It’s time for another senior poll, round 3.
The Talk of Fame Network has posted polls the last two weeks of worthy candidates in an effort to show just how difficult the selection process is for seniors. The senior “abyss” is littered with all-decade players, past NFL MVPs and Pro Bowlers galore. Pittsburgh linebacker Andy Russell won the first poll and Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel won the second. So here’s another round of senior candidates whose careers are all worthy of discussion by the Hall of Fame selection committee.
Again, we ask our listeners and readers — if this was the list of 10 finalists for the one senior nomination in the Class of 2019, who would you choose? Here are your options:
Maxie Baughan. Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, Dave Robinson, Tommy Nobis and Larry Morris were the NFL NFL all-decade linebackers for the 1960s. They went to a combined 12 Pro Bowls that decade. Baughan himself went to nine Pro Bowls in the 1960s – four more than any of the all-decade linebackers. But not only was he passed over as an all-decade selection, he’s been passed over by the Hall of Fame. He’s never even been a finalist. A second-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960, Baughan became a walk-in starter at outside linebacker for an NFL championship team and one of only three rookies selected to the Pro Bowl that season. He would go to the Pro Bowl in five of his six seasons with the Eagles, then was traded to the Rams. George Allen named him as his defensive captain and Baughan would go to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons with the Rams.
Bobby Boyd. A 1960s NFL all-decade cornerback. Boyd intercepted 57 career passes, which ties him with cornerback Mel Blount for sixth all-time among pure corners. But Boyd collected his 57 interceptions in nine seasons. Blount collected his interceptions in 14 seasons. Boyd collected his interceptions in 121 career games. Blount collected his 57 interceptions in 200 games. Blount is in the Hall of Fame. Boyd has never been a finalist. Boyd intercepted nine passes in 1964, then led the NFL with nine more in 1965. His play at cornerback helped Baltimore reach three NFL championship games and his Colts won two of them.
Ed Budde. The eighth overall pick of the NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1963. Had he signed with the Eagles, he might already be in the Hall of Fame. But he signed with the AFL Kansas City Chiefs instead – and AFL players have never gotten their just due from the Hall of Fame selection committee. Twenty-one of the 22 position players on the NFL all-decade team for the 1960s have been enshrined in Canton, but only nine of the 22 position players on the AFL all decade team for the 1960s have been enshrined. Budde is among those AFL selections passed over. Even though he went to eight Pro Bowls and was a key blocking component for a franchise that would win three AFL titles and appear in two Super Bowls, he has never been a Hall of Fame finalist.
Bobby Dillon. Like Boyd, Dillon packed quality into minimal quantity. He intercepted 52 passes in just eight seasons. That puts him in a tie for 26th on the all-time interception list along with Champ Bailey, Jack Butler, Mel Renfro and Larry Wilson. Butler, Renfro and Wilson are all in the Hall of Fame and Bailey is one of the favorites for induction in his first year of eligibility for the Class of 2019. Dillon collected his interceptions in fewer games (94) and fewer seasons than any of them, yet he has never been a Hall of Fame finalist. It seems Dillon has been punished for playing on a bad football team. He played for the pre-Lombardi Packers, who managed to win only 33 of his 94 career games. Overlooked by the selectors is the fact he had three nine-interception seasons. In today’s NFL, that would garner him a first-ballot election.
L.C. Greenwood. The Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s has four players in the Hall of Fame: tackle Joe Greene, outside linebacker Jack Ham, middle linebacker Jack Lambert and cornerback Mel Blount. The Rooney family will tell you that’s a bit light for a defense that powered the Steelers to four Lombardi Trophies. Greenwood has come the closest to a bust, having been a Hall of Fame finalist six times. But his candidacy now resides in the senior pool. Greenwood was a six-time Pro Bowler and an all-decade selection for the 1970s. Nicknamed “Hollywood Bags,” Greenwood led Pittsburgh in sacks four times in the 1970s. He recovered five fumbles in 1971 and hit double figures with 11 sacks in 1974 on the way to Pittsburgh’s first Lombardi Trophy.
Lester Hayes. A 1980s NFL all-decade cornerback. Hayes arrived in Oakland as a fifth-round draft pick in 1977 and became a starter in 1978. By 1980, he was the NFL’s best cornerback with a league-leading 13 interceptions, one short of Hall of Famer Dick “Night Train” Lane’s NFL single-season record. Hayes intercepted five more passes in the playoffs and another in the Pro Bowl. The Raiders won the Super Bowl that season, capping what arguably was the best season by a cornerback in league history. Hayes was voted to his first of five consecutive Pro Bowls that year and helped the Raiders win another Super Bowl in 1983. From 1983-86, Hayes teamed with Hall of Famer Mike Haynes to give the Raiders one of the best cornerback tandems in NFL history. Hayes intercepted 39 career passes and has been a Hall of Fame finalist four times.
Jake Scott. The Super Bowl MVP in 1973 when Scott intercepted two passes in a 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins, allowing the Miami Dolphins to cap the only perfect season in NFL history with a 17th consecutive victory. Scott played only nine seasons but went to the Pro Bowl in five of them and intercepted 49 career passes. That ties him on the all-time interception list with Hall of Fame safety Ken Houston, who paired with Scott at safety the end of the 1970 decade for the Washington Redskins. When the Dolphins won back-to-back Lombardi Trophies in 1974, Scott recovered two fumbles in a 24-7 Super Bowl victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Scott also returned punts in his first five seasons with the Dolphins, averaging 10.4 yards with a touchdown. He has never been a Hall of Fame finalist.
Ed White. White was a Pro Bowl guard in one of the NFL’s top rushing offenses at Minnesota with Bill Brown, Dave Osborn and Chuck Foreman in the 1970s. Then he became a Pro Bowl blocker in one of the league’s top passing offenses at San Diego with Hall of Famers Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow. The Chargers led the NFL in passing in White’s first six seasons there and in seven of his eight seasons. When White retired after the 1985 season, no offensive lineman in NFL history had played more games than his 241. He went to four Pro Bowls and is a member of both the 40th anniversary team of the Vikings and the 50th anniversary team of the Chargers. He’s never been a Hall of Fame finalist.
Billy Wilson. A three-time NFL receiving champion in the 1950s. Wilson led the league with 60 catches in both 1954 and 1956 and 52 catches in 1957. He also led the NFL with 10 touchdown receptions in 1953. Wilson went to six consecutive Pro Bowls (1954-59), retiring after the 1960 season with 407 catches in his 10-year career. What makes his accomplishments even more special is the fact he played in San Francisco with the Million Dollar Backfield – quarterback Y.A. Tittle and running backs John Henry Johnson, High McIlhenny and Joe Perry. All are now in the Hall of Fame. Wilson is not, nor has he ever been a finalist.
Louis Wright. A 1970s NFL all-decade cornerback. Wright was the shutdown element of the Orange Crush defense that took the Broncos to a Super Bowl in 1978. A former first-round pick, Wright became a walk-in starter and brought both a size and speed element to the Broncos. His size (6-2, 200 pounds) helped produce an elite run defender and his speed (track sprinter at San Jose State with a 9.6 clocking in the 100) allowed him to run with the John Jeffersons, Lynn Swanns and Mel Grays of his day. Wright intercepted only 26 career passes but went to the Pro Bowl in five of his 12 seasons. He also scored four career touchdowns on an interception, two fumble returns and a blocked field goal return. Wright also was considered an elite run defender.