(Lester Hayes photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders)
(Pat Fischer photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins)
Talk of Fame Network
There are four NFL all-decade cornerbacks eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But the best corner not currently in the Hall of Fame is none of those four – but rather Pat Fischer, according to our weekly poll on the Talk of Fame Network. We asked our listeners and readers to vote on the best corner not enshrined and provided six options. Fischer ran away with the honor, receiving a whopping 73 percent of the vote.
Fischer outdistanced all-decade cornerbacks Lester Hayes (1980s), Ty Law (2000s), Bobby Boyd (1960s) and Louis Wright (1970s) and also Ken Riley, who ranks second among pure cornerbacks in interceptions with 65. Hayes received 19 percent of the vote and the rest were in single digits.
Fischer played 17 seasons at pro football’s toughest defensive position, the first seven years with St. Louis Cardinals and the last 10 with the Washington Redskins. He intercepted 56 career passes, which ties him for 18th place all-time but puts him eighth among pure corners. He intercepted a pass in 15 consecutive seasons, topping out at 10 thefts in 1964 to earn the first of his three Pro Bowl invitations.
At 5-9, 170 pounds, Fischer overcame long odds to even play in the NFL, much less survive 17 seasons. He was a 17th round pick of the Cardinals out of Nebraska who spent the bulk of his first two seasons playing special teams and returning kicks. And he was quite accomplished at it, averaging 24.5 yards in career kickoff returns.
But Fischer’s calling was defense, and he often found himself on an island against bigger and faster receivers. Fischer was among the first cornerbacks in the NFL to implement the bump-and-run coverage technique, taking receivers out of their routes and often out of their games with a physical confrontation at the line of scrimmage at the snap. His battles with Philadelphia’s 6-8 Harold Carmichael, physical mismatch that it was, were legendary. Carmichael was an NFL all-decade selection for the 1970s.
Of the four all-decade cornerbacks on the ballot, Hayes has been the only one who has been a Hall-of-Fame finalist. Nicknamed “The Judge,” Hayes has been in the room four times as a finalist without success. Boyd intercepted 57 career passes (in just nine seasons), Law 53, Hayes 39 and Wright 26.
Talk of Fame co-hosts Clark Judge and Rick Gosselin both cast their votes for Fischer.
“Fischer was good, tough and durable,” Judge said. “He lasted 17 seasons and created takeaways. A turnover machine, he had 56 career interceptions and 16 fumble recoveries, an NFL record for cornerbacks. More importantly, he played the run as well as the pass — a sure tackler who, Hall of Fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff said, `intimidated’ him. What’s more, he was an innovator — one of the first … if not the first … to play the bump and run. Fischer could play fast receivers, he could play shifty receivers and he could play tall receivers … and he never backed down.”