(WilberMarshall photo courtesy of Chicago Bears)
Talk of Fame Network
In the final installment of the Talk of Fame Network’s “Outsiders’’ series, our guys visit with former Chicago Bears’ and Washington Redskins’ All-Pro linebacker Wilber Marshall and Hall-of-Fame preliminary candidate LeRoy Butler, a long-shot for the Hall despite being a member of the 1990s all-decade team and a four-time All-Pro selection.
Marshall played on one of the greatest defenses in NFL history — the 1985 Chicago Bears — as well as being named NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 with the Washington Redskins. Yet he failed to make the 94-man preliminary ballot of Hall-of-Fame candidates, a slight that baffled him and many others.
“I wasn’t just a rush linebacker,’’ Marshall said as a way of trying to explain his exclusion. “I played in the middle on third downs. I’m probably the only linebacker who (regularly) played outside and inside.’’
Marshall retired with 46 sacks, 24 interceptions and 24 forced fumbles, evidence of his versatility and ability. The Bears were first in defense in three of the four years he started, and he started on nine Top-10 defenses in his 12-year career, including a Houston unit that was first against the run and a Jets’ defense that finished first against the pass.
“It’s really hard when you see some guys on there,’’ Marshall said of the preliminary ballot. “Carl Banks? Tedy Bruschi? Why? What did I do (wrong)? I don’t get it.’’
Neither do we.
Butler, who was an anchor of the great Green Bay defenses of the Reggie White Era, seems to suffer from a different malady. Although he made the preliminary ballot he played a position where the last active player was inducted 35 years ago. Safety, it seems, is just not a position valued by Hall-of-Fame voters.
There are only seven pure safeties enshrined in Canton, and there are 12 all-decade safeties who have yet to be elected. So what are Leroy Butler’s chances?
“If any other guy than those (Reggie White and Brett Favre) guys should be in there it’s LeRoy Butler,’’ Butler said.
Without ambiguity, the inventor of the Lambeau Leap believes being an all-decade selection should carry more weight with Hall-of-Fame voters than it has … and who can argue with him?
Our hosts, Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges and Clark Judge, are all Hall-of-Fame voters, so they too weigh in on the issue of Marshall and Butler among a myriad of subjects they debate this week. Our guys also make their monthly visit with pro football historian John Turney of Pro Football Journal to discuss our “Outsiders’’ list, with Turney favoring Chiefs’ pass rusher Neil Smith as his favorite.
There’s that and much more during this two-hour football funfest. The show can be heard live on 80 SB Nation Radio Network stations as well as on an iTunes podcast and at talkoffamenetwork.com. The show can also be heard for free by downloading TuneIn radio’s free app and going to Talk of Fame Network.