Ever wonder why there are so few right tackles named to the Pro Bowl or elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Willie Anderson has.
Anderson is one of the greatest players in Cincinnati Bengals’ history, a member of its 50th anniversary team and a 12-year starter and multi-time Pro Bowl selection. Yet now in his fifth year of Hall-of-Fame eligibility, Anderson has yet to reach the semi-final ballot. Anderson believes the big reason why was his willingness to be moved to right tackle after starting on the left side his rookie season.
That shift, and the movie “Blindside’’ about the rise of Michael Oher and the importance of the left tackle in protecting a quarterback’s blind side, are, he believes, why he remains outside the doors of Canton.
“No doubt,’’ Anderson said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “The whole Michael Oher, ‘Blindside’ movie sold it in some people’s minds that right tackle was not important.
“I had the arrogant belief I’d show them right tackle was an important position, too. If it’s not important, I should step out of the way of Reggie White because the quarterback can see him (coming). Twelve rushers beat me (for a sack) between 1996 and 2008, but, when you’re losing no one wants to hear about it.’’
That was Anderson’s other curse. In the 12 years he started in Cincinnati he played for five head coaches, twice as many starting quarterbacks and didn’t have a winning season until his 10th year in the league. Plus, he only reached the playoffs once. Still, he was the most dominating right tackle of his era and for a time the league’s highest paid offensive lineman. You could surely argue Hall-of-Fame voters may be blind to the fact he was as good as anyone playing the blindside.
The Talk of Fame Network also visits with former Giants’ coach and 49ers’ GM John McVay, whose grandson, Sean, is resurrecting the Los Angeles Rams as their 30-year-old head coach. Of all the things the senior McVay accomplished in pro football, watching his grandson leading the Rams to a 6-2 start in his first year as a head coach tops them all.
“He grew up with his uncles and Dad being successful college coaches,’’ McVey recalled. “He used to read Bill Walsh’s how-to book (on coaching, which is a massive tome). He’d read a few pages each night before he fell asleep.’’
Football is obviously in the blood for Sean McVay, and it goes back to the 1989 NFL Executive of the Year, his grandfather, John.
Did you know there is such a thing as the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame? Well, there is, and it’s located in the Polynesian Cultural Center in Honolulu. That’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in Hawaii, and it’s the home of an idea conceived by former 49ers’ offensive lineman Jesse Sapolu.
“I began going to different Pacific islands doing football camps with June Jones and Troy Polamalu, and we started talking about who was the first Polynesian player in the NFL,’’ Sapolu tells Talk of Fame Network hosts Clark Judge, Ron Borges and Rick Gosselin. “We found out it was in 1947. That’s when I realized we had a history. I felt we needed something so these kids don’t forget the pioneers who knocked the door down.’’
Thus was born the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
This year’s class includes former Michigan State fullback Bob Apisa, who is considered the father of Polynesian football. He and four others will be inducted January 19-20, the same weekend the Polynesian Bowl will be played at Aloha Stadium, a game featuring the top Polynesian high-school players from around the Pacific Rim. And the highlight of induction weekend will have its roots in Polynesian cultural history.
“They get rings and a jacket,’’ Sapolu said. “Then they put their jerseys in the Hall and do a canoe ride.’’
Speaking of canoes, long-time Houston Chronicle football writer John McClain could have used one during the recent floods in his city. John drops by to talk about how the Astros’ World Series victory lifted the spirits of the city only to see them sag the same week when Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson was lost for the season with a knee injury.
“It’s been a seesaw of emotions,’’ McClain said.
He also explains why Colin Kaepernick was never considered as a possible replacement.
You can listen to the Talk of Fame Network broadcast on Wednesday nights from 8-10 p.m. on SB Nation Radio or by downloading the free podcast at iTunes or on the TuneIn app. You can also hear us on our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.