Hall Of Fame List Has A D.C. Flavor

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: February 6, 2008

Darrell Green

Darrell Green

PHILADELPHIA — The Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee class for 2008 was announced on this past Saturday, February 2 in Phoenix, Arizona. The six-man class was selected from another stellar list of 17 finalists that had been determined earlier by the hall of fame selection committee.

The event is always one of the most anticipated and controversial parts of Super Bowl week since every fan and writer has his/her own favorite that they believe deserves the honor hands down.

This year’s six-man group includes defensive end Fred Dean, cornerback Darrell Green, wide receiver Art Monk, cornerback Emmitt Thomas, linebacker Andre Tippett, and tackle Gary Zimmerman.

But the announcement was not without controversy as a couple of omissions namely Cris Carter and former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue were not on the list.

Believe me as someone that has been in the room prior to the selection process — the Pro Football Writers of America Annual Meeting is usually pretty close to HOF voting time and several of my follow writers are on the selection committee — you can see and hear that there were definitely some fireworks and strained discussions when selection committee met.

Going into the voting I was sure that we would definitely hear the news that Darrell Green and Emmitt Thomas would be selected for induction, which they were. But I was shocked by news that all-world wide receiver Cris Carter and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue did not receive the honor.

I believe Carter got caught up in people voting for long time omitted receiver Art Monk, causing the NFL’s second all-time receiver in catches (1,101) to not get the call in his first year of eligibility.

Look for Carter — who I marveled at as a youngster in Philly for his knack of catching touchdowns during his early troubled years with the Philadelphia Eagles — to be inducted in 2009, because his resume is just too good.

To me, Carter’s numbers and impact overshadow current Hall of Famer and former Chargers receiver Charlie Joiner, so expect him at the top of the list in 2009.

Former Commissioner Tagliabue I believe was caught up by the fact that some writers view him as a “businessman” first and a caretaker of the game second.

Tags made some tough decisions over the years that helped the league grow, but also ruffled some feathers in the process. Look for the Commish that bridged the gap from NFL famed architect and leader Pete Rozelle to the present, to also get in eventually.

But I think the writers like to make the league’s former top lawyer and poster boy for bureaucracy squirm.

I know the new members of pro football’s elite fraternity cannot wait for Sunday, August 3, 2008 at 8:00 p.m in Canton, Ohio when they get their gold jackets (NBC has the coverage this year).

Going into the 2008 ceremony the Pro Football Hall of Fame has 249 members with a breakdown of: 47 (pre-1946 players), 21 coaches, 17 contributors (owners, league officials, GM’s, etc) and 164 player from the Modern Era (1946 to the Present).

Here is a brief bio on each of the HOF’s new members:

— Fred Dean, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, was one of the league’s most feared pass rushers during his 11-season career with the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers.

— Darrell Green was known for his great speed (3-time NFL’s fastest man champion) during his 20 seasons with the Washington Redskins from 1983-2002. He intercepted a pass in 19 straight seasons and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.

— Art Monk was the consummate possession receiver as he accumulated 940 receptions for 12,721 yards and 68 touchdowns during his 16-season career. His career-high 106 catches in 1984 was a NFL record at the time. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s.

— Emmitt Thomas was voted in as a Seniors Committee candidate this year. Thomas rose from an undrafted free agent to become one of the finest cornerbacks in the late 1960’s. He ranks fourth all-time in interceptions by a cornerback with 58 picks during his career with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1966-1978.

— Andre Tippett was the “poor man’s Lawrence Taylor” as he starred as a pass rushing outside linebacker playing five Pro Bowls for the Pats in his eleven year career. He amassed 100 career sacks and was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s.

— Gary Zimmerman was a cornerstone lineman for both the Vikings and Broncos. He got the tough lineman HOF distinction by being named to two NFL All-Decade Teams (1980s and 1990s). A strong offensive tackle with a good punch, Zimmerman won a ring in 1997 with the Broncos retiring with seven Pro Bowl appearances.

I think other than the glaring omission of Carter that the voters got it right. It will be fun to see who doesn’t get in the next time as surefire upcoming picks include: Rod Woodson (2009), Emmitt Smith (2009), Deion Sanders (2010), and Marshall Faulk (2010)

Lloyd’s Leftovers

My Top 10 Guys that deserve to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

1. Quarterback Randall Cunningham – A three time MVP and a four-time Pro Bowler, who is also the NFL’s career rushing leader for quarterbacks (4,928 yards). Passed for almost 30,000 yards plus he was the NFL’s ultimate weapon in the 90’s.

2. Running Back Terrell Davis – T.D’s career was cut short by injuries, but who was better than him during his brief career that produced two Super Bowl titles and a 2,000 yard season. Was a 3-time Pro Bowler and 4-time All-Pro selection in his too quick seven-year career. Finished with 7,607 yards.

3. Defensive End L.C Greenwood – Another cornerstone of the Steel Curtain. The gold-shoed pass rusher produced six Pro Bowls and four rings. He needs to join Joe Greene and the other Steelers in the Hall.

4. Wide Receiver Bob Hayes – An amazing receiver that revolutionalized the NFL’s view of elite game-breaking speed (Gold Medalist in 100 yard dash in 1964). His 73 career TDs are ahead of both Michael Irvin and Monk. Won a ring with the Cowboys in 1971

5. Center Dermontti Dawson – Unbelievable cornerstone lineman for the Steelers in the ’90s. Took over from Mike Webster (HOF) and didn’t miss a beat.

6. Punter Ray Guy – Should be the Hall’s first punter as I say no one better hang time than this Raider great. He was great athlete with a crazy strong leg. This 7-time Pro Bowler and 9-time All-Pro player averaged 42.4 yards per punt with a long of 77 yards.

7. Defensive End Derrick Thomas – With the election of Tippett you have to think it is a matter of time for this pass rushing maven. He was unbelievable in the ’90s collecting 126.5 sacks and going to nine consecutive Pro Bowls. He also holds the NFL record for sacks in a single game (seven).

8. Cornerback Lester Hayes – Mr. “Stick Um” from the Raiders glory teams of the 1980’s was unbelievable at taking away teams receivers. With his partner Mike Haynes already in, Lester needs to be in. Did I mention that he made five Pro Bowls and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1980.

9. Running Back / Kick Returner Herschel Walker – Everyone remembers the infamous trade from Dallas to Minnesota. But this guy was one the best all-around players in the NFL. He amassed 5,000 return yards and 13,000 yards from scrimmage plus let’s not forget his play in the USFL.

10. Cornerback Eric Allen – This silky smooth corner was one of the best one on one cover guys in the ’90s. He may not have been as good as Prime Time, but who is. He provided sticky coverage for the Reggie White led Gang Green Defense while being a 6-time Pro Bowler and 6-time All-Pro selection. Had 54 career interceptions plus he played in the Super Bowl for the Raiders.