Irving Fryar: An NFL Great Deserving a Nod from Canton

Brad JamesCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2008

For some reason, when I was watching my Tivoed broadcast of the Eagles and Browns Tuesday morning, I thought of the great Eagles receivers of the past.

Perhaps it was because Harold Carmichael was mentioned as Brian Dawkins eclipsed him as the longest-tenured Eagle in team history.

In any case, as I thought of the solid names of my early youth, such as Calvin Williams, Fred Barnett, and Mike Quick, the name Irving Fryar indelibly came to mind.

Fryar, who many Nebraska Cornhuskers fans I've talked to say is the best receiver in the program's history, had 851 receptions for 12,785 yards and 84 touchdowns in his NFL career. Additionally, he amassed 15 yards per reception in 17 years with the Patriots, Dolphins, Eagles, and Redskins.

While he did amass many of his stellar numbers as a result of playing with Dan Marino, he also posted gaudy stats playing with the likes of Tony Eason and Ty Detmer.

Naturally, there are some no-brainers among those who are continually exempted from the sacred shrine of Canton, Ohio, such as Randy Gradishar and Randall Cunningham. At times, though, it takes further probing into the record books to reward admission into gridiron immortality.

Fryar is among those greats of the past who deserves a closer look. 

Here is more evidence to prove my point, as I pledge to leave no stone unturned lest my argument be easily refuted.

For starters, the New England Patriots made Fryar the first receiver in NFL draft history to be the No. 1 overall pick.

Even on Cornhuskers squads, which featured Heisman winner Mike Rozier and stellar signal-caller (and current Buffalo football coach) Turner Gill, Fryar was still a collegiate standout.

This led to his magnificent NFL career, which saw him set a league record by catching touchdown passes from 19 different quarterbacks while he also scored at least two touchdowns in 16 consecutive seasons.

When he finally hung up the cleats as a member of the Redskins in 2000, his stats placed him sixth all-time in receiving annals, behind only Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Andre Reed, and Art Monk. With that said, Carter and Reed also belong in the Hall of Fame.

ESPN's John Clayton and several others have suggested that there is a bias against receivers, and gloryhounds like Terrell Owens do nothing to make things better for their brethren. However, an effective receiver is an incomparable weapon that can lead to numerous championships, as Jerry Rice and John Stallworth have proven.

While I one day hope to amass the level of knowledge that many NFL historians do, sometimes it's the simple things that they overlook.

Perhaps inducting Irving Fryar into the Hall of Fame is one of those missteps they can correct.