The Pro Football Hall of Fame's senior committee and coaches committee met and through their process chose Cliff Branch and Dick Vermeil as the two who will be voted on in a "yes or no" fashion at next year's Super Bowl and must get at least 80% "yes" votes. We expect both to make it.
While some on social media are complaining, we cannot find any fault with these choices, though we were surprised. We expected someone other than a Raider and another wide receiver and we predicted Buddy Parker. But we think these are qualified men and worthy of induction
Branch fits in the middle of the pack among Hall of Fame receivers in terms of All-Pros with his three consensus First-team selections (1974-76) and another First-team selection (NEA) in 1977.
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Branch was a burner and would also go over the middle and even in a dead-ball era had two 1,000-yard seasons and two double-digit touchdown seasons. He has three Super Bowl rings and had stellar playoff stats as well—in 22 games he made 73 receptions for 1,289 yards for five scores.
So while we do think there is an imbalance of skill players to non-skill players in the hall of fame in proportion to who teams line up on the field, this is not a place to address that, one pick on the senior committee cannot fix that issue. It would have to be addressed on an institutional level where the voters see that they need to be above the fans and reward the blockers and tacklers as much as the runners, catchers, and throwers. But that is a discussion for another day and guys who maybe came close like Joe Klecko, Chuck Howley, Maxie Baughan, Randy Gradishar, Clay Matthews, Mike Kenn, Lester Hayes, and others will have their chance next year.
Today is Cliff Branch's day. Congrats to his family.
Vermeil took over awful Eagles and Rams teams and took both to the Super Bowl, winning one in 1999 with the Rams. Then took over a mediocre Chiefs team and took the back to the playoffs.
He was the NFL's first special teams coach (Rams, 1969) and was known as a motivator and a good game manager.
In 2001 the Chiefs traded a draft pick to the Rams for Vermeil's services and he went on to coach them for five seasons going 44-36.
Vermeil took over as head coach of the Eagles in 1976 and went 9-19 the first two years. And in an era without free agency, he went 42-22 from 1978 through 1981 making Super Bowl XV, although losing to the Raiders. He was "burnt out" after the 1982 season and was away from coaching for fifteen seasons.
He was hired by the Rams in 1997 two years later he led the Rams to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl win. After that game, he stepped down again. But that was short-lived.
Because he took over for subpar teams his Win-Loss record is skewed negatively but he was a coaches' coach. A leader, a hard worker, showed compassion, and yes, cried. A lot. But no one saw it as a weakness. They saw it as human.