With Russ Grimm's recent induction into the Hall of Fame, the number of Washington Redskins in the Hall from the Joe Gibbs glory years rose to five—Gibbs, John Riggins, Darrell Green, Art Monk, and now Grimm.
It has long been an article of faith among Redskins fans that the Hall was somehow biased against those teams; that they were under-represented. Theories as to why include that the blue-collar Redskins weren’t “flashy” enough, and that the individual players weren't of self-promoting type who get their names into the news by any means necessary.
Redskins fans have long believed—I can say this because I count myself among them—that the Glory Years Redskins teams have been under-represented, at least as compared to the teams one automatically thinks of when discussing the Hall of Fame.
I thought I might put the theory to the test.
Having cut my football fan teeth as a child of the 1970s, the first team I thought of was the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers—they of four Super Bowl titles in six years (1974-79). There are 10 Steelers from that era in the Hall of Fame.
Next, I thought of the iconic Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers, the early 1960s teams that mark and dominated the beginning of the Super Bowl Era. There are also 10 Lombardi Packers in the Hall.
What about the Don Shula Dolphins of the 1970's? Eight of those big fish are mounted on the walls of Canton.
The great San Francisco 49er teams of the 1980s and early 90s sent six to the Hall.
I almost hated to look, but I did: what about the hated Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s? Four of those cursed silver stars the shelves.
Ah, that's more like it...
It turns out the media-darling Chicago Bears of Iron Mike Ditka vintage have inducted four as well, and Bill Parcells’ stout New York Giants teams have sent three (four the day Parcells becomes eligible).
Not pretending to offer any great insight here, but it appears the further removed a team is from its dynasty years, the more players associated with it tend to wind up in the Hall. It is entirely possible, in other words, that a decade or two from now the Gibbs' Redskins will be even better represented in Canton than today.
Possible inductees from those teams include Dave Butz, Gary Clark, Joe Jacoby, Charles Mann, Mark Moseley, and perhaps even the terminally loquacious Joe Theismann.
For those wondering where the Washington Redskins stack up against other NFL legacy and modern-era dynasty franchises in total inductees, here is the running tally of teams with double-digit enshrinees, per the NFL's official Hall of Fame website:
Note that the site reflects certain players as representative of more than one team (e.g., Reggie White is listed both as an Eagle and Packer; Sam Huff as both a Giant and Redskin) so it is not an exact science.
26 ... Chicago Bears
21 ... Green Bay Packers
18 ... New York Giants
18 ... Washington Redskins
18 ... Pittsburgh Steelers
16 ... Cleveland Browns
14 ... Detroit Lions
13 ... San Francisco 49ers
13 ... Oakland Raiders
13 ... Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams
12 ... Dallas Cowboys
11 ... Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals
10 ... Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts
10 ... Minnesota Vikings
So what does all this tell us? Among other things, it tells us that time is as big a factor in the number of players a franchise has enshrined in Canton as their subjective level of sexiness or self-promoting brashness. And that the election process, necessarily run by flawed human beings, has probably not been as unkind to the Washington Redskins as many among their passionate fan base believe.
If you are one of them, take heart. In addition to the Gibbs Era Redskins noted above, lifetime Redskins like Chris Hanburger (nominated for the Class of 2011), Pat Fischer, Larry Brown, and others may well end up clad in yellow blazers, delivering heartfelt speeches as well.
Meanwhile—because the formal induction process is flawed, and to indulge in the right fans have to impose their own biases on the process—for your consideration and appraisal, here is one passionate Redskins fan’s all-time teams that either is or should be in the Hall of Fame.
Where there is already a formal inductee I have not presumed to disagree. Where there is not, I have tapped the candidate I believe should be, will be, or simply is the man I would want lining up if this team were to take the field against the all-time Bears, Packers, Giants, Steelers…
I would match this team against any you might care to assemble.
Owner: George Preston Marshall*
Head Coach: Joe Gibbs*
General Manager: Bobby Beathard
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Gibbs
Defensive Coordinator: Richie Petitbon
Special Teams: Wayne Sevier
QB Sammy Baugh*
RB Cliff Battles*
FB John Riggins*
WR Art Monk*
WR Charley Taylor*
TE Jerry Smith
LT Jim Lachey
LG Russ Grimm*
C Len Hauss
RG Stan Jones*
RT Joe Jacoby
CB Darrell Green*
CB Pat Fischer
DE Gene Brito
DE Charles Mann
DT Turk Edwards*
DT Dave Butz
LB Chris Hanburger
LB Sam Huff*
LB Chuck Drazenovich
SS Ken Houston*
FS Paul Krause*
K Mark Moseley
P Mike Bragg
KR Brian Mitchell