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NFL History

Polamalu retirement expands safety backlog for Hall of Fame

Troy Polamalu has announced that he’s retiring after a mostly spectacular 12-year career with the Pittsburgh

Courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame


During his career he racked up eight Pro Bowls and four first-team All Pro awards, one behind Ravens safety Ed Reed in both categories. Polamalu also was a second-team All Decade safety on the team of the 2000s. Reed and Brian Dawkins won first-team and Polamalu shared his honors with Darren Sharper.

So Polamalu’s credentials as a Hall of Famer should be without question, right?

Probably so. He’s a year behind Reed in eligibility, so I would normally think he’s a year behind Reed in induction – though Reed could go in slightly more quickly due to the additional honors. Still, Polamalu’s credentials are solid. He becomes eligible in 2020 and one would think he’d have a pretty good shot of making it then or, at least, shortly thereafter.

However, it’s been very difficult in recent years to figure out how voters view the safety position. There are several top-notch candidates from the last three All-Decade teams – among others – who have still not been voted into the Hall – guys with similar postseason profiles to Polamalu and Reed. So how long they wait really depends on how voters decide to sort out the backlog.

Here’s at least a partial list of guys who seem to be viewed as legit candidates: Continue reading

Revisiting the HOF case of Jim Tyrer

It’s been 40 years since Jim Tyrer’s career ended at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams, who beat Washington in the first round of the 1974 playoffs. Despite his six All-Pro nominations, the end of his career merited little mention – nary a word in the Sporting News.

Tyrer played for Washington in 1974, primarily as a backup, squeezing one last season out of a top-notch career that included nine invitations to the Pro Bowl or AFL All-Star Game. The first 13 years of his career were spent with the Kansas City Chiefs/Dallas Texans franchise that was among the AFL’s strongest, at least during the years he played.

It’s been 34 years since his name popped up in the last item of Sports Illustrated’s Sept. 29, 1980 Roundup section,  where remembrances of his nine All-Star games and two Super Bowl appearances were followed by mention that he had died by suicide after fatally shooting his wife, Martha.

Tyrer did merit mention again a couple times in the early 1980s. His one year as a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist was 1981 and another when he also made a list SI’s Paul Zimmerman compiled – an informal poll of the all-time best offensive linemen.

Though voters are not supposed to consider character and conduct as part of whether or not someone should be enshrined, Tyrer has not made it into the Hall – this statement alone sparking some irony because during his playing days, by most accounts I could find, his character was never in question.

Continue reading

Could Mario Williams be the Bills’ version of Reggie White?

In 1992, the Green Bay Packers finished 9-7, completing a 20-year stretch in which they made the playoffs one time (strike shortened 1982, when they finished 5-3-1) and only finished above .500 three times. But in a surprise move the next offseason, they landed the top free agent on the market in the first year of true free agency, defensive end Reggie White, signing him to a then-record 4-year, $17 million deal.

The next season the Packers still finished just 9-7. But thy made the playoffs for the first time in a non-strike year since 1972, starting a string of six consecutive seasons (White’s entire run with the team) and 15 of 19 years in which they would make playoff appearances — a stretch capped by two Super Bowl wins and a third appearance in the big game.

White wasn’t the only catalyst for the run (a certain guy named Favre began his long consecutive games started streak during the third game of the 1992 season). But his signing has generally been credited with being a reason that other free agents would be willing to consider moving to a team that has the smallest media market in the NFL. And the infusion of talent led to success, which has led to more free agents along the way.

Fast forward 20 years, and the Buffalo Bills may be trying to make the same kind of splash with free agent defensive end Mario Williams.  The Bills are coming off a 6-10 season where they started strong at 5-2, before losing eight of their last nine games, the seventh straight sub-.500 record and 12th straight season with no playoff appearances. Continue reading

King wants more “contributors” enshrined in the Hall of Fame

We’ve had some spirited debates over the past couple years about who should and shouldn’t be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, many of them relating to senior nominees who in some cases were surprisingly overlooked years ago.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King devoted a good chunk of his Monday Morning Quarterback today to finding a way to get more “contributors” to the game enshrined in Canton, Ohio as well. He makes a compelling case that many non-players deserve to be enshrined. I think he’s probably right — I particularly agree with the case he made for the Ed Sabol, who founded NFL Films.

I’m not sure, however, if the three alternatives he proposes for making the change to ensure more contributor honorees make the most sense to me (though at first glance I don’t have an obviously better answer, either).

Stolen directly from his column, King’s three proposed options include:

1. Take one of the two Seniors slots and give it annually to a non-head coaching contributor to the game, which wouldn’t mean a contributor wouldn’t get in every year, but rather that one contributor’s case would be heard every year.
2. Take one of the two Seniors slots every other year and give it annually to a contributor.
3. Take the two non-modern-era-candidate slots and make them fit for all other candidates — seniors, scouts, etc.

I admit, I’m not an expert on how the voters would go about changing the process. I do know that the limit on modern era candidates is five and the  limit on senior committee candidates is two, for a maximum of seven inductees to the Hall in any given year. To me, as the NFL Hall of Fame prepares to expand its physical footprint anyway, it seems like you could simply add one more slot each year for a “contributor” and make the maximum number of entrants each year eight – with no requirement that number be voted in, of course.

But as I said, I don’t know for sure what the procedure is for making a change like this. So, I’m asking our readers for thoughts. Should more contributors be recognized? If so, how would you suggest changing the voting process? If not, why?

And while you’re sharing your thoughts on this topic I’ll see if I can’t find some clarity to the process under which such a change to the voting could be made.

NFL Hall of Fame announces expansion plans, 2011 semifinalists

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced plans to renovate a portion of its existing structure and expand from 83,000 square feet to 124,000 square feet in a $23.6 million project that will take two years to complete.

The “Future 50 Project” will wrap up during the 50th Anniversary of the hall’s opening and will lay the foundation for the building’s next 50 years of operations, according to a statement.

“The growth and accomplishments of the Pro Football Hall of Fame during its first 50 years are widely acclaimed,” said Steve Perry, president and executive director. “It’s great that we are able to build upon the success of the past and initiate this major project to set the stage for success in the future.”

The project will include: Continue reading

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