I can't believe that this weekend is the 2013 NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony! I like to do a write-up each year about the people who made this the game I love so much and my thoughts on each of them. After hearing the finalists announced back in February, I've struggled to put pen to paper (or keys to keyboard). Why you ask? Here's the list and let's see if you can figure it out.... sigh.
(For information about how the HOF process works, click this link.)
Curley Culp - (1969-1979 Kansas City, Houston, Detroit) A pioneer at the Nose Tackle position, his coach in Kansas City - Hank Stram - had him going one-on-one vs the center, paving the way for the 3-4 defense that is growing in popularity in the NFL today. Undersized for a defensive lineman, he was the perfect "middleman" on the line, forcing the Center to get help from his teammates, which freed up the other defenders to get at the QB. He was a six time Pro-Bowler recording 68 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and 10 fumble recoveries.
Dave Robinson - (1963-1974 Green Bay, Washington) A member of the College Football HOF for his play at Penn State, this defensive end turned linebacker ruled the left side of the Packer line from '64-'72. He was traded to Washington for the '73-'74 seasons and then retired. He recorded 27 interceptions, 12 fumble recoveries, three Pro Bowls and two Super Bowl Championships. He was also selected as one of the linebackers in the NFL's 1960's All-Decade Team.
Larry Allen - (1994-2007 Dallas, San Francisco) This offensive lineman from Sonoma State University proves that a rotator cuff injury in college may drop you in the draft rankings, but certainly doesn't mean you can't play ball. ELEVEN Pro Bowls, SEVEN All-Pro, One Super Bowl, plus both the 1990's and 2000's NFL All-Decade teams at offensive line? Yeah - he could play! Why you ask? Because he was the guy protecting Troy Aikman's blind side... Exactly.
Cris Carter - (1987-2002 Philadelphia, Minnesota, Miami) How can you not love a guy who gets THIS emotional when he finds out he is going to be enshrined into the NFL HOF? As if his status as an Ohio State Buckeye isn't enough to make me love him, his personality and talent - both on and off the field - sealed the deal. As a player, he ruled the Minnesota passing lanes with over 1,000 receptions and 130 career touch downs. He's #2 all-time as a WR behind Jerry Rice. We all know who Cris is, and to this day, he's one of my favorites.
Warren Sapp - (1995 - 2007 Tampa Bay, Oakland) This "home town guy" was born in Orlando, played college ball at U Miami, and was drafted in 1995 by Tampa Bay. I guess he likes Florida! Recording 573 tackles and 96.5 QB Sacks, 19 forced fumbles and 4 interceptions over his career, this was a Big Man who could move on his feet! A 7c Pro-Bowler and 6x All-Pro, no QB who played against him in the 90's wasn't just a little afraid that the big man would get to him. He's the standard that all young defensive tackles look to, and the scouts are all wondering who will be the "Next Warren Sapp." His gentle and humorous nature off the field didn't seem to match up with his intense play on the field, but if you ask me, that just makes him one-of-a-kind.
Bill Parcells - Coach (1981-1990 NYGiants, 1993-1996 NE Patriots, 1997-1999 NY Jets, 2003-2006 Dallas Cowboys) When I think "Bill Parcells" I think "angry guy on the sidelines." Everytime the camera hit on him, he was growling or yelling at someone. But he knows how to motivate players and his regular season record of 172-130 and a post season record of 11-8 with two Super Bowl Championships is proof of that. His impact today is most felt in the "coaching tree" he created - assistants and coordinators that worked under him over the years who have gone on to become great Head Coaches themselves. (Belichick, Coughlin, Payton, MacIntyre, Weiss, Handley, Palmer, Crennel)
Jonathan Ogden - (1996 - 2007 Baltimore) Yeah. This is a hard one for me. I keep thinking Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda... if the Browns hadn't left town, this amazing offensive tackle would have been MINE!
ELEVEN Pro Bowls and TEN All-Pro selections tell you how the Ravens were so successful in their early years. Their defense gets a lot of credit but without JO protecting the average-at-best QB's that played in Baltimore, they wouldn't be thought of as the great team they are. He played all 12 of his NFL seasons with one team - a feat that doesn't happen too often these days. He's a member of the NFL's 2000's All-Decade team, the Ravens Ring of Honor, and the College Football HOF for his play at UCLA.