Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thoughts on Hall-of-Fame qualifying

The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process for 2011 is down now to the semifinals, 26 modern-era players and two Seniors Committee nominees, both of whom have a bye to the finals.

Players with Rams ties still in the running: Marshall Faulk, Aeneas Williams, Kevin Greene, Seniors Committee nominee Les Richter and Jerome Bettis.

The only individual with old football Cardinal ties still in the running is Don Coryell. He's also the only coach to make the semifinals, as Dick Vermeil did not make this round. As Coryell's one of the great innovators in football history, I don't have a big problem with him surviving over first-time nominee Vermeil, or Chuck Knox, who was passed over again this year.

Henry Ellard didn't last to this round, either, but the WRs in front of him are Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed, all in the top ten of the career receptions list. Ellard's unfortunately going to have a hard time cracking the logjam of WR's heading to the Hall.

But of course, I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't have something to complain about. It's a mild disgrace that Paul Tagliabue continues to make the cut every year. He certainly better not get a vote from any St. Louis writer, who'd have no team to cover if Tagliabue had gotten his wish. I also fail to see what his great accomplishments or contributions to the league even were. What, the labor contract the owners hate so much there's a good chance of a lockout next season? Maybe the TV contract, though that's a ball Pete Rozelle started rolling. Just having been commissioner's not enough, or Elmer Layden would be in. Just say no to Tagliabue like he did to St. Louis.

It's a less-mild disgrace that Art Modell's one of the two owners who made it this far. Moving the Cleveland Browns should automatically disqualify him. (Hey, sue me. I doubt Georgia ever makes the Hall, either.)

It's a brutal disgrace, though, that former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was even put up for nomination, let alone gets this close to induction. Here's a guy who routinely violated the league's salary cap rules and was barred from running his team for a year for trying to get away with bribing Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards to help him secure a casino license.

Former Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom doesn't get serious consideration for the Hall; you can bet because of reports he was a heavy gambler, bet on his own team, and that his suspicious death in 1979 was tied to illegal gambling. Fine. DeBartolo's any better? No. Not only should he not be inducted into the Hall; he should be purged from the eligibility list.

For the record, I think seven candidates can get in in any given year, so my votes go to:

- Faulk
- Coryell
- Bettis
- Deion Sanders
- Curtis Martin
- Cris Carter
- and Richard Dent, who I think has waited long enough. Super Bowl MVP, top 10 in sacks all-time, third at the time he retired. Let Aeneas in next year when he won't be in Deion's loud-mouthed shadow. Shannon Sharpe's first-ballot-worthy, too, but if all the wide receivers have to wait to get in, shouldn't the tight ends?


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