“Mean’’ Joe Greene was anything but on this week’s Talk of Fame Network show on SB Nation when he shared his advice to mercurial Terrell Owens.
Owens last week announced he would become the first living Pro Football Hall of Fame selection not to attend his induction ceremony, announcing he would celebrate elsewhere. He gave no further explanation but for years he lambasted the Hall and its voters when he was not inducted until his third year of eligibility.
That is nothing unusual. Some of pro football’s greatest players have had to wait far longer including his fellow inductee this year, Jerry Kramer. Kramer was named the ONLY guard on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team yet had to wait 44 years himself from the first time he was a finalist to finally gain induction as a senior committee nominee on his 11th try.
Greene acknowledged both Kramer’s long overdue induction and Owens’ decision not to attend and said if he had the opportunity he would tell Owens, “You are missing one of the most important days of your life. It’s for those people who saw you before you became that big NFL star. The thing you learn when you walk up there (to receive your Hall of Fame bust) is it’s not all about you.’’
Greene added that he wished Owens also understood that “the fraternity of players (which is barely one per cent of all the players who ever played pro football) were all probably fans of yours. They had nothing to do with what you think the Hall of Fame has against you.’’
Good advice from a guy as wise today as he was “mean’’ during his playing days.
Greene also argued for the induction of his former Steelers’ teammate Andy Russell, who was a star linebacker on the early Pittsburgh teams that struggled so mightily before the Steel Curtain was created and then played a foundational role in two of that teams four Super Bowl victories.
Also visiting is Washington Redskins’ head coach Jay Gruden, who is the latest in our annual off-season visits with head coaches around the league. The younger brother of Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden, Jay won six Arena League championships as a quarterback and coach before beginning his NFL coaching career.
Coaching in the highly competitive NFC East, which now houses the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, is a difficult task but one Gruden welcomes. He feels the same way about the arrival of his new quarterback, veteran Alex Smith, after Kirk Cousins opted to leave in free agency.
“I don’t know if it changes a whole lot (of the Redskins’ offense),’’ Gruden said of changing quarterbacks. “We’re adjusting to his playing style. Alex can do more with his mobility.’’
Whatever Gruden asks of Smith and his team much of it will be built, he says, on the offensive foundation he learned working as an assistant in Tampa with his brother.
“Everything I’ve done is from Jon,’’ Gruden said. “The bread and butter. That 2008 Buccaneer playbook is the Bible.’’
Joining Greene and Gruden is long-time Hall of Fame voter John Czarnecki who is the latest in our series of voters asked to nominate the most deserving player on a team he covers not in the Hall. Czarnecki, who spent many years covering the Los Angeles Rams, nominated wide receiver Henry Ellard.
“For 13 straight years he led his team in receptions,’’ Czarnecki said. “He was automatic on third down. Much of his career he was the only guy they could throw it to. They had no one else and they still couldn’t cover him.’’
Czarnecki also mentioned six-time Pro Bowl guard Dennis Harrah and safety Nolan Cromwell as players deserving of both recognition and a Hall of Fame debate.
Co-host Clark Judge states the case for Chuck Knox, who he believes has Hall of Fame credentials. Our resident Dr. Data, Rick Gosselin, argues that the Eagles have a strong chance to do the near-impossible, repeat as Super Bowl champions. Rick points out the Eagles won without their starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, for the final three games and throughout the playoffs but also were without starting left tackle and middle linebacker and will be strengthened by their returns to health. Will that be enough to allow the Eagles to become the first back-to-back Super Bowl winners since 2004? Rick thinks so.
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