By John Turney
Yesterday, NBC's Mike Florio suggested Lynn Swann should "tread lightly" when speaking about Hall of Fame qualifications. Florio makes the case that Swann's Gold Jacket is because of "(T
I am not sure how Florio knows that, perhaps he has spoken
It was a contentious debate, however, Myron Cope, the Steelers' radio broadcaster and inventor of the "Terrible Towel," resigned from the selection committee because he felt he was getting too emotional and might be hurting Swann's chances of induction.
Other points were that not only has the game changed to allow for far more passing attempts, even after the change Chuck Noll was a run-first coach. From 1974 to ’82, the Steelers ran the ball 58.9 percent of the time, among the highest percentages in the NFL for that period. Still, when the Steelers did throw, their passes were down the field. During that same period of 1974-82, the Steelers averaged 14.1 yards per completion, the second-highest average in the NFL. While the Raiders talked of the "vertical game", it was the Steelers who practiced it more effectively.
The strongest case to be made for Swann is that he played best when it counted most, in the playoffs. Swann did come up huge in 16 postseason games. He caught 47 passes for 906 yards for an 18.9-yard average and nine touchdowns — against playoff competition in a run-first era. In those 16 games the Steelers came out victorious 13 times, including four times in the Super Bowl. Swann made a couple of big catches in the AFC championship game that propelled the Steelers into Super Bowl IX against the Vikings.
Swann was the MVP in Super Bowl X with perhaps the best "big" game any receiver has ever played. He made four catches, three of the circus variety, for 161 yards, including the game-winning grab. "Terry Bradshaw only threw five passes to me that day." What Swann won't tell you, but knows in his heart is that a normal wide receiver could not have made three of those catches. They were too difficult, too unique to his set of skills — in a word, too much Swann.
He caught the go-ahead pass in Super Bowl XIII that put Dallas in a hole. On that one, Swann called the play in the huddle because he saw the Dallas cornerbacks playing "up". He knew they were biting on the three-step drop, so Swann waited for Bradshaw to pump-fake, and that was his signal to blow by the corner. He did, and that touchdown, for all intents and purposes, sealed the Cowboys’ fate that day.
The following year there was Super Bowl XIV, in which he made a spectacular, leaping 47-yard touchdown reception that gave the Steelers the lead. On that catch, Swann out leaped the Rams’ two best defensive backs, Pat Thomas and Nolan Cromwell. Cromwell was so close to knocking it down that, to this day, upsets Ram fans to see that highlight. A few plays later, Swann was knocked out of the game with yet another concussion, and it became Stallworth's turn to catch the game-winning touchdown pass.
|Credit: Merv Corning|
Maybe that is not enough for some. Reasonable people can disagree and Florio and others do. However, what is a bit more problematic is how this relates to the Terrell Owens mini-
Earlier today Florio wrote that "Hall of Fame voters definitely blocked T.O.
Additionally, the so-call disruptive factor was part of the criticisms of Owens, but not the only one. It is my understanding that his leading the NFL in drops and near the top other seasons was brought up in the meeting as well as poor route-running and other esoteric things.
So, if the shoe is on the other foot, maybe the T.O.
My view is that none of the recent WRs, other than Jerry Rice had careers such that they were first-ballot WRs. Again, this is just me, but Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, that is first-ballot. My view is there are a couple players that got in right away that were not quite up to the Brown-Unitas-Montana standard, but that is what happens when votes are taken.
Another point Florio makes is this, "Why not just say only five modern candidates can get in each year, and with two of the best receivers in NFL history up at the same time, we decided to give the spot to the guy who had been waiting the longest? It’s far closer to the truth, and it can be stated without requiring voters to take shots at a guy who, regardless of his real, embellished, and/or imagined behavior, merits at least some degree of respect for what he accomplished on the field.".
I agree with the first part is because there is limited room and so many qualified candidates, only a few can jump to the head of the line and be elected right away, Brett Favre fit that bill last week. Owens really didn't. However, the problem I do have is the part where he talks about writers taking "shots" at Owens.
Well, that is why the meeting is private, so that the honest views of writers and the fruits of their research can be discussed openly. In this case Florio only knows about the "shots" is someone spoke about it. Well, that is fine, but it hardly means voters were taking unnecessary shots. Also, Owens made the semi-finalist list and the final 15 lists. That seems to be giving Owens "some degree of respect", no? Is taking shots what Lynn Swann "accomplished on the field" showing "some degree of respect" even if you don't agree with the selection?
Did Owens himself
Perhaps all of us, me included, should tread lightly when commenting on the Hall of Fame process and criticisms of what is said in those meetings. What they say in private, many in the media are posting on publicly and that could be construed as not showing respect for what those players did on the field. Maybe Florio and Jason Whitlock are more familiar with the process than I am or know the voters better since they are mainstream sports journalists, but for Whitlock's complaints about the HOF Class of 2011 there is another reasonable explanation other than the system being broken, which is what he, and Florio are insisting
This will hit critical mass when Darren Sharper is up for the Hall of Fame. When you look at his numbers and All-Pro honors his 63 interceptions are remarkable when adjusted for era. When Paul Krause intercepted his 81 passes (1964-79) when the interception rate in the NFL was 5.3%. Sharper's 63 picks in an era (1997-2010) where the interception rates is 3.1%
The Hall of Fame selection committee does good work. Do I always agree? No. But they
Owens will get in, and when he does, it will be because of his
|"Haunted Hero" Art credit: Steve Sabol|