Mr. John Turney's article on the Senior Candidates has inspired me to give my take on who I would select. Coaches Buddy Parker and Don Coryell are always worth discussing. What Parker accomplished as an assistant with the Cardinals, and his departure to Detroit tells two tales. Look at the Cardinals record in 1953, and then look at the Lions? Parker's book is the most enlightened of his generation of coaches, and believe is a must-read.
Studying film of the Lions in the late '40s and then during Parker's time in Detroit is eye-opening! The trades, the draft, and a very important key—how they were coached tells us Parker provided leadership, direction, and understood strategy. The Pittsburgh Steelers could always be counted on to win a game or two that they probably should not have, and lose games they should have won before Parker. The Black & Gold became a formidable team under Parker, and film study shows they were also fun to watch. He just could not complete his goal of a title for Art Rooney, and of course, did not end well with the direction Pittsburgh was headed to in 1965.
Overall he is a Hall of Famer to me. We all have opinions on players no matter what position they played, and yes have mine, BUT the two positions always feel the most comfortable discussing are defensive back and linebacker. Ken Riley might be chosen for the Hall of Fame, but he would not even make my team...yes, I know he had 65 interceptions.
Everson Walls maximized his talents and helped every team he played for, yet there are many defensive backs more deserving. Lester Hayes in 1980 had a season for the ages and a couple other years where he played solid football, but overall he is not a Hall of Famer.
The most deserving is Eddie Meador. Name a defensive back who led the league in opponent fumble recoveries, and retired as the leading interceptor in that team's history? His versatility since he played both corner and safety; coupled with his knack for a key takeaway, and his tackling ability place him above all the other candidates.
Oh, almost forgot his contributions on "special teams", he was the Captain of the Rams defense. So what you state? Look who was on the field with him on those Ram defenses. Put the voters in a room with me for an hour, just an hour, and will put the film on, and then possibly the voters might see Eddie as the Hall of Famer he is.
Chuck Howley and Clay Matthews were outstanding no matter which outside linebacker position they played. When you play as well as Matthews did for so long ......he should have been enshrined years ago. Howley overcame injury early in his career and kept improving to become one of the two lynchpins in the Dallas defense (Lilly being the other) that ranked among the league's best for a decade. Don't care how many Cowboys are in the Hall....he is deserving.
Finally, my number one choice. Randy Gradishar was an elite player for many seasons and reasons. Savvy, instincts, physical gifts, and durability are all traits that any coach would want in his linebackers, yet what separates Gradishar from the rest was his ability to defend both the pass and run consistently. He just did not miss as a tackler, and based upon film study and what I learned from Billy Thompson Randy had pass defense responsibilities no other inside linebacker ever had before or since.
Responding to past Journal stories, for Peirce; Lavelli was consistent, productive, and a fine receiver, yet Mac Speedie was the better end. For Mr. Wolf, in response to his question concerning former 49ers Shaw, Albert, and Wilson—though all of these men had their moments, none of them are worthy of the Hall of Fame, and thanks Brian for your continued support. Writing this with the song Pretzel Logic playing in the background....just one damn cool song by Steely Dan.