A BASN BLACK PAPER: THE BACKLOG, PART III

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Updated: August 15, 2016
Jim Mitchell

 

 

 

THE BACKLOG, PART III

 

By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief

 

BASN

 

(Editor’s Note: BASN Staffers will be taking their shots in explaining why the selection process for the Halls of Fame in every sport is compromised. We started with the NFL and continue with the teams from the NFC South.)

 

PHILADELPHIA (BASN) :

 

NFC SOUTH:   ATLANTA FALCONSTE Alge Crumpler, TE Jim Mitchell, RB William Andrews, LB Tommy Nobis, LB Jessie Tuggle, C Jeff Van Note, T Mike Kenn      

 

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The NFL’s second team from “Down Souf”, the Falcons were determined to market themselves as a model of successful teams like the Green Bay Packers. They chose as their first overall pick linebacker Tommy Nobis, who did not disappoint in terms of output. Nobis locked down the middle for a decade and his misfortune like many in soldiering for some Falcon teams that weren’t very good have stopped those in control from elevating him into Canton. Jessie Tuggle was homegrown (Griffin, GA) and starred at Valdosta State.

 

Like his division “cousin” Sam Mills, Tuggle, listed as 5’11″, became a five – time Pro Bowl performer over 14 seasons and one of the best linebackers of the 1990s.

 

The 1960s were a time when the tight end was a marquee position. Players like John Mackey, Charlie Sanders and Mike Ditka would get their proper recognition, but the Falcons Jim Mitchell was arguably as good as any of them. Coming out of Prairie View A&M University, Mitchell earned two Pro Bowl spots in a distinguished career in a era when he went up with some of the very best in the league at his position on a weekly basis. It is no accident that the aforementioned are all in the PFHOF – Mitchell had a better yards per catch average than Ditka – and his 305 receptions is in the same area with Mackey and Sanders – but it seems Atlanta sportswriters missed the boat on this great player. Ironically,  Alge Crumpler would fill that same capacity a generation later, and like Mitchell, the most reliable receiver for his quarterback.

 

 

When the phrase “how he played against his peers” is included in assessing talent, William Andrews is always one of the names (along with Erik Williams) which comes to mind. Andrews was one baaad rascal; and while he had the speed to could bounce outside, he was a hard rock who relished running between the tackles. While only playing six seasons, his impact as a fullback was not lost on his peers and candid observers of football. Andrews was a four time Pro Bowl selection who deserves more consideration.

 

Jeff Van Note carried the Falcons offensive line through 18 seasons, six Pro Bowl selections and 226 consecutive starts, but yet no call from the Hall! Mike Kenn was on that line with as many All – Pro kudos over 17 seasons as another first round pick that made great (not good), but again this looks more and more like the local media representation not doing enough to toot the horn of their local heroes…so they get tossed into the limbo of the Backlog as more noise is made about fuckin’ fantasy football…

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS: WR Steve Smith, WR Muhsin Muhammad, DE/LB Julius Peppers

 

 

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For a team to be as successful as the Panthers have been in their history as one of the NFL’s infants, there aren’t as many significant players who would be in the mix for the first Panther to one day enter Canton. With no true franchise quarterback to speak of (until now with Cam Newton), the player who epitomized the grit and spirit of the Panthers isn’t there right now, but when Canton does call (and they’d better) the first name to be entered should be Steve Smith.

 

Crafty, tough, pugnacious and equipped with a high football I.Q. and great hands, Smith got better every year during his first four years in the League before plateauing as one of the most complete and dangerous receivers in all of football. He garnered five Pro Bowl nods and two All – NFL selections in 16 seasons.

 

While Smith holds every team receiving record, he wasn’t alone in the receiving corps when it came to pursuing excellence. Muhsin Muhammad was another mainstay on offense as both receivers flourished in spite of Carolina’s patchwork job at quarterback. Together “Moose” and Smith made every QB better; pushing each other to snag as many as possible because of the limitations they had at the primary position on offense; with two All-Pro picks and an all – League selection in 2004, Muhammad’s silent-but-deadly approach over his 14 year career should have had beat writers spending more time acknowledging the greatness of both these wideouts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julius Peppers

 

The defense did several things right in establishing Carolina as more than just a cute little kitty. DE Julius Peppers graced the sidelines as a bona fide first round selection that lived up to the hype. Coming in and making his mark as defensive Rookie of the Year in 2002, Peppers would garner 9 Pro Bowls and be named to the League’s All-2000s Team. With 136 career sacks and 11 interceptions while playing on the line and as an outside linebacker, Peppers spiced up the Black Cats defense significantly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: LB Sam Mills, LB Vaughn Johnson, LB Pat Swilling, WR Danny Abramowicz

 

 

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The United States Football League never gets the props it should for producing great football – and great players. Just as in the situation with the American Football League, many players deemed either unfit or victims of numbers games were scooped up by the USFL during their three year run of spring football. If I told you one the baddest cats in the coming into the NFL in 1986 was 5’9″ and 225, you would likely think, “sounds like a grinding tailback or perhaps a hard – hitting safety” – but never a middle linebacker!

 

 

 

Sam Mills was just that as he came to the Saints; and he headed one of the greatest linebacker corps of the 1990s. Playing alongside HOFer Rickey Jackson, Vaughan Johnson and Pat Swilling, the Saints ‘backers owned the 3-4 alignment on defense as Mills accrued five Pro-Bowl berths.  Pat Swilling had one of the best and fastest first steps ever for anyone lining up along a defensive front, and also was picked to five Pro Bowl squads as well as two first team All – NFL selections during his reign of terror! Vaughan Johnson did most of his work as a run-stopper and piled up far more tackles than sacks because that’s what their scheme called for; that Johnson had four Pro Bowl picks is tribute to the talent and how it was utilized…

 

For what seems like forever, however, the image of the Saints was Archie Manning running for his life – and other the other end of most of his passes was Danny Abramowicz. Whatever offensive flashes may have occurred in those early years of the ‘Ain’ts’ – Abramowicz was their shining star through the muck and mire. Like Mitchell, Abramowicz made only one Pro Bowl – but given the level of excellence league-wide around him at that position, Abramowicz, like Mitchell deserves to have the case for induction revisited.       AbramowiczNo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: DB Ronde Barber, S John Lynch

 

 

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In between all the jokes about Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their early 0-26 days, few noticed that the Bucs’ defense was one of the best of the late 1970s. There were very few blowouts during that losing streak; and if you paid attention to time of possession by the that early Buc defense, they were averaging over 37 minutes a game grinding for a team with no offensive output whatsoever. While most saw the effect HOFer Lee Roy Selmon had on defense, he had some help. Unfortunately they were chewed up in the meat grinder of a winless expansion team bred for one-liners by assholes in press boxes.

After Gen. Doug Williams led the Bucs from Worst to First, his effect on winning the division three times was greatly devalued, forcing his departure to the USFL, and leaving the Bucs more as someone meant to walk the plank rather than be appreciated, reducing the offense again to a very weak supporting cast.

So once again, the constant of defense was reintroduced; and from this sprung HOFers Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Head Coach Tony Dungy, whose “Tampa Two” defense emphasized speed and textbook tackling. Although Tampa’s Super Bowl was won after Dungy left, he definitely stocked the larder with the goodies to get it done!

Without a doubt one of the most dependable components of that defense was DB Ronde Barber. Barber’s skill in covering, hitting and contributions on special teams as a return man made him a most compatible plug-and-play performer. No bluster or strut, Barber,  in his time of 16 years, five Pro Bowls, one All-NFL selection and Super Bowl victory was every bit as much a “shutdown corner” as some of his flashier colleagues.

Walking with him into Canton would be his teammate at safety, John Lynch. Lynch played strong and weak side during his career, and was a timely hitter who didn’t just look for ‘kill shots’ to make his point against an offense.

 

 

 

to be continued… 

 

Next time: The NFC West. Always outnumbered – never outgunned.

 

michaelingram@blackathlete.com

 

Copyright (C) 2016 Michael – Louis Ingram all rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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