State Your Case: Why Lee Roy Jordan belongs in the Hall


Photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys of 1966-78 were one of the most successful teams ever assembled.

Those Cowboys of Tom Landry advanced to the playoffs 12 times in 13 seasons, won 10 NFC East titles and played in nine NFC championship games. They won five NFC titles but only two Super Bowls.

There were two heart-breaking losses to Green Bay in NFL title games in 1966 and 1967. The Packers escaped with a 34-27 victory at the Cotton Bowl when Don Meredith threw an interception from the Green Bay 2 in the final moments. The Packers escaped the Ice Bowl with a 21-17 victory at Lambeau Field the following season on a quarterback sneak by Hall-of-Famer Bart Starr for a touchdown in the closing seconds.

Then there was the 16-13 Super Bowl loss to the Colts in 1971 when Jim O’Brien kicked the game-winning a 32-yard field goal, again in the closing seconds. There also were two Super Bowl losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers, one in 1976 and the other in 1978. The 1976 loss came by a 21-17 score with the Cowboys in the Pittsburgh end of the field throwing into the end zone on the final play looking to steal a victory. The 1978 loss was again competitive with the Cowboys again coming out on the short end, 35-31. Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith dropped a touchdown pass in the Pittsburgh end zone in that game.

“We lost a couple to Green Bay that could have been our Super Bowls and our championships,” Cowboys middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan said. “We lost a couple to Pittsburgh that could have been our Super Bowls and our championships. We made them (Steelers) the team of the century.”

And to the victor go the spoils. The Steelers have nine players enshrined in the Hall of Fame from a team that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. The Cowboys have seven players enshrined from that era – and two of them collected their busts as senior candidate after-thoughts (Bob Hayes and Rayfield Wright).

Had the Cowboys won one of those two evenly-played Green Bay games and/or one of those two evenly-played Pittsburgh games, they’d undoubtedly would have a more sizable contingent in Canton.

Wide receiver Drew Pearson and safety Cliff Harris are the only two members of the 1970s NFL all-decade first team not enshrined in Canton. Second-team all-decade performers OT Ralph Neely and DE Harvey Martin have never been discussed as finalists, and linebackers Chuck Howley and Jordan also deserved better fates.

Jordan was a great college player who became a great pro player. He was a first-team All-America at Alabama in 1962 who was named the MVP of the Orange Bowl in his final college game when he made 31 tackles against Oklahoma. He became the sixth overall pick of the 1963 draft by the Cowboys and that summer played on the College All-Star team that upset the world-champion Green Bay Packers.

Jordan stepped in at weakside linebacker for the Cowboys as a rookie and then moved to the middle in 1966 after Jerry Tubbs retired. Jordan went to five Pro Bowls and retired as the franchise’s all-time leading tackler with 1,236 in his 14-year career. He also came up with a whopping 50 takeaways on 32 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries. Ray Lewis is the only middle linebacker in NFL history with more career takeaways (51).

Jordan once intercepted three Ken Anderson passes in one quarter.

“I was always hustling to be around the ball, being there when things happened, being close enough to make a reaction – to jump on a fumble or clean up on a tackle,” Jordan said. “Being in the vicinity to help my teammates make plays was always the most important thing to me.”

What’s most impressive about Jordan’s productivity is his size – or lack of it. He stood in the middle of the Dallas “Doomsday” defense at just 6-1, 220 pounds — hardly the prototype in an era when Hall-of-Famers Dick Butkus was playing at 245 and Ray Nitschke at 235. Yet Jordan was the leading tackler on units that led the NFL in run defense five times in seven seasons (1966-72) and led the NFC an additional time (1971). And that was during an era when football was played on the ground, not in the air.

“Our run defense was the catalyst to our success,” Jordan said. “That was our primary goal every week, every season – stop the run — because it was a much more of a running league back then than it has been the last 25-30 years. We took great pride in shutting down and controlling some of the great runners in the league.”

And the Cowboys were successful, winning 66.1 percent of their games during the Jordan era. But he had the misfortune of having a career that ran almost concurrently with that of Butkus. It’s difficult to make Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams when Butkus was penciled in as the NFL/NFC middle linebacker every year from 1965-72.

Twice Butkus was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, and he was voted to the NFL all-decade teams of both the 1960s and 1970s. Twice Jordan intercepted six passes in a single season, the final time in 1975 on a Super Bowl team. And he didn’t even make the Pro Bowl that season.

The presence of Butkus and Nitschke didn’t leave much acclaim for the other talented middle linebackers of that era. Tommy Nobis, Bill Bergey, Mike Curtis and Jordan all were multiple Pro Bowl selections who remain on the outside looking in at Canton. Jordan has been enshrined in the College Hall of Fame, however.

“I’ve tied myself to college football more strongly and identified with it more than I do with the pros,” Jordan said. “The NFL seems to be driven a lot more on individual accomplishments. The colleges are the old `team’ concept. When the team wins, everybody wins. Sometimes it’s not quite that way in the pros any more.”

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51 Comments

  1. February 28, 2017
    Reply

    Yes – Lee Roy Jordon deserves to be in the HOF , I think Randy Gradishar should get in 1st though. Easley getting in this year as a senior candidate was a slap in the face to both these guy’s , Easley had a shortened career and was never a HOF finalist and played after both these guys. It makes you really , really wonder about the Senior Committee.

    • bachslunch
      February 28, 2017
      Reply

      I don’t agree that Easley’s getting elected was a “slap in the face” to anyone. He was arguably the best safety not in (4/5/80s and reportedly looks excellent via film study) — and at a position that is badly under-represented in the HoF, which is not the case with MLBs from the 60s-70s. Short career or no, I think he was very highly deserving.

      I too wonder about the Senior Committees nominations in many instances lately (Goldberg, E. Thomas, Stabler, Little, LeBeau), but not in this case.

      • Joseph Wright
        February 28, 2017
        Reply

        What’s questionable about Stabler? It’s questionable that he did not get in earlier–definitely earlier than Bob Griese, who was GIVEN Stabler’s spot in 1990. Great used car salesman job, Edwin Pope!

        • bachslunch
          February 28, 2017
          Reply

          Stabler’s stats adjusted for era in rankings I’ve seen are below what’s considered usual HoF level — unless you have 2 or more title wins (Layne, Griese, Bradshaw) — with the sole exception of Namath, who arguably has more narrative stuck to his candidacy than anyone, and isn’t a good HoF choice either. Stabler’s one title and level of adjusted stats are about at the level of Joe Theismann and Charlie Conerley, who nobody’s breaking down the door to induct.

          • February 28, 2017

            If you don’t think Namatah belongs in HOF you don’t understand what an HOF is. Namath was not only a great QB and winner of the mot important SB yet played, he was a historic figure whose signing kept the AFL in business and ultimately beganthe process of forcing the merger. History, and your importance to it, counts.

          • Joseph Wright
            February 28, 2017

            Don’t sweat it, RB. This guy probably thinks Wes Welker was better than Paul Warfield, even with the “era-adjusted numbers.” LMAO,SMH.

          • Joseph Wright
            February 28, 2017

            I can see you read the Cliff Notes (On-Paper Statistics: Lazy Man’s Observation) of Stabler’s career. Try reading the whole book and every chapter next time. Theismann nor Connerly have any history-making highlights in the NFL Film library. Stabler has several (No, Theismann’s career-ending play at the hands of Lawrence Taylor doesn’t count). Reply to me on my email, because after all, this is L.R. Jordan’s story not Snake’s.

        • February 28, 2017
          Reply

          Nothing. Not one thing.

  2. bachslunch
    February 28, 2017
    Reply

    Agreed that Lee Roy Jordan (2/5/none) has a case about like Tommy Nobis’s (2/5/60s), though he does have more career length than Nobis. I agree that both should wait for Randy Gradishar (4/7/none) to get in first. Also think more OLBs from the era need to be elected first (Howley, Baughan, and Brazile for sure, maybe also Fortunato, Grantham, and Forester) as that position is still not well represented in the HoF and MLB is heavily so. Would be fine with Jordan and Nobis getting in if that happens.

  3. February 28, 2017
    Reply

    Yes , Easley deserved to get in the HOF , Yes the safety position is vastly under represented , But No way No how should he have gotten into the HOF before Randy Gradishar period!!!!! The fact that the Broncos are still waiting for that 1st Defensive Player to get into the HOF is amazing beyond words after (8 SB’s) Gradishar should have never had to wait to be a Senior Candidate period!!! He should have made it in Long , Long Ago!

    • bachslunch
      February 28, 2017
      Reply

      If the overriding criterion is to get in the deserving Senior candidate who has been waiting the longest, the top 7 biggest player injustices would more or less be in descending order: Lavvie Dilweg, Duke Slater, Verne Lewellen, Ox Emerson, Mac Speedie, Al Wistert, and Riley Matheson. All have strong HoF cases and played back in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.

      But definitely agree that Gradishar should have been elected long ago. There are just way too many deserving Seniors out there.

  4. bachslunch
    February 28, 2017
    Reply

    Ron: Re Namath, there’s no question his HoF case is very heavily narrative based, maybe more so than any other member of the PFHoF. I’m a big Hall guy, but I’m not sold on the notion that narrative should push a player into the HoF if his more tangible arguments aren’t especially strong. Not everybody sees it that way, of course. By numbers adjusted for era, Namath’s regular season stats just aren’t especially impressive. He only won one title, but it was indeed the one that established the AFL as on a par with the NFL. Is it enough to make up the difference? Perhaps, but not sure on that one.

    Sure, I can see why he’s in. But there’s also a reasonable argument to make that says he wasn’t an especially strong choice.

    • Joseph Wright
      March 1, 2017
      Reply

      “Numbers,” “Numbers,” “Numbers.” It is the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame. SMH.

      • bachslunch
        March 1, 2017
        Reply

        Joseph, it’s not clear to me what you think HoF induction criteria should be. I prefer to use objective means, and prefer a combination of

        -postseason honors, especially for non skill positions (1st team all pro selections/pro bowls/all decade teams)
        -stats used in good context for skill position players
        -good quality film study like that found at Ken Crippen’s website, if available

        for this purpose.

        Just curious: are you a Raiders fan?

        • Joseph Wright
          March 1, 2017
          Reply

          My criteria is this: There are four standards that are in play to be a Hall of Famer. If you can meet two of the four you are a HOFer.

          Criteria 1) Was Player X a standard bearer? Was he considered the best or in the argument for being the best in the league? Did he lead the league in a favorable category(s) significant to his position (In the case of receivers, multiple times)? Did he establish records? Did those records stand for at least five years, are you listening Art Monk (If the record falls a season later, that’s an indictment–BIG TIME. Are you listening, Cris Carter)? Was he a DOMINATOR en route to his career numbers (milestones were accomplished in 10-12 years: Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Walter Payton, Reggie White) or was he an ACCUMULATOR (milestones reached because he stayed WAY past his prime–Emmitt and Bruce Smith, Vinny Testaverde) to acquire numbers greater than TRUE all-time greats. For Dominators, think Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, O.J. Simpson, Walter Payton, Reggie White, Dan Marino, Eric Dickerson, “Night Train” Lane, Lester Hayes, Mark Gastineau.

          Criteria 2) Was Player X a revolutionary? Did he change the way the game or his position was played? Did he influence future generations of great players by his new style of play? Were rules changed because of his dominance? Think Gale Sayers, Fran Tarkenton, “Deacon” Jones, Lawrence Taylor, Randall Cunningham, Jack Tatum, Joe Namath, Lynn Swann, Lester Hayes.

          Criteria 3) Impact on playoff history. Did Player X have a memorable playoff moment/game/play that helped his team win? Did he turn the balance of power or dethrone a defending champion with his play in a playoff game? Was he a key, vital contributor to championship teams? Was he clutch? Think Jerry Kramer, Joe Namath, Ken Stabler, L.C. Greenwood, Dave Casper, Kellen Winslow, Lester Hayes, Dwight Clark, Drew Pearson, Joe Jacoby, Art Shell, Lynn Swann.

          Criteria 4) Honors. How many times was he named All-Pro? How many Pro Bowls was he voted into by his peers and coaches throughout the league (Yes, I understand. Last-minute Pro Bowl invitations don’t count. Sorry, Mike Boryla)? How many League MVPs or nationally respected awards did he receive? Think Joe Greene, Merlin Olsen, Ken Stabler, Lester Hayes, Randall Cunningham, Mark Gastineau.

          Yes, I am a Raiders fan. But Steeler players, management, and fans pushed for Stabler to be in the Hall as well as Roger Staubach, Jack Youngblood, and Nick Bontaconti–BEFORE he died. Notice how Lester Hayes meets all four criteria? Does Aeneas Williams even meet my two criteria minimum? As you well know, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus meet three. They never made the playoffs. This also works for basketball, baseball, and hockey.

          • Rasputin
            March 1, 2017

            Emmitt Smith won 4 rushing titles, 3 Super Bowls, a Super Bowl MVP, and an NFL MVP in his first 6 seasons (the great Payton won one rushing title, for the record), and had set the single season rushing TD record. He would have still been a dominating, “TRUE all-time great” if he had retired in 1999 after 10 years with 13,963 rushing yards, 16,691 yards from scrimmage, and 147 TDs.

            Bruce Smith may not have been the greatest pass rusher of all time, but he was selected first team AP All Pro 8 times, so apparently those voters, rightly or wrongly, thought he was in the argument for best at his position for a good stretch long before he set the career sack record.

            I’m glad you’ve decided that numbers are useful to consider after all (among other things), but don’t just narrowly zone in on a single metric like that and assume those guys’ cases for greatness rest entirely on those famous career records.

            PS – Emmitt Smith even inspired a rule change about ripping your helmet off on the field, lol, which sort of meets your #2 if you consider that a less dominant player wouldn’t have had the profile or huge number of opportunities to celebrate triumph (especially after TDs).

          • bachslunch
            March 2, 2017

            Lots to talk about. First, it looks like we fully agree on postseason honors (all-pro, all decade, etc.). And as Rasputin rightly pointed out, it looks like you do indeed make use of stats, so there is some overlap on the “standard bearer” issue. But we disagree otherwise.

            I do not subscribe to the notion of things like signature plays, because there’s too much subjectivity involved and the potential for bias and PR influence is great. And I tread very cautiously with things like revolutionary status. For me, it’s at most an enhancer for someone who I think already is HoF worthy. In fact, there are several so-called revolutionary players for whom I’m not sure that term correctly applies. Examples: Lawrence Taylor was very likely the greatest pass rushing OLB ever, but as the example of Robert Brazile shows, he wasn’t the first example, nor was he even the first with a good HoF argument. Fred Dean is in the HoF primarily because of his supposedly revolutionary status as an “Elephant” dedicated pass rusher, when in fact several players preceded him in this role (Cedrick Hardman, Claude Humphrey, Pat Toomay, Tony McGee) without the fancy term label. Any argument touting Jack Tatum’s DB hard hits as revolutionary need only look back to Dick Lane as a clear precursor, plus Cliff Harris was as hard hitting as any safety and was an exact contemporary of Tatum. And Bob Hayes was not the first speed-burner receiver in NFL history (see Harlon Hill and Ray Renfro), nor was the zone defense created to stop him (Steve Owens’s umbrella defense, created to counteract the Browns passing attack, is a zone defense in all but name). If I learned nothing else from the example of Bill James, it’s that it’s wise to examine one’s assumptions with care and be ready to revise your thinking if merited. Sometimes it is.

            I also do not weigh postseason play heavily into HoF cases except where the Hall has set precedents for its use, specifically for QBs with less than elite stats who get a boost in with multiple championships (Layne, Griese, Bradshaw qualify). Non QBs with such a boost are rare and vary by position: Terrell Owens, Lynn Swann, maybe Charles Haley. Plus there were several fine players who played on mediocre to bad teams and got little to no chance in the playoffs: Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Roger Wehrli, Dan Dierdorf, Aeneas Williams, Morten Andersen, and Claude Humphrey among them. Unfortunately, you can’t choose your teammates, and if a player is otherwise qualified, I see no reason to hold it against them.

            I’m also not a fan of crowd sourcing who should and should not get into the HoF (re the Steeler/Stabler mention). Some fandoms are notoriously aggressive about pushing players from their teams at the expense of others just as or more qualified, plus I’m not convinced most folks possess good knowledge in this area or have the discipline to obtain it. There’s no better example than Jim Marshall, who has been heavily pushed by several folks for years as a gross HoF oversight when he’s nothing of the sort.

            Also not sold on the idea that a player holding a career record must have it stand for a long time to merit HoF worth. Again, you can’t control what happens after you retire. And if staying past one’s prime matters a lot in HoF arguments, how do you reconcile inducting Ken Stabler given his play with Houston and New Orleans? By the way, I agree that Vinny Testaverde has no business in the HoF; his stats adjusted for era are lousy.

            Re Lester Hayes, I’m okay if he gets in but not convinced it’s a crime against humanity if he’s left out. He did play at a very high level for a few years (1980 in particular), but his honors are a little thin at 2/5/80s, plus his best level of play coincided with his stickum use. For me the biggest CB Senior snubs are Lemar Parrish (3/8/none and a fine KR) and ex-Raider Dave Grayson (6/6/allAFL and also a solid KR), with Abe Woodson (4/5/none), Bobby Boyd (4/2/60s), Louis Wright (4/4/70s), and Hayes also in the mix.

            And in case you think I’m anti-Raiders or something, consider that I think both Grayson and Cliff Branch are highly HoF deserving, with Hayes and Todd Christensen deserving of a look as well.

            More as time allows.

          • Joseph Wright
            March 2, 2017

            A) Revolutionists are absolutely important because they effected change and influenced the play and players you see today. LT had a much huger impact than Robert Brazile on outside linebacker play. Are you going to tell me Andre Tippett, Derrick Thomas and Pat Swilling came out of Robert Brazile? Really? BTW, to heck with this reply board’s original intent–Lee Roy Jordan’s NEVER getting into the Hall of Fame. As for Tatum vs. Cliff Harris, Tatum was definitely a revolutionary in that he was a defensive back who was compared to linebackers for his ferocious hitting. He was feared by fullbacks and tight ends. The litmus test is Lynn Swann. The Steelers’ receiver ran free, smashed Super Bowl records, and won games with Cliff Harris in the Cowboys’ secondary. He treaded cautiously, heard footsteps and was virtually a non-factor in playoff games vs Jack Tatum and the Raiders secondary.

            B) “I also do not weigh postseason play heavily into HoF cases.” OH, MY GOODNESS! Get this man out of the room–NOW! Post season performances often (obviously, not always) separates the great (Stabler, Swann, Drew Pearson, Joe Greene, Reggie White, Ray Lewis, Lester Hayes) from the others. Without the postseason, you would not have documentation of who the great teams and, ultimately, the great players were. If you read my criteria again, it says “Impact on Playoff History” (Stabler, Swann, Winslow, Ray Lewis, Lester Hayes), not “being there” (Griese, Jim McMahon, Art Monk, Jim Mandich, Lee Roy Jordan, Larry Brown–the fake Super Bowl MVP means nothing to me). Re: Players on bad teams. Remember, I said if Player X matches 2 of the 4 criteria, he’s in. Player X won’t be penalized if his performance was high-quality (Sayers, Butkus, Simpson, Barry Sanders, Gary Barbaro).

            C) Length of time record stands. The longer a record stands shows how high Player X set the bar (Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Night Train Lane–14 INTs in one season, Dickerson’s 2,105 yards in one season). In 1994, the NFL puts restrictions on the bump-and-run rules, Cris Carter catches 122 passes in 1994, then Herman Moore catches 123 the very next year and I’m supposed to call CC’s performance “great?” Please. And, no, I’m not saying Timmie Smith should be in the HOF because his 206 rushing yards in the Super Bowl record still stands 30 years later.

            D) The Lester Hayes debate has always fascinated me. He was elected to–by his peers and opposing coaches–five consecutive Pro Bowls and during that time in the ’80s was considered by many–not just Raiders fans–the best coverage man in all of football. Deion Sanders claims him as an inspiration. Yet he is knocked because he wore stickum, which was LEGAL at the time. Clarification: Hayes had 19 INTS in 21 games in 1980-81 (regular season, postseason, Pro Bowl). In the immediate off-season the substance was banned–and he made four more consecutive Pro Bowls. What’s more, he gained an ally in Mike Haynes and spearheaded (with Marcus Allen on offense) another Super Bowl run, shutting down Art Monk (1 catch) without the sticky stuff on football’s biggest stage. Fred Biletnikoff (who introduced Hayes to stickum) is revered for wearing the sticky stuff (for his entire career, by the way) AND his pass catching while Hayes is almost reviled for wearing stickum and his coverage is looked at cynically. When the sticky stuff was banned, he continued to shut down his side and dominate. And to be fair, the INTs came down not only because he was without stickum but because QBs were reluctant to throw his way–like Night Train Lane. Biletnikoff and Hayes both used stickum legally: One to catch passes, the other to pick them off. What’s the difference? The motives and actions are interchangeable. Right?

            E) Great players playing past their prime happens all the time (Namath, Stabler, Favre, Rice). These players, if they have established them (within or near their prime), may even pad their record (Walter Payton, Rice, Favre). I have no problem with that because it is THEIR record to pad. What I don’t like is when players play WAY past their prime to break a record or move into the top ten or five (Bruce Smith, Emmitt Smith, Vinny Testaverde). That bastardizes the narrative of the game’s history and younger people who are given the keys to sustain the chronicling of the game may give undeserved anointing to someone unworthy. Don’t you remember, two years ago when Testaverde was ridiculously nominated for the Hall of Fame. No doubt because some uninformed kid looked at the “numbers” and saw that he threw two more TD passes than Joe Montana. “Wow, he must have been great.” Jeez!

          • Rasputin
            March 2, 2017

            The 1977 Broncos passed for 217 yards in beating the Raiders in the AFC Championship game. Dallas held them to 35 yards passing in the Super Bowl. Cliff Harris knocked Rick Upchurch unconscious that game, something he did to a lot of receivers over the years, so I’m unimpressed with your cherry-picked “litmus test”. HoF safety Larry Wilson said, “I feel Harris is the finest free safety in the business today. He changed the way the position is being played. You see other teams modeling their free safeties around the way Harris plays the pass, and striking fear in everyone on the field because he hits so hard.”

            They called him “Captain Crash” for a reason.

          • Joseph Wright
            March 3, 2017

            Cherry-picking? I saw where you got the “testimonial” from Larry Wilson and the undeserved SB XII knockout of Rick Upchurch: http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2015/6/6/8739257/cowboys-midsummer-madness-round-one-cliff-harris-vs-nate-newton. A fan reply? How weak are you? For the record, it was “Hollywood” Henderson who knocked him out, not Harris. In the Sports Illustrated 1984 NFL Preview issue, former Broncos assistant coach Myrel Moore recalled the time when Upchurch was asked to run a slant pattern against the Raiders and the receiver replied, “Uh-uh. I’m not going in there,” because of Jack Tatum. Additionally, Tatum among other things once KO’ed nine players in one season–documented by both Who’s Who in Football (1974) and The Complete Handbook of Pro Football (1978). “Captain Crash” was a Cowboys nickname (local). “The Assassin” was Tatum’s NATIONAL nickname. Ronnie Lott, Ken Easley, and Steve Atwater were inspired by Jack Tatum. In fact, Atwater’s nickname was “The Smiling Assassin.” Tatum impacted the game FAR more than Cliff Harris. His omission from the ’70s All-Decade Team is purely political (Raiders association; unfortunate paralysis of Darryl Stingley).

          • bachslunch
            March 3, 2017

            So let’s see. Bruce Smith and Emmitt Smith do not deserve to be in the HoF because they played a few years past their prime, while Walter Payton and Brett Favre do even though they also played a few years past their prime — and how well they played before their decline phase apparently doesn’t matter because one was padding his own record while the others were chasing one. Jack Tatum is an innovator and revolutionary because he was a hard hitting DB, even though Dick Lane preceded him and Cliff Harris was his nearly exact contemporary. This is precisely why I do not like using subjective criteria of this sort as an important part of deciding PFHoF worth. It’s far too easy to do this kind of intellectual fudging and justify it as legitimate.

            And if we’re talking “revolutionary,” I think one can certainly argue that Robert Brazile is and Lawrence Taylor is not. The OED definition of the word is “radically new or innovative; outside or beyond established procedure, principles, etc.” and there’s no question both players were accomplished pass rushing OLBs and that Brazile’s career predates Taylor’s. The point was “revolutionary,” not “greatest ever,” which I think we can all agree Taylor was (I’m certainly happy to substitute someone for Brazile who had such a role before he did, if someone like that exists – feel free). To say otherwise is to ignore NFL history and confuse the two terms. In fact, not all “revolutionaries” are even in the HoF nor do they deserve to be; best I can tell, Harlon Hill was the first real speed-merchant WR in the NFL, but injuries regrettably cut his Hall-bound career short.

            Re playoff success and the HoF: as said before, this has never consistently been a deal-breaker in either direction from membership except perhaps the QBs I mentioned earlier. In fact, better than one-quarter of HoF QBs never won a title (Tittle, Tarkenton, Jurgensen, Fouts, Moon, Marino, Kelly). Sure, plenty of HoFers were excellent in the playoffs, but they got in because of their regular season play and irrespective of their postseason play, except for the six examples I listed earlier. If you don’t like it, feel free to bring it up with the HoF, but that’s clearly been their practice.

            Re Hayes: his honors profile is 2/5/80s, which is actually kind of thin compared to other HoF DBs — though like I said, I won’t complain too awful much if he gets in. I’d have to research it, but I don’t remember there being too many HoF DBs who went to five or fewer pro bowls or had two or fewer 1st team all pro selections. In fact, those honors are closer to DB HoF mistakes Emmitt Thomas (2/5/none) and Dick LeBeau (0/3/none) than anyone else. I would also like to see confirmation (that is, good quality documented film study evidence) that Hayes was the best cover corner of his time, especially since he was a contemporary of Mike Haynes. Maybe he was, but given some of the eccentric positions you have, I’m very reluctant to take your word for it.

            Fact is, the Joseph Wright Pro Football Hall of Fame is welcome to have whatever standards it wants. But given its membership, the PFHoF’s standards in Canton don’t necessarily coincide with yours.

            More as time allows.

          • Joseph Wright
            March 3, 2017

            Like an ant at a nudist colony, I don’t know where to begin. Bruce Smith was essentially Dexter Manley with a bigger mouth (and that’s saying A LOT!) playing in a weak AFC. So he got to be the “big fish in a small pond.” When he was matched up against the NFC East offensive lines in four straight Super Bowl losses, BS–appropriate initials–was exposed BIG TIME. These were OLs that Reggie White consistently dominated, against the pass AND the run, on a yearly basis with the Philadelphia Eagles. Four consecutive times, Smith was knocked on his backside, flat on his back, all the while lying to anyone who would listen, saying he was better than Reggie White. Then, he stays five years after White retires to get the sacks he needs to “break” the record. Disgraceful. Thankfully, people outside of Buffalo aren’t buying into, dare I say it, BS.

            Emmitt Smith was a functional running back benefiting from a great, overpowering OL. Put Herschel Walker or Barry Sanders in that spot and the Cowboys have the same success–or better. And Payton’s record falls years before Emmitt turned the trick.

            Revolutionary is one who is radically different and influences change that becomes standard. Lawrence Taylor did that. Robert Brazile did not. No one ever said “Lawrence Taylor is another Robert Brazile.” Robert Brazile was not revolutionary, or even a pioneer. The first Pro Bowl blitzing LB was Dave Robinson with the Packers but he–nor Brazile– didn’t open the floodgates for blitzing LBs like LT did.

            Night Train Lane was a hard-hitting corner but he is more noted as a revolutionary, shutdown corner and pass thief. Tatum opened the floodgates for hard-hitting safeties: Ronnie Lott, Kenny Easley, Steve Atwater, John Lynch, Brian Dawkins, Troy Polamalu etc. You’re telling me those guys came out of…Cliff Harris? OK, ok. And Kam Chancellor comes from Dick Anderson. LOL!! And I’M eccentric?

            Just because Player X was the first doesn’t make him a revolutionary. Pioneer, yes. Revolutionary, no. A pioneer (Dave Robinson) is the first who opposes or is different from a standard (Andy Russell). A revolutionary (LT) changes the standard (Jack Ham) to a new standard (Derrick Thomas).

            In Don Heinrich’s Pro Preview Magazine (a respected football publication that came from NY–that’s the East) that came out from 1981-1993, Heinrich (a former NY Giant backup QB) would rank the top 10 at every position. In the years 1980-84, he ranked Hayes ahead of Haynes four straight years. Yes, Haynes’ time as a top-ranked corner was longer than Hayes’. However, during Hayes’ five-year Pro Bowl run, many people had him ranked as the top corner, higher than even Haynes. As far as the ’80s All-Decade corner rankings are concerned, the HOF writers are covering for their mistake on the ’70s team. The CBs were: Willie Brown, Jimmy Johnson, Louis Wright, and Roger Wherli. NO WAY Wherli was a better ’70s CB than Mel Blount. Ridiculous. And Mel Blount was not as dominant in the ’80s as Lester Hayes. Frank Minnifield getting more ’80s votes than Hayes is absurd.

            My HOF DOES have standards. You just refuse to look at the truth. The four criteria holds up. If a guy meets two of the four, he’s in. Based on “numbers,” impact on playoff history, and honors–thanks to the Great Wall of Dallas– sure, put Emmitt Smith in. Even though Roger Craig, Chuck Foreman, and Edgerrin James were better backs. Same with BS–although L.C. Greenwood, Harvey Martin, and Dexter Manley had greater, more favorable impacts on playoff history.

            By the way, way to duck my stickum question regarding Hayes vs. Biletnikoff.

          • bachslunch
            March 3, 2017

            What about the phrase “More as time allows” don’t you understand? Re stickum use, it was legal during all of Fred Biletnikoff’s career, but was outlawed during Hayes’s playing days, in 1981. In 1980, Hayes was DPOY and named 1st team all pro by five organizations. After that, he was named 1st team all pro by only one organization each over a four year span, in 1981 by Sporting News, 1983 by Pro Football Weekly, and in 1984 by Pro Football Writers. Still good, but a dropoff in level of play nonetheless. And yes, I realize I made a mistake earlier in counting honors for Hayes — that’s 4/5/80s, which is better than I remembered, and makes his a far stronger HoF case. Happy to correct myself when I’m wrong.

            Re Bruce Smith. You’re confusing pro bowls, which are conference limited, and 1st team all pro selections, which can come from anywhere in the NFL. And Smith was named a 1st team all pro nine times. This isn’t Ruben Brown we’re talking, who thanks to being the third best guard in a conference not deep at the position, ended up with honors of 0/9/none. Your description of Smith as “Dexter Manley with a bigger mouth” is indefensible (Manley’s 1/1/none profile is light years behind Smith’s 9/11/80s90s).

            Re the CBs on the all-70s team: if we look at 1st team all pro and pro bowl selections during that decade, the odd man out is definitely not Roger Wehrli. It’s Louis Wright. Numbers: Wehrli (5/7), Brown (4/4), Johnson (3/4), Blount (3/4), Wright (2/2). Wright has the misfortune to straddle his honors evenly across two decades, a problem shared by several players. But I agree, Blount is a better choice for the 70s team than the 80s.

            More as time allows.

          • Rasputin
            March 3, 2017

            LOL! For the record I wrote that “fan reply”, and as you can see it was sourced with a link that at the time led to an article. That website has since changed but you can find the quote online elsewhere, since your point is presumably that it may just be made up. Here are a Dallas Morning News article and 2008 press release:

            http://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboysheadlines/2015/10/30/honor-roll-ex-cowboys-great-darren-woodson-set-enter-ring

            http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=93345

            For you to google that quote and only spend a couple of seconds trying to figure out where I got it before leaping to the wrong conclusion was lazy and weak on your part.

            You’re completely wrong about Super Bowl XII. Harris knocked out Upchurch. Youtube’s time specific linking doesn’t seem to be working today, but skip to 1:54:40 and see it for yourself.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ES28KSI0Cs

            Pat initially wrongly credits Mark Washington with the hit because he was sort of hanging around on the screen at the end, but you can clearly see from the live shot and replay that Harris (#43) delivers the blow by himself and Upchurch is on the ground a while. Thomas Henderson isn’t even in the shot. “Dick Anderson”, lol? Thank you for confirming that you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

            You’re a Raiders fan and a blowhard, but it’s almost endearing that you feel this is just about who “inspired” a couple of kids coming up. Tatum benefited from some of that Raiders hype, no question, but I’m quoting Hall of Fame contemporaries and could add coaches and media analysts, and plenty of kids were inspired by both players.

            Look, no one denied Tatum was a hard hitter, but Harris was a hard hitter AND great in coverage, and has a better claim to that revolutionary combination. He analyzed opponents to find their weaknesses. Harris was more prominent and a better player. Sports Illustrated Paul Zimmerman (Dr Z) called Harris the best hitter/cover combo guy ever.

            http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000212189/article/dallas-cowboys-alltime-underrated-overrated-players

            In fact Harris was the FS on the SI All Time Dream Team in 1997, and is the aforementioned Dr Z’s all time team FS.

            Some bonus for fun:

            “Perhaps what made Harris notorious was his hard-hitting, knockout play for which there were no official statistics. According to Waters, who played in the Cowboys defensive backfield with Harris from 1970-81, the two had a “mystery stat” of how many times Harris knocked out the best opposing player Dallas head coach Tom Landry said the defense had to key on that particular week.

            “We went through it and Cliff’s record was seven games in a row where he would knock out the one player that Coach Landry would put in the game plan and we would have to pay attention and neutralize this player,” Waters said. “Well, Cliff would do a little bit more than neutralize them. He would put them into another zip code.””

            http://www.wfaa.com/sports/cowboys-great-cliff-harris-was-more-than-just-captain-crash/367443015

          • Rasputin
            March 3, 2017

            Your anti-Emmitt Smith comments are even funnier than your faceplants about the safeties. The low brow myths you repeat confirm that you’re just a shallow glance guy who’s actually guilty of some of what you’ve falsely accused Bachslunch of. With the RBs you’re still all about the career yardage “record”….the “numbers” you bemoaned earlier….arguing Smith down by claiming he wouldn’t have that “record” if Sanders had played longer and giving his O-line all the credit. That’s grade school level commentary. But the kicker is when you ludicrously claim guys like Chuck Foreman, Roger Craig, and Edgerrin James were better backs.

            First, Emmitt Smith was the best RB in the country in both high school and college. Did the same offensive line follow him throughout his life? Only one member of the “Great Wall of Dallas” is in the HoF, and Larry Allen didn’t even show up until after Smith had already won 3 rushing titles. Jim Brown’s line was full of HoFers; go look it up. And yet you hypocritically cite him as an “all time great” in supposed contrast to Emmitt Smith.

            Second, while the Cowboys O-line did eventually become great, what did the Great Wall of Dallas accomplish between Walker’s departure and Smith arriving, when most of their pieces were already in place? Answer – not much. Emmitt rushed for almost 1,000 yards as a rookie on a losing team and won his first NFL rushing title the following season.

            What happened in 1993 when Jerry Jones thought like you did and refused to pay Smith what he wanted, prompting a contract hold out? They started 0-2, a fact celebrated by Bills fans with signs after that second game (which would prove hilariously ironic at the season’s end). Poor Derrick Lassic couldn’t do anything behind the “Great Wall of Dallas”. So they signed a deal with Smith, who came in and led them on a long winning streak. He won the rushing title again despite missing the first two games. Then he secured home field advantage in the finale against the Giants when he carried the team despite a separated shoulder. Then, with Aikman still suffering the effects of a concussion, he led the team’s comeback in Super Bowl 28 and was the easy MVP choice for the game. He was also named NFL MVP for the season, and there has never been a clearer choice.

            I actually don’t necessarily completely disagree with you about Sanders. Smith did win 4 rushing titles while he and Sanders were both in their primes (Sanders won once in that span), and Sanders might have declined rapidly after his mid to late 90s burst, so we don’t know for sure, but it’s possible that both of these statements could be true:

            1. Barry Sanders would have the career yardage record if he had played as long as Emmitt Smith.

            2. Emmitt Smith was a better RB than Barry Sanders.

            Emmitt Smith was more physical and consistent than Sanders, especially in his prime. Opposing players talked about how much it hurt to have to tackle him over and over in a game. His most important contributions weren’t those long highlight runs you see on youtube, though he had his share of those, but all those tough 4-8 yard gains he got that kept the chains moving. That’s how your win championships. Standard deviation of gains, though it’s almost never mentioned, should be considered an important complement stat to total yards and even yards per gain. Imagine a RB who gains 150 yards but mostly does it in 8 big carries out of 30 total. That leaves a lot of unproductive plays. His team will be punting a lot. Now imagine a RB who gains 150 yards but gets exactly 5 yards a carry on all 30 carries. If you’re gaining at least 5 yards on every carry your team can’t be stopped, barring a turnover. That’s the value of consistency.

            By contrast Sanders was a home run hitter. He had the sensationalistic highlight runs, but he also holds the NFL career record for negative plays, and his playoff record was dismal while Smith rewrote chunks of the postseason record books.

            The O-line excuse is crap. You’re wrong about the Cowboys doing better with Sanders. He didn’t fit their system as well as Smith. Aside from the fact that Sanders’ line is underrated and included Lomas Brown, a 7 time Pro Bowler, the Lions became a spread team and those open spaces better suited Sanders’ more scat back style. With Sanders instead of Smith maybe the Cowboys win one Super Bowl, but not three.

            Sanders couldn’t have done what Emmitt did in 1993, carrying the team in the brutally strong NFC East against ferocious defenses in a power run system, separated shoulder and all. He couldn’t have been as dominant as Smith routinely was in inclement weather. Of course both Smith and Sanders are all time greats regardless of which one someone prefers, but the others you listed aren’t.

            Maybe you only watched the Cowboys in the late 90s after Smith prolonged his career by altering his playing style, if at all, but at his peak Smith had the best combination of power, balance, agility, and vision any RB ever has. His movement was extremely efficient. He almost never fumbled. He had deceptive speed, which is why he had so many long runs. He was extremely durable. He was also an excellent receiver and the best pass blocking RB I’ve ever seen.

            Regarding the RB/O-line question, as with Jim Brown, it took both being great to accomplish what no one else ever has and possibly never will again. I don’t care how good your O-line is, you don’t dominate the way Emmitt Smith did unless you’re one of the greatest of all time.

          • Rasputin
            March 3, 2017

            My reply correcting your blatant errors on the Cliff Harris subject is “awaiting moderation” because of its links to supporting evidence, Joseph Wright, but stay tuned.

          • Joseph Wright
            March 4, 2017

            I’ll be here waitin’, junior. (YAWN)

          • bachslunch
            March 4, 2017

            Note also that the first pro bowl blitzing OLB doesn’t appear to have been Dave Robinson. In fact, things appear to be more complicated on this question in general. I asked about this at the pfraforum yesterday and got a really good reply from John Turney, as follows:

            “It wasn’t Dave Robinson.

            “Players who got quite a few sacks as OLBs: Wayne Walker, Matt Hazeltine, Chris Hanburger. The thing is, they had varying totals year-to-year. All these were weak side linebackers, and it was a trend in the 1960s to dog that player and all of them were in 4-3 defenses. And really, the “rush backer” is usually associated with 3-4 defenses. The Oilers when they went to the 3-4 did have Brazile in the 2nd year, but in 1984 Ted Washington had 11 sacks. He is the first of the 3-4 LBs to have double digit sacks. In the 4-3 Walker and Hazeltine had double digit sacks at least once. The first OLBer to have a monster year was Joel Williams in 1980 when he had 16. Lawrence Taylor didn’t surpass that until 1984.

            “If you go way back, in the old 5-3 defenses of the 1950s, the DE was more akin to Lawrence Taylor. The best was Len Ford, who was most of the time in a 2-point stance. He was more of a traditional DE when they moved to a 4-3 defense.

            “So it’s not one of those easy answers, it’s looking at the film and seeing similarities in schemes over generations.”

            I think what we’re seeing here is a long running issue containing players of varying degrees of accomplishment as well as different wrinkles on actual expression. And I’d argue that’s true of hard hitting DBs as well as outside pass rushers. To single this or that player out as deserving of special recognition seems arbitrary — Len Ford is a HoFer after all and I don’t see that he’s undeserving.

          • bachslunch
            March 4, 2017

            More things.

            The point was not that the standards for your personal HoF are inconsistent. The point was that the priorities for your HoF membership aren’t consistently in line with Canton’s. If they were, we’d see more than six players with marginal careers and a playoff boost in the real HoF.

            If we’re citing experts on coverage corners, Paul Zimmerman said in an SI article that the two best cover corners he ever saw were Jim Johnson and Deion Sanders (he also listed Dick Lane and Willie Brown as the two best bump and run types), then went on to describe what he called the “three great technicians”: Mike Haynes, Roger Wehrli, and Albert Lewis. He doesn’t mention Hayes. And when did Don Heinrich morph into “many people?”

            And as the cited post by Turney suggests, the whole “revolutionary” thing looks to be a tough question to answer, and designating someone specific isn’t immune to arbitrary cherry picking.

            More as time permits and I feel like it.

          • Joseph Wright
            March 4, 2017

            Good ol’ Dr. Z, huh? The same man who fervently campaigned to keep Stabler out of the Hall of Fame. The same “expert” who (in 2001) said, “the two best defensive ends I’ve ever seen were Deacon Jones and Rich Jackson,” leaving out Reggie White in the process. Hayes should see Dr. Z’s snub as FULL validation that he was a true Hall of Famer. Oh, I’ve got more.

          • bachslunch
            March 5, 2017

            Hey, you pick your experts and I’ll pick mine. Dr. Z was known and respected as extremely knowledgeable on film study. Feel free to ask Clark, Ron, or Rick their opinion of his abilities on the matter, as I’m sure they were on the HoF selection committee when he was. And any arguments that he may have anti-Oakland bias would need to explain away the fact that of the seven CBs mentioned, two (Brown, Haynes) were Raiders.

          • Joseph Wright
            March 6, 2017

            I never said Z was anti-Raider. He was anti-Stabler. It is clearly documented by Zimmerman himself that he stood up and said when Stabler was nominated in 1990, “You cannot allow this man into the Hall of Fame.” He then based it on his unfounded allegations that Stabler got another Hall of Fame committee writer, Bob Pedecky, arrested for drug possession and this weak criticism that Stabler didn’t seem upset whenever he threw an interception. It was personal, unprofessional, and had nothing to do with the quarterback’s contribution to the game (Super Bowl Title; League MVPs; 2X league leader in TDs; NFL history’s only 60 percent passer until rule changes handcuffed defenders; thwarting two potential 3Peats of great dynasties–Dolphins, Steelers).

            Ron Borges was with me an the cases of Stabler AND Lester Hayes so you indicted yourself by bringing him up: “..ask Clark, Ron, or Rick about his (Dr. Z’s) abilities, blahzay, blahzay, blah..”

            Borges wrote a State Your Case piece fully endorsing Hayes for the Hall of Fame. The ban on stickum may have led to a dropoff in INTs (though QBs not throwing in that direction was the bigger factor), but not as you inaccurately say “a dropoff in performance.” So, instead of copping out and saying, “And yes, I realize I made a mistake earlier in counting honors for Hayes — that’s 4/5/80s, which is better than I remembered, and makes his a far stronger HoF case. Happy to correct myself when I’m wrong,” try saying, “Thank you, Joseph Wright, for correcting me, Bachslunch, when I was wrong. Again.”

            The problem is, Bachslunch, you further showed your poor talent/performance evaluations of CBs with this statement: “Re the CBs on the all-70s team: if we look at 1st team all pro and pro bowl selections during that decade, the odd man out is definitely not Roger Wehrli. It’s Louis Wright. Numbers: Wehrli (5/7), Brown (4/4), Johnson (3/4), Blount (3/4), Wright (2/2). Wright has the misfortune to straddle his honors evenly across two decades, a problem shared by several players.” If your life depended on a game in the ’70s and you had to have one man cover against Paul Warfield, who would you take: Louis Wright or Roger Werli? If you say Louis Wright, I rest my case that your beloved Dr. Z and others made a huge mistake putting Werli on the All-70s team. If you’d take Werli, I would gladly give the eulogy at your funeral. If you are putting together a football team and you could only carry four CBs and those trying out are Jimmy Johnson (the player, not the coach), Willie Brown, Roger Werli, Mel Blount, and Louis Wright, who would be “the odd man out?”

            I stand by my comparison of Bruce Smith to Dexter Manley. BTW, Manley was much stronger against the run than Smith. Manley’s Playoff performances in ’82, vs. Walter Payton and Jimbo Covert in ’86 and ’87, and Gary Zimmerman bear that out. Would the Redskins have won the Super Bowls in ’82 & ’87 without Manley? We KNOW the Bills got run over four straight times with “Big Bruce.” And Dr. Z’s Reggie White omission? Get back to me with your answers. LMAO!!!

          • Rasputin
            March 5, 2017

            My comment above seems to have posted, Joseph Wright. There you go, boy.

          • Joseph Wright
            March 7, 2017

            Of course the Cowboys would have won 3 or more Super Bowls with Sanders (or Herschel Walker, for that matter) instead of Smith. The lanes/canyons the Cowboys o-line provided for Emmitt would have opened frightening floodgates for defenses facing Barry. Once again, no one outside of Lomas Brown was a quality–much less high quality–player on that ordinary to shoddy line in Detroit during that time. And, no, Barry wasn’t running behind Lomas most of the time. Quite often, he had to improvise because a defender was already in the Lions’ backfield after Sanders took the handoff. So, of course he had negative plays. Yet he not only survived, he thrived. Barry hung up 1,800 and 2,000 seasons behind questionable blocking. Payton hung an 1,800-yard season behind crappy blocking in 1977–a 14-game season! Meanwhile, behind high-quality blocking O.J. Simpson and Eric Dickerson put up 1,800- and 2000-yard seasons. JimBrown set the standard at 1,863 in 1963. Emmitt NEVER ran for 1,800 in a season behind the greatest run blocking line ever. And, no, he wasn’t in a pass-dominated offense. Smith usually got 20-25 carries per game. And when Sanders ran for 2,053 Lomas Brown was with the Cardinals! Barry Sanders would have put up MULTIPLE 2,000-yard seasons behind the Great Wall of Dallas, including a 2,500-yard season–easily. A newly retired Eric Dickerson was aske by Chris Myers what he would do behind the Dallas front and he laughed and said, “3,000.” I was rolling myself. As for this “Jim Brown ran behind several Hall of Famers…” Outside of Gene Hickerson, who was inducted as a senior member in 2007, who are these other “several” o-linemen you speak of? And, oh, BTW, Emmitt was never the best runner in college. He never led the nation in rushing and didn’t win the Heisman. That would be Barry, Tim Brown, and Andre Ware. Speaking of Andre Ware…

            Emmitt had Troy Aikman as his QB, a stud-Hall of Famer. Barry had to work with Bob Gagliano, Rodney Peete, Andre Ware, Dave Krieg, Charlie Batch, and that all-time great (it’s an absolute crime he’s not in the Hall of Fame! Shame?) Scott Mitchell.

            In 1993, Gale Sayers sat down with Bob costas and discussed his career. Then Costas gave him a list of RBs and asked Sayers for a comment on each:

            Jim Brown: “The best ever.” ; Emmitt Smith: “Good runner. Great offensive line.” ; Barry Sanders: “I love watching him play. He is the closest to myself.” Emmitt was GOOD. The line was GREAT. Hmmmm….

            Speaking of Jim Brown, who should know a little bit about great running backs, he was a guest on the ESPN Up Close Show with Chris Myers in 1996. I remember it was ’96 because it was an election year and after being asked by Myers, Brown said he was voting for Bob Dole because his friend, Jack Kemp, was Dole’s VP running mate–but I digress. Myers asked Brown who was the best RB in the game at that time. Without hesitation, Brown said, “Barry Sanders.” Myers asked for more elaboration and Brown said, “Emmitt has a great heart and he really brings a lot to the Cowboys. But…Let me put it this way: Emmitt can play on certain teams, Barry could play for any team in any era.” Back to where you belong, junior. Lol. And I’ve never falsely accused Bachslunch of anything. However, when B-lunch is enormously wrong, B-lunch is enormously wrong.

          • bachslunch
            March 7, 2017

            -just because you and Ron Borges happen to agree on Ken Stabler does not necessarily mean that Borges has no respect for Dr. Z’s film study capabilities and player evaluations. The HoF voters actually do disagree about various players, you know. Re Jackson, it’s no secret that Dr. Z believes that over a 3-1/2 year period, Jackson was perhaps the finest overall defensive end and pass rusher he ever saw, a sure Hall of Famer if he had had a longer playing career. In his eyes, choosing Jackson over Reggie White would appear to be a choice of the highest, if short-term, quality over very high quality longevity. And I don’t see why anyone would have a quibble over Deacon Jones being considered. That being said, I could understand if someone wanted to choose White here. Depends on how you see it.

            -just because you say something, forcefully or otherwise, doesn’t necessarily make it true. In fact, you’ve been wrong on things such as Dave Robinson being the first pass rushing outside linebacker and Jack Tatum being the first important hard-hitting DB. Not surprisingly, I have no intention of accepting anything you have to say that isn’t backed up with good evidence (feel free to choose from such things as a detailed film-study critique like that found on Ken Crippen’s website, statistics for skill position players put in good context, honors profiles, and the like) — and that goes for your assertions about Roger Wehrli and Bruce Smith. As far as I’m concerned, they’re not even worth a response. Sorry, but not everything that pops into your head and rolls out of your mouth is by definition a pearl of wisdom.

            -I’m not surprised by your lack of graciousness regarding my self-correction on Lester Hayes. What I remember seeing over at the Pro Football Reference website last time I checked were the unanimous 1st team all-pro selections in 1980 and the 1981 selection by Sporting News. But I’m more interested in trying to get things correct rather than being “right” all the time, so I looked again. And I changed my thoughts on the strength of Hayes’s HoF argument here accordingly — and publicly.

            Will post separately regarding Dr. Z’s thoughts on Stabler, as there are links which may cause moderator delay.

            Will not be online again until the weekend at the earliest because of real life commitments.

          • bachslunch
            March 7, 2017

            Not surprisingly, you’ve garbled Dr. Z’s thoughts on Stabler. What you’re referencing comes from an article Dr. Z wrote in Sports Illustrated several years ago. Re the Padecky incident, he said:

            “A few years ago, the person presenting him at the enshrinement meeting mentioned how he had “always been cooperative with the media.” My hand shot up as if it were on a spring, and I reminded this ninny about how the Snake invited Bob Padecky of the Sacramento Bee down to the Redneck Riviera to do some offseason interviewing. And when Padecky showed up, all of a sudden Kenny’s buddies on the Mobile PD found some drugs that had been planted in the writer’s car, and off he went to the joint. For a night. Then he was released with no charges filed. Yeah, Kenny will make it. After I’m morto.”

            Links referencing the Padecky incident, one from Padecky himself:

            http://www.nytimes.com/1979/03/04/archives/drug-case-continues-to-trouble-stabler-still-a-suspect.html?_r=1

            http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/news/20090624/stabler-and-me-30-years-later

            This is indeed an off-field issue, but it’s also not wise to tick off the folks you want to get such an honor from.

            However, Dr. Z also said:

            “In his prime, while it lasted, he was very accurate. Then he became consistently inaccurate. His teammates wondered why. That’s as far as I’ll take this one.”

            Later in his career, Stabler’s friendship with gambler Nicholas Dudich, described by the NY Times as “a well-known New Jersey gambling figure who is an associate of the Princeton-based Simone DeCavalcante organized crime family” became, again per the NY Times, a concern to Al Davis — and, also according to the NY Times, prompted commissioner Pete Rozelle to “warn…the veteran quarterback to avoid ”undesirable elements” or be subject to disciplinary action ”up to and including suspension.” Stabler complied. Around this time, Stabler also sued the NY Times and NBC for libel over suggestions that he may have shaved points or thrown games. The case against the NY Times was dismissed, and Stabler eventually settled out of court with NBC. It’s interesting to look again at what Dr. Z wrote here given all this. Regardless, Stabler didn’t sue SI or Dr. Z for libel about the latter’s article. Make of this what you will.

            Some links:

            http://www.nytimes.com/1981/08/30/sports/pro-football-s-ken-stabler-is-linked-to-a-gambler.html?pagewanted=all

            http://www.nytimes.com/1982/08/24/sports/stabler-can-sign-but-is-warned.html

          • Joseph Wright
            March 16, 2017

            Perfect validation for me against Z (enough of the “Dr.” nonsense) that, not surprisingly, you unwittingly provided me with.

            “In his prime, while it lasted, he was very accurate. Then he became consistently inaccurate. His teammates wondered why. That’s as far as I’ll take this one.”

            “Consistently inaccurate.” Is THAT right? From 1972-1983, Ken Stabler never completed less than 56.6 percent of his passes, including five seasons of over 60 percent. His final year with the Saints, in 1984, he completed 33 of 70 passes for a 47 percent rate, hardly a season’s worth of work, that dragged his career passing percentage barely under 60 percent. This was a QB who was regularly completing passes at a percentage rate of 60 when the majority of his career was in an era where defenders were allowed to manhandle receivers all down the field until the ball was thrown. Z’s evaluation of Stabler’s career was strictly emotional and personal, not professional and objective.

            Even within that last year of 1984, he played against the eventual Super Bowl champion 49ers in San Francisco and performed so well in defeat that 49ers head coach (A Hall of Famer, by the way) Bill Walsh said, “Ken Stabler is a Hall of Fame quarterback if there ever was one.” I’ll take The Genius’ opinion over the fake “Doctor’s” opinion on football player evaluation anytime.

            Speaking of football player evaluation…How long have you been stealing money as a “scout?” All that previous nonsense about my statements about Bruce Smith and Roger Werli “aren’t worth a response,” are simple, unwitting admissions by you that I am right and once again you, Bachlunch, are wrong. It’s not like I asked you to comment on a scandal or crime you committed. Guilty parties still think that “I won’t dignify that question with a response” stuff works. It does not. When they asked Stabler about the various charges against him, he said, “I had nothing to do with it whatsoever.” He had no need to be a coward and say of such comments and questions, “they’re not even worth a response”–your comment. And NBC settled out of court with Stabler, not the other way around as you–not surprisingly–inaccurately put it. The network paid Stabler money.

            All I asked were three simple, non-scandalous questions on your (apparently so-called) football knowledge:

            1) If your life depended on one game in which your team had to cover Paul Warfield with one corner for the full game and you had to choose between Roger Werli or Louis Wright to perform that task, who would you choose?

            2) If posed with the responsibility of putting together a football team and you could only carry four cornerbacks and Willie Brown, Jimmy Johnson (the player, not the coach), Mel Blount, Roger Werli, and Louis Wright all offered their services, who is the odd man out?

            3) Would the Washington Redskins have won Super Bowls in ’82 and ’87 without Dexter Manley? We know what the Buffalo Bills did in four tries with Bruce Smith.

            Get back to me with those answers, Bachlunch. People on the board are watching. If you feel “they’re not even worth a response,” I will gladly take a bow and everyone reading will know I am correct–again–and you, Bachlunch, are wrong–again.

          • Rasputin
            March 8, 2017

            All these days, Joseph Wright, and that’s what you come up with? Pathetic. You dodged almost every concrete point I made and mostly just repeated your earlier, already refuted or addressed claims. You mindlessly asserting something….like “X would have done better than Smith with the same line”….doesn’t make it true. You have to at least try to support your claim with some evidence and maybe construct a cogent argument. But I’ll respond to the few new things you’ve got:

            You said: “As for this “Jim Brown ran behind several Hall of Famers…” Outside of Gene Hickerson, who was inducted as a senior member in 2007, who are these other “several” o-linemen you speak of?”

            Here’s a quick rundown of O-linemen who played with Jim Brown:

            Lou Groza (T) – HOF, 9 Pro Bowls, 4 first team All Pros
            Gene Hickerson (G) – HOF, 6 Pro Bowls, 4 first team All Pros
            Mike McCormack (T) – HOF, 6 Pro Bowls
            Dick Schafrath (T) – 6 Pro Bowls, 4 first team All Pros
            Jim Ray Smith (G) – 5 Pro Bowls, 3 first team All Pros
            John Morrow (C) – 2 Pro Bowls
            John Wooten (G) – 2 Pro Bowls
            Art Hunter (C) – 1 Pro Bowl

            That’s a star studded group of blockers, and remember that Emmitt Smith won 3 of his 4 rushing titles with zero HOF linemen. Brown also played with offensive standouts like these…

            Paul Warfield (WR) – HOF, 8 Pro Bowls, 2 first team All Pros (one year with Brown, anyway)
            Frank Ryan (QB) – 3 Pro Bowls
            Milt Plum (QB) – 2 Pro Bowls
            Tommy O’Connell (QB) – 1 Pro Bowl
            Ray Renfro (HB) – 3 Pro Bowls
            Bobby Mitchell (FL) – HOF, 4 Pro Bowls, 1 first team All Pro

            …and I won’t bother listing the great defensive players who helped the team too. Your argument that Smith was just a cog on a great team, unlike a “true All Time Great” like “Jim Brown”, falls apart, especially when one considers that in the 7 seasons before Jim Brown arrived, Cleveland won 73.6% of its games (counting playoffs) and made the playoffs all but one year. In Jim Brown’s first 7 seasons Cleveland only won 63% of its games and made the playoffs twice (4 times out of his total 9 seasons). The team won 3 NFL titles in the pre-Brown years and 1 with Brown in his next to last season.

            In the 7 seasons before Emmitt Smith arrived, Dallas won 43.4% of its games and made the playoffs twice, while in Smith’s first 7 seasons Dallas won 70.1% of its games and made the playoffs every year but once, that being his rookie year where they still improved from 1-15 and being the worst team in the league to 7 – 9 and almost making the playoffs. The Cowboys won 3 Super Bowls with him.

            Alone these facts don’t definitively prove that Smith was more important to his team than Brown was to his, but they sure as heck shred your shallow claim based on NO facts that Smith was merely a “functional” back uncritical to the team’s turnaround compared to a “true All Time Great” like Brown. The 1993 season alone should have settled that argument once and for all, when Dallas lost without Smith and won it all with him back.

            If your assumption is that being on the best team automatically boosts a RB’s stats to the top, then why had no rushing leader ever won the Super Bowl the same year? Emmitt Smith was the first to win the rushing title and the Super Bowl in the same season. He did it three times. Since then Terrell Davis has done it once and that’s it. The question isn’t how someone like Dickerson, Sanders, or OJ Simpson could put up a monster total yardage year “despite” playing on a non-championship team, because THAT’S THE NORM.

            The greatness of Aikman, Irvin, and Smith are often used by Cowboys haters to diminish whichever player the conversation is focusing on at the time. Funny how that doesn’t seem to happen with Montana/Rice or Jim Brown as shown above. The truth is that all three “triplets” were among the greatest of all time at their positions, which is why they accomplished things no other team has.

            They also put team success ahead of individual stats, which DID negatively impact all their personal numbers. The Cowboys would sit on the ball and play for time of possession rather than running up points and yards. They were a balanced offense with an exceptional passing attack and power running game, which did help each other but also cut into both group’s opportunities when compared to some of the greatest units on unbalanced teams. In 1995 Smith set the NFL rushing TD record (25 TDs) rather than the yardage record (though he did win another rushing title) in part because effective passing shortened the field. He only had so far to go.

          • Rasputin
            March 8, 2017

            You said: “Of course the Cowboys would have won 3 or more Super Bowls with Sanders (or Herschel Walker, for that matter) instead of Smith.”

            Walker maybe 2 or 3 since he had so much power and versatility, but he had already used some of his prime seasons dominating the USFL and, you probably don’t know this, but Walker DID return to the Cowboys in the mid 90s, so it’s not like he wasn’t on the team.

            Sanders no, for reasons already given. First, the Lions weren’t a bad team. They made the playoffs 5 out of his 10 years. He also played with offensive contributors like these:

            Lomas Brown (OT) – 7 Pro Bowls (more than any Cowboys O-lineman except Larry Allen, and there from Sanders’ start while Allen didn’t arrive until after Emmitt had already established himself as the NFL’s best RB)
            Kevin Glover (C) – 3 Pro Bowls
            Herman Moore (WR) – 4 Pro Bowls, 3 first team All Pros
            Mel Gray (KR/PR) – 4 Pro Bowls, 3 first team All Pros (field position)
            David Sloan (TE) – 1 Pro Bowl (a year after Sanders retired)
            Jeff Hartings (G/C) – 2 Pro Bowls and a SB championship later with the Steelers
            Mike Compton (G/C) – Rock solid starter for years, would go on to be the starter for the early Patriots dynasty
            Dave Fralic (G) – 4 Pro Bowls, 2 first team All Pros with Atlanta (played with Lions in 1993)
            Rodney Holman (TE) – 3 Pro Bowls with Cincinnati, played 3 years with Lions

            More guys would have made Pro Bowls if they had ever won a championship. Mark Tuinei was always a good player, but he didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his 12th year after the Cowboys had won a couple of Super Bowls. It’s not a contrast between a great line and a terrible line, but between a line that became great for a few years and one that ranged from average to pretty good.

            Sanders holds the career record for negative plays partly because his running style was wild with a lot of wasted motion and he was always passing up solid gain opportunities looking for the huge run. The homerun/low average hitter baseball analogy is apt. In the Cowboys’ power run system Sanders would have caused their offense to stall out a lot.

            A RB’s prime is typically his first several years. In the 5 years from 1991-1995, when both experienced the bulk of their primes, Smith gained more yards than Sanders every year but one. Why do you think this was? The Lions were better then than they would be from 1996 on, with 4 of Sanders’ 5 playoff trips coming in the first half of the decade. He had Lomas Brown, Herman Moore, Kevin Glover and others playing with them then. Why was Smith so much more productive than Sanders over the first half of the decade, and why did Sanders explode for a couple of years in the late 90s? Did Sanders start juicing mid-decade? Or did circumstances change?

            Offensive stats exploded across the NFL in the second half of the 90s due to continued rule changes. Smith wasn’t able to fully benefit from this because as a power runner his body had taken a pounding running roughshod over the league in his first several seasons. It’s amazing he was able to play as long as he did, and he had to alter his style a bit in the late 90s to do so. But Barry Sanders, with his more scat back style, hadn’t taken the same pounding and, with his speed, was able to exploit the open spaces the Lions’ spread attack produced in the more offensive friendly late 90s. Look at how Marshall Faulk went from a merely above average back to a HoF one when he left the Colts for the Rams and the wide open spaces created by their offense that were tailor made for a speedster to exploit. System matters. So does timing. What kind of season totals might Smith have put up if his rookie season was 1994 instead of 1990?

            For the most part Sanders was a terrible playoff RB, while Emmitt was one of the greatest of all time. In 6 games Sanders only reached 100 yards once (they still lost that game). That was at home against Green Bay, where he romped for 169 yards. The following year at Green Bay he totaled -1 yards on 13 carries. The very next week Emmitt averaged 6.29 y/c against that same Packers team and the Cowboys cruised to a blow out win.

            In his 4 playoff road games Sanders only averaged 2.8 yards/carry.

            In his 6 playoff road games Smith averaged 4.5 yards/carry.

            Smith got the tough yards when it mattered most.

          • Rasputin
            March 8, 2017

            While your post is mostly baseless speculation I’m educating you with concrete facts.

            In high school Smith rushed for over 8,000 yards, which ranked 2nd in the nation’s history at the time. In college, despite leaving for the NFL after his junior year, he set the Florida career rushing record, along with the university’s single season rushing record, single game record, per game average record, longest ever run, TD record, and a slew of others, all while playing on a team with almost no passing game.

            In 1989 the junior Smith was a unanimous All American (meaning all the media outlets had him as a first team RB). Edgerrin James, Chuck Foreman, and Roger Craig, those lower tier guys you laughably claimed were “better backs” than Emmitt Smith, weren’t even regular All Americans. Neither was Curtis Martin for that matter.

            Sometimes a player can thrive more at one level than another, but when a guy like Emmitt Smith comes along and dominates at EVERY level, you can’t dismiss that as resulting from a factor that only applies to one of those levels, like “having a great line”. He must be doing something right.

            It’s funny that you’re quoting Jim Brown and Erik Dickerson as serious authorities, lol. No, playing involves a different skill set than either analyzing or coaching. Some may be great at two or all three of those things, but most players, even great ones, aren’t. Most of these players aren’t exactly rocket scientists. Dickerson was just blustering with that silly “3,000” yards comment. Without getting into specifics, he also doesn’t have the best reputation for honesty going back to his college days. Jim Brown has been a blow hard clown for decades. His “advice” as an activist, among other things, helped ruin Duane Thomas’ potential HOF career almost out of the gate. Your own anecdote about Brown voting for a presidential ticket because he knew a guy on it just shows how un-objective he is.

            But I do like that you’ve resorted to comparing Emmitt Smith to guys like Jim Brown, Barry sanders, and Erick Dickerson rather than Roger Craig and the other lower tier backs you initially mentioned. The former are all time greats, like Emmitt Smith. Many analysts have observed that Smith actually has more in common with Walter Payton than anyone else. They were almost the same RB. Smith was a little stockier and more efficient in his movement. Payton had more explosive kick steps. Payton sustained excellence longer while Smith had a more dominant peak, but they were very similar in stats and style. Neither was a speed burner but they were both great all around backs with tremendous heart who were willing to block and catch.

            So, little Joey, are you going to admit you were wrong about Super Bowl XII (among other things) or were you just going to slither away without commenting at all on that other topic?

          • Rasputin
            March 20, 2017

            Since you’re apparently trying to slink away from this line of the discussion, Joseph Wright, hoping I go away and you can avoid having to man up and admit you were wrong, I’ll go ahead and post this now.

            You made a big deal out of Tatum’s “Assassin” nickname being nationally known, contrasting it with what you called the “locally” known Cliff Harris’ “Captain Crash” nickname, but according to John Madden NO ONE called Tatum “Assassin” while he played.

            (search for “madden on tatum’s reaction to stingley injury” and click on the NBC sports article that pops up)

            That didn’t start until he wrote an autobiography with “Assassin” in the title after he had retired. At least “Crash” was something other players called Harris while was he was playing (the media added “Captain”), and not the result of a publisher’s PR campaign. Again, I’m not saying Tatum wasn’t a brutally hard hitter. I’m just showing how invalid your arguments are, and how shallow and inaccurate your grasp of these topics is since the issue of “credibility” has come up.

            You also mentioned that Steve Atwater was nicknamed “Smiling Assassin”. You probably don’t know that name was given to him by his secondary coach, former Cowboys safety Charlie Waters. Waters coined that label because he happened to see Atwater reading Tatum’s autobiography one day (though in an interview Atwater actually said his hero was Ronnie Lott), and because he was often smiling off the field. The intelligent Waters was a master at dispensing nicknames and shaping narratives, though interestingly “Crash” was one he DIDN’T coin (LB Dave Edwards did).

            It was Waters who decisively pushed to draft Atwater in 1989 when the Broncos coaching staff was split between him and another safety named Louis Oliver. Oliver was described as a safety who “hit like a LB”, but who also “ran like one”. Atwater was the more complete player. No doubt Charlie Waters was more influenced by his own experience with his long time secondary partner Cliff Harris than anyone else in deciding on the versatile Atwater.

          • Joseph Wright
            March 21, 2017

            Thanks for unwittingly proving my point, Rasputin. I didn’t even know Atwater ever read JACK TATUM’s–not Cliff Harris’–book. And Atwater’s hero was Ronnie Lott? Guess who Ronnie Lott’s hero was? That’s right, Jack Tatum! Tatum is the vine and standard, NOT Cliff Harris. Tatum maintained the media–the national media–put “The Assassin” tag on him. Oh, by the way. Why didn’t Waters call Atwater “The Smiling Crash.” Way to totally omit your teammate and throw him under the bus. LMAO!!!

          • Rasputin
            March 20, 2017

            So to recap, Joseph Wright….

            – You were objectively wrong in your claim that Thomas Henderson knocked out Rick Upchurch in SB 12 (I posted video proof showing it was Cliff Harris)

            – You argued that Emmitt Smith wasn’t a dominant player but just someone that hung on for a long time, only judging him based on the career rushing yardage record, possibly not knowing that Smith also won 4 rushing titles in his first 6 years, along with NFL and SB MVP awards.

            – You dismissed the notion that Emmitt Smith could have been considered the best RB in college, when he was actually a unanimous All American.

            – You claimed Jack Tatum’s “Assassin” nickname was “nationally known”, when actually no one called him “Assassin” while he played.

            – You weren’t aware that Jim Brown had played with any HoF linemen apart from Gene Hickerson (e.g. Lou Groza and Mike McCormack, along with others with numerous Pro Bowls and HoFers at other positions).

            – You obnoxiously leaped to the wrong conclusion about my source for the Larry Wilson quote calling Cliff Harris the best free safety in the game and one redefining how the position is played, without bothering to put out the modicum of effort it would have taken to see the quote is genuine.

            – Despite leading off this debate by attacking Bachslunch for using “numbers, numbers, numbers”, telling him this isn’t the “Fantasy Football Hall of Fame”, you immediately began hypocritically trying to use your own cherry-picked numbers to advance your cases.

            “Credibility”, lol?

          • Joseph Wright
            March 21, 2017

            For Rasputin:

            1) Fine. Cliff Harris knocked out Rick Upchurch in Super Bowl XII. Jack Tatum’s hit on Minnesota’s Sammy White in Super Bowl XI was a knockout and is a constant in NFL Films Super Bowl highlight collections. You RARELY (never?) see Harris’ hit on Upchurch. And I was rooting for the Cowboys in Super Bowl XII !
            2) I’m fully aware of Emmitt Smith’s rushing titles (although in 1991 he was force-fed to get him ahead of Barry—23 more carries to get him ahead by 15 yards .625 yards per carry—embarrassing). Even with that, Barry still equaled Smith in rushing titles and never ran for less than a grand in any season of his career.
            3) Smith was NEVER the nation’s best RB in college—never led the nation in rushing, never sniffed the Heisman. Those are the facts.
            4) Jack Tatum was referred to nationally by the media as “The Assassin.” That is the basis of the title of his first book.
            5) Jim Brown only spoke of guards Gene Hickerson and John Wooten when recalling his success as a runner in the NFL. Mike McCormack was a Hall of Fame oversite on my part. But Lou Groza made his Hall of Fame mark as a kicker, not a blocker.
            6) Legit quote or not, the fact still stands: Lynn Swann ran through the Cliff Harris/Cowboys secondary with absolutely NO fear, shredding the record books and garnering MVP and Hall of Fame honors in the process. Swann played 3 Conference championship games vs. the Tatum/Raiders secondary and his best output in those games was not even half of the damage he did to the Cowboys in two Super Bowls. Swann terrorized and abused the Cliff Harris secondary of the Cowboys while Jack Tatum and the Raiders secondary flipped the script and reduced Swann to a meager whimper by terrorizing him.
            7) Bachslunch looks at stats for everything. He takes a lazy Cliff Notes view of NFL History. I, unlike him, understand that stats can be misleading. However, if statistics are made in a dominant fashion—great numbers acquired in a short period of time–(Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Reggie White, Barry Sanders, Dan Marino, Eric Dickerson) I will take notice. B-Lunch will say, “No, Joseph, you’re wrong. I would never credit Testaverde. His adjusted for era numbers are terrible.” I don’t need “numbers” on paper to judge Testaverde. I saw him play. He sucked. I don’t need the stats for evaluation.
            8) I’ve been watching pro football intently since 1975. Emmitt Smith was a serviceable back running behind a great, dominant line. Barry Sanders was an exceptional back who put up phenomenal yardage totals behind a mediocre (save for Lomas Brown) line. Once again I will quote two Hall of Famers.
            –Gale Sayers, 1993, on Emmitt Smith: “Good running back. Great offensive line.” On Barry Sanders: “I love watching him play. He the most reminds me of myself.”

            –Jim Brown, 1996, on both: “Emmitt can play (well) on certain teams. Barry could play (well) on any team, in any era.”

          • Rasputin
            March 21, 2017

            Alright, Joseph Wright….

            1. Not the classiest admission of being wrong, but at least you finally grudgingly acknowledged it. Left unexplained is why you made the wrong claim with such certainty in the first place (“credibility”), unless it was because you weren’t expecting game footage evidence to be publicly available. And that Harris hit, clean in even today’s game, would make an awesome highlight (especially with the rear view slow motion replay added), but thank you for underscoring what I’ve said about the distortive impact of shallow media hype and bias on people’s perceptions. HoF decisions shouldn’t be dictated by uninformed hype or the whims of hacks at NFL Films.

            2. Barry Sanders posted a record 10 consecutive 1,000 yards seasons, which Emmitt Smith broke with a record 11 such seasons, only missing 13 by a few dozen yards (despite his rookie season occurring after he was drafted by the worst team in the league), so you don’t seem to have a point with that comment. And there’s never anything “embarrassing” about winning a rushing title, lol. You also failed to address anything I said about Smith’s superior consistency and championship caliber playing style. Perhaps you don’t have the education to grasp statistical concepts beyond total yards and yards/carry (which can easily be skewed by a few big gains). One reason Emmitt had more opportunities is that he was better at keeping the chains moving and the ball in his team’s possession. That you’re reduced to scratching and clawing to try to show Sanders (as opposed to Edgerrin James, Roger Craig, or some of the others you originally mentioned) holds some sort of parity with Smith only underscores that at worst the latter is a “true all time great” in the rough ballpark of the former.

            3. The “Heisman” isn’t awarded to the nation’s best RB, and being the national yardage leader isn’t the only thing one looks at when deciding who the best RB is, especially in college. Emmitt Smith was a unanimous All American RB, an accolade rare enough that it doesn’t happen every year. He also was second nationally in career high school yardage (behind the 1950s Texas great Ken Hall, not Barry Sanders). I’m not the one arguing that career yards is the end all be all, but it debunks the “great line” argument to point out that:

            Emmitt Smith had more yards than Barry Sanders in high school.

            Emmitt Smith had more yards than Barry Sanders in college.

            Emmitt Smith had more yards than Barry Sanders in the NFL.

            Those are facts. Smith was dominant at every level.

            4. No one called Tatum “Assassin” as a nickname when he played. His post-retirement “Assassin” books (he actually cranked out three over the 1980s, cashing in as much as he could), ostensibly started as a defense against critics accusing him of being a cheap shot artist whose irresponsible antics got Stingley paralyzed.

            5. You said: “Jim Brown only spoke of guards Gene Hickerson and John Wooten when recalling his success as a runner in the NFL. Mike McCormack was a Hall of Fame oversite on my part. But Lou Groza made his Hall of Fame mark as a kicker, not a blocker.”

            Lou Groza was also a great kicker, but according to the PFHOF website he was an “All-NFL tackle six years” and started at tackle in 6 of his 9 Pro Bowls. Then there are the other guys I listed like Dick Schafrath (T; 6 Pro Bowls, 4 first team All Pros) and Jim Ray Smith (G; 5 Pro Bowls) who are borderline HoFers. Like I said, Jim Brown is a self hyping moron whose pronouncements should be taken with a grain of salt.

            6. There you go with the same cherry-picking I called you out for earlier. By your logic the Broncos ran through Tatum’s secondary without fear, putting up relatively big numbers against them in the playoffs, before Cliff Harris and the Doomsday defense shut them down to almost nothing in Super Bowl XII. Sometimes a passing offense would have a good day against the Raiders and sometimes they’d have one against the Cowboys, Steelers, or Vikings. Even the greatest defenses weren’t always perfect.

            7. Bachslunch clearly understands that certain numbers in a vacuum can be misleading, which is why he focuses on a set of salient broad indicators that take era into account and emphasizes contemporary accolades to objectively tell as much of the story as possible. Your criticism is baseless. Numbers are just a way to describe reality. As you quoted Bachslunch saying, it’s not hard to use stats to show why Testaverde DOESN’T belong in the HoF. Assuming otherwise just shows you’re limiting your own view to a couple of basic metrics like career yardage. That’s not Bachslunch’s flaw, it’s yours. You make the same mistake with Smith/Sanders and the career rushing record complaints, as if that’s the only feather in Smith’s cap. For you to launch this debate by attacking him and “numbers, numbers, numbers” only to immediately turn around and employ your own cherry-picked numbers to push Raiders you like was a comical bit of hypocrisy. You shouldn’t have made your “anti-numbers” criticisms so simplistic, and instead should have just articulated why those particular numbers supposedly didn’t tell the whole Stabler story.

            Personally I view stats as one of the necessary tools in historical evaluations, though I may leave a little more room for “the eyeball test” and unquantified narrative than some do, since stats haven’t yet and may never progress to the point of completely capturing football action, and since even mostly reliable backstop metrics like Pro Bowl/All Pro accolades aren’t perfect.

            8. Some see more on a given play than most “watchers” would if they watched it ten times. This is about analytical ability, not quantity of years spent cheering on an NFL team. One reason I quoted Larry Wilson talking about Cliff Harris being the best free safety in the game is because he wasn’t just a contemporary HoF safety, but someone who went on to coach. Again, Brown and Sayers were just players. You simply repeating your quotes doesn’t prove anything. Coaching, playing, and analyzing are all different things. Most players aren’t good at the other two. They don’t know what they’re talking about, any more than Lynn Swann did when he laughed off questions about whether Vince Young was truly ready for the NFL by making a (“that’s a crazy question”) face after the Rose Bowl. It turned out Young wasn’t ready to become a true professional, and Swann was wrong. Brown trying to diminish Smith based on a “great line” when Brown played behind three times as many HoF linemen is laughable.

            I saw almost every game Emmitt Smith played and I’ve never seen a better all around running back. No one else had much success with that line and I don’t think Barry Sanders would have had as much success in the power Dallas system with his less steady, scatback style. Regardless, even if one does prefer Sanders’ sensational highlight style over Emmitt’s steady substance (as most kids and immature adults probably do), that’s a far cry from claiming Smith wasn’t an “all time great”, and wasn’t even as good as guys like Roger Craig or Edgerrin James, a simply stupid notion you haven’t come close to supporting.

            And no, you missed my point with the Charlie Waters/Atwater thing. I showed how flippant and shallow these nicknames can be, since you brought up the “Smiling Assassin”. Who cares that at one point Atwater read one of Tatum’s books? Lots of people have, not all of them fans. If it wasn’t that book Waters would have called him something else. Atwater himself cited someone else as his personal inspiration. But even if Tatum had been his hero…so what? What’s more relevant is Charlie Waters, a coach personally influenced by years spent with Cliff Harris, being the driving force behind the Broncos drafting a Cliff Harris type player over a Jack Tatum type player.

            All that said, it’s possible, indeed common, for more than one player to help bring about a revolutionary innovation. It’s baseless to assume one singular guy has to be responsible for each trend. I never claimed Tatum was historically irrelevant, but to deny the impact of an even better, more prominent player (at least when he played and in accolade accumulation) like Harris is simply wrong.

          • Joseph Wright
            March 22, 2017

            Rasputin, let’s deal in some brutal realities:

            1) According to a sober Thomas Henderson in his autobiography “Out of Control,” he was instructed by Cowboys special teams coach Mike Ditka to clobber Denver’s Rick Upchurch the first kickoff whether he got the ball or not, “just to let him know we’ll be there all game.” Henderson carried out Ditka’s orders, picking up a penalty in the process. Broncos Head Coach Red Miller can be seen yelling at Henderson as Upchurch is being restrained from Henderson in the Super Bowl XII highlight film.

            2) Tatum was a first-round draft pick. Harris was a rookie free agent. Lott, Easley, Dennis Thurman, Vann McElroy, Carl Banks, Polamalu and others idolized Tatum. Atwater and John Lynch idolized Lott, who was inspired by Tatum. Kam Chancellor has been compared to Tatum. Jon Gruden has raved about Tatum on Monday Night Football. Although, I guess, a few kids in east Texas liked Harris, I have never heard a hard-hitting safety referred to as “the next Cliff Harris” or “a Cliff Harris type.” Never have and, quite likely, never will.

            3) Barry Sanders ran for 15,269 yards in 10 years. Smith needed TWELVE years to surpass Barry in career yards. Kind of like another fraudulent Smith (Bruce) needed extra years to pad his totals to “surpass” the player greater than him (Reggie White) who reach the plateau in less time.

            4) Haven’t heard a response from you on Gale Sayers’ evaluations on Barry and Emmitt, given that you don’t consider Jim Brown or Eric Dickerson (ONLY the two greatest runners of all time: Brown cleared 10,000 yards in 98 games; Dickerson turned that trick in 91) to have “credibility.”
            Reminder: Sayers: “Good running back, great offensive line.”–for Smith. “I love watching him play. He the most reminds me of myself.”–for Sanders.

            Clincher: Brown: “Emmitt can play (well) on certain teams. Barry could play (well) for any team, in any era.” Love being validated by hall of Famers. LMAO!

            5) Emmitt’s “championship caliber playing style”: He was on the right team, in a great situation. Does Emmitt turn that trick in Detroit with Bob Gagliano, Rodney Peete, Andre Ware, Dave Kreig, Scott Mitchell, and Charlie Batch at QB and that mediocre offensive line (with the notable exception of Lomas Brown)? Of course not. The playoff reputations of Barry, Dickerson, O.J., and Jim Brown change if they switch places with Emmitt, Roger Craig, Franco Harris, and Jim Taylor. Oh, by the way…In their one playoff matchup, who won the game Barry or Emmitt? LMAO!! College: Sanders led the nation in rushing, breaking Marcus Allen’s record in the process AND won the Heisman Trophy. Emmitt never did,

            6) Lou Groza made the Pro Bowl as an offensive lineman from 1950-55 and the last four of those years he was first-team All-Pro. Very impressive. One problem, though. In all of those years, Jim Brown was in high school or college! When JB came into the NFL, Groza was strictly a kicker and made the Pro Bowl as just and only that in ’57, ’58, and ’59–Brown’s first three years as a pro.

            7) You wrote that Tatum’s “irresponsible antics got Stingley paralyzed.” In the September ’80 NFL Preview issue of Sport Magazine, the feature article was “Receivers Answer The Assassin” Several NFL wideouts (Drew Pearson, Harold Carmichael, John Stallworth, Stanley Morgan, Dave Logan, Haven Moses, Ahmad Rashad, Wesley Walker) spoke about Tatum, violence in the NFL, and the play in which Stingley was injured (according to the Sport, “Lynn Swann refused to be interviewed because he didn’t want to give Tatum the publicity.” Wussy.). Your own Drew Pearson said, “What really caused the injury was that Darryl ducked his head just before Tatum hit him.”

          • Rasputin
            March 21, 2017

            Should add that Larry Wilson went on to be a scout and GM as well as a coach.

          • Rasputin
            March 22, 2017

            To Joseph Wright,

            1. So? Oh is that your explanation for you wrongly asserting that Henderson, not Harris, knocked Upchurch out after I had correctly observed with certainty that Harris had? It didn’t occur to you ask what I was basing that on to be sure?

            2. Cliff Harris made 6 Pro Bowls to Tatum’s 3, and 3 first team AP All Pro selections to Tatum’s zero. Harris was first team All Decade while Tatum wasn’t All Decade at all. Harris has been the starting free safety on multiple SI all time NFL teams while to my knowledge Tatum never has been. Harris won 2 Super Bowls to Tatum’s 1. Harris was also a key member of Doomsday. After his retirement in 1979 the unit’s decline started noticeably in the secondary. By contrast the year Tatum left for Houston (1980) all the Raiders did was win the Super Bowl without him.

            As for the post career hype you mention, Tatum did write more self promoting books than Harris, at least three of them bearing the sensationalistic and exciting nickname “Assasin” in the title, while Harris moved on to other things and received little national media coverage given the rise of the anti-Cowboys bias discussed elsewhere on this thread, but plenty of kids and adults have compared players to Cliff Harris. More should be doing so.

            3. Emmitt Smith ran for 8,019 yards in a 5 year peak (1991-1995) while Sanders only ran for 7,398 yards those same years. So I can play that game too. More importantly, Smith powered his team to 3 Super Bowl wins, including putting them on his back in decisive fashion in the Super Bowl 28 comeback and the regular season finale separated shoulder game against the Giants that secured home field advantage, in a textbook example of your alleged #3 playoff history impact criteria. What was Barry Sanders’ memorable impact on playoff history, btw?

            I think Smith was the better back at his peak, but whether one favors Sanders or Smith it’s indefensible to claim Smith wasn’t one of the all time greats. For you to go even further and call Smith “fraudulent” given the feats I’ve laid out just destroys your credibility even more than your other wrong statements have.

            4. LOL! Still repeating the same rebutted quotes? Guess you’re out of ammo. Sayers was great but I’d rather build my franchise around Smith any day. Sayers was delicate. He wasn’t a dynastic, championship caliber running back. Durability matters, and Smith was a vital workhorse.

            Jim Brown was a great player but, in addition to being a moron and screwing up careers like Duane Thomas’ as I said earlier, he’s been in and out of jail for assaulting various women over the years. It’s disgusting that the media keeps legitimizing this guy by trotting him out from time to time to discuss political/racial/social issues as if he’s some sage.

            To show how worthless his commentary on other players is, Brown had no respect for Franco Harris, and was annoyed that Harris came as close to passing his yardage mark as he did. Brown sincerely thought he could beat Harris in a race at the end of the latter’s career, so the long retired Brown and recently retired Harris met and ran the 40. Franco decisively beat Jim Brown.

            “Credibility”, LMAO! Scout/coach/GM/HoF player Larry Wilson’s quote on Cliff Harris has a lot more credibility.

            5. You’re just repeating baseless speculation. We don’t know for sure what WOULD have happened if Sanders had played for Dallas instead of Smith, though I suspect they would have been punting a lot more due to Sanders’ wild, home run seeking style on every play and fizzling out more on the road in the playoffs as Sanders did in less comfortable environments when the games mattered most.

            We do know what they ACTUALLY did. Smith rushed for more yards in high school than Barry Sanders did. Smith rushed for more yards in his three years in college than Sanders did in his three years in college. Smith was a unanimous All American RB in college, meaning the media consensus was that he was the best in the country at his position. All that was accomplished without the Great Wall of Dallas. You’ve failed to explain this.

            We know that Sanders had more yards per season in the late 90s without Lomas Brown and with a weaker team around him than he did during his first several years when the Lions were regularly a playoff team, a phenomenon that cripples your assumptions and that you have yet to explain.

            We know that the Cowboys started 0-2 without Smith in 1993 because they couldn’t run the ball with the backup, and went on to win almost all their remaining games including the Super Bowl after bringing Smith back, solidifying his MVP status.

            We know Smith won 3 Super Bowls while Sanders won zero.

            We know Smith scored 25 rushing TDs in one season, then an NFL record.

            We know Sanders holds the career record for getting stuffed with no gain.

            We know Smith won 4 rushing titles in his first 6 years, along with Super Bowl and NFL MVP awards.

            We know rushing champions are often on bad or mediocre teams (think about that), and in fact Smith was the first to win a rushing title and a Super Bowl the same year.

            We know the Cowboys were more dominant from 1992-1995 than any other team ever has been over a four year period, winning all 10 of their playoff victories in that span by double digits (every single one). That type of unparalleled dominance leaves room for and arguably requires Smith, Aikman, and Irvin to all be among the greatest of all time at their respective positions, along with a great line, great role players like Novacek and Moose Johnston, and a legitimately great defense. But it particularly points to dominance in time of possession and the physical dismantling of opposing teams that prevented comebacks, led by Emmitt Smith and the power running game.

            We know that near the end of Smith’s career in Dallas, when he really was a slightly above average back (still doing better than Sanders was on the couch though), loads of people said the new backup Troy Hambrick was better (he was bigger and faster you see, and some idiots think that’s all that matters), until the following year when Smith was gone and Hambrick was the starter with the same line. He only averaged 3.5 y/c and was gone the next year. Turns out they were wrong; Smith was the better back. People kept underestimating him through the end of his career.

            Oh, and for whatever it’s worth we know that Smith rushed for more yards and TDs than anyone else in NFL history by a large margin, so even if that’s not a precise measure of greatness he had to have been doing something right.

            We know that you mocked Bachslunch for allegedly using a “fantasy football” approach when you’re the one actually using a shallow armchair fantasy approach here (“numbers, numbers, numbers”; plug and play from one system to a completely different one, lol).

            Oh, and we know the Cowboys got revenge against the Lions the following year by beating them 37-3. Remember, Barry Sanders was drafted to a better, more established team than Smith was. But in just a few years Smith’s team was among the greatest of all time, in large part because of him.

            6. No, Lou Groza was the starting LT through the end of the 1950s, including the first third of Jim Brown’s career. He didn’t become a kicker specialist-only until after a back injury in 1960. That he was a Pro Bowl tackle before Brown showed up just underscores that he was a legitimately great lineman and not merely a creature of Brown’s success. In fact the PFHOF site calls him “one of pro football’s finest offensive tackles”.

            7. No I didn’t. I said Tatum was widely criticized (by others) as a cheap shot artist whose irresponsible antics had gotten Stingley paralyzed, and that he ostensibly wrote the “Assassin” books to respond to that criticism, with all the ensuing controversy boosting the hype around him.

            “Brutal realities”, lol? Your post was more a collection of non sequiturs, regurgitated claims that have already been debunked, and facts more supportive of my position than yours.

  5. bachslunch
    February 28, 2017
    Reply

    Joseph, just for the record, I do not think Wes Welker was a better receiver than Paul Warfield. I’m well aware that some kind of period adjusting is necessary, not to mention the fact that Warfield played on run-heavy teams that likely depressed his raw stats. To an extent, that’s true of Michael Irvin also. Chase Stuart has made an attempt at period adjusting for WRs, but I’m not that taken with what he came up with.

  6. bachslunch
    February 28, 2017
    Reply

    Joseph, I’m not going to email about Stabler, so will be brief. Should be clear that I’m not sold on narrative boosts in HoF cases. His single title and quality of stats just don’t cut it for me, sorry. If he’s a HoFer, I say so are Conerly, Theismann, Roman Gabriel, John Brodie, Ken Anderson, and likely others. Get all these folks in, and I won’t have any issue with Stabler.

  7. Rasputin
    March 1, 2017
    Reply

    Good piece, but don’t fall into the trap of dismissing the Cowboys’ under-representation in Canton to them winning two Super Bowls instead of four.

    In 2005 the Vikings, who had started a year later than the Cowboys and have never won a Super Bowl, had 5 Hall of Fame players. The Cowboys had 5 too.

    Don’t tell me there was no anti-Cowboys bias among voters and the broader media. It seems to have ginned up around 1980, maybe in part as a reaction to the “America’s Team” stuff, and reached its zenith in the late 90s. That’s why for years Dallas’ only few HoFers were all first ballot shoe-in types like Randy White and Roger Staubach whom even haters acknowledged had to be inducted. It’s why Drew Pearson and Cliff Harris are the only two offensive and defensive starters respectively on the 1970s All Decade team not in. It’s why Mel Renfro, the 10 time Pro Browler and franchise career interception leader with 2 SB rings, one of the greatest DBs in NFL history and the best KO returner in team history, had to wait until his final year of eligibility to squeak in. It’s why Darren Woodson was royally robbed out of 1990s All Decade status. The Cowboys hadn’t gotten any of the less open and shut case types other teams get here and there. It’s why Chuck Howley, a SB MVP with 5 AP first team All Pro selections and 6 Pro Bowls spread out across 7 different seasons, and several other deserving players, have never even gotten close.

    The Landry era Cowboys had more sustained success than the Noll era Steelers. The gap between their representations in Canton becomes much greater when you consider that the Steelers won 4 Super Bowls, two of them by less than a TD, in one relatively brief several year burst with essentially the same group of players.

    The Cowboys had 20 consecutive winning seasons, 19 of them playoff years. They owned the Steelers in the 1960s and into the early 1970s, had a better decade on balance in the 1980s than Pittsburgh did, and even won more games than the Steelers in the 1970s. You cut off the period at 1978, but they did make three consecutive NFC Championship games from 1980-1982 and won the powerful NFC East as late as 1985.

    It required different waves of great players to sustain that success in three different decades. You can’t just lump Randy White in with Bob Lilly, as they never played together. Tony Dorsett’s induction doesn’t make up for Chuck Howley’s exclusion. The success of the late 1970s and 1980s was mostly achieved with a different group than the success of the 1960s and early 1970s. None of the eras are properly represented.

    The stubborn anti-Cowboys selector clique may have shrunk some this century with voter turnover, but you still haven’t made up for the damage done in the years following the Landry era. At a minimum these three men should be enshrined ASAP, as they should have been in a long time ago:

    Chuck Howley
    Cliff Harris
    Drew Pearson

    Lee Roy Jordan is roughly in that mix too, but if three of those players are inducted in the next few years then we can finally move on from the destructive legacy of the anti-Cowboys bias and deal with the remaining best candidates in a normal manner.

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