Which Players Have Been Dissed Most by Pro Football Hall of Fame?
It is a very special day when a retired NFL player gets that much-anticipated phone call that they have just been elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But what about the players that fans believe deserve to be enshrined, and are still being dissed by the Hall of Fame selection committee?
The selection committee gets together the day before the Super Bowl and elects a new class for the Hall of Fame. There are a number of rounds of voting that occur, and a player has to carry a majority percentage of votes to progress from one round of voting to the next.
The committee is comprised of representatives of the media from all over the country to avoid regional bias. Each Hall of Fame class has to be comprised of four to seven players.
Every retired NFL player has to wait a mandatory five years before they are eligible to receive votes. So, with Randy Moss coming out of retirement this year, the clock won't start again until after he hangs up his cleats for the second time.
In today's presentation, we want to identify the top 25 players that have been dissed over the years by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To make this list, the player could already be elected into the hall, but had to wait an inordinately long time before they went in; or they deserve to be in now, and are still on the outside looking in.
They Are in the Hall, but Had a Long Wait
The following is a list of players that are currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but had to wait at least a minimum of 15 years before they got that special phone call. In the class of 2012, Jack Butler is going in a whopping 53 years after he retired.
15-24 year wait: Lem Barney (15), Elvin Bethea (20), Buck Buchanan (15), Harry Carson (18), Dave Casper (19), Fred Dean (23), Joe DeLamielleure (19), Mike Ditka (16), Carl Eller (16), Russ Grimm (19), Paul Hornung (20), Don Hutson (18), Rickey Jackson (15), Jimmy Johnson (18), John Henry Johnson (21), Leroy Kelly (21), Tom Mack (21), John Mackey (20), Bobby Mitchell (15), Bronco Nagurski (20), Mel Renfro (19), Jackie Smith (16), John Stallworth (15), Fran Tarkenton (15), Andre Tippett (15), Willie Wood (18), Ron Yary (19) and Jack Youngblood (17).
25 year wait and longer: Bob "Boomer" Brown (31), Nick Buoniconti (25), Jack Butler (53), Red Grange (36), Chris Hanburger (33), Bob Hayes (34), Gene Hickerson (34), Henry Jordan (26), Floyd Little (35), Ernie Nevers (32), Charlie Sanders (30), Billy Shaw (30), Emmitt Thomas (30), Jim Thorpe (35), Roger Wehrli (25), Dave Wilcox (26) and Rayfield Wright (27).
Photo courtesy of http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PlayerId=213
25) Dick Schafrath
Our first player on the list goes back to the late 1950's and 1960's, when players still performed on both sides of the ball. Dick Schafrath was a guard, tackle and defensive end for the Cleveland Browns from 1959-1971. During his career, Schafrath was named to six Pro Bowl teams and was First-Team All-Pro four times.
24) Donnie Shell
Donnie Shell was one of the members of the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary that benefited from the pressure that the Steel Curtain supplied to opposing quarterbacks. If there were any rushed throws as a result of pressure from the defensive line, Shell was ready to pick off the hurried throw.
Shell played safety for the Steelers from 1974-1987. He was elected to five Pro Bowl teams and was also First-Team All-Pro three times in his career. Shell was part of four Super Bowl championship teams with the Steelers, as he played in Super Bowl IX, X, XIII and XIV.
23) Lester Hayes
Ah, Lester Hayes, the king of Stickum. Hayes applied so much Stickum to his body and jersey that the NFL had to outlaw the practice. Hayes, of course, was the colorful corner for the Oakland Raiders and the Los Angeles Raiders. Hayes played for the Raiders from 1977-1986.
Hayes was elected to five Pro Bowl teams and was named First-Team All-Pro one time. Hayes was a finalist in the Hall of Fame voting for the years 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, but has still never been enshrined.
22) Neil Smith
Neil Smith must have really enjoyed going after quarterbacks in the AFC West. He spent his entire career in the division, playing for Kansas City (1988-1996), Denver (1997-1999) and San Diego (2000). I'm not sure how he never made it out to Oakland.
In the 1988 NFL draft, Smith was the No. 2 overall draft pick, as Kansas City selected him to spearhead their pass rush.
Smith was voted on to six Pro Bowl teams and made First-Team All-Pro one time. He also made Second-Team All-Pro three times. In the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1990's, Smith was voted as Second-Team defensive end. Smith came up with at least 10 sacks for four straight seasons (1992-1995).
21) Steve Tasker
The NFL Selection Committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame has by and large ignored special team standouts. Last time I checked, ask any NFL head coach, and they will tell you that the pro game is 1/3 offense, 1/3 defense and 1/3 special teams. Seems like a pretty important part of the game to me.
One such example of a special teams standout performer was Steve Tasker, wide receiver and special teams standout for the Houston Oilers (1985-1986) and the Buffalo Bills (1986-1997). Tasker was elected to seven Pro Bowl games during his career, and was voted to seven All-Pro teams.
He was named as the Pro Bowl MVP in the 1992 game, another unusual accomplishment for a special teams player. He was also voted as the NFL Alumni Special Teams Player of the Year in 1995.
20) Ray Guy
As long as we just opened up the can of worms known as the Hall of Fame turning their back on special teams players, what about the case of Oakland Raiders punter Ray Guy?
Guy was a punter for the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Raiders from 1973-1986. He was elected to seven Pro Bowl teams and was named First-Team All-Pro three times in his career.
19) Ed Budde
Another player out of the AFC West is Kansas City Chiefs guard Ed Budde. Budde played for Kansas City from 1963-1976. Budde was a reliable and durable lineman, as he played in every game from 1963-1971 without missing a single start.
Budde was elected to seven Pro Bowl teams and was named First-Team All-Pro twice in his career. He played a key role in the Chiefs victory in Super Bowl IV, where Budde drew Alan Page of the Vikings and did an excellent job of neutralizing him. Budde was also part of the Kansas City teams that won the AFL titles in 1966 and 1969.
When the AFL came out with their All-Time team, Budde was named as the Second-Team guard. He also has the distinction of being the AP's first offensive lineman to be named Offensive Player of the Week.
18) Cliff Harris
Switching over to the NFC, what about the case of Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris? Harris played in Dallas from 1970-1979. He was elected to six Pro Bowl teams and was named First-Team All-Pro three times.
For the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1970's, Harris was named as First-Team safety. He had a streak of being named First-Team All-Pro four straight years - 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978.
One of the amazing things about Harris is that he was never drafted in the NFL, as he was an unsigned rookie free agent coming out of the 1970 draft. That is understandable, since not many people around the country have heard of his school, Ouachita Baptist. Harris beat out Charlie Waters for the starting job at safety, even though Waters was a third-round draft pick in the 1970 draft.
Harris was known as a hard-hitting safety that would look to punish whoever had the ball. In 2004, Harris made it all the way to the final round of voting to get into the Hall of Fame, but came up short. He hasn't been that close again ever since.
17) Claude Humphrey
The Atlanta Falcons drafted defensive end Claude Humphrey out of Tennessee State with the No. 3 overall draft pick in the 1968 draft. Humphrey played for Atlanta from 1968-1978, before moving on to join the Philadelphia Eagles from 1979-1981.
During his career, Humphrey was voted to six Pro Bowl teams and was First-Team All-Pro five times and was Second-Team All-Pro three times. He was named as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1968.
Humphrey was credited with 126.5 sacks during his career, to go along with two safeties. He played in 171 games in his NFL career.
With regards to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Humphrey has made it to the finals three times so far (2003, 2005 and 2006), but that was as far as he ever got in the voting. He hasn't survived the voting to the final round again ever since then.
16) Randy Gradishar
Randy Gradishar played linebacker for the Denver Broncos from 1974-1983. The Broncos made him the No. 14 overall draft pick in the 1974 NFL draft. If the Broncos needed any endorsements on Gradishar, they had to look no further than his college coach at Ohio State, Woody Hayes, who referred to Gradishar as the finest linebacker he ever coached.
Gradishar was elected to seven Pro Bowl games and was named to five First-Team All-Pro teams. In 1978, Gradishar was named as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
During his career of 145 games, Gradishar demonstrated his ability to make plays, as he recorded over 20 sacks and over 20 interceptions. His final tallies were 20.5 sacks, 20 interceptions, three interception returns for touchdowns and 13 fumble recoveries.
15) Robert Brazile
Another player that was dominating in his time period but still hasn't been able to knock down the door to get in to Canton, Ohio is Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile. The Oilers made Brazile the No. 6 overall draft pick in the 1975 NFL draft. Brazile played in Houston from 1975-1984.
In his career, Brazile was named to seven Pro Bowl games and to five First-Team All-Pro selections. For the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1970's, Brazile was named as Second-Team linebacker. Brazile appeared in 147 NFL games, and was credited with making 1,281 tackles and 13 career interceptions.
In 1975, Brazile was named as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
14) Johnny Robinson
During his professional football career, Johnny Robinson played safety, flanker and running back. He was drafted in 1960 in the first round by the Dallas Texans of the AFL. The franchise later would become known as the Kansas City Chiefs.
Robinson played with the team from 1960-1972. He focused on offense early in his pro career, and then was converted to defense in his third season.
Robinson was also drafted in the NFL by the Detroit Lions with the No. 3 overall draft pick, but Robinson opted to play for the upstart AFL instead.
Over the course of his career, Robinson was named to seven Pro Bowl teams and was named to six different First-Team All-Pro teams. Robinson has earned a number of distinctions over the years. He was named to the AFL All-Time Team. Robinson led the AFL with 10 interceptions in 1966 and then led the NFL (post-merger) with 10 interceptions in 1970.
Robinson played in 164 games and recorded 57 interceptions. He came up with one interception return for a touchdown, and also had six rushing touchdowns and nine receiving touchdowns.
With respect to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Robinson has been a finalist six different times, but still has not been enshrined. Those six years were 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985 and 1986.
13) Richmond Webb
12) Chuck Howley
Linebacker Chuck Howley was the No. 7 overall draft pick in the 1958 draft by the Chicago Bears. Howley only played in Chicago for two years (1958-1959) before moving on to the Dallas Cowboys, where he played from 1961-1973.
Howley suffered a major knee injury with the Bears and thought his career might be over. He sat out the 1960 season, but decided he wanted to give it another try in 1961. The Bears traded him to Dallas for a second-round and ninth-round draft pick in the 1963 draft.
During his career, Howley was named to six Pro Bowl games and was named First-Team All-Pro five times. Howley played a key role in the Cowboys winning two Super Bowl championships in Super Bowl V and VI. He was named the MVP of Super Bowl V.
Howley was credited with 25 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries in his career, to go along with 26.5 sacks and two touchdowns. He appeared in 180 games in his career.
11) Steve Atwater
Safety Steve Atwater played for the Denver Broncos from 1989-1998 and for the New York Jets in 1999. Atwater was originally drafted by the Broncos with the No. 20 overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft.
During his career, Atwater was voted onto eight Pro Bowl teams and was also named to two different First-Team All-Pro teams. He was named as the First-Team safety for the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1990's.
Atwater was known for being a big hitter out of the secondary and would look to punish whoever had the ball when he had the opportunity to lay a big hit on somebody. Atwater was part of the Broncos teams that won consecutive Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII.
From a statistical view, Atwater registered 1,074 tackles in 167 NFL games. He intercepted 24 passes, returned one pick back for a touchdown, had five sacks, eight fumble recoveries and forced six fumbles.
10) Bob Kuechenberg
If there is one guy that knows first-hand what it is like to be dissed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Bob Kuechenberg. Kuechenberg wound up making it into the final round of voting for eight straight years (2002-2009). Every year he would come up just short of qualifying for selection, and then in 2009, his support group in the media must have thrown in the white towel, because he has never been back to the final round ever since.
Talk about frustration.
Kuechenberg was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 80 overall pick in the 1969 NFL draft. Things didn't go very well for Kuechenberg in training camp, because he quit the team before he even played in a single game. He wound up playing instead in a semi-pro league. The following year he was a free agent and signed on with the Miami Dolphins, and the rest is history.
Over the years, Kuechenberg played center, guard and tackle in Miami (1970-1984). He was elected to six Pro Bowl teams and also was named to two different First-Team All-Pro teams. Kuechenberg was a member of the Dolphins Super Bowl championship teams that won Super Bowls VII and VIII. Kuechenberg played in 196 games in his career.
9) Jerome Bettis
The Bus is knocking at the door. Maybe the Bus is ready to drive through the doors at Canton. Jerome "The Bus" Bettis is a popular running back who played for the Los Angeles Rams and the St. Louis Rams (1993-1995), and for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-2005.
Bettis is the definition of power back in the NFL, as he was only 5'11" but weighed 252 pounds. Good luck trying to tackle him, because he was accustomed to running people over. In his career, the Bus was elected to six Pro Bowl teams and two times was named to First-Team All-Pro teams.
In his career, Bettis ran the ball 3,479 times for 13,662 yards, which comes out to an average of 3.9 yards per rush. He scored 91 rushing touchdowns. Bettis also caught 200 passes for 1,449 yards and scored on three pass receptions.
Bettis led the NFL with 375 rushing attempts in 1997. That is also known as carrying the load. Bettis has wound up as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in both 2011 and in 2012, so 'the Bus" is knocking on the door. He should be able to run it over in short order.
8) Karl Mecklenburg
He is probably the only player on this presentation that was drafted after 309 players already were selected before him, but Denver Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenburg is a prime example of the fact that you just never really know for sure who is going to pan out from the draft. The Broncos drafted him in the 12th round of the 1983 draft with the overall No. 310 pick.
7) Joey Browner
Joey Browner played both cornerback and safety during his NFL career. He was drafted with the No. 19 overall pick in the 1983 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Browner was with the Vikings from 1983-1991, and then he played one last year with the Tampa Bay Bucs in 1992.
Browner was named to six Pro Bowl teams as well as to First-Team All-Pro three times. He was also named as the Second-Team safety for the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1980's. Browner did double duty in Minnesota, as he not only played defense, but was a solid performer on special teams as well.
In 145 NFL games, Browner racked up 9.5 sacks, 37 interceptions and 17 fumble recoveries. He scored two touchdowns on defense, one on a fumble recovery and one on an interception return.
6) Warren Sapp
Warren Sapp was a defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. Sapp was drafted with the No. 12 overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Bucs. He played with Tampa Bay from 1995-2003 and with the Oakland Raiders from 2004-2007.
Sapp is one of those NFL players who had an impact on not just one decade, but two decades in total. Sapp was named to the NFL All-Decade Team in the 1990's and for the 2000's. That puts him in some special company. Sapp also added to his laurels by being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1999.
In total, Sapp was elected to seven Pro Bowl teams and was named First-Team All-Pro four times. He played in 198 NFL games, registering 96.5 sacks and 438 tackles. He also managed to come up with four interceptions, and returned one of those for a touchdown. Sapp also created 19 forced fumbles and had 12 fumble recoveries.
The numbers might not jump off the page, but it is very difficult to generate what Sapp did from a defensive tackle position. He was able to make plays due to his strength, agility and quickness. Sapp was part of the Tampa Bay team that won Super Bowl XXXVII.
5) Jim Marshall
Jim Marshall is one of those players that seems to be a mystery to the Hall of Fame in terms of how to handle his unique credentials. Not really a popular player for Pro Bowls or All-Pro selection (only named to two Pro Bowl teams and was never voted in on any First-Team Al-Pro Teams), Marshall instead is the kind of player that you have to examine his entire career and the longevity of his ability to perform at a high level in the league to truly appreciate why he deserves to be enshrined.
Marshall was drafted in 1960 by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 44 overall pick. He played for Cleveland in 1960 but was part of a big trade where the Browns shipped a pool of five players to Minnesota in exchange for a couple of draft picks. Marshall then proceeded to play in Minnesota for the next 19 years (1961-1979), so I think it is safe to say that Minnesota got the best out of that trade.
Some of the great things about Marshall is that he played a total of 282 consecutive games on the defensive line, which is basically unheard of. He also holds the NFL record for most recovered fumbles, with 30. Since Marshall played in an era that didn't record sacks, we should note that according to the Vikings own team records, they credit Marshall with 130 sacks.
Of course, Marshall is also remembered for running the wrong way with the ball and scoring a safety for the opponents. The "Wrong Way Play" is something that is hung over his head, but it still doesn't detract from all of the positive things that he did.
For the record, Marshall did come in as a finalist in the Hall of Fame voting in 2004, but has never been a finalist before or since then.
Photo courtesy of http://www.wallpaperweb.org/wallpaper/sport/nfl-bestshots_purple-people-eaters_27506.htm
4) L.C. Greenwood
L.C. Greenwood was part of the famous Steel Curtain—the defensive line of the Pittsburgh Steelers during their run of supremacy in the NFL—when the Steelers won the Super Bowl four times in a six-year span. Greenwood wasn't drafted until the No. 238 overall pick in the 1969 NFL draft (10th round). He played for Pittsburgh from 1969-1981.
In his career, Greenwood was named to six Pro Bowl teams and was named to First-Team All-Pro two times. He was the Second-Team defensive end for the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1970's. During their Super Bowl run, Greenwood was twice named First-Team All-Pro, so you know he was playing outstanding football to stand out from the likes of Mean Joe Greene.
Greenwood played in 170 NFL games, recording 73.5 sacks, and also had 14 fumble recoveries. So far he has gotten to the cusp of enshrinement, as he was a Hall of Fame finalist in 1991, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2005 and 2006. He has not been back to the finals since then, so his popularity with the voters appears to be fading.
3) Tim Brown
Now we have arrived at our final three slides, who are—interestingly enough—bound together in a positional logjam. They are three very outstanding wide receivers, who combined are creating a logjam where none of the three are able to secure enough votes to get into the Hall of Fame, but all three are good enough to keep making it to the final round.
The three players in question are Tim Brown, Andre Reed and Cris Carter. We will address each of them one at a time.
2) Andre Reed
Our next player in the trio of wide receivers in the logjam is Andre Reed, who played for the Buffalo Bills (1985-1999) and for the Washington Redskins (2000). Reed was a key part of the Bills hurry-up offense led by Jim Kelly.
Reed was elected to seven Pro Bowl games, but was surprisingly never voted to a First-Team All-Pro berth. In his career, Reed caught 951 passes for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns. He averaged 13.9 yards per catch, and excelled at picking up yards after the catch. In addition, Reed was fearless going over the middle.
As we have detailed with some other players in this presentation, Reed is another of the NFL veterans that have been tantalizingly close to being enshrined. So far, Reed has been a finalist for each of the last six years (2007-2012), so all he can do is hope that the logjam is broken soon.
1) Cris Carter
The final receiver in our trio of great wide receivers that still aren't in the Hall of Fame but deserve to be enshrined is Cris Carter. Carter played wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles (1987-1989), Minnesota Vikings (1990-2001) and for the Miami Dolphins in 2002. Carter was elected to eight Pro Bowl games and voted as First-Team All-Pro two times in his career.
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