Search for missing senior HOF candidates; Cromwell recalls Rams’ Super Bowl near-miss

The Talk of Fame Network has long spoken about the alarming depth of Hall of Fame candidates trapped in the depths of the senior pool.

To illustrate that more clearly, co-host Rick Gosselin has begun a five-part series of polls to identify the most deserving senior candidates out of a pool of 10 players. Rick and co-host Ron Borges, who are both not only Hall of Fame voters but members of the Hall’s senior selection committee, spent time in this week’s show discussing some of those “missing’’ Hall of Famers and delving into the possible reasons they seemed to disappear.

One case in point is this week’s State Your Case segment on former Vikings and Charger’ guard Ed White. He was a Pro Bowl player on the run-oriented Vikings and on the pass-happy Chargers. He was named to the anniversary teams of both and selected as one of the 50 greatest Vikings of all-time.

Yet he never once came up for discussion during his 25-years of eligibility. How can this be and why did it happen?

Why are 20 of 22 first-team selections on the 1970 All-Decade team in the Hall while the other two, both Dallas Cowboys, are not? How did Drew Pearson and Cliff Harris slip through the cracks? What of Steelers’ great L.C. Greenwood. And who was the guy whose receiving numbers rival those of HOF tight end Kellen Winslow during the same era…yet has never been discussed by the HOF selection committee?

It all makes for an interesting debate and an exploration in the game’s history. The guys enhance it with an interview with 1980 Defensive Player of the Year, 1980s all-decade safety and four-time Pro Bowler Nolan Cromwell, who also somehow has never been once discussed and has joined the senior pool as well.

Cromwell discusses the culture shock coming from a town of 400 in Kansas to play in Los Angeles in 1977 and how head coach Chuck Knox eased the transition by telling him exactly how he would be developed.

“He told me I’d play special teams my rookie year, (my) second year nickel back to learn the system and by the third year I’d start (at safety),’’ Cromwell recalled. “Things went exactly the way he told me.’’

Cromwell would start for eight consecutive seasons, become one of the dominant safeties of his era and reach the Super Bowl against the Steelers in 1979. Had the Rams been able to hold on to their lead that day perhaps Cromwell’s trip toward Canton would have been easier. But they did not. Although they would not have reached the game without his season-long playmaking, what he remembers most about that day is the play he didn’t make.

“I remember one moment,’’ Cromwell said of an interception he uncharacteristically dropped that day. “I had an opportunity to intercept (Terry Bradshaw) and I didn’t make it. It’s haunted me forever. What if?’’

“What if’’ is a big part of this week’s show as Rick and Ron ask that question about a number of senior candidates. Joining them in the debate are fellow Hall of Fame voters Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald and Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Salguero and Craig focus on the players the fans and the organization they cover feel are most deserving. Salguero says fans support linebacker Zach Thomas, the organization favors perennial Pro Bowl guard and tackle Bob Kuchenberg (who was a six-time finalist) but Salguero leans toward another perennial Pro Bowl selection, left tackle Richmond Webb.

“I know this,’’ Salguero said of Webb, “(Hall of Fame defensive end) Bruce Smith was not too eager to talk about Richmond Webb. Bruce Smith doesn’t like to talk about failure. (Richmond) often got the better of Bruce Smith.’’

Craig says the overwhelming selection in Minnesota would be defensive end Jim Marshall, calling him “Mr. Viking.’’ Marshall made 270 consecutive starts, anchored four Super Bowl teams, collected 100-plus sacks and is in the team’s Ring of Honor.

Craig also thinks because of the election of Terrell Davis, the candidacy of short-term success of Chuck Foreman should be revived. His other favorite is 1980s all-decade safety Joey Browner, who has received very little love from the Committee thus far.

The guys also discuss the odd case of Johnny Manziel. June Jones, his coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League, said Manziel should be playing in the NFL yet has yet to play him in the CFL. Maybe a guy you’ve never heard of, Jeremiah Masoli, has had something to say about that? To find out what and why tune in to your local SB Nation Radio Network station Wednesday nights or you can download the free podcast at iTunes or by using the TuneIn app. You can also access this show and all out past shows and interviews by going to our website,


Previous TOFN "5 Games" podcasts: James Harris lauds Doug Williams and Warren Moon
Next TOFN "5 Games" podcast: James Harris recalls his fondness for the Orange Bowl


  1. Anthony Burr
    June 29, 2018

    Chiefs safety Johnny Robinson is the most deserving candidate for 2019.. While so many of Robinson’s teammates have been enshrined into the Hall of Fame, Robinson remains on the outside looking in. Johnny Robinson was the on field coach and leader of that famous Chiefs’ defense that remains the only defense to lead in all categories that were measurable of any modern Super Bowl team.

    Johnny Robinson’s credentials make you want to go to Canton, kick down the Hall of Fame’s door and clear a spot for his bust yourself.

    Robinson led the NFL in interceptions twice in his career in 1966 and again in 1970, with 10 interceptions in each season. He ended his career with a total of 57 interceptions, the most in Chiefs’ history at retirement, He did all this in only ten years at safety. He played his first two years on offense as a star running back. Simply amazing. One can only imagine if he had played those two extra years on defense too just what his interception record would have been or if he hadnt had a career ending injury in 1971. He was five times the interception leader of the Chiefs. Arguably, the greatest safety in professional history. He was seven-time First Team All-Pro, two-time Second Team All Pro and a seven-time Pro Bowler. That’s nine time All Pro in ten years at his position.

    Johnny Robinson was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s AFL All-Time Team and the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Team of the Decade 1960s. He was named to the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame and to the Chiefs All-Time Team. Robinson was even a postseason monster with five interceptions in three AFL Championship games and a Super Bowl winning all four. He also played in Super Bowl I where he led the team in tackles. His team was 35-1-1 when Robinson made an interception in a game. He can even claim to be a winner at every level, winning three AFL Championships, Super Bowl IV and even a national championship in 1958 at Louisiana State University.

    Despite being hailed as the best of his generation with takeaway totals that still stand strong today, Robinson remains on the outside looking in to Canton. Johnny Robinson is the last member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Combined Team of the Decade 1960s that has not been enshrined yet since Jerry Kramer has been inducted. It is more than time for Johnny Robinson to take his place among his teammates in Canton. He was the simply great, maybe the greatest safety to ever play in any era according to many. I have to say, like others that have commented on Robinson, that when you read the endorsements that other Hall of Fame members that played against him and with him say and watch the video of Hall of Fame member Lance Alworth’s endorsement of him, it is most impressive. When the greatest receiver states that Robinson was the best of the era then you get a feel of the perception that his peers had of Robinson. They all state that he was the greatest in his era and the best they ever saw play. That should be the standard for selection to the Hall of Fame. I recommend for anyone to look at Johnny Robinson’s Facebook page as recommended by others. You will see players, coaches and sports writers’ endorsements of him, in addition to Lance Alworth’s video endorsement. Johnny Robinson deserves it this time after all these years!

  2. Robert
    June 29, 2018

    It’s time for Johnny Robinson. He is way over due. Considering he only played ten years at safety, he has the most impressive career than anyone. His accomplishments are many and the Pro Fooball Hall of Fame has already picked him as the best of his era by naming him to their AFL All Time Team and PFHOF Combined Team of the Decade for the 1960s. In fact, he is now the only player on that team that has not been inducted now that Kramer went in.

    7x First Team / 2x Second Team All Pros and 7x Pro Bowls.
    It’s Johnny Robinson’s time.

  3. Charlie Thomas
    June 29, 2018

    Johnny Robinson – Safety, Kansas City Chiefs (1960-1972)

    Johnny Robinson is one of the greatest safeties, if not the best, to ever play the game. Although Robinson was a nine time All Pro and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame AFL All-Time Team, as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame 1960s Combined Team of the Decade, he is somehow not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was selected to seven Pro Bowls during his career.

    Robinson twice led the league in interceptions and racked up 57 for his career in only ten years as safety. He also had a remarkable 18 career touchdowns. Robinson was a converted running back, and it showed in his dynamic play. When Johnny Robinson intercepted a pass, his teams were 35-1-1.

    He led the Chiefs to three AFL championships and one Super Bowl. In one of Robinson’s most legendary performances, he played in Super Bowl IV with three broken ribs. Always a clutch performer, Robinson had a key fumble recovery and an interception to help seal the game.

    Due to the redefining role Robinson had on the position of safety in modern professional football, it’s absolutely insane that he’s not in the Hall of Fame.

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