B/R: Many players come and go through the NFL, and only a select few are named to the Hall of Fame. What advice do you give to players that want to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day?
Howie: Well, I don’t think you think of the Hall of Fame as a young player. That’s a space shuttle mission to Mars when you’re 21 years old . . . I had the good fortune of being around guys who were Hall of Famers and soon to be Hall of Famers, Fred Biletnikoff, and you're around Jim Otto, around Ted Hendricks, Art Shell and Gene Upshaw and all of those players. There was never talk of the Hall of Fame. Towards the end of my career Willie Brown would say, “You gotta get you one of these,” meaning the Hall of Fame ring.
Really everything was geared towards being the best possible player that you could be for your football team and having a shot to win a Super Bowl . . . that was really the driving force. You never really think about it as a young player. But certainly when you’re done playing then conversation begins for the pundits to evaluate how great a player you were, what impact you had on your football team and the NFL. If you are fortunate enough to be considered and make it in that room and go through the voting process and if you get that phone call, it’s a special call.
B/R: Being a former Raider, what are your thoughts on Jim Plunkett, Ray Guy and other Raider greats not being inducted into the Hall of Fame yet?
Howie: Yea, you know I’m a little bit surprised.
You take it a step further to Tom Flores, who won two Super Bowl championships and there are other coaches in who haven’t won the Super Bowl championships. Tom won two championships in two different decades with essentially two different football teams, which I think is remarkable.
Lester Hayes, Lester is a guy who is deserving of Hall of Fame consideration.
Certainly Ray Guy, I think who kind of pioneered that part of the game and was the first really dominant punter who impacted the game.
Jim Plunkett winning two Super Bowls in spectacular form and played really big in big games. I think he has the 2nd or 3rd highest winning percentage in the playoffs. I think there are number of guys who are worthy . . . to be considered.
B/R: How can a player like Nnamdi Asomugha get inducted into the hall of fame when his stats aren’t great, but his play on the field is tremendous?
Howie: Ya, that cornerback position is a funny position.
Darrelle Revis, I’m not sure if he had one or two interceptions this year. When you are that kind of a corner, when you are a Mike Haynes kind of corner, when you are a Deion Sanders kind of corner, when you’re a Nnamdi Asomugha kind of corner or Darrelle Revis, you’re not going to get a lot of action your way. Teams are smart and they game plan. They opt to stay away, you can eliminate a corner like that by just not throwing at them. I think the numbers at the end of the day can be a bit misleading.
For example, Ben Roethlisberger vs the Jets. Just to give you an example. If you look at Ben’s stat sheet vs the Jets in the playoffs, Not a great stat sheet. But if you watch the game you understand what an extraordinary impact he had on the football game. So I think stats in many ways can be misleading.