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:
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.