State Your Case: Did Richmond Webb block his way to Canton?


Richmond Webb photo courtesy Miami Dolphins

Richmond Webb always understood his primary job during 11 seasons with the Miami Dolphins: Keep Dan Marino in one piece.

“You don’t want to be the guy who gets him hurt,’’ Webb told the Talk of Fame Network. “By the time I got to south Florida, I think he was in his seventh or eighth year, and he was already an icon. You don’t want to be remembered as the guy people say, ‘He’s the guy who got Dan Marino’s career cut short.’ That was something I used as motivation.’’

It certainly worked, both as health insurance for Marino and job insurance for Webb, who would play 11 years in Miami and two injury-plagued seasons with the Bengals before retiring. It was in Miami that he made his mark, going to more consecutive Pro Bowls (7) than any Dolphin in history, including the Hall-of-Fame quarterback he was hired to protect.

A four-time All-Pro and 1990 UPI Rookie of the Year, Webb was selected to the 1990s’ all-decade team in large measure for protecting Marino the way the Secret Service protects the President. A measure of his dominance is that in 14 games against the NFL’s all-time sack leader, Buffalo Bills’ defensive end Bruce Smith, Webb allowed only 3 ½ sacks.

Smith’s 200 career sacks would lead him to the Hall of Fame, but not with much help from Webb.

Yet if Richmond Webb had gotten his way at the Senior Bowl, he might never have played a down at left tackle, the offensive line’s most important position.

When Webb arrived in Mobile, Ala., to begin the week of heavily scouted Senior Bowl workouts, he understood this was a job fair. Here reputations are created or destroyed, and draft decisions are often made. So Webb asked his Senior Bowl head coach, Buddy Ryan, to let him play guard because he played the position for three years at Texas A&M before being switched to left tackle his senior season.

“I was more comfortable at guard,’’ Webb later explained. “You’re dealing with bigger guys inside. They’re more agile and quick on the outside. So your pass set has to be a lot firmer to keep the rushers on the outside to create room in the pocket. But Buddy said, ‘Nah. They want to see you playing left tackle.’ ’’

And play it he did.

Webb became the Dolphins’ first-round pick in 1990 and would start every game that season, beginning a run of 118 consecutive starts on a team that passed the ball 60 per cent of the time. That put immense pressure on Webb, but he was dominant for a decade and a large reason Miami finished in the top four in passing in seven of his first eight seasons and the top two four times.

For most of those seasons, Marino was among the least sacked quarterbacks in the game despite throwing the ball a record number of times. Yet despite a commanding presence at his position for a decade on arguably the most pass-oriented offense in football, Richmond Webb has yet to make it into the Hall-of-Fame debate in his 10 years of eligibility.

Worse, he failed even to make it onto the preliminary ballot of 94 players, an oversight difficult to fathom.

How does one of the four best tackles of his time never get Hall-of-Fame consideration? It beats him, which is something Bruce Smith couldn’t do.

“It’s been on before,’’ he said of missing the preliminary ballot last year. “I try not to focus on that because I’ve seen how it’s really impacted or affected a couple of guys who felt they were deserving to be in there. It kind of eats away at them.

“The way I look at it is: I think my career and my resume speak for themselves. I don’t understand the whole process and how it works, but that’s what kind of gives me confidence. I try not to focus on I should be here or I should be there.

“But if you mention some of the things throughout my career I definitely think I’m worthy. I just don’t know how to get on that list or what the process is or how they determine that. So I just try to keep it moving.’’

That’s the same approach he took to opposing pass rushers. Richmond Webb kept them moving, moving right around Marino, which is why he never had to worry about being known for getting the Hall-of-Fame quarterback hurt. Rather he should be known for having a Hall-of-Fame career himself, whether he ever gets to Canton or not.

“I know there are other guys who are deserving but who haven’t made it to the Hall of Fame,’’ Webb said modestly, “So, if it happens, good. If it doesn’t, I’m good. But in the back of my mind I know I played at that level.

“I know my resume speaks for itself. I don’t sit around and dwell on it and say, ‘Oh man I should have gotten in.’ I’m happy for all my brothers. I’m happy for each guy who makes that achievement. I think that’s the way to approach it, and that’s the way I always have.’’

If you think about it for a minute, isn’t that a Hall-of-Fame approach?

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14 Comments

  1. bachslunch
    March 14, 2017
    Reply

    There are a clutch of OTs all at the edge and worthy of consideration, and Richmond Webb (2/7/90s) is in that group along with Lomas Brown (3/7/none), Chris Hinton (2/7/none), Joe Jacoby (3/4/80s), and Mike Kenn (3/5/none). This upcoming vote is the last chance for Jacoby and Hinton, while Kenn’s is a year later. Webb and Brown have about 10 years left, not that it will likely make much difference for them, unfortunately. Especially when Webb for some mysterious reason has never even made the preliminaries (if memory serves).

    • Jeff
      March 15, 2017
      Reply

      And that’s a solid group – I hope Jacoby sneaks in. Looks like chances are poor for the rest of them, which is unfortunate.

      • March 15, 2017
        Reply

        Jeff, chances of Jacoby sneaking in are not promising. He was a top-10 finalist a year ago but didn’t make the cut to 15 this time. He has one year left, and his candidacy just went in the wrong direction. Bad sign.

    • March 15, 2017
      Reply

      That’s going to change this year. Know we’ve been on board to add guys like him, Neil Smith and La’Roi Glover. All off preliminaries last year. Don’t get it.

  2. luis baldoni
    March 15, 2017
    Reply

    ¨IS THERE ANYONE ONE?!?¨ Ask Bills ´DE Bruce Smith himself? He may have registered 200 some sacks in the league, but past Miami´s LT Richmond Webb while Marino was breaking records every single season of his career, keeping mind, both Bruce and Webb played twice a season, go ahead and ask HOF Bruce Smith himself. Personally, never missed a season while Webb was in Miami, and never, ever, witnessed the formidable Mr. Smith get past Richmond, period!

    • Bobby Mosley
      March 19, 2017
      Reply

      Indeed, Richmond Webb is a class act and had a Hall of Fame career. Anyone with any doubts should just ask Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Dan Marino!

  3. luis baldoni
    March 15, 2017
    Reply

    One last request, as a die-hard Dolphan, in my humble opinión, have Miami´s LT L Tunsil meet with Richmond Webb over a weekend, one on one talk, and gain a word of experience before this upcoming season. Believe me, Tunsil will appreciate it very much. Thank you.

    • Bobby Mosley
      March 19, 2017
      Reply

      That is an awesome idea. Tunsil has the right physical skillset and has come on fast! I would love to see Webb actually mentor Tunsil!

  4. blue Foxy
    March 16, 2017
    Reply

    who won the nfl of the miami dolphins agaisnst any on eelse

  5. March 17, 2017
    Reply

    HOF is a political farce. (T.O. Not getting in this past year is proof) I had just assumed Webb was in, he owned Smith compared to other left tackles Smith faced in the AFC East. The alleged measures of numbers, pro bowls , relevance to ones era and he is a lock. There are players in the HOA who just happened to be on championship teams at the right time whose numbers are average for their era. Take writers out of the voting.

    • March 18, 2017
      Reply

      Couldn’t disagree more, and don’t get me started on this T.O. stuff. Drew Pearson hasn’t even been discussed and he was a first-team all-decade choice. Billy Howton retired as the game’s leading receiver in catches and yards, and I don’t hear anyone talking about him. Or Charlie Henningan. Or Henry Ellard. Or Harold Carmichael. Or Otis Taylor. Or Lionel Taylor. Or Mac Speedie, Ed Sprinkle or Boyd Dowler. Latest is not necessarily the greatest, especially here. There are many others who are in line ahead of Terrell Owens, but who have been forgotten. And politics has nothing to do with it. Voters from past decades simply ignored or forgot them. It took Bob Hayes 29 years to get in to the Hall for crying out loud, and he changed the game. But the bottom line is that it got it right. Hayes was voted it. Webb is deserving of discussion, but so, too, are Joe Jacoby, Winston Hill, Mike Kenn, Chris Hinton, Jimbo Covert, Lomas Brown and others. There are too many qualified candidates for not enough spots.

      • Bobby Mosley
        March 19, 2017
        Reply

        I am not going to engage in the T.O. debate. My comment is solely in reference to Richmond Webb.
        Richmond Webb was one of the best to play his position and should already be in the Hall of Fame. Not maybe, not “deserving of consideration”. He should already be there period.

  6. Jo
    March 18, 2017
    Reply

    Webb should have been in already. GO DOLPHINS.

    • Bobby Mosley
      March 19, 2017
      Reply

      Amen!

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