(Photo courtesy of Atlanta Falcons)
Talk of Fame Network
Football has become a game of specialists, and no two were ever better at their specialties than Hall-of-Fame kicker Jan Stenerud and the most dangerous return man in the NFL, Devin Hester. Both visit with Talk of Fame Network radio this weekend to discuss not only their specialties but why it’s time special teams got their Hall-of-Fame due in Canton.
A week ago, Hall-of-Fame head coach Marv Levy, one of the first special teams coaches in NFL history, lobbied hard for a place to be made in Canton for Steve Tasker, who many feel may be the greatest all-around special teams player in history. This weekend Hester makes clear what return man should be the first in his opinion, and it’s a guy who once raced a cheetah at Busch Gardens.
“The way they train the cheetah is they have a machine that pulls a little rat tail back and forth about 40 yards,” Hester recalled. “That’s kind of how they get their conditioning in. So they decided Man vs. Cheetah and they went with two guys in NFL known for their speed. That was me and Chris Johnson.
“They put up like maybe a 20-foot fence and divided the track, gave us the countdown from five. They had it set up like a 40-yard gasser, back and forth. Same thing with the cheetah…and it just kind of turned into a race.”
The cheetah had nothing on Hester, but you’ll have to tune in to find out if he scored that time. You may recall he did score on a return in his first NFL game and returned the opening kickoff in Super Bowl XLI for a 92-yard touchdown, the fastest touchdown in Super Bowl history. Yet Hester tells Talk of Fame Network neither was his most memorable kick return.
Stenerud is the only pure placekicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, gaining entrance in 1991 in his first time as a finalist. Nearly a quarter century later, he still stands alone … but is hoping to soon have some company in Canton.
“It surprises me a little bit,” Stenerud said of no kicker following him into the Hall yet. “I know, of course, 50 years from now, there’s not going to be a lot of kickers in the Hall of Fame. It’s not going to be like quarterbacks or running backs or whatever.
“I became a finalist in 1991. I hadn’t even thought about it hardly. All of a sudden I got a letter from the NFL saying I was one of 15 finalists. I thought ‘My God, football is a game of blocking and tackling, and I didn’t do much of either.’ But I got in my first year. At the time I had the most field goals in the history of football and was second in scoring. Morten Andersen, for example, had the same number of Pro Bowls and about the same number of All-Pro years. Maybe I had a little more impact because I was one of the earliest soccer style kickers.
“Another name that comes to mind is Adam Vinatieri. He’s had a tremendous career plus the fact he made some of the hugest kicks on the biggest stage in all of pro football. So there’s not going to be that many (Hall-of-Fame placekickers), but I expect Morten and Adam to get in there someday.”
In addition to Hester and Stenerud, our Dr. Data, Rick Gosselin, will explain why opponents and college players are not the only things NFL teams scout. They also scout the officials. Rick has the varying numbers of officiating crews that tells the story why.
Rick also States the Case for enshrinement for long-ignored Washington Redskins’ and St. Louis Cardinals’ defensive back Pat Fischer and tells you whether the bespectacled, 5-9, 170 pound Fischer’s aggressive play would survive today’s game; Ron Borges’ weekly Borges or Bogus explores the hotly debated helmet-to-helmet penalty call last weekend on the Patriots’ Brandon Browner and why it was both the wrong call and the right penalty. Ron, Rick and host Clark Judge will also get after it – and each other – in the weekly two-minute drill.