Easley 2017 senior nominee


Photo courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks

EasleyKenny

(Kenny Easley photos courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks)

Talk of Fame Network

Kenny Easley was one of the top safeties in the modern era of pro football, but his career was short – so short, in fact, that he never was a Hall-of-Fame finalist.

Well, now he is.

The former Seattle star is the Hall of Fame’s senior nominee for the Class of 2017, with Easley on Monday named ahead of 14 others competing for one spot.  The selection was a mild surprise, with linebacker Robert Brazile, former offensive lineman Jerry Kramer and Easley among the favorites.

But Easley is deserving — the only member of the 1980s’ all-decade first-team defense not in Canton and no less an authority than Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott telling the Talk of Fame Network that Easley was the best to play the position.

“Kam Chancellor right now is as good as any safety that’s played the game of football,” Lott said on the TFN Network earlier this year. “It’s hard for me to say this, but there’s only one guy I know that was better, and that’s Kenny Easley. He was Defensive Player of the Year and the best player to play the position, ever.

“Kenny could do what Jack Tatum could do, but he also could do what corners could do. He could do what Mike Haynes could do. He was not only a great hitter and great intimidator on the field, but he was a great athlete. In that day, what made him so special — him (and) Lawrence Taylor — those guys changed the game of football on the defensive side because they were not just guys; they were big hitters. Now, all of a sudden, you were seeing guys who not just big hitters but also as athletic as anyone on offense.”

Though he played only seven seasons, Easley made the most of them – five times named to the Pro Bowl, chosen the 1981 NFL Rookie of the Year and the 1984 Defensive Player of the Year and named to the 1980s’ all-decade team.  But his career was cut short by a kidney disease, and his name all but forgotten.

Until Monday.

Now comes the hard part: Passing the test of the Hall’s board of selectors, which grew to 48 this year with the addition of former players Dan Fouts and James Lofton, both Hall-of-Fame members. To make it, Easley must receive 80 percent of the vote when the board meets Feb. 4, 2017, one day prior to Super Bowl LI.

Sound simple? It may not be. Remember: For some reason, the Hall has been biased against safeties. Only seven pure safeties are in Canton, with Kenny Houston the last to play. He retired after the 1980 season.

Then there’s the matter of championships. Over 70 percent of Hall-of-Fame inductees played on an NFL championship team or Super Bowl winner. Easley played on neither.

 

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18 Comments

  1. Rob
    August 15, 2016
    Reply

    Clark along with Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile who else was considered? Do you think Kramer and Brazile have a shot of getting selected as a finalist next year or in the future?

    • August 15, 2016
      Reply

      Yes, I think both have shots, and would hope Kramer comes out soon. Really would like to see him get in while he’s alive.

  2. Sam Goldenberg
    August 15, 2016
    Reply

    What a complete travesty!! Not that Kenny Easley isn’t a decent choice, but he is 57 years and has time to be recognized. Jerry Kramer’s credentials are more impressive and the man is 80 years. Guess he has to die before he can be recognized. Seems like people on the Senior Committee have a personal gripe with Kramer. The greatest guard in the NFL’s first 50 years (as voted by a Hall of Fame committee!) is not in the Hall Of Fame. What a joke. The Senior Committee ought to ashamed of themselves.

    • August 15, 2016
      Reply

      Sam, I’ll be honest: Thought Kramer had a great shot. Don’t really understand it, but I wasn’t in room.

  3. Mike Avolio
    August 15, 2016
    Reply

    This is ridiculous. Easley does deserve the HOF, but the rules limiting the nominations to ONE player when there are so many deserving players out there should he changed.

    • August 15, 2016
      Reply

      Mike, when they went to a contributor category, they cut one senior candidate out of every other year. Doesn’t make sense because there are far more deserving seniors than there are contributors. Would like to see that change.

  4. MArk Schneider
    August 15, 2016
    Reply

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Zero Super Bowls and Zero NFL championships and 7 years in NFL?? Jerry Kramer has 5 Won Championships!

  5. Sam Goldenberg
    August 16, 2016
    Reply

    Clark: Thanks for the response. I have nothing against Kenny Easley, he was a terrific player, but his credentials pale in comparison to Jerry Kramer. Kramer was the starting guard selected on the 50th NFL anniversary team, he was all 60’s decade team, all-time 50th Super Bowl Team, 5 NFL Championships and in two of those games made huge plays to enable the Packers to win etc etc etc. Fans are encouraged to write letters of support to the Senior Committee. Kramer fans sent hundreds of letters and at least 30 Hall of Famers endorsed Jerry. 30 Hall of Famers! These are men who played with and against Jerry Kramer. People with first hand knowledge. They know his game a lot better than the people on the Senior Committee. Doesn’t that count for anything? Did the committee even read these items? I am certain that Easley or any other candidate had no where near this level of support. The only reason I can see why Easley was selected is because he was a Seahawk and there are very few, if any, Seahawks in the HOF. However, there are many Packers. This is a terrible reason. The best candidate should be selected in every case based on performance on the field. The Senior Committee members votes (I think Rick and Ron were not voters this year??) should be made public. I hope Rick or Ron would weigh in here.

    • August 16, 2016
      Reply

      Sam, maybe I said this before, but I’ll say it again. The very Hall that put Kramer on its 50th anniversary team and named him the best player at his position is the same Hall that won’t allow him admission. Huh? It makes no sense. If you’re going to put him on your all-star team, then have the conviction to embrace his candidacy.

      • Sam Goldenberg
        August 17, 2016
        Reply

        Totally agree Clark. Hopefully next year for Jerry, but at 80 years old seems like a race against time. I just don’t really understand how the Senior Committee makes its choice. Easley seemed out of blue, even though a fine player. I guess politics plays into these choices just like anything else.

  6. Rasputin
    August 16, 2016
    Reply

    Bad pick, since he’s only recently into the senior pool, when there are several candidates who are equally or more deserving who have been waiting much longer. Easley’s practically a modern era player and with such a short career, one lacking in Super Bowl success, should be considered a borderline candidate anyway. With senior slots reduced it’s more crucial than ever for the committee to nominate actual SENIORS while they’re still able to enjoy induction. I’d guess I’d lean toward voting for his induction, but aside from guys like Chuck Howley (who’s the most deserving senior player), Easley isn’t even the most deserving safety. Cliff Harris and Johnny Robinson were both better players (Lott’s not exactly a student of history) and have been waiting many years longer.
    The Senior Committee failed again. Either back room politics is in play here or these guys are throwing darts at a wall of names blindfolded.

  7. Scott Dochterman
    August 16, 2016
    Reply

    For the last year you guys have lamented that Ken Stabler died before he could get to Canton. There was no greater red-meat HOF candidate for fans than Jerry Kramer. The praise would have been universal had he been selected. In a case of perfect timing, he would have been elected 50 years after Super Bowl I. Shoot, your poll was overwhelming in his favor. I strongly believe Easley should be in the Hall (along with about 50 other veteran candidates) but this almost shows a disconnect between fans and the selection committee. If Kramer dies, then gets in, the committee deservedly will be panned for this. It’s right up there with Ron Santo getting in baseball’s hall just after he died.

  8. Paul
    August 16, 2016
    Reply

    Two other very deserving HOFers disregarded repeatedly as senior candidates for many years are also in poor health and also at risk not living to see the honor: Chuck Howley and Johnny Robinson.

  9. Jeff
    August 16, 2016
    Reply

    I agree that there were better selections than Easley this year (I would take Howley, Robinson, Kramer, Lemar Parrish and others). In any case, he is the nominee, and I feel pretty good about him. I think he deserves it. Seven years or not, he might’ve been the best safety of the 80s. I remember him as a marvelous and probably underrated player who was robbed of a longer career (arguably because of medical incompetence) that likely would’ve made him a first ballot selection. Vote him in and move on! That said, something must be done about the senior pool. Too many great players and too few opportunities for election.

  10. Anonymous
    August 24, 2016
    Reply

    Very deserving choice. 4/5/80s profile and reportedly looks excellent via film study. I can understand the desire to nominate an older candidate, but at least Easley is as deserving as they come.

  11. bachslunch
    August 24, 2016
    Reply

    Excellent choice. 4/5/80s are solid credentials, plus he reportedly looks great via film study. Can understand the wish to nominate an older candidate, but Easley is most deserving.

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