim Marshall should be in. Or Frank Gore. 

Actual football players. My goodness you sound so pretentious. I literally said great players. Way too focused on positions and now you suddenly want to flip flop to explain yourself. Literally no one here is advocating for Eli either. Making up your own imaginary wars to fight. 

Whatever. It'll never be balanced and shouldn't so deal with it

55 Way too focused on positions…

Way too focused on positions and now you suddenly want to flip flop to explain yourself. Literally no one here is advocating for Eli either.

Flip flop?! Because I said Saturday should be in the discussion for Hall of Fame, just like Eli Manning will be? No one here might be advocating for Eli, but I'll eat my hat if he's not at least nominated in the next 25 years. I mean, Phil Simms was nominated.

Saturday isn't Peyton Manning. I mean, duh. But Fred Taylor was a semi-finalist for the past two years. Based on historical trends he's probably better than 50/50 to make it in, which is insane. John Lynch just made it in. Morten Andersen made it in. Tony Boselli's almost certain to make it in, or at least clog up the finalist's ballot for the next 5 years. You're telling me that you don't think Jeff Saturday belongs in when guys like that or either in or likely to be?

12 First, those positions…

First, those positions simply aren't as valuable.

Nope. Nope. No way. If you want to go with "value" you'd put every viable QB in before any other player. Special teams players, or niche positions like fullback - those are one thing, because they simply don't play as much as the others. But guards/DL/LBs often play just as many downs as the other players. Those guys cannot control how the rest of the team is built. I mean, jeez, prior to the 1990s they couldn't control what team they were on!

 But there are plenty of cases where a top-five guard or DL has been on a terrible team.

Top five? You think I'm saying that a top five guard can't get in? Oh dear lord, no. Even if you're the best guard in the game for 5 years straight, good chance you won't get into the Hall. I mean, personally I think centers are more screwed than guards. You've gotta be the best center in the game for a decade in order to get in.

The simple fact is that glamour positions are more famous and more visible to fans.

That's a failing of the media, not of the game. On the defensive side, those players still have plenty of highlight reel plays - just not as many as the 'glamour' positions. Defensive tackles and linebackers still have sacks, game-saving tackles and interceptions. The fact that they have fewer is just due to the job, not skill.

And on the offensive side, it's the same thing. I mean, highlight plays credit running backs for highlight reel plays all the time, and we all know that's wacko. And then people are shocked, shocked I tell you when some middling QB has a great performance because he's been kept pristine due to the line picking up like, every stunt and twist. I mean, I can give you highlight reel plays of centers, defensive tackles, guards. That's easy.

I mean, the crazy thing about this is that, for instance, QBs will talk about their centers all the freaking time in the media. I know who every non-garbage Philly center was for the past like, 30 years. And it's not like teams cycle through centers like they do with guards. No idea why there are so few.

29 The purpose of a Hall of…

"Second, it's the Hall of FAME. It ultimately exists so that fans can relive their memories and learn about significant players from past eras. It's not fair to linemen, but if a fan thinks about, say, the 1950s Colts, they're much more likely to remember great plays by Unitas and Berry than they are to remember great blocks by Jim Parker, even if Parker was as good at his position as Unitas was at his. The simple fact is that glamour positions are more famous and more visible to fans."

The purpose of a Hall of Fame is to confer fame, not to acknowledge it.

11 Thanks for the Louis Wright shout-out

While Randy Gradishar gets most of the attention amongst overlooked Broncos (and I think he also belongs in the Hall), it's truly ludicrous that Wright isn't in there. And he's far too quiet and humble to campaign for himself (not a problem Gradishar has :) ), which is part of why he disappears behind flashier CB's of the era like the Raiders Haynes and Hayes (also great CB's--but Wright was better). He was always quiet, even while playing.

19 I remember listening to…

I remember listening to radio of Wright playing is his last season or two, whereas Gradishar was just before my time (I started supporting Broncos when some family friends moved to Colorado from UK in 1984). Back then it was Armed Forces Network on AM radio until Channel 4 started broadcasting, and most of the ‘what worked vs what’ side of tactics I’d learn from Avalon Hill boardgames :D 

There seems to be a pretty good case that both of them would have been in the hall if they’d played for a team in a bigger market. There are certainly some questions about the exact numbers of tackles Gradishar made, but he had plenty of other reasons for being highly rated than just those numbers, whilst Wright was are archetypal cover corner who kept playing well whilst the offensive passing game was rapidly evolving. 

The way the Broncos fanbase organised a concerted push for Floyd Little also seems to be a blueprint for other fanbases  to follow. Focus on one person, who has at least some statistical and historical stats to back them up and don’t lose focus.   Getting Little in before he passed away was nice, personally I reckon Wright and Gradishar both have slightly better HoF credentials, but they are also a decade younger so hopefully have some time to have a celebration rather than a commemoration. 

 

16 Sigh

I see FO still has not fixed the iPad display problem.

18 I’m in regular discussion…

In reply to by Raiderfan

I’m in regular discussion with the tech support folks sending them screenshot of things I consider broken. They are being responsive, though so far not making things work and better. Zooming out to about 85% zoom works better on my iPad (their suggestion, I didn’t try that myself) but that isn’t really a solution as not supporting iPad in default settings is a bit of a mess.

20 Now there's some retired guys

But 5x 1st team AP all pro Jerry Kramer slander isn't appreciated. Next thing you know it's Leroy Butler slander based upon the lines of not hitting as hard as Atwater or something.

21 Bengals and HOF

I had never really thought of the lack of Bengals in the Hall of Fame. Mostly because I don't think much about the Hall of Fame generally, considering it mostly a fool's errand for a game so defined by team, inter-dependency, and context.

Still: just one? That was surprising.

Anthony Munoz is in. Very deservedly. And then some. Being a child of the '70s Anthony Munoz is for me the ultimate left tackle. Amazing. Hope he got that freaky pinkie finger fixed.

The runners up are pretty tepid. Having watched Kenny Anderson I appreciate him and could, emotionally, get behind his candidacy without actually studying the topic. Max Montoya I remember as really good. It is not as though the Bengals are a laughable franchise; but the lack of actual stars is surprising to me.

27 Isaac Curtis is the reason…

Isaac Curtis is the reason for the five yards contact rule. Or Don Shula is, because of what the Dolphins did to take Curtis out of the game in the 1973 playoffs. He deserves something in the Hall for that, even if he doesn't deserve to be IN the Hall.

42 I was always against the…

I was always against the Anderson case, mainly because the main proponents for him seem like stats guys who never watched him play (plus, being the first pro quarterback in the Bill Walsh system was a significant advantage that he only marginally seemed to take advantage of); when Walsh was asked about great passers from his Bengals days, the guy he'd go out of his way to praise was Greg Cook. Back when Benoit was writing here, he'd talk up the underappreciated value of having a guy who could make difficult throws downfield, and how, though that may not win them any 'efficiency' awards, it was something good, winning organizations valued more than something like Kirk Cousins' record-setting completion percentage season, and Anderson seemed like the poster-child for 'better stats than actual performance', to me anyway. But I've mellowed with age, and it seems to me whoever the flavor-of-the-month guy for 'should he/shouldn't he get in', gets in, anyway, eventually, so it's hard to get worked up about (he'll get in eventually, I'll grouse about it for a day or so, and we'll move on- as Bill James once pointed out, being snubbed for the HoF does more to keep these guys in the public consciousness than getting in eventually will)