Tasker a True Ace


(Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bills)

Talk of Fame Network

NFL coaches will tell you special teams account for a third of the game. But that’s not what the NFL Hall of Fame selection committee will tell you — not with just one pure placekicker and one pure punter enshrined in Canton.

You won’t find any pure return specialists or special-teams aces there, either.

The kicking game barely registers a blip in Canton.

So our last Talk of Fame Network poll asked readers to identify the best special teamer not enshrined and provided four options — a kicker (Morten Andersen), two return specialists (Brian Mitchell and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson) and a special-teams ace (Steve Tasker).

The ace won out with Tasker receiving 35 percent of the vote, followed by Andersen at 31.7 percent. The returners brought up the rear with Mitchell drawing 20 percent of the vote and Johnson 13.7.

Tasker did it all on special teams for the Buffalo Bills, covering, returning and blocking kicks. He was voted to seven Pro Bowls as a coverage ace and even blocked a punt in a Super Bowl. His former coach Marv Levy and general manager Bill Polian were both on the Talk of Fame Network recently and both were passionate in their support of Tasker’s Hall of Fame candidacy.

But the three hosts of the Talk of Fame Network disagreed with the voters. Ron Borges cast his vote for Mitchell, who returned an NFL record 1,070 kicks in his career with 13 touchdowns.

“Brian Mitchell is the all-time leader in punt returns and kick returns, which in my mind makes him the most productive special team player in NFL history,” Borges said. “The only guy with more all-purpose yards (19,013) in history is Jerry Rice. That’s a Hall of Fame resume.”

Gosselin and Judge voted for Andersen, the NFL’s all-time leading scorer with 2,544 points. He kicked for 25 years and set an NFL record with 565 field goals.

“Andersen is the game all-time leading scorer and it’s a record that may never be broken,” Judge said. “We have the all-time leading receiver in. The all-time leading rusher is in. So how come we don’t have the all-time leading scorer? Andersen should … and will … get in.”

Johnson was a two-time NFL all-decade selection and also a member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team – the only member of that 49-player honor roll not enshrined in Canton.

Jan Stenerud remains the only placekicker in the Hall of Fame and Ray Guy the only punter.

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