Which Hall-of-Fame candidate with the most patience is the most deserving?


Linebacker Karl Mecklenburg prepares to wrap up a Browns ball carrier during an October 30, 1994 win against Cleveland.

Talk of Fame Network

Brett Favre is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and will be ushered into Canton as a member of the Class of 2016 on the first ballot.

The greatest of the greats rarely have to wait long. Of the 295 men enshrined inCanton, 74 went in on the first ballot, including Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Joe Greene, Walter Payton, Lawrence Taylor, Joe Montana and Barry Sanders. Junior Seau was a first-ballot selection in the Class of 2015.

But the wait doesn’t diminish the honor. Pass rusher Charles Haley, the only player in history with five Super Bowl rings, had to wait six years for his bust. John Mackey, the game’s greatest tight end, waited five years. Dick “Night Train” Lane, the game’s greatest cornerback, waited three years.

Once you’re in, you’re in. Regardless of the wait.

And there are five men among the semifinalists for the Class of 2016 who have been waiting a very long time for that call from Canton. There’s a coach, a fullback, two offensive tackles and a linebacker whose careers date back to the 1970s and 1980s. Help us select the candidate whose patience has the best chance of being rewarded with a spot in the Class of 2016? Here are the candidates for this week’s poll:

Don Coryell

(Photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers)

Don Coryell, coach, St. Louis/San Diego

Coryell brought one of the best offensive minds from the college game to the NFL when he became head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973.  He took a franchise that couldn’t win and made a winner out of it. The Cardinals moved from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960 but didn’t win a division title until Coryell’s arrival. St. Louis won the East in both 1974 and ’75 — the first time the franchise had captured back-to-back division titles since 1947-48. Coryell moved on to San Diego in 1978 and built an offense for the ages — an offense that sent QB Dan Fouts, WR Charlie Joiner and TE Kellen Winslow to the Hall of Fame.  The Chargers led the NFL in scoring twice (1981-82), in offense four times (1980-83) and in passing six times (1978-83). The Chargers went to back-to-back AFC title games (1980-81) but never reached the Super Bowl. Coryell is in his 26th year of eligibility, and this is his eight time as a semifinalist. He’s been a finalist twice.

ROGER CRAIG 49ERS

(Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers)

Roger Craig, FB, San Francisco

Craig arrived in San Francisco as a second-round draft pick in 1983 and started at fullback as a rookie. He was used primarily as a blocker and receiver and led the 49ers in receiving  in 1984 with 71 catches. He then led the NFL in receiving in 1985 with 92 receptions, becoming the first player in NFL history with 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving in a single season. He moved to halfback and wound up third in the NFL in rushing with 1,502 yards in 1988. His 566 career catches place him in the Top 10 all-time among running backs. He started 116 games for the 49ers through 1990, helping San Francisco win seven NFC West titles and three Super Bowls. This is Craig’s 18th year of eligibility and his seventh time as a semifinalist. He’s been a finalist once.

Courtesy Of The Washington Redskins

(Photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins)

Joe Jacoby, OT, Washington

Jacoby traveled the longest road to reach his spot on the ballot. He made the Redskins in 1981 as an undrafted free agent and stepped in as the starting left tackle in 1982, charged with protecting the quarterback’s blind side. He spent the next seven seasons there, before moving to right tackle in 1989. He also started a handful of games at guard before his retirement after the 1993 season. During his career, the Redskins won five NFC East titles, four NFC titles and three Super Bowls. Jacoby was voted to four consecutive Pro Bowls from 1983-86 and also to the 1980s’ NFL all-decade team. This is Jacoby’s 18th year of eligibility and his sixth time as a semifinalist. He’s never been a finalist.

Mike Kenn

(Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons)

Mike Kenn, OT, Atlanta

Kenn was a dynamic leader, serving on the executive committee of the NFL Players Association for 17 years, including a stint as president. On the field he started 251 games for the Falcons. The only offensive lineman in NFL history with more starts was Hall-of-Famer Bruce Matthews at 293. A first-round pick in 1978, Kenn saw — and blocked — most of the great pass rushers in NFL history: Hall-of-Famers Bruce Smith, Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Thomas, Richard Dent, Fred Dean, Chris Doleman, Howie Long, Dan Hampton, Lee Roy Selmon, Ted Hendricks and Elvin Bethea. He was voted to the All-NFC team six times and had his jersey number 78 retired by Falcons. This is Kenn’s 17th year of eligibility,and he’s never been a finalist. Again, a lack of team success has hurt the candidacy of a great player.

Linebacker Karl Mecklenburg prepares to wrap up a Browns ball carrier during an October 30, 1994 win against Cleveland.

(Photo courtesy of Eric Bakke/Denver Broncos)

Karl Mecklenburg, LB, Denver

The Swiss army knife of defenders, Mecklenburg could line up at any of the seven spots in the defensive front seven on any given down. And often did during the 1980s when era when the Broncos would win five division titles and three AFC championships. Had the Broncos won just one Super Bowl, Mecklenburg might already be in Canton. He made the Broncos as a 12th-round draft pick in 1983, playing defensive end. He was moved to linebacker the next year and would play both inside and out over the next 11 seasons. He was voted to six Pro Bowls and finished his career with 1,145 tackles and, at the time, a franchise record 79 sacks. This is Mecklenburg’s 16th year of eligibility and he’s never been a finalist.

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12 Comments

  1. Rich Quodomine
    December 2, 2015
    Reply

    I went for Kenn – I think his biggest issue isn’t his play, it was his team. And let’s face it, throughout most of the years he played, the Falcons were awful. This wasn’t the mid-to-late-90s Chandler & ANderson Dirty Birds, or the Vick-led teams or Matty Ice’s current quality teams. The Falcons were regularly cellar dwellars in the old NFC West, particularly as the Niners reigned. Thus, Kenn became a sort of Archie Manning or Lynn Dickey of tackles, maybe his closest comparison today is Joe Thomas. Eveyrone agrees Thomas is as good as it gets, but the rest of team is a dumpster fire.

  2. Dennis Thorne
    December 3, 2015
    Reply

    It’s time for Joe. All the rest of the hogs are there.

  3. December 3, 2015
    Reply

    Of all the Washington Redskin offensive lineman of that
    era Big Joe Jacoby is the most deserving of all. He was
    a pillar of continuity and greatness that has been
    recognized by the team and the N.F.L. Is it not time for
    the Hall of Fame to get on board.

  4. Paul Biddlecombe
    December 4, 2015
    Reply

    I am amazed he’s not there already.

  5. Nick Curran
    December 4, 2015
    Reply

    I love Russ Grimm, former Redskin guard who is in the Hall, but Jacoby was a better player for a longer period of time than Grimm. By the time the Redskins dominated the league in the 1991 season and won Super Bowl XXVI, Grimm was no longer even a starter! He was brought in in the goal-line “Heavy Jumbo” package a couple of plays a game. Jacoby was still starting at tackle and playing at a very high level. That 1991 Redskins o-line gave up only SEVEN sacks of starting QB Mark Rypien all year (there were two more sacks against the back-up QB during meaningless mop-up time given up by back-up o-linemen). SEVEN sacks of the starting QB all year! That is nearly impossible to believe. Grimm was not part of that, but he has been a fairly successful coach in the NFL since his retirement which in my opinion accounts for his enshrinement. Jacoby has led a quiet life which accounts for his exclusion.

    In addition to Jacoby, center Jeff Bostic is also deserving; more so than Mike Kenn of the irrelevant Falcons of that era.

  6. Samuel Fairchild
    December 4, 2015
    Reply

    JOE JACOBY, Deserves to be in the Hall and should have been in there along time ago . He was nicknamed Route 66 and him and Russ Grimm were alart of arguably the best oline and Left tackle.left guard combo in NFL History . Put Joe Jacoby in the NFL HALL OF FAME were.he deserves to be and should already have been.

  7. anthony l.hill
    December 4, 2015
    Reply

    hi I am die-hard redskins fan joe more than derserves to be in the hall of fame with the rest of the hogs line.how can u put the hogs in without him being there.

  8. Darrell
    December 4, 2015
    Reply

    ALL THE COMMENTS UP YO WERE I COMMENTED SPEAKES FOR ITSELF.YESS HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THERE A LONG TIME AGO AND WHOEVER HAS THE POWER TOO PUT HIM IN THERE KNOWS IT TOO THAT’S WHY HIS NAME KEEPS COMING UP. THEY NEVER DO THE RIGHT THING ANYWAY BUT TO MY MAN JOE. BE ENCOURAGE YOU ARE ALREADY AND HAS BEEN A HALL OF FAMER RATHER THEY WANT TOO RECOGNIZE IT OR NOT.

  9. David
    December 4, 2015
    Reply

    Its Joe Jacoby’s time. To quote John Riggins “Whenever you can run on route 66, it’s a good road to ride.”

    Vote for the Boss Hog!

  10. Rich Quodomine
    December 5, 2015
    Reply

    I am not arguing against Jacoby at all – he definitely deserves to be in. I just wanted to mention that just because the Falcons were mostly irrelevant with iffy defenses and mediocre QB play, is often held against him. Jacoby played on arguably the greatest single Offensive line in NFL modern history (post WW2) and he was huge. I grew up in awe as my Bills stunk through a large part of the 80s. Kenn had nowhere near the surroudning talent and played in the shadow of who may be the greatest LT of all time in Anthony Munoz – he’s in the discussion. But the Bengals were very good through most of Munoz’ career. Not so much Kenn’s, which is why he doesn’t get the recognition, IMO.

  11. RICK BOWYER
    December 6, 2015
    Reply

    A TRUE LEGEND SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN

  12. bdw
    December 13, 2015
    Reply

    Joe Jacoby IS the greatest left offensive tackle of all time! Ask John Madden since he name Joe to the all century team. I believe that Jacoby is the only LT never to let L Taylor sack his QB. I know what your thinking and no he was not in the game when Theisman got his ankle broke by L Taylor.

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