State Your Case: Why former G Ed White deserves a look from the HOF


Photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers

Ed White left terrific football memories everywhere he played.

Indio High School in Indio, Calif., named its home field “Ed White Stadium” for its most famous son. White has been inducted into the University of California Hall of Fame, his alma mater, and the Pac 12 named him to its all-century team. White also has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

White became a second-round draft pick by Minnesota in 1969 and played nine seasons for the Vikings. He has been named to both the 25th and 40th anniversary teams of the Vikings. In 2010 was selected one of the 50 Greatest Vikings.

White was traded to San Diego in 1978 and played the final eight years of his career with the Chargers. He has since been named to the 40th and 50th anniversary teams of the Chargers and has been elected to the franchise Hall of Fame.

White was a Pro Bowl blocker in one of the NFL’s top rushing offenses at Minnesota with Bill Brown, Dave Osborn and Chuck Foreman. He was one of only 10 players to participate in all four of Minnesota’s Super Bowls in the 1970s.

Then White became a Pro Bowl blocker in one of the league’s top passing offenses at San Diego with Hall of Famers Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow. The Chargers led the NFL in passing in White’s first six seasons there and in seven of his eight seasons. When White retired after the 1985 season, no offensive lineman in NFL history had played more games than his 241.

Yet White’s career has never come up for discussion by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

Is it the absence of a Super Bowl ring on his hand? The selection committee tends to favor champions. Sixty-seven percent of all those enshrined in Canton won titles. Is it the absence of NFL all-decade acclaim? The selection committee also is partial to those performers. Almost 67 percent of the players enshrined in Canton were all-decade selections.

What makes White an even better story – and arguably a better candidate – is that he never expected to block anyone in the NFL. That’s because White was an All-America nose tackle at Cal in 1968. But the Vikings used their first pick in the 1969 draft on White, projecting him against his wishes as a guard.

White made the Vikings as a rookie in 1969 in a reserve capacity as he was learning his new position, then moved into the starting lineup midway through the 1970 season at left guard. He switched to right guard in 1975 and was voted to his first of three consecutive Pro Bowls. He remained there for the next nine seasons, three with the Vikings and six with the Chargers, before San Diego moved him to right tackle in 1984. He moved back over to left guard for his final NFL season in 1985.

White’s resume features quality, durability and versatility, yet his Hall of Fame candidacy languishes in the senior committee. His 25-year window of eligibility came and went without anyone giving the career of Ed White a second thought. And that’s an injustice to a one of the most talented linemen the NFL has ever seen.

This is a player who moved from offense to defense, from guard to tackle, from left side to the right. White started at three different positions on teams that won 67 percent of their games. His blocking protected two Hall of Fame quarterbacks (Fran Tarkenton and Fouts) and opened holes for three 1,000-yard rushers (Foreman, Chuck Muncie and Earnest Jackson).

White played on teams that won 11 division titles and qualified for the playoffs 12 times in his 17-year career. In addition to his four Super Bowls, he appeared in six conference championship games.

Maybe it’s time the Pro Football Hall of Fame follow the lead of Indio High School, the University of California, the Pac 12, the NCAA, the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers and recognize greatness. The career of Ed White deserves long-overdue scrutiny from Canton.

Follow on Twitter @RickGosselin9

Previous TOFN "5 Games" podcast: James Harris revisits the 1967 Orange Blossom Classic
Next TOFN "5 Games" podcast: QB James Harris revisits his historical first NFL start in 1969

6 Comments

  1. bachslunch
    June 26, 2018
    Reply

    Rick, enjoyable and well researched, a good read as always.

    Guard is one of those positions not so well represented in the HoF, and unfortunately there’s a ton of competition for most deserving snub. Ed White (honors of 2/4/none, though his long career helps his case) wouldn’t be my first in line when folks like Walt Sweeney (4/9/allAFL), Dick Barwegen (5/4/50s), Duane Putnam (5/5/none), Jim Ray Smith (4/5/none), Ken Gray (4/6/none), Gale Gillingham (5/5/none), John Niland (3/6/none), Ed Budde (3/7/allAFL), and Bob Kuechenberg (2/6/none) are left outside the door. But there’s no reason he shouldn’t have his name brought forth.

    It’d be great to get all these folks a chance in the room at some point. Good luck with that, though.

  2. Howard Mudd
    June 26, 2018
    Reply

    Ed White was a BEAST when he played. He had already distinguished himself with the Vikings but was overshadowed by so many other stars. When he was traded to the Chargers it really altered the landscape or the Chargers OL. Instantly they were more dominating because Ed was such a powerful run blocker. They ran ran a sweep to their right with Muncey and Big Ed leading. He was a force in the run game and block of stone in the middle of the pocket for Fouts to be able to step up and throw. Fouts was NOT mobile and need the security of a pocket to execute. A rusher wasn’t going to run over Ed. His ability to dominate reminds me of Larry Allen.
    There isn’t any Senior candidate that is more deserving to be considered for the HOF.

    • bachslunch
      June 27, 2018
      Reply

      Howard, thanks for posting. Given what Rick said, it sounds like you’re indeed Howard Mudd the former line coach and ‘Niners guard.

      Was wondering if you’d be willing to publicly weigh in on how best to rank the Senior-eligible guards currently not in the HoF with detailed thoughts. Including all of White, Sweeney, Barwegen, Putnam, Smith, Gray, Gillingham, Niland, Budde, and Kuechenberg would be ideal, and feel free to include other crucial names I’ve overlooked.

      The best eligible OTs would look to be Jim Tyrer, Winston Hill, George Kunz, Joe Jacoby, Marvin Powell, and Leon Gray. Could you do a separate ranking of them with details as well and include any folks I’ve omitted?

      I don’t have the resources or deep level knowledge to do high quality film study, unfortunately, and am thinking this would be really educational. Many thanks.

  3. Rick Gosselin
    June 27, 2018
    Reply

    I trust the eyes of Howard Mudd, who himself was an 1960s NFL all-decade guard for the San Francisco 49ers and later a Super Bowl-winning offensive line coach with the Indianapolis Colts. His expertise in offensive-line play is matched by few in NFL circles.

  4. bachslunch
    June 28, 2018
    Reply

    The idea of who should get priority in the Senior pool is an interesting one. Given the present reality, it’s a tediously slow process and may or may not be fairly identifying the best ordering here. Given that Marshall Goldberg has become a finalist (unsuccessfully) twice makes that clear.

    How to determine this? It’s a good question. I like to use a blend of honors accumulated and good quality film study.

    I like honors as part of this thinking because:

    –it’s tangible, concrete, and easily available. You can readily count and measure this kind of stuff. A profile of 6/9/80s vs. 0/2/none? Easy peasy, at least in theory.

    –it reflects what contemporary observers thought of the player at the time.

    In truth, this thinking does have some limits and requires some nuance. While there’s often a correlation between honors and film study, that’s not always the case. There are players with poor honors profiles who reportedly look great on film (Ray Nitschke at 3/1/60s) and players with great honors profiles who reportedly don’t look as great in film study (Dick Stanfel at 5/4/50s), though that doesn’t seem to be the norm.

    And that’s why I think film study should be an important component of this. It does have a few disadvantages:

    –it’s entirely dependent on the dissection skill of the person doing film study, which can vary – and which an interested amateur like myself can’t always tell for sure.

    –it’s generally not information readily available to interested amateurs. I like the detailed specifics-heavy approach used at Ken Crippen’s site, though they haven’t covered a boatload of players yet.

    –it’s potentially subject to interpretation and bias even among the best practitioners.

    But done well and reliably, it can tell you with authority who the best are.

    It’s easy to use an “appeal to authority” approach – “Trust so-and-so’s judgement” – though that only goes so far. I’m leery of testimonials from former players and coaches as it can be biased, especially where teammates are involved. And in an internet age where anybody can pass themselves off as an expert, you don’t often know who you’re talking with or supposed to trust. There’s also a whole lot of partisan cheerleading that goes on in HoF discussion forums, something which I don’t consider to be useful information — and it’s all the worse when cheerleading comes disguised as film study expertise, which happens occasionally.

    Rick – got an idea for a series if you think it’s appropriate. How about putting together a blue-ribbon panel of film study experts to rank the best available candidates at each position based on this approach and present their findings in a series of detailed articles? Say, for guards, have them talk about pulling, trap blocking, footwork, ability to maintain balance and stay on their feet, run blocking, screen pass blocking, pass protection, arm and hand technique, tendency to commit penalties, stuff like that. Include a diverse set of folks like Howard Mudd and Ron Wolf and John Turney and Ken Crippen on your panel.

    I for one would find this kind of thing useful and informative. It could also make for some interesting discussion and disagreement among the panel.

    Whether it’ll be easy to find a bunch of experts willing to put their thoughts out there publicly may be an issue, of course. But who knows? Am thinking it’s worth a try.

  5. Jelperman (@Jelperman)
    July 12, 2018
    Reply

    I think all three of the Ws (White, Wilkerson, Washington) are deserving. They were every bit as important to the success of Air Coryell as Joiner, Chandler, Jefferson and Winslow. When they started losing these three great linemen in 1983, the Chargers’ playoff runs came to a sudden halt as Fouts never played a complete season due to injury.

    My only issue is that while Ed White was an all-time great OG, he wasn’t necessarily the best guard on the Chargers: Doug Wilkerson was better, in my opinion. The Chargers had probably the best pair of guards ever. Only Kuechenberg and Little for the Dolphins come to mind.

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