By John Turney
Explanation of "Odds"—"Pretty Good" is highest followed by "Decent" then "Fair" and finally "Poor/Low".
Ken Anderson: Quarterback (1971-1986)
A four-time pro-bowler who started at quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1971-1986.
Comment: Anderson had some great years and great statistics, but had some so-so years as well. He's the only modern passer in the list of 25, so that helps. Odds—Fair
Maxie Baughan: Linebacker (1960-1970, 1974)
A nine-time Pro-Bowler, Baughan played linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles (1960-65), the Los Angeles Rams (1966-1970) and the Washington Redskins (1974).
Comment: A lot of Pro Bowls, but with so many good linebackers in this list of 25, it has to hurt him. He's a worthy player but seems like he'd be in the back of the queue. Odds—Poor
Mark Clayton: Wide Receiver (1983-1993)
Five-time Pro-Bowler who played 10 seasons with the Dolphins (1979-1992) and one season with the Green Bay Packers (1993).
Comment: Seems like someone who had a good career, but not quite Hall of fame-worthy. Odds—Poor
Roger Craig: Running Back (1983-1993)
A do-it-all running back, Craig was the first NFL player to total 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season and won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers. He spent eight seasons with the 49ers (1983-1990), one with the Los Angeles Raiders (1991) and two with the Minnesota Vikings (1992-93).
Comment: A worthy candidate who was a major cog in the 49ers offense in the 1980s. Tailed off some at end of his career, but many great backs did as well showing the difficulty of painting greatness in that position a long career. Odds—Decent
LaVern Dilweg: End (1926-1934)
A star defensive end turned politician, Dilweg was named first-team All-Pro for his first five seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He played for the Milwaukee Badgers (1926) and the Green Bay Packers (1927-1934).
Comment: With only two "super seniors" (a term we use for pre-WWII players) and three senior slots Dilweg may have a better chance than casual fans may give him. Would be a good fit to recognize players that were overlooked in the distant past. Odds—Pretty good
Randy Gradishar: Linebacker (1974-1983)
Centerpiece of the “Orange Crush Defense,” Gradishar played all 10 seasons as linebacker for the Denver Broncos, seven of which were Pro Bowl-caliber years.
Comment: Inexplicably overlooked over the years, A Defensive Player of the Year on a defense that has no one in the Hall of Fame. Could be his year. Odds—Pretty good
Lester Hayes: Cornerback (1977-1986)
Known as “The Judge,” Hayes was a five-time Pro Bowler for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, spending his entire 10-year career with the organization.
Comment: Was a great player at his peak, like Gradishar a Defensive Player of the Year. But seems to be behind Ken Riley in the queue. Odds—Fair
Chris Hinton: Guard/Tackle (1983-1995)
Named to seven Pro Bowls and recognized as a two-time first-team All-Pro, Hinton played with the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts (1983-89), Atlanta Falcons (1990-93) and the Minnesota Vikings (1994-95).
Comment: A fine player (best position was guard but played more tackle in NFL) who is just now getting some Hall of Fame buzz but would likely be rated behind the other tackles on this list of 25 semi-finalists, Odds—Low
Chuck Howley: Linebacker (1958-59, 1961-1973)
Being the only player on a losing team to win Super Bowl MVP (Super Bowl VI), Howley received six Pro Bowl selections and five first-team All-Pro selections while playing for the Chicago Bears (1958-59) and the Dallas Cowboys (1961-1973).
Comment: Paul Zimmerman always considered Howley an all-time great. Howley seems like someone who got lost in the process over the years. Seems like someone who will soon get his due, maybe even this year. Odds—Pretty good
Cecil Isbell: Tailback/Defensive Back/Halfback (1938-1942)
Of Isbell’s five playing years with the Green Bay Packers (1938-1942), he had four Pro Bowl appearances.
Comment: The man who threw the passes to Don Hutson. Another "super senior" and will perhaps battle Dilweg on the voters' ballots. Just guessing but we think Dilweg may have the edge. Odds—Fair
Joe Jacoby: Tackle (1981-1993)
During his 13-year tenure with the Washington Redskins (1981-1993), Jacoby won three Super Bowls and was named to the Pro Bowl for four consecutive years (1983-86).
Comment: Probably the best blocker on the "Hogs"—Washington's offensive line. Was close to being voted into the Hall from the modern list being in the top ten but could not break through. Seems like he'd be at or near the top of the queue among the tackles on this list. Odds—Decent
Billy “White Shoes” Johnson: Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt Returner (1974-1980, 1982-88)
During his 14-year NFL career (Houston Oilers, 1974-1980; Atlanta Falcons, 1982-87; Washington Redskins, 1988), Johnson accumulated three Pro Bowl selections and is most famously known for his endzone celebrations.
Comment: Good to see a return man on the list. We don't think he has much of a chance of being one of the three that emerge but he deserves recognition for his achievements. Odds—Low
Mike Kenn: Tackle (1978-1994)
A former first-round draft pick, this University of Michigan product played his entire 17-year career with the Atlanta Falcons and racked up five Pro Bowl selections and two first-team All-Pro selections.
Comment: Always overlooked was a great tackle and was All-Pro eleven years apart (1980 and 1991) and plenty of honors in between was was a 17-year starter, not just 17 years of playing. Odds—Fair
Joe Klecko: Defensive End/Defensive Tackle/Nose Tackle (1977-1988)
A member of the famed “New York Sack Exchange,” this defensive powerhouse had four Pro Bowl selections and two first-team All-Pro honors in his 12-year NFL career, all spent with the New York Jets.
Comment: Has gotten some support recently. He's was a versitle type making All-Pro as a defensive end and nose tackle and the Pro Bowl as an end, tackle, and nose tackle. He will likely show well again. Odds—Decent
Bob Kuechenberg: Guard/Tackle/Center (1970-1983)
A member of the Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame and a six-time Pro Bowler, Kuechenberg spent the entirety of his 14-year career as a member of the Dolphins.
Comment: Another fine lineman who was a prototype blocker in his day. Players like John Hannah and Joe DeLamielleure say that "Kuech" was who they studied to learn how to improve their game. Odds—Decent
George Kunz: Tackle (1969-1978, 1980)
One of the premier offensive linemen of his generation. Kunz was named to the Pro Bowl seven times in his career and received three first-team All-Pro honors. He won Offensive Lineman of the Year in back-to-back years (1976, 1977). He played for the Atlanta Falcons (1969-1974) and the Baltimore Colts (1975-1980).
Comment: According to some 1970s defensive ends Kunz was in the class of the top tackles of that era but for the first part of his career was playing for a less-than-stellar Falcons team. Helped turn around the Colts in their playoff run of 1975-1977. Still, hard to see him breaking through but he has a shot, he has support. Odds—Decent
Jim Marshall: Defensive End (1960-1979)
After starting his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, Marshall was traded to Minnesota, where he would play the next 19 seasons without missing a game. Marshall’s 282 consecutive games played are the most by a defensive player, and his streak is 58 games longer than the next closest defensive lineman. A member of the Vikings famed “Purple People Eaters” defensive front, Marshall earned two Pro Bowl selections.
Comment: A Viking fan favorite. He was a wildman, and an ironman. He's hurt by his lack of post-season honors though. Voters have known about his consecutive game streak all along but never making First-team All-Pro is a problem. Odds—Low
Clay Matthews Jr.: Linebacker (1978-1996)
Matthews made four Pro Bowl appearances for the Cleveland Browns in the 1980s. He led the NFL in forced fumbles in 1983 and earned a place in the Browns’ Ring of Honor. He finished his career with the Atlanta Falcons, where he became the oldest player to record a sack in NFL history at the age of 40 years, 282 days.
Comment: Will likely get into the Hall someday, but is likely lower in the queue than a couple of the other linebackers who have been waiting longer. Odds—Fair
Eddie Meador: Cornerback (1959-1970)
Meador played his entire career with the Los Angeles Rams, where he earned selection to two first-team All-Pro teams and six Pro Bowls. He is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s. He finished his career with 46 interceptions, which remains a Rams franchise record.
Comment: A solid Hall of Fame candidate who has been overlooked and one who does have some support. However, in a group of 25 that is so deep it is hard to see him breaking through. Odds—Poor
Stanley Morgan: Wide Receiver (1977-1990)
Morgan posted the most yards per reception (19.2) in NFL history among players with more than 500 career receptions and he made four Pro Bowls with the New England Patriots. He is still New England’s all-time leader in receiving yards (10,352). He played his final NFL season with the Indianapolis Colts.
Comment: In our view, he is in the same category has Clayton. A fine career and deserves a long look but in the group, he does not stand much of a chance. Odds—Poor
Tommy Nobis: Linebacker (1966-1976)
Nobis was the first player the expansion Atlanta Falcons drafted and played his entire career in Atlanta. He won NFL Rookie of the Year, played in five Pro Bowls, selected first-team All-Pro (1967) and is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s.
Comment: He's had chances in the senior committee before. The question is doe his honors (one First-team All-Pro) stack up against Gradishar and Howley? Nobis was stuck on a poor team but he was well known in his era. Odds—Decent
Ken Riley: Cornerback (1969-1983)
Riley played his entire career with the Cincinnati Bengals and recorded 65 career interceptions, more than any other player not already in the Hall of Fame and the most by a player who saw action exclusively at cornerback. He was named first-team All-Pro in his final season.
Comment: Riley has the stats, no doubt. The question is if that is the entire story? Like Jim Marshall, he lacks post-season honors with just on First-team All-Pro and no Pro Bowls on his resume. Still, he's been close to being the senior committee nominee before. Odds—Pretty good.
Sterling Sharpe: Wide Receiver (1988-1994)
Sharpe made five Pro Bowls and three first-team All-Pro teams during his seven-year career with the Green Bay Packers. His 18 touchdown receptions in his final season is still good for third best all-time.
Comment: Interesting name. With his career being shortened by an severe injury he falls in the the Terrell Davis/Tony Boselli, etc. type of category where he's seen with slightly different criteria—not his career numbers but his "peak" and his peak was excellent. Odds—Fair
Otis Taylor: Wide Receiver (1965-1975)
Taylor won a Super Bowl IV ring with the Kansas City Chiefs, earned two Pro Bowl selections, two first-team All-Pro selections, an AFL All-Star selection and won two AFL Championships during his 10-year career. He led the AFL in touchdown receptions in 1967 and the NFL in receiving yards in 1971.
Comment: Taylor had maybe four, maybe five great years. He was the key receiver for the great Chiefs years in the late-1960s and early-1970s. The question is how many Chiefs deserve to go in? There are a lot already. Odds—Poor
Everson Walls: Cornerback (1981-1993)
Playing most of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, Walls made three first-team All-Pro teams, four Pro Bowls and led the NFL in interceptions three times while in Dallas. He finished his career with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns and helped New York to victory in Super Bowl XXV.
Comment: And interesting player. Has the stats, the honors, the ring. He did make the modern-era Final 15 one time but could not push through. But for some reason stands behind Ken Riley in the cue though he has just eight fewer interceptions in an era where shorter, quicker passes were being thrown. Odds—Fair