Induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame remains a subjective prize. Winning championships and playing for winners in major markets means more than a long career of extended excellence. This year both RB Terrell Davis and QB Kurt Warner were elected into the HOF, despite shorter than usual careers. Note the following comparisons:
Joe Namath won a legendary Super Bowl upset, but achieved little else in an injury- plagued career. After spurning the NFL (the St. Louis football Cardinals), Namath became the face of the rival AFL, a league that eventually merged with the NFL. The toast of New York City, playing for powerful owner Sonny Werblin. Namath is in the hall of fame.
Bob Griese had a long career quarterbacking the dominant Dolphins. Won two Super Bowls and appeared in a third. Coached by the legendary Don Shula. Griese is in the hall of fame.
Ken Anderson led the Cincinnati Bengals to two Super Bowls, getting past tough competition in the AFC: the Steelers, Chargers, and Bills. Coached by the legendary Bill Walsh. Anderson is not in the hall of fame.
Kurt Warner led two different teams to a total of three Super Bowl appearances, in a relatively short but mercurial career. Had a great story, rising from an inglorious small college career, through the Arena Leagues and NFL Europe. Coached by good soldier Dick Vermeil. A good foot soldier who later starred on The NFL Network, now rewarded with a bust and gold jacket in Canton.
13 129 1886 3762 50.1 27663 173 220 JN
14 151 1926 3429 56.2 25092 192 172 BG
16 172 2654 4475 59.3 32838 197 160 KA
12 116 2666 4070 65.5 32344 208 128 KW
Gale Sayers was a huge star in the late 1960’s, whose career was cut short due to injury. Subject of the popular movie “Brian’s Song.” Played for an average Bears team. Coached by the legendary George Halas, who was the face of the NFL for decades. Sayers is in the hall of fame.
After spurning the lowly Buccaneers, Bo Jackson played football as a hobby for bad boy owner Al Davis’ Raiders. Knocked hall of fame running back Marcus Allen out of a job. Bo was a shooting star, though snuffed out too early by a catastrophic hip injury. Jackson is not in the hall of fame.
Herschel Walker was the face of a rival league that remained an enemy of the NFL until its demise. Played in New York City for a powerful owner (Donald Trump). Was the first college junior to go pro – much to the chagrin of the NFL. When the USFL folded Walker landed in Dallas on America’s Team during a time of rebuilding, playing for legendary head coach Tom Landry. Walker knocked hall of fame running back Tony Dorsett out of a job. Landry put Walker all over the field: halfback, fullback, in the slot, as a wide receiver, and returning kicks. The trade of Walker to Minnesota was heralded as the trade of the century, stocking Dallas with three hall of famers who turned the Cowboys into a dynasty.
Walker also danced in the Dallas Ballet, was a world-class sprinter, raced a bobsled in the Winter Olympics, and retired undefeated as a mixed martial artist. In the NFL, NBA, and MLB, no non-Hall-of-Famer has garnered more Sports Illustrated covers. Despite retiring with the second most combined yards in NFL history – and the most ever in pro football history – Walker is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Terrell Davis had several great years in Denver, helping hall of fame QB John Elway to two straight Super Bowl victories. Unfortunately his career was cut short due to injury. Like Sayers, Davis has been voted into the hall of fame.
YR..GP..att..rush..TD..L..rec.rec yd.avg.TD.L.ret yd.TD.long
07 068 0991 4956 39 70 112 1307 11.7 09 80 3172 08 103 GS
04 038 0515 2782 16 92 040 0352 08.8 02 27 0000 00 000 BO
07 078 1655 7607 60 70 169 1280 07.6 05 35 0000 00 000 TD
12 187 1954 8225 61 91 512 4859 09.5 21 93 5084 02 094 HW NFL
09435 56 1348 GS
03134 18 0784 BO
08887 65 1270 TD
18168 84 1514 HW NFL
Comparatively, Jackson’s NFL career falls short of those of Sayers, Davis, and Walker. It may be unfair to compare Herschel to these three, though all four careers have extenuating circumstances.