What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
As part of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Football League, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors passed a resolution to allow the Class of 2020 to include twenty members rather than the usual ten for the NFL’s Centennial Celebration. The class will include five modern-era players, 10 senior nominees, three contributors, and two coaches.
Now that the finalists for induction in all categories have been named, and now that we here at Dubsism have had time to run the proverbial fine-tooth comb over these lists, here’s the Official Dubsism Unofficial Football Pro Football Hall of Fame Ballot.
In Part I, we will address the Modern Era finalists, the coaches, the contributors, and the seniors. In Part II, we will dive into a list of notable exception to those lists.
These finalists will be presented to the full 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee during its annual meeting on February 1, 2020…also known as “Selection Saturday.” That’s when they will elect five Modern-Era players to be inducted as the Class of 2020.
With that, here are the five who made the Unofficial Official Dubsism Pro Football Hall Of Fame Ballot.
Tony Boselli, Left Tackle (Jacksonville Jaguars 1995-2001)
Boselli has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame in each of the past four years. A five-time Pro Bowler and a three time All-Pro, Boselli’s career was cut short by injuries, but he was clearly one of the dominant linemen of his era. In the pass protection game, he had the feet of Fred Astaire and the hands of Muhammad Ali; such gtrace belied the fact that in the running game, Boselli was a bull-dozer in cleats.
John Lynch, Safety (Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1993-2003, Denver Broncos 2004-2007)
In a six-year span from 1997-2002, Lynch was named to the Pro Bowl five times. Lynch earned four more Pro Bowl selections between 2004-2007. Given the right set of shoulder pads, I’m not sure Lynch wouldn’t have laid a smack on a moving car and come out on top
Troy Polamalu, Safety (Pittsburgh Steelers 2003-2014)
In the entire history of professional football, can you think of a guy who could dominate a game from the safety position more than Polamalu in his prime? Possibly the greatest strong safety ever, Polamalu gave opposing coaches the night-sweats trying to figure how stop this one-man wrecking crew. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All-Pro and the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year.
Alan Faneca, Left Guard (Pittsburgh Steelers 1998-2007, New York Jets 2008-2010)
Offensive line is the most under-appreciated position on the field, and guards are the most under-appreciated of all the linemen. They don’t call the blocking schemes like centers, and they don’t get the big-money of elite pass-protecting tackles, but they are crucial to the running game. Despite the fact Faneca played most of his career in a decidely pass-happy era in the NFL, Fancea was still regarded as one of the best offensive linemen of his time. To that end. Faneca was a nine-time Pro Bowler and a six-time All-Pro.
Steve Hutchinson, Left Guard (Seattle Seahawks 2001-05, Minnesota Vikings 2006-2012)
I’m convinced the name “Hutchinson” is based on an old Latin word meaning “run behind this guy on 3rd/4th and short.” That’s a large part of why he earned seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 2003-09; a stretch which also included five All-Pro selections. If that doesn’t say you were one of the players of your time, I don’t know what does.
As mentioned, 2020 markes the Centennial celebration of the founding of the National Football League. As such, The Hall of Fame’s Board passed a resolution suspending the Selection Committee by-laws for the 2020 election cycle. This was to allow the creation of a special “Centennial Class” involving the induction of twenty members in 2020.
Along with the aforementioned five Modern-Era players, this “Centennial Class” will also consist of ten Seniors (players who have been retired for more than 25 seasons), three Contributors (individual other than players or coaches, such as officials, executives, or braodcasters) and two coaches. The “Centennial Class” will be selected by a 25-person “Blue-Ribbon” panel comprised of Hall of Fame Selectors, Pro Football Hall of Famers, media members, football historians and industry experts.
The five Modern-Era inductees will be announced on the eve of Super Bowl LIV, and the Centennial Class will be formally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during the annual Enshrinement Week from Aug. 6-9, 2020.
Two will be part of the class of 2020, and the ones who will be inducted have already been announced. The new inductees are in italics, and the two who made the Unofficial Official Dubsism Pro Football Hall Of Fame Ballot are in bold.
Don Coryell (St. Louis Cardinals 1973-1977, San Diego Chargers 1978-1986)
The knock on Coryell is he never took a team to the Super Bowl. Instead, let’s talk about how many Super Bowl rings were won using Coryell’s modernization of the passing game. The “Air Coryell” offense revolutionized the use of the forward pass in the NFL. With his “pass first” approach, Coryell led the St. Louis Cardinals to their first play-off appearance in 26 years. He also took the San Diego Chargers to leading the NFL in passing yards a record six consecutive seasons from 1978-83, a stretch that landed quarterback Dan Fouts, wide receiver Charlie Joiner, and tight end Kellen Winslow in the Hall of Fame. It’s time for Coryell to go from a five-time Hall of Fame finalist to an inductee considering the Bill Walsh “West Coast” offense and pretty much everything Tom Brady. Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees have accomplished in their careers traces it’s lineage directly back to Don Coryell.
Bill Cowher (Pittsburgh Steelers 1992-2006)
I honestly don’t understand the fascination with this guy. Yeah, so he won a Super Bowl, but he also lost four AFC Championship games AT HOME IN WHICH HIS TEAM WAS FAVORED. Cowher is easily the most over-rated coach not named Tony Dungy.
Tom Flores (Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders 1979-1987, Seattle Seahawks 1992-1994)
Of the coaches I think are getting the most consideration for the class of 2020, Flores’ case is the weakest. While Flores and Mike Ditka are the only two people in NFL history to win a Super Bowl as a player, an assistant coach and as a head coach (Ditka is in the Hall largely as a player), and he’s one of six coaches to win multiple Super Bowls not yet inducted into the Hall of Fame (Tom Coughlin, Jimmy Johnson, George Seifert, and Mike Shanahan are the others), Flores’ career record as a head coach is less than impressive at 97-87.
Mike Holmgren (Green Bay Packers 1992-98, Seattle Seahawks 1999-2008)
Here’s a guy who built an entire career of getting Brett Favre gift-wrapped to him because Jerry Glanville was delusional. In other words, he on this list because he called the plays Brett Favre ignored during his three MVP-winning seasons.
Jimmy Johnson (Dallas Cowboys 1989-93, Miami Dolphins 1996-99)
My biggest issue with Jimmy Johnson is longevity. He’s got the shortest career of the guys Ion this list, but he did engineer the greatest three-year turnaround in NFL history. In 1989, he inherited a left-for-dead Cowboys franchise that went 1-15 during his first season in Dallas. But it was during that season he pulled off the infamous trade for Herschel Walker; a move which laid the foundation for the team which would win three Super Bowls…two under Johnson and one under Barry Switzer. Johnson’s three seasons in Miami were largely unremarkable, although he did lead the Dolphins to three post-season appearances.
Raymond “Buddy” Parker (Chicago Cardinals 1949, Detroit Lions 1951-56, Pittsburgh Steelers, 1957-1964)
Throughout his fifteen seasons as a head coach, Parker is most as the inventor of what is today known as the “two-minute offense” with the Detroit Lions of the 1950s. While Parker’s “hurry-up” offense didn’t go as far as to go full “no huddle,” it did involve the team rushing to the line of scrimmage and quickly audible or run the set play; in any event the idea was to limit the defense’s time to react. Parker’s Detroit Lions won NFL titles in 1952 and 1953, and in a three-year period between 1952 and 1954, the Lions were 28-8, reaching the NFL Championship game in all three seasons.
Dan Reeves (Denver Broncos 1981-1992, New York Giants 1993-96, Atlanta Falcons 1997-2003)
When you ask NFL fans to name coaches who lost four Super Bowls, most will get Bud Grant and Marv Levy, but just as many will forget Dan Reeves. They may recall Reeves on the sideline for those 80’s Denver Broncos, but they always forget the 1998 “Dirty Bird” Atlanta Falcons.
Dick Vermeil (Philadelphia Eagles 1976-1982, St. Louis Rams 1997-1999, Kansas City Chiefs 2001-2005)
Call it my bias as an Eagles fan, but if I could vote for three guys on this list, he’d get #3. I just can’t in good conscience give him the second sport given who else is on this list. A member of the Dubsism All-Time Philadelphia Eagles Team.
Three will be part of the class of 2020, and the ones who will be inducted have already been announced. The new inductees are in italics, and the three who made the Unofficial Official Dubsism Pro Football Hall Of Fame Ballot are in bold.
Kenneth Stanley “Bud” Adams, Jr. (Owner, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans 1960-2013)
Adams was a key figure in the the founding American Football League, which eventually merged with the NFL in 1970. As a charter owner of an AFL franchise, Adams was instrumental in the development of the NFL as we know it today.
Ralph Hay (Owner, Canton Bulldogs 1918-1922)
Without Ralph Hay, there might never have been a National Football League. When Hay purchased the Canton Bulldogs in 1918, there was not yet such a thing as the NFL. His original idea was to use the spectacle of professional football as a vehicle to promote his car business. While the Bulldogs were successful on the field, they and other teams in the unofficial “Ohio League” struggled financially.
This led Hay in 1920 to join with some other owners and form American Professional Football Conference. Eventually, Hay would extend invitations to other football teams across the midwest, and by 1922, the league had grown to ten teams and the name was changed to the National Football League.
Frank “Bucko” Kilroy (Scout/General Manager/Executive, Philadelphia Eagles 1960-61, Washington Redskins 1962-64, Dallas Cowboys 1965-1970, New England Patriots 1971-2006)
Since he is being nominated as a contributor, it wasn’t mentioned that Kilroy was a member of the All-1940’s team as a Philadelphia Eagle, a team he also served as an assistant coach for from 1955 to 1959. All you have to do is look at the organization he was a part of and the dates he was there, and it’s hard not to notice this guy brought success pretty much wherever he went. But the real reason he’s on this list is he is widely credited as being the visionary behind the creation of the NFL Draft.
Art McNally (Official/Administrator, National Football League 1959-2015)
McNally served as a field judge and referee in the NFL for nine years from 1959 to 1967, until his appointment as the NFL’s director of officiating in 1968. McNally headed a department who coordinated and directed a staff of 112 game officials. He was responsible for the scouting, screening, hiring, and grading of the seven-man crews that work each NFL game.
Art Modell (Owner, Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens, 1961-2011)
Modell has been a two-time finalist for induction, but I think the fact he moved Cleveland Browns, one of the NFL’s cornerstone franchises, to Baltimore in the 1990’s pretty much kills any chance he has of getting in. This was such an unpopular move the NFL took the unprecedented step of keeping the Browns team name, colors, and history in Cleveland to be granted to an expansion franchise to replace Modell’s team.
Clint Murchison (Founder/Owner, Dallas Cowboys 1960-1983)
In 1960, the National Football League approved a franchise for Dallas in large part to counter the start-up American Football League’s having established the Dallas Texans. Murchison was awarded the franchise, which he quickly built into one the league’s flagship organizations. Unlike the cowboys current owner, Murchison was a “hands-off,”” opting to let his general manager “Tex” Schramm and head coach Tom Landry run the football operations.
Steve Sabol (Administrator/President, NFL Films 1964-2012)
If the NFL went out of existence tomorrow, it’s most lasting legacy would be NFL Films. That’s hard to imagine in a world with cable/satellite TV, streaming services and an overall abundance of media choices. If you’re under 50, you don’t remember the days when the NFL was Sunday afternoon, and a one hour weekly highlight show called “This Week In Pro Football.”
That was it. There was no SportsCenter, there was no NFL Network. That’s why when Steve Sabol and his father Ed founded NFL Films, it spawned a revolution not only in sports journalism, but in film-making in general. By changing the way people watched the NFL, Steve Sabol as the co-founder of NFL Films along with his father Ed (who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011) played an essential role in the growth and popularity of the NFL…undoubtedly propelling the league to the top of the American sports hill.
Seymour Siwoff (Owner/President, Elias Sports Bureau 1952-2019)
Frankly, I don’t get this nomination. It must be because he just died in November. Yes, I understand the value of statistics, but I am also not a believer in analytics as a “be-all, end-all” in terms of evaluating NFL talent. I’m on record as saying there onkly two kinds of guys who base everything on statistics; the kind who didn’t watch the game, or the kind who don’t know what they are looking at.
Paul Tagliabue (Commissioner, Football League 1989-2006)
Tagliabue’s seventeen-year tenure as the NFL commissioner is largely known as the “Pax Tagliabue” as there was almost no strife between the league and the players’s union, and there were no work stoppages. He also guided the league through the inception of free agency during the early 1990s. Under his watch, the league expanded from 28 to 32 teams, and revenues exploded as the NFL became the pre-eminent sports league in North America.
George Young (General Manager, Baltimore Colts 1968-1974 , Miami Dolphins 1975-78, New York Giants 1979-1997)
Young is best-know for taking a New York Giants franchise which had not made the play-offs in 15 years and building it into one the best team of the 1980s. In addition to hiring Bill Parcells as head coach, Young drafted Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms, Joe Morris, Mark Bavaro, Leonard Marshall, Carl Banks, and Pepper Johnson.
Players and coaches who predate the 25-year window for modern-era nominees are considered by the Senior Selection Committee. Instead of the normal one or two senior nominees, the Class of 2020 will include ten, and the ones who will be inducted have already been announced. The new inductees are in italics, and the ten who made the Unofficial Official Dubsism Pro Football Hall Of Fame Ballot are in bold.
Cliff Branch (Wide Receiver, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders 1972-1985)
Branch played a key role in each of the Raiders three Super Bowl runs from 1976-83. Branch, a four time Pro Bowler and three time All-Pro, has career numbers that compare favorably alongside Hall of Fame receivers of his era John Stallworth and Lynn Swann.
Harold Carmichael (Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles 1971-1983, Dallas Cowboys 1984)
Carmichael was the original “mismatch” receiver in the mode of today’s tight ends. At 6’8″, he towered over NFL defensive backs, and with sprinter-caliber speed, they couldn’t keep up with him anyway. Between 19782 and 1980, Carmichael notched at lest on catch in 127 consecutive games, a record only eclipsed by Hall of Famers Steve Largent and Jerry Rice. Together with Ron Jaworski, they formed the most efficient “red zone” quarterback/receiver combination, later being passed by only Joe Montana/Jerry Rice and Tom Brady/Rob Gronkowski. A member of the Dubsism All-Time Philadelphia Eagles Team.
Jimbo Covert (Offensive Tackle, Chicago Bears 1983-1990)
Hall of Fame voters have a reverence for the “all-decade” teams. Covert was a first-team all-decade selection for the 1980s. He earned the honor ahead of Hall of Famer Gary Zimmerman and three-time finalist Joe Jacoby, who were both second-team picks. That makes Covert’s exclusion during his time on the ballot that much more puzzling.
Roger Craig (Running Back, San Francisco 49ers, 1983-90, Los Angeles Raiders 1991, Minnesota Vikings, 1992-93)
Craig certainly seems to have the credentials for induction. He was a three-time Super Bowl champion. He was the first player in league history to score three touchdowns in the Super Bowl and record 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a single season. Craig was the 1988 NFL offensive player of the year, a four-time Pro Bowler and a second-team all-decade selection for the 1980s.
Bobby Dillon (Safety, Green Bay Packers 1952-59)
Dillon was the epitome of a great player who played for bad teams. Although he didn’t play for a winner until his final season with the Packers, Dillon was a perennial all-pro who retired as the team’s career leader in interceptions. At the time, he also ranked second on the NFL’s all-time list. When Dillon retired with 52 interceptions only future Hall of Famer Emlen Tunnell had more. Dillon led the Packers in interceptions in seven of his eight seasons and three times intercepted nine passes in what were then 12-game seasons.
LaVern Dilweg (End, Milwaukee Badgers 1926, Green Bay Packers 1927-1934)
Widely hailed as the NFL’s best two-way end in the “seven-man line” era, Dilweg was the epitome of consistency on Packers teams that won three straight league titles from 1929 to 1931. Dilweg played eight seasons in Green Bay and was a consensus All-Pro five straight years, from 1927 to 1931.
Ox Emerson (Guard, Detroit Lions 1931-1938)
A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-1930s decade team, Emerson was one of the premier offensive linemen of his era. During his short eight-year career, Emerson was a First Team All-Pro five consecutive times. He also won an NFL Championship in 1935 with the Detroit Lions. Emerson has as many First Team All-Pro selections as fellow All-1930s offensive lineman, Hall of Fame center Mel Hein.
Randy Gradishar (Linebacker, Denver Broncos 1974-1983)
A stalwart of the Broncos’ “Orange Crush” defense, Gradishar helped the team reach its first Super Bowl in 1977 season. The next season he was named the NFL’s defensive player of the year. A seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Gradishar was only a Hall finalist twice, most recently in 2008.
Cliff Harris (Safety, Dallas Cowboys 1970-79)
Harris earned six consecutive Pro Bowl selections which also included three straight All-Pro nods from 1976-78. Harris helped lead the Cowboys to five Super Bowl appearances during the 1970s, including victories in Super Bowls VI and XII.
Winston Hill (Offensive Tackle, New York Jets 1963-1976, Los Angeles Rams 1977)
Hill earned his first AFL All-Star Game berth in 1964, and then was chosen for three straight AFL All-Star Games from 1967-69. He also earned four straight Pro bowl selection in the Jets’ first four seasons as members of the NFL from 1970-73. He holds the franchise mark for offensive linemen with 195 consecutive games played and 174 consecutive starts.
Cecil Isbell (Offensive/Defensive Halfback, Green Bay Packers 1938-1942)
Isbell received more laurels over his brief five-year career than just about any NFL player over a similar time-frame. He was more decorated in that time than Sammy Baugh, a contemporary who was voted the 14th greatest player in NFL history in a poll conducted in 2011. Isbell was named to the 1930s all-decade team, was named to three Pro all-star games, and was a two-time all-pro.
Alex Karras (Defensive Tackle, Detroit Lions 1958-1970)
When you go through lists like this, there’s always that one guy you can beleive isn’t already in the Hall of Fame. For this list, Karras is that guy. As a defensive tackle, Karras spent the 1960s as a one-man wrecking crew. He was named to the 1960s all-decade team, and he earned four Pro Bowl nods and was named first-team all-pro three times. The black mark on his record is having served a season-long suspension for admitting to gambling on NFL games, but a similar suspension that same year didn’t keep Paul Hornung from being inducted in 1982.
Verne Lewellen (Halfback/Punter, Green Bay Packers 1924-26 and 1928-1932, New York Yankees 1927)
Besides being one of the greatest all-around backs in the NFL’s first three decades, Lewellen also was widely regarded along with Sammy Baugh as being one of the game’s two best punters. Unfortunately, he played all but his final season before the NFL kept statistics. Over the course of Lewellen’s nine-year career, NFL teams averaged fewer than 10 points a game. That placed a premium on his two specialties: punting and scoring touchdowns. In fact, punters might have been the most important players in the game. They dictated field position, quick-kicked on early downs and often punted from inside the 50-yard line because long field-goal attempts were rare. In 1928, for example, Lewellen was unofficially credited with 136 punts, whereas the Packers’ Harry O’Boyle led the NFL with three field goals.
Tommy Nobis (Linebacker, Atlanta Falcons 1966-1976)
There was a time where every team had a middle linebacker that fans would brag about. Nobis was to the Atlanta Falcons what Dick Butkus was to the Chicago Bears, or Ray Nitchske to the Green Bay Packers. The first-ever draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons, Nobis emerged as one of the top linebackers of his era. He earned NFL rookie of the year honors in 1966, and earned a spot on the NFL’s all-decade team for the 1960s. He went to five Pro Bowls and was a First Team All-Pro once.
Drew Pearson (Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys 1973-83)
When your teammates nickname you “Clutch,” you know you’re something special. Pearson was one of the NFL’s best receivers during the 1970s, having been a first-team 1970s and was an all-pro in 1974, 1976, and 1977.
Donnie Shell (Safety, Pittsburgh Steelers 1974-1987)
Shell was an undrafted rookie as a linebacker coming from South Carolina State. But he transformed himself into an All-Pro defensive back who finished his career with 51 interceptions, still the most in NFL history for a strong safety. Shell was a five-time Pro Bowl player who had at least one interception in each of his 14 NFL seasons.
Duke Slater (Offensive Lineman, Milwaukee Badgers 1922, Rock Island Independents 1922-25, Chicago Cardinals 1926-1931)
Before the Associated Press even started naming All-Pros, there was Slater. He played in a fledgling football league on teams like the Milwaukee Badgers, Rock Island Independents, and Chicago Cardinals. Not only was Slater the first lineman in NFL history and among only a handful of black players, he was one of the most outstanding linemen of his era. That’s why there were several times during his career he was the sole black player in the league.
Mac Speedie (End, Cleveland Browns 1946-1952)
Besides having one of the great names ever for a pass-catcher, Speedie deferred the beginning of his pro football career after being drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1942 to serve in the Second World War. He joined the Browns in their first season in the All-American Football Conference and provided an immediate impact, starting in 10 games and catching seven touchdowns. He went on to win five total championships (four in the AAFC, one in the NFL), made six All-Pro teams, led his league in receptions four times and receiving yards twice.
Ed Sprinkle (Defensive End/Linebacker, Chicago Bears 1944-1955)
Sprinkle was a fierce competitor who was once described by George Halas as “the greatest pass rusher I’ve ever seen.” Sprinkle played his entire 12-year NFL career with the Bears from 1944-55, helping the Monsters of the Midway win the NFL championship in 1946. He was voted to four Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1940s.
Al Wistert (Offensive Guard/Defensive Tackle, Phil-Pitt Steagles 1943, Philadelphia Eagles 1944-1951)
A lineman from the depths of the “leather helmet” era is the guy you would expect to generate a ton of voting support, and while I can be accused of bias as a fan who bleeds Philadelphia Eagle green, Wistert is a guy who plays a close second to Alex Karras in terms of “Why isn’t this guy already in the Hall of Fame?” It’s hard to look at statistics for early-era guys an for lineman in general, Wistent was widely considered among the dominant players of his era. He was a four-time All-Pro, and won two NFL Championships. He was named to the Hall of Fame’s All-1940s team along with Sammy Baugh, Bill Dudley, Sid Luckman, Marion Motley, and Pete Pihos…all of whom are in the Hall of Fame. Wistert is also member of the Dubsism All-Time Philadelphia Eagles Team.
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