(Lomas Brown photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions)
(Willie McGinest photo courtesy of the New England Patriots)
Talk of Fame Network
With Halloween less than a week away it’s all treats and no tricks on the Talk of Fame Network this week.
Our Talk of Fame guys, Rick Gosselin, Clark Judge and Ron Borges, continue their “Outsiders’’ Hall-of-Fame series with seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Lomas Brown. Brown was one of the deserving players left off this year’s preliminary list of Hall-of-Fame candidates despite having been one of the game’s most dominating left tackles for 18 years.
Only one offensive lineman ever played in or started more than Brown’s 263 games and 251 starts with the Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yet somehow his credentials have never yet been brought up for debate.
“I’m happy whenever an offensive lineman goes in,’’ Brown said of Canton. “I put my numbers up with theirs. Mine are comparable. But you know, without team success you don’t have a lot of individual success. As an offensive lineman those two things go hand-in-hand.’’
Actually, Brown had both individual and team success. He anchored Detroit’s line for 11 seasons and helped transform the Lions into a playoff team that reached the NFC championship game for the first time in 34 years in 1991. They failed to win that day, but seven years later he was the starting left tackle on the first Cardinals’ team to win a playoff game in 50 years.
Two years later, Brown was the starting left tackle on the Giants’ team that reached the Super Bowl in 2000 but failed to win that day. Finally, in his 18th and final season when he was a backup for the only time in his career, Brown won a Super Bowl ring in Tampa.
When he looks back on his long career, Lomas Brown is sure of two things: He did enough to earn a spot in Canton, and the greatest defense he ever faced was one of the first ones he ever saw in the NFL.
“The ’85 Bears,’’ Brown says without hesitation. “Man, come on! Hall of Famers up and down. Nobody had ever seen that 46 defense. All we knew was quarterbacks were getting laid out. That was the greatest defense I ever played against.’’
Speaking of great defenses, 2017 preliminary Hall-of-Fame nominee Willie McGinest certainly played on one. McGinest anchored two generations of New England Patriots’ Super Bowl defenses, first for the Bill Parcells created Super Bowl XXXI that lost to the Green Bay Packers and then for the first three of Bill Belichick’s Super Bowl champions.
By the time he was finished, McGinest had three Super Bowl rings and the most sacks in playoff history — with his 16 surpassing the previous high of 14 by Hall-of-Famer Bruce Smith.
Yet McGinest is considered a longshot for the Hall of Fame because of the team-first philosophy that turned those Patriot teams into champions. Because of that, he believes he and his defensive teammates need to be looked at differently when their Hall-of-Fame worthiness is debated.
“We created something that wasn’t really popular,’’ McGinest told the Talk of Fame Network . “It wasn’t popular to be about team. It’s popular to be about the individual. We bought into team success. That’s what made us so special.
“That should be taken into consideration. I didn’t play to get to the Pro Bowl or the Hall of Fame. I played to win Super Bowls. The Hall of Fame was never in my mind. In our system, your role changed every week. If I was strictly a pass rusher, I would have had 125 sacks, but 25-to-30 per cent of the time the game plan dictated whether I rushed. I did what was best for my team.’’
Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley also dropped in to visit while on his bye week to talk about life with and without Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ Pro Bowl quarterback who will be sidelined several weeks with a knee injury.
Haley admits it’s “a great challenge’’ running the Steelers offense without Roethlisberger, who he insists that, when healthy, “is as good as anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s as good a thrower as I’ve ever seen.’’
There’s that and much more on our weekly two-hour show. It can be found on nearly 100 SB Nation Radio stations as well as on the TuneIn app or by downloading the free podcast at iTunes. The show can also be heard directly on our website at talkoffamenetwork.com.