The Pro Football Hall of Fame established a contributors committee in 2015 and have since ushered five candidates into Canton — three general managers and two owners. There will be two more contributors nominated for the Class of 2019 and there are several worthy candidates.
That’s the subject of this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll — who most deserves to be the Hall’s next contributor candidate? We offer up plenty of quality options — four owners, a general manager, two personnel director and a film guru. Here is your slate of candidates:
Bud Adams. The original owner of the Houston Oilers. When Lamar Hunt decided to start his own football league in 1960, the first call he made was to Adams. Their oil money would put teams in Dallas and Houston and give the AFL an early and natural rivalry. Their oil money also would help the AFL get through some rocky early days. Adams signed Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon in 1960 to give the AFL early credibility and his Oilers won the championship in both 1960 and 1961. He passed away in 2013 at the age of 90.
Pat Bowlen. The current owner of the Denver Broncos. Since buying the Broncos in 1984, Denver has qualified for the playoffs 18 times, won seven AFC titles and three Lombardi Trophies. The Broncos have won 327 games during the Bowlen era. Only the New England Patriots have won more (335). Bowlen has served on seven NFL committees and during his tenure as chairman of the NFL broadcasting committee, the league negotiated a record $18 billion contract with the networks.
Gil Brandt. The original personnel director of the Dallas Cowboys. Brandt is credited with bringing the NFL into the computer age with his scouting system for the Cowboys. His outside-the-box thinking brought Roger Staubach to the Cowboys despite a military commitment to the Navy and Herschel Walker despite a USFL commitment. The scouting net under his direction also found undrafted college free agents Cliff Harris, Drew Pearson and Everson Walls.
Bucko Kilroy. The definition of a “contributor,” Kilroy was an all-decade player in the 1940s before entering NFL front offices where he served as a scout, personnel director and general manager. He went to three Pro Bowls as an offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles before serving as a scout with the Eagles, Redskins and Cowboys, then a personnel director and finally general manager of the Patriots. Kilroy presided over drafts that produced Hall of Famers John Hannah, Mike Haynes and Andre Tippett.
Robert Kraft. The current owner of the New England Patriots. A season-ticket holder of the Patriots since 1971, Kraft bought the franchise in 1994 – a purchase that saved the Patriots for New England. Kraft inherited Bill Parcells and later hired Bill Belichick as his head coach. Parcells took the Patriots to one Super Bowl and Belichick took them to eight more. Belichick’s teams won five Lombardi Trophies. In 2002, Kraft privately financed the construction of a new stadium.
Clint Murchison. The original owner of the Dallas Cowboys. When Lamar Hunt founded the AFL and established a team in Dallas, the NFL countered by awarding a franchise there to Murchison. He hired Hall of Famers Tex Schramm as president and Tom Landry and also privately-financed a new stadium for his Cowboys. Texas Stadium was the first to include luxury suites, sky boxes, clubs and PSLs. He passed away in 1987 at the age of 63.
Steve Sabol. The creative genius behind NFL Films. His father Ed, already a Hall of Famer, founded NFL Films and Steve rose through the ranks, working as a cameraman, writer and editor before becoming overseer of the company. His films gave the NFL life and helped make pro football America’s favorite sport. NFL Films won 40 Emmys under Sabol’s direction and he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 69.
George Young. Former general manager of the New York Giants. The floundering Giants hired Young in 1979, giving him full control of football operations. He hired Bill Parcells as head coach and presided over drafts that produced Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms and players who would become the backbone of a two-time Super Bowl champion. Young was voted the NFL’s executive of the year a record five times. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 71.