Saturday, February 02, 2008

I Don't Believe in Zimmerman

But the Pro Football Hall of Fame does. Gary Zimmerman, a former Viking, is one of the new inductees into the Hall of Fame announced today. The others include former Redskins Art Monk and Darrell Green, defensive lineman Fred Dean, linebacker Andre Tippett and defensive back Emmitt Thomas, best known around these parts for his two-year stint as defensive coordinator for the Vikings during the final years of Dennis Green's tenure at Winter Park.

The Hall in Canton is a lot less restrictive than the one in Cooperstown and that's probably just as well; I've written a number of times before on the subject of the baseball's often bizarre politics where HOF voting is concerned. I am old enough to remember all of this year's enshrinees. Zimmerman clearly deserves to go; he was a dominant offensive lineman in the league for a decade. Monk was a possession receiver, but probably the greatest one of all with the possible exception of Fred Biletnikoff, while Green was a tremendously successful player who lasted 20 years in the league.
Dean and Tippett were both fine players, but it's hard to see why they are considered special; frankly, if Fred Dean is a Hall of Famer, you could argue that Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila of the Packers should be a Hall of Famer, too. While I love KGB, that would be absurd. Tippett was a very good linebacker but there are probably 10-15 guys in the league right now who are just as good as he was. Emmitt Thomas had some memorable battles with Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch, Paul Warfield and other talented receivers of his era. I remember watching him on the NBC late games back in the 1970s, fighting tooth and nail while waiting for Daryle Lamonica's rainbows to descend, with Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis explaining what he was doing. That was a lot of fun to watch; even more fun was re-enacting those plays with my brothers and/or my friends with the Nerf football back in good old Alicia Park, all the while humming the NFL Films music (usually the sweeping orchestral version of "What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor") and/or trying to lower our pre-puberty voices enough to sound like John Facenda. And failing, of course.

I expect you'll hear some gnashing of teeth because Cris Carter and Randall McDaniel didn't make it this time around. Doesn't matter - both will be in there soon, maybe as early as next year. Carter was a more explosive player than Monk and has comparable stats in many ways; an important difference is that Monk has a few Super Bowl rings. Carter won't have to wait long, though. Nor will McDaniel, who was a Pro Bowl perennial and a regular flattener of guys like Blaise Winter or Al "Bubba" Baker during his long and distinguished career. They'll get to wear those hideous yellow jackets soon enough.


Gino said...

i think the issue with the differeneces in baseball and football have to do with the game itself.
MLB players have long careers and easy to keep stats.
NFL players cant really be judged on how many TDs or sacks they make, because each position is unique. making a sack is a team effort, requiring somebody else to open the holes. and not every team runs the same D or O. and careers are too short.
look at devin hester. he's capable to make to the HOF, IF he plays long enough, or if they kick to him. he'd got the skills. will he get the oppertunities?

Mark said...

Hester is an interesing case, Gino. There are a few guys who were known primarily as returners - Desmond Howard, Eric Metcalf, Brian Mitchell. None of them will make it, although you could probably make an argument for Mitchell based on sustained excellence. The one guy who is in the Hall who was a great return man was Gale Sayers, but he's obviously in for other reasons as well.

Hester could make it if the Bears figure out how to use him offensively. They haven't been able to do that with any receiver in 60 years, though, despite having some really talented wideouts over the years like Willie Gault, Curtis Conway, etc.

I don't say that as a Packer fan trying to bust your chops, either - for whatever reason, the Bears have never been able to be a successful passing team.