The Pro Football Hall of Fame issued its preliminary list of 108 nominees for the Class of 2018 this week, and while first-time nominees Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Steve Hutchinson, Ronde Barber and Brian Urlacher got the most attention, the Talk of Fame Network took a gander at the other end of the spectrum where Roger Craig, Phil Simms, Bill Fralic, Joe Jacoby and Everson Walls each faces his final year of eligibility.
Walls dropped by for a visit and offered a humorous and fascinating story explaining how the only cornerback in NFL history to lead the league in interceptions three times came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent.
He was slow.
Walls explained how Hall-of-Fame cornerback Willie Brown — like Walls, a Grambling graduate — came to scout him for the Raiders and went back and told Al Davis, “You don’t want this dude. He can’t beat our offensive linemen.”
After Walls led the NFL in interceptions with 11 his rookie year in Dallas, he went to the Pro Bowl and was asked by Davis why he hadn’t wanted to play for the Raiders. He later found out in the midst of the first of Wall’s four Pro Bowl seasons that Brown told Davis Walls had not wanted to play in Oakland as an explanation for not signing him.
“That was my second favorite team!’’ Walls said.
Walls also relates his reaction the first time he visited the Hall of Fame in Canton and explains that his basic defensive philosopher was “I became an offender. I took the ball.’’
The TOF also visited with Mike McCarthy — and, no, not the one who coaches the Green Bay Packers but the one helping to start a spring developmental football league next year. A former scout with the San Diego Chargers and once the youngest general manager to win the CFL Grey Cup while running the Toronto Argonauts, McCarthy has been working for several years on Major League Football.
That league is scheduled to kickoff next spring with eight teams and a belief that the NFL needs the kind of developmental league they once had in Europe, which produced 152 players who went on to play in the NFL including — Hall-of-Fame quarterback Kurt Warner.
“Kurt is a perfect example,’’ McCarthy said. “He is the No. 1 guy. (Super Bowl winning quarterback) Brad Johnson is another. It’s at every position. You have to have the opportunity to play.’’
Johnson believes a spring developmental league based primarily in what he calls “football country – the Southeast, Texas and Ohio – is both necessary and timely.
Speaking of timely, long-time Hall-of-Fame voter and Tampa football writer Ira Kaufman visits to tell our listeners how Hurricane Irma effected the Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins. In his mind, both teams will be playing this season at a competitive disadvantage after having their season opener postponed and re-scheduled for their week 11 bye. That means they will be the only two teams to play 16 consecutive weeks, a fact Kaufman sees as unfair.
Hall-of-Fame voter Gary Myers of the New York Daily News also joins the Talk of Fame Network to discuss the Hall-of-Fame candidacy of Simms, who is in his last year of eligibility as a modern-era choice.
There’s all that plus the Two-Minute Drill, a discussion of this year’s Hall-of-Fame longshots and locks and Rick and Ron’s weekly “residential debates.’’ To hear it all, tune in Wednesday night 8-10 pm or on weekends on SB Nation Radio or download the free podcast at iTunes or by using the TuneIn app. You can also hear the show anytime on our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.