(Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Rams)
Talk of Fame Network
Norm Van Brocklin became a fourth-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1948.
Fifty-seven years have passed, but readers and listeners of the Talk of Fame Network haven’t forgotten the Dutchman. Van Brocklin was voted the best fourth-round draft pick ever in this week’s poll, topping a field that included the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, the only player in history with five Super Bowl rings and the blocker voted the greatest guard in the NFL’s first half century.
Van Brocklin received 27.8 percent of the vote, followed by defensive end Charles Haley (five rings) and wide receiver Cris Carter with 22.2 percent of the vote apiece, guard Jerry Kramer and at 16.7 percent and kicker Morten Andersen at 11.1 percent.
Van Brocklin played 12 seasons and won two championships, one with the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 and the other with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960. He set an NFL record that still stands today with his 554 passing yards in a single game against the New York Yanks on opening day in 1951.
Van Brocklin was a three-time NFL passing champion, winning those titles in 1950, 1952 and 1954. He threw for a career-high 24 touchdowns in his final NFL season, quarterbacking Philadelphia to its last NFL championship. He passed for 204 yards and a touchdown that day as the Eagles handed Vince Lombardi his only playoff loss, beating the Green Bay Packers 17-13. Van Brocklin went to nine Pro Bowls in his 12 seasons and was voted the NFL MVP in 1960. He also led the league in punting three times.
“It’s hard to argue with his resume,” said Talk of Fame Network host Clark Judge, a Van Brocklin backer in this poll. “Nine Pro Bowls in 12 years? But then three’s this: He’s the only quarterback to beat Lombardi in a championship game, and he still holds the record for most passing yards in one game … and he did it in 1951! Game, set and match..”
Van Brocklin, Haley and Carter have all been elected to the Hall of Fame and both Andersen and Kramer have been finalists. Van Brocklin went on to become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and took them their first winning season in 1971 (7-6-1).
“Any of these five would have been a worthy selection,” said Talk of Fame Network co-host Rick Gosselin. “But what Van Brocklin did with his arm in the 1950s was phenomenal.”
Talk of Fame Network co-host Ron Borges also thought all five were worthy selections but believed one was more worthy than the others — Haley.
“The guy has as many rings as he has fingers on one hand and was devastating pass rusher who changed the fortunes of two teams – Dallas and San Francisco,” Borges said. “Next to quarterback, most important job in football is killing the QB. He did it better than most.”