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Old 01-31-2010, 06:27 PM   #16
Brad O.
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Yeah, I read the one on Little (and a couple of the others). I think the posts on the Seniors candidates echo the feelings we expressed earlier: LeBeau would be more appropriate as a contributor, and Little is a borderline case. Honestly, I don't have a strong preference as to whether Little gets in or not. My issue in our earlier discussion was just the comparisons to also-rans like Don Perkins and Ken Willard (a mistake repeated in the PFR post). Nothing really separates Little from Dan Towler, Rick Casares, Larry Brown, Chuck Foreman, Lydell Mitchell, William Andrews, O.J. Anderson, Roger Craig, Herschel Walker, Ricky Watters, or Terrell Davis. Would I put him ahead of a couple of those guys? Yeah. Would he be the worst RB in the HOF? No. The Hall would be fine without Little, but it would be fine with him, too, I think.

It amazes me that you continue to deflect credit for the zone blitz from LeBeau to Bill Arnsparger. Do you believe Al Davis invented the West Coast Offense and Francis Schmidt designed the Air Coryell offense?

Altogether, I think we have a very strong group of finalists this year (maybe that's obvious with Rice and Smith) and into the foreseeable future, as some will be left off again this time. The waiting period for receivers never ceases to astound me. I really thought Cris Carter would get in on the first ballot, but now I wouldn't be surprised if he's denied again.

Last edited by Brad O.; 01-31-2010 at 09:01 PM.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:32 PM   #17
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Brad, you wrote:

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It amazes me that you continue to deflect credit for the zone blitz from LeBeau to Bill Arnsparger. Do you believe Al Davis invented the West Coast Offense and Francis Schmidt designed the Air Coryell offense?
Here's the post I made over there that I assume you're referring to:

"And if LeBeau's real claim to the HoF is as an innovator for inventing the zone blitz, two points to make:

-how much does LeBeau owe to Bill Arnsparger on this?

-why wasn't LeBeau nominated as a regular candidate in the Contributor category? I might have more readily gotten behind his being elected that way if that's his best argument."

I'm asking the former question again there because the more I look, the less I know the answer to this question, and I'm increasingly uncomfortable with an "argument by authority" approach to it -- which is all I've seen so far on the subject, and not just here. It would have been nice to get a real, detailed discussion going instead of a "because I said so" approach. Compare to the fervent and "how dare you question this" declarations last year several people were posting in support of Bob Hayes's admittedly on-the-fence HoF case by claiming he caused the zone blitz to be invented, which frankly left me unconvinced last year. And I said so then. One might well wonder what Steve Owen was doing when he employed what seemed to be umbrella and zone defenses in the early 1950s to stop Paul Brown and Cleveland. "Because I said so" happened a lot last year on this pioneer-related issue, and folks were eager to tell you you're a fool to believe one or the other, depending on who you talk to.

In fact, the LeBeau question came up in an earlier discussion over at the pfraforum site and wasn't resolved clearly either over there, either. Here are two excerpts that contradict each other from that discussion:

Posted by "wildcats unite":

"Aren't there several assistant coaches in the NFL at any given time who are as effective as LeBeau? In an article about LeBeau, Bill Arnsparger is credited as one of LeBeau's influences. Hasn't Arnsparger been more influential than LeBeau is? If LeBeau is in your Top 100 more influential list, then surely Buddy Ryan is there too? Tony Dungy would have to be considered because of the Cover 2. That's three other defensive coordinators right there in the top 100 if LeBeau is the standard. It seems like too many defensive assistants and we haven't even gone back before Arnsparger."

Meanwhile, "SeanLahman" said:

"I don't like the idea of diminishing LeBeau and Dungy because their work was influenced by coaches that came before them. Everything is derivative. Belichick learned from Parcells. Walsh was influenced by Sid Gillman. Lombardi's style was shaped by Red Blaik. And they all owe a debt to Walter Camp. Show me a coach who isn't building on someone else's foundation and I'll show you a guy who can't keep a job for long."

Thread:

Dick LeBeau for Hall of Fame - Professional Football Researchers Association

Brad, the million dollar question here is, what's original, what's derivative, what's significant, what's not, and how much of a combination matters here? What's the answer? Beats me, and the more I read with no specifics and an "argument from authority" approach (not just here, either) the less I'm certain.

In short, I'm becoming less and less sure what's spin and what's truth anymore on issues like this. That's also true in politics, but speaking of sore subjects....
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:15 AM   #18
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bachslunch, let me begin by saying that I'm glad we're having this conversation. Getting the right people into the Hall of Fame is important to me, and it's obvious that it is to you, too. Furthermore, it's apparent you put some thought into your positions. Forcing me to re-examine my ideas is a good thing.

You're right that we should be wary of "argument by authority" candidacies. I don't want to start accepting things just because someone loud says I should. At the same time, skepticism has to be balanced with a level of respect for things that don't show up on paper.

Everyone who saw Gale Sayers play, everyone who has ever ranked the greatest running backs of all time, puts him in or very near the top 10. I've never found a reality-based statistical system that puts Sayers anywhere near the top 10 (though I think I'm getting close to one). At a certain point you have to throw your hands up and say, you know what, this guy was a legend in his own time, and everyone who saw him play agreed that he was special. The problem is on my end: the stats, as I've organized them, just don't tell the whole story.

re: LeBeau, it sounds like you're asking me to prove something that can't be proven. How do you quantify the zone blitz? I would never deny that LeBeau was building on the work of coaches who came before him. I just fall solidly into Sean's camp regarding innovation. The reason I'm surprised at your skepticism on LeBeau and the zone blitz is that no one disputes it. I'm not aware of anyone who claims someone other than LeBeau invented the system, nor of anyone else who claims credit for designing it. It simply isn't a matter of dispute. Arguing otherwise seems more contrarian than skeptical.

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Brad, the million dollar question here is, what's original, what's derivative, what's significant, what's not, and how much of a combination matters here?
Are today's coaches building on what came before them? Naturally. Something utterly original would probably be a disaster. I understand and appreciate this. By far the most popular thing I've ever written for Sports Central was The NFL Coaching Tree. It's basically a study of who influenced who, and it consumed a substantial part of my life in early 2008. I would never try to understate the influence of guys like Arnsparger, or those who came before him. But contemporary coaches are constantly building on what's already out there.

It seems obvious to me that the sport is constantly evolving. Today's game is noticeably different than we saw 15 years ago. It's much different than we saw 35 years ago, and it's light years from what we had 80 years ago. I can't imagine you disagree with that, but please say so if I'm wrong.

The biggest difference is the ever-growing importance of the passing game. This is something I can prove, easily. With the growing importance of the air attack, defenses need better ways to cover receivers and new strategies to pressure and confuse quarterbacks. Still with me? I don't think I've stated anything radical so far.

The most important strategic developments of the last 30 years, IMO, are the West Coast Offense, the zone blitz, and the Tampa-2. Almost every team in the league uses some variation on them once in a while. I would never deny Buddy Ryan's influence on the sport, but the 46 didn't really have staying power.

I think I can show pretty conclusively that the game has changed significantly since 1978. Since the game has changed, there must be a person or persons driving that change. I think even a cursory examination would reveal that Bill Walsh, Don Coryell, Joe Gibbs, Tony Dungy, Dick LeBeau, and Bill Belichick were foremost among those driving the change. What they've done is both original and significant, and I think anyone who disagrees holds them to an unreasonable standard, something unattainable and that denies real trends in the game.

Put another way: take the 1972 Dolphins and drop them in a modern weight room with a bunch of PEDs until they're in physical shape comparable to today's athletes. Now send them out to play the 1994 Niners, the 1996 Packers, the 2001 Rams, the 2004 Patriots, the 2008 Steelers, or any Colts team from the last five years -- under today's rules. Who do you think would win?

I think the No-Name Defense would be in enormous trouble against a modern offense, and when Griese or Morrall started trying to pass against a present-day defense, it would turn ugly fast. The Dolphins might stay in the game on pure talent, particularly if they got the run going early, but I suspect they would lose by double-digits.

The old Dolphins would be lost against a top-notch West Coast Offense, massacred against a multi-receiver Coryell offense like the Rams'. In particular, I don't think they would know how to cover the underneath timing patterns that Young, Favre, Warner, Brady, and Manning executed to perfection.

Offensively, Miami would still be able to run, but the first time they got in 3rd-and-long, they'd be in for a nasty surprise. Those quarterbacks simply never saw today's defensive zones, and they certainly wouldn't be ready for the pressure packages Belichick and LeBeau have designed. Most passes then were long passes, and I suspect sacks would be the biggest problem.

Do you see it otherwise? I realize this '72 Dolphins bit totally subjective. What's not is that today's teams throw more than ever before. They throw more short passes than ever before, and they make more adjustments at the line. Today's defenses bring pass rush pressure from more places than at any time in history. In particular, disguised coverages -- LeBeau's forte -- are more prevalent. If these changes aren't significant, why doesn't anyone do things the old way? If these were small differences, teams could still be successful doing what they did in the past. That doesn't seem to be the case.

Apologies for a lengthy, pedantic post. I hope you feel I've addressed your questions.
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Old 02-01-2010, 08:43 PM   #19
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Brad, found all this indeed helpful, and the tree post is really good to see -- thanks. No unhappiness with any possible pedantry in what was written, either -- that's good info as far as I'm concerned, and welcome. It appears fair to say there's some level of difference between the quality of last year's and this year's "pioneer" argument mentioned above. I'm admittedly one who really likes and best trusts documentation and stats (used in correct context, for sure), but there are some things you can't delineate this way, and football can be especially messy here. The trick is knowing when it works and when it doesn't, and that takes experience. Even baseball has this problem when it comes to player fielding prowess; fielding percentage can be a very deceiving stat (telling nothing about fielding range, which is important), and fielding runs tells you more but not enough to discount personal observation.

Will say that one of the concerns I ran into in conversations online and elsewhere about Dick LeBeau's candidacy revolved not just around comparisons to the "Bob Hayes is a pioneer" aspect last year, but also around the level of assumed information I was encountering on LeBeau this year -- and that included me as well as other people. I knew about the HotVG level of his DB play (which some folks still don't seem aware of), but I had taken for granted a particular brilliance level regarding his overall assistant coaching career (I knew he hadn't had a successful head coaching run). One could say that's true for his time spent with the Steelers, but the Bengals part of his AC career was a surprise, and notably less good than I had assumed. This told me in part to question everything and assume nothing, for good or ill. I needed to know for sure here as well. Hopefully understood from this perspective.

For what it's worth, I initially used to support the idea of Floyd Little for the HoF, and you'll find older posts of mine on the internet to that effect. That's no longer true, and discussions plus a more careful look at things shaped that change.
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Old 02-07-2010, 05:52 PM   #20
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Default HOF Class of 2010 Announced

Enshrinement Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Announced

Russ Grimm
Rickey Jackson
Dick LeBeau
Floyd Little
John Randle
Jerry Rice
Emmitt Smith

Rice and Smith were no-brainers, and everyone suspected LeBeau was going to make it. The other three are a little surprising, Grimm and Jackson in particular.

I'm thrilled that Grimm finally made it -- at last, a Hog in the Hall -- and I don't have a problem with Jackson, but I wonder about some of the deserving candidates who didn't get in.

Tim Brown, Cris Carter, and Shannon Sharpe all got turned back. Maybe Dermontti Dawson will finally get in now that Grimm is out of the way; there seems to be an unofficial limit of 1 offensive lineman per year. Perhaps the elections of Derrick Thomas and Jackson will open the door for Kevin Greene, who IMO was better than either of them.

Maybe one day safeties will become eligible for Canton, so Cliff Harris, Kenny Easley, LeRoy Butler, and Aeneas Williams (also CB) can make it.

I'd like to see coaches and contributors start getting in again, too. Yeah, Ralph Wilson made it last year. Coryell, Tagliabue, both Sabols... all should be in, easily.
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Old 02-12-2010, 01:07 PM   #21
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I don't understand how Carter is not getting in.
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:20 PM   #22
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All in all, a good set of five modern era candidates. Grimm is the weakest of these (relatively short career marred by injury), but I can see a case for him, and if he's deemed worthy this was a good time to elect him. The field will be crowded with good candidates in the next three years (Marshall Faulk, Jerome Bettis, Curtis Martin, Deion Sanders, William Roaf, Bill Parcells, Will Shields, Jonathan Ogden, Michael Strahan, Larry Allen, Warren Sapp) and they'll need a crane to get just these folks in -- that's two classes of 5 modern candidates plus one extra right there.

I think Rickey Jackson was very deserving, and his getting in validates the astute and equally non-trendy election of Andre Tippett recently, plus likely bodes well for Kevin Greene and Charles Haley in future. For a change, there's a logjam (here of LBs) that's being broken up and ushered in piece by piece (add in Harry Carson and Derrick Thomas to this group).

Brad, like you, I remain mystified by the continued exclusion of safeties. And am thinking contributors and coaches should have their own election category separate from modern players and seniors. This will get deserving folks like the Sabols in finally.

In retrospect, it's not surprising Cris Carter is being delayed. He's likely and not unfairly being perceived as a possession receiver, and Ray Berry aside, it's not unusual for such WRs to wait a few years. Plus he's not seen as the best WR of his time (Jerry Rice is), and counting Rice this year, only five WRs have ever been "first ballot/first year eligible" (the others were Alworth, Berry, Warfield, and Largent). Am guessing the voters intend to elect Carter, Tim Brown, and Andre Reed eventually, and my guess is that Reed made the cut into the top 10 (as opposed to Carter and Brown) because he has been waiting the longest -- but there's a logjam here, whose break-up likely got delayed further by Rice's being voted in this year. Just a guess, but it's possible the epic-proportion whining and hand-wringing over Carter's not being elected (not least by Carter himself when he didn't get in "first ballot") may not be sitting well with some electors who feel shown up.
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Old 02-13-2010, 06:56 PM   #23
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All in all, a good set of five modern era candidates. Grimm is the weakest of these (relatively short career marred by injury)
I would have to disagree with this. IMO Jackson was the weakest -- he was never first team all-pro on the AP team; Grimm was, three times. Grimm was first-team all-decade, Jackson didn't make second-team. In fact, he didn't get a vote.

Grimm played on perhaps the most celebrated offensive line in history and is the only member of that group in Canton. He is actually the only enshrinee to play in all three of Washington's Super Bowl victories. You'll probably disagree with this, but I believe Joe Jacoby should get in eventually, too. The offensive line was the constant on that team, which won with three different QBs, three different RBs, and a defense that was good but not dominant. Jackson, playing alongside Sam Mills and Pat Swilling, also played on a defense that was good but not dominant.

I'm not saying Jackson was unworthy -- he was probably just as good as Tippett -- but I don't believe he was more deserving than Robert Brazile, Kevin Greene, Chris Hanburger, and Chuck Howley.

It's not clear to me what separates Jackson from Maxie Baughan, Cornelius Bennett, Joe Fortunato, Isiah Robertson, and Andy Russell. I'm not convinced that he was better than Swilling. Jackson made 6 Pro Bowls, Swilling 5, basically a draw. Jackson has better stats (sacks, etc.). But Swilling was first-team all-pro twice, the 1991 DPOY. His peak was higher than Jackson's. I just don't see a lot of separation between them. To me, this is the pack, the guys who can go to Canton and it's not the end of the world, but who could just as easily be left out.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
The field will be crowded with good candidates in the next three years (Marshall Faulk, Jerome Bettis, Curtis Martin, Deion Sanders, William Roaf, Bill Parcells, Will Shields, Jonathan Ogden, Michael Strahan, Larry Allen, Warren Sapp)
When you say "good candidates", do you mean players who deserve to get in, or just who are likely to get in? I'm not sure Jerome Bettis is either. I'm not sold on Parcells or Sapp, either, and I bet a lot of those guys won't be first-ballot. Bettis seems like a really nice guy, but he's absolutely not worthy of induction.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
I think Rickey Jackson was very deserving, and his getting in validates the astute and equally non-trendy election of Andre Tippett recently, plus likely bodes well for Kevin Greene and Charles Haley in future.
I'd like to see Greene get in. Haley was a good player who wouldn't have a prayer if he didn't have 5 Super Bowl rings. He was in the right places at the right time.

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And am thinking contributors and coaches should have their own election category separate from modern players and seniors. This will get deserving folks like the Sabols in finally.
Agreed.
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Old 02-14-2010, 02:48 AM   #24
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I would have to disagree with this. IMO Jackson was the weakest -- he was never first team all-pro on the AP team; Grimm was, three times. Grimm was first-team all-decade, Jackson didn't make second-team. In fact, he didn't get a vote.
True enough, but a few things here:

--Jackson was named 1st team all pro by NEA twice (1986 and 1987). Though to be fair, add one NEA 1st team to Grimm's totals as well (1986) if you go this route. Counting this way, Grimm has 4 1st team all pro selections and Jackson 2. But Jackson also went to 6 pro bowls to Grimm's 4.

--all-decade teams are indeed useful, but there are some oddities here, and most definitely some serious head-scratchers at LB. Note that Joe Fortunato is on the all-50s team despite having earned almost all his postseason honors during the 60s, Larry Morris is on the all-60s team despite receiving no postseason honors ever, and both John Anderson and Carl Banks are on the all-80s team despite having one 1st team all pro selection and one pro bowl appearance between them. One may well wonder, for example, why Chuck Howley or Maxie Baughan (or Fortunato, for that matter) aren't on the 60s team instead of Morris. (Does Jackson belong on the 80s all-decade team over Anderson and Banks? Good question.) Not to mention that Jim Parker was named to the all-50s team as a guard even though he only played as a tackle during that decade -- according to pro-football-reference, Parker only played guard from 1962 to 1965 inclusive.

--if one values longevity, number of productive years, and ability to produce well on both good and bad teams, Jackson has a definite edge over Grimm.

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Grimm played on perhaps the most celebrated offensive line in history and is the only member of that group in Canton. He is actually the only enshrinee to play in all three of Washington's Super Bowl victories. You'll probably disagree with this, but I believe Joe Jacoby should get in eventually, too. The offensive line was the constant on that team, which won with three different QBs, three different RBs, and a defense that was good but not dominant. Jackson, playing alongside Sam Mills and Pat Swilling, also played on a defense that was good but not dominant.
I'm not saying Grimm doesn't belong in, and I'm fine with him being elected. But whether Grimm or Jackson is the weakest of the new modern era enshrinees can be debated depending on what you value. Note further that for those who value the ability to stop the run highly, John Randle's election won't make them the least bit happy. As far as Joe Jacoby, he's arguably one of the best OTs from the 80s not in even though his postseason profile of 2/4/80s is one AP 1st team all pro selection thinner than Grimm's. Personally, I'd prefer to see a safety or two get in from this decade first, for starters.

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I'm not saying Jackson was unworthy -- he was probably just as good as Tippett -- but I don't believe he was more deserving than Robert Brazile, Kevin Greene, Chris Hanburger, and Chuck Howley.
I'm all for Greene getting voted in, and think he very much belongs. And I agree that Brazile, Hanburger, and Howley should be in. Problem is, these last three can now only get elected as Seniors, and the chances of them getting nominated now will likely be slim. Not that that's a good thing, of course. But I don't see that it's therefore better to not vote in Jackson or Greene unless Brazile, Howley, and Hanburger make it. That just makes the problem worse. No point creating another wrong to add to one already there, to my way of thinking.

Directly comparing Tippett to Jackson makes particularly good sense because they were contemporaries.

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It's not clear to me what separates Jackson from Maxie Baughan, Cornelius Bennett, Joe Fortunato, Isiah Robertson, and Andy Russell. I'm not convinced that he was better than Swilling. Jackson made 6 Pro Bowls, Swilling 5, basically a draw. Jackson has better stats (sacks, etc.). But Swilling was first-team all-pro twice, the 1991 DPOY. His peak was higher than Jackson's. I just don't see a lot of separation between them. To me, this is the pack, the guys who can go to Canton and it's not the end of the world, but who could just as easily be left out.
All but Bennett (1/5/90s) are Senior-eligible only -- same problem as above. Bennett vs. Jackson? My impression, maybe right and maybe not, is that Jackson had a longer if lower peak than Bennett, while Bennett had a shorter but higher peak than Jackson. Both had long careers, though my impression is that Jackson was better over a longer period of time. Jackson also played well on good and bad teams, while Bennett's best play coincides with the Bills Super Bowl appearance run and seems to drop off after that. Bennett of course is none too shabby a LB, maybe HoF worthy depending on how many LBs one wants.

Swilling wouldn't be the worst choice either (2/5/none), though his career is shorter than Jackson's (and Bennett's). Plus one can argue that Jackson excelled on worse Saints teams with minimal help as well as during times when the Saints were good. Swilling's best years on the Saints coincide fully with the period when there was more LB talent in Sam Mills and Vaughan Johnson as well as Jackson -- in short, he had more help.

One thing I do like about Jackson, and Tippett for that matter, is their reputations for all-around LB play. My understanding is that both were great in pass rush, very good against the run, and decent in pass coverage. That seems to be greatly valued by HoF voters, too.

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When you say "good candidates", do you mean players who deserve to get in, or just who are likely to get in? I'm not sure Jerome Bettis is either. I'm not sold on Parcells or Sapp, either, and I bet a lot of those guys won't be first-ballot. Bettis seems like a really nice guy, but he's absolutely not worthy of induction.
Likely to get in. My point here is that the field is going to get clogged in a hurry over the next three years.

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I'd like to see Greene get in. Haley was a good player who wouldn't have a prayer if he didn't have 5 Super Bowl rings. He was in the right places at the right time.
I'd like to see Greene in as well and support his candidacy. Haley's 2/5/none postseason profile actually isn't far off that of Greene's 2/5/90s, Tippett's 2/5/80s, and Jackson's 0/6/none. I'm not fully sold on Haley, but am thinking it's not so easy to say he doesn't belong and the rest do.
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:35 AM   #25
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Good points as usual, bachslunch.
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Jackson also went to 6 pro bowls to Grimm's 4.
Normally I would agree that this helps balance things out. My issue is that Jackson was never a first-team all-pro. That means he was never seen as the best OLB in the league. I have really mixed feelings about inducting someone who was never the best at his position.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
--all-decade teams are indeed useful, but there are some oddities here, and most definitely some serious head-scratchers at LB.
Absolutely agreed, and I put minimal faith in them. The issue for me, again, is that Jackson didn't get a vote. You mentioned John Anderson and Carl Banks; they're on the 2nd team because they got one vote each. Jackson clearly wasn't regarded as the best of his own era, and in cases like this I'm always suspicious about committee politics. How does someone like Jackson, a fine player but not really a standout among HOF candidates, a first-time Finalist who's been eligible for years, suddenly make so much progress in the voting?

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
--if one values longevity, number of productive years, and ability to produce well on both good and bad teams, Jackson has a definite edge over Grimm.
Jackson definitely has the edge in longevity. Worth noting also that Grimm played in about a season's worth of postseason games.

It seems unfair to give Jackson extra credit for producing on both good and bad teams, since Grimm never got an opportunity to produce on bad teams. Another way of looking at this would be that Washington was 130-57 with Grimm (incl. 15-4 in the postseason), but 16-16 in the two years before he arrived and 13-19 in the two years after he left. Maybe he made bad teams good, or average teams great.

Is a player who helps his team to championship appearances, like Grimm or Bennett, less valuable than one who makes a bad team respectable, like Jackson? That doesn't make sense to me. Did Grimm just happen to arrive when the team got good and leave when it got bad, or did he help make the team great? Did the Bills just happen to drop off when Bennett did, or was he suddenly unable to produce because the team was no longer great? Might his drop-off be as simple as age? He turned 30 around the time the Bills stopped going to Super Bowls.

I understand adjusting for context, but I think you're deflecting too much credit from the individual here. The cause-effect relationship is not established, and I think the players deserve the benefit of the doubt. Raleigh McKenzie wasn't a Pro Bowler. Darryl Talley wasn't a two-time AFC DPOY.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
Personally, I'd prefer to see a safety or two get in from this decade first, for starters.
I would definitely trade Jacoby for Kenny Easley.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
I don't see that it's therefore better to not vote in Jackson or Greene unless Brazile, Howley, and Hanburger make it. That just makes the problem worse. No point creating another wrong to add to one already there, to my way of thinking.
Agreed, I wasn't proposing that we should vote against everyone until Player X finally gets his due. Players who deserve to go in should go in. My point ... well, next paragraph...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
All but Bennett (1/5/90s) are Senior-eligible only -- same problem as above. Bennett vs. Jackson? My impression, maybe right and maybe not, is that Jackson had a longer if lower peak than Bennett, while Bennett had a shorter but higher peak than Jackson. Both had long careers, though my impression is that Jackson was better over a longer period of time. Jackson also played well on good and bad teams, while Bennett's best play coincides with the Bills Super Bowl appearance run and seems to drop off after that. Bennett of course is none too shabby a LB, maybe HoF worthy depending on how many LBs one wants.

Swilling wouldn't be the worst choice either (2/5/none), though his career is shorter than Jackson's (and Bennett's). Plus one can argue that Jackson excelled on worse Saints teams with minimal help as well as during times when the Saints were good. Swilling's best years on the Saints coincide fully with the period when there was more LB talent in Sam Mills and Vaughan Johnson as well as Jackson -- in short, he had more help.
This is my point. You can argue for Jackson over Bennett and Swilling, but you can also argue for them over Jackson. As I already said, I don't really have a problem with Jackson being in. That said, I don't think he was a particularly strong candidate, and his getting in while Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Don Coryell, and innumerable deserving non-Finalists were left out is a bit disappointing. As you pointed out, there's a lot of competition, and some of these guys are getting left by the wayside because the voters don't know their heads from their, uh, feet.

To me, Jackson is a guy who could easily be left out, and the Hall wouldn't miss him. I suppose I feel about him the way I do about Floyd Little. Eh, they're in, they were good players and I'm happy for them. But Little was a hugely disappointing Senior candidate, and Jackson was about the 5th-best OLB without a bust in Canton, if that.

Little, we've agreed, doesn't really stand out from the best RBs not in the Hall. I think the same is true of Jackson. This is not someone who was obviously deserving of induction. If he deserves to be in, there are about a dozen other OLBs who probably should also: Baughan, Bennett, Matt Blair, Brazile, Bill Forester, Fortunato, Greene, Hanburger, Howley, Tom Jackson, Greg Lloyd, Clay Matthews, Robertson, Dave Robinson, Russell, Mike Stratton, Swilling, George Webster...

Is Jackson near the top of that group? Probably. But he's part of that group. He's not obviously better than most of those guys, and IMO he's clearly behind a few of them.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
One thing I do like about Jackson, and Tippett for that matter, is their reputations for all-around LB play. My understanding is that both were great in pass rush, very good against the run, and decent in pass coverage. That seems to be greatly valued by HoF voters, too.
I'm not sure where you got this impression. Tippett was totally one-dimensional, and Jackson only a little better. They were superlative pass rushers with very few coverage responsibilities. I'm not aware that they had a particular reputation one way or the other on run defense; not liabilities, but not "very good", either. If you have a source, I'd be interested to see it.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
My point here is that the field is going to get clogged in a hurry over the next three years.
Definitely true. I think we're already there, actually. This year they nominated more than 25 candidates I thought were deserving.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
I'd like to see Greene in as well and support his candidacy. Haley's 2/5/none postseason profile actually isn't far off that of Greene's 2/5/90s, Tippett's 2/5/80s, and Jackson's 0/6/none. I'm not fully sold on Haley, but am thinking it's not so easy to say he doesn't belong and the rest do.
Yes, but this is why you don't go exclusively off the postseason profiles. Greene had a number of good seasons in which he wasn't chosen, whereas Haley was honored basically every time he had a good year. Both of them were primarily pass rush specialists, but Greene retired with 160 sacks, Haley with 100.5. Greene had 10 seasons of double-digit sacks, Haley 6. Greene played 15 seasons, Haley was only a full-time player for 8. Greene was all-90s and NFC DPOY in '96, Haley not. I see a great deal of difference between them.

I don't know how closely you followed football in the 80s, but Andre Tippett was a big deal. In an era of phenomenal pass rushers, maybe the golden age of pass rushers, he was really regarded as someone special. He was a victim in some ways of bad luck (Easley in 84, the Bears in 85, LT in general), but he's clearly in Canton for what he was at his best.

Compared to Haley, Jackson had far more sacks (+36), forced fumbles (+14), and fumble recoveries (+21). He also had more interceptions (+6) and is unofficially credited with more than twice as many tackles (1173-485). Can you think of anything Haley did better than Jackson? Again, I don't see this as particularly close. Haley had six good seasons, one of them very good, and played on a bunch of good teams. Other than the rings, nothing about him stands out to me.

I'm actually working on a column right now that I suspect will interest you. It's almost done, but it probably won't appear on the main site until next week.

Last edited by Brad O.; 02-15-2010 at 12:13 AM. Reason: added Jackson's unofficial rookie year to sack total (+8.5)
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Old 02-14-2010, 03:47 PM   #26
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Good points as usual, bachslunch.
You as well. No question you're the most challenging poster I engage in these kind of exchanges with. It's most welcome.

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Normally I would agree that this helps balance things out. My issue is that Jackson was never a first-team all-pro. That means he was never seen as the best OLB in the league. I have really mixed feelings about inducting someone who was never the best at his position.
There's been some talk about the relative worth of different organizations' 1st team all pro squads over at pfraforum and other sites in the past. Some folks over there think the NEA and UPI squads hold as much weight as AP ones. I'm not so sure on this, but for those who value the NEA 1st team all pro squads as much, Jackson made two of them. He did not for AP in any year, that's for sure, and that's surely not a point in his favor -- perhaps a big one. Depends on what one values, I guess.

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Absolutely agreed, and I put minimal faith in them. The issue for me, again, is that Jackson didn't get a vote. You mentioned John Anderson and Carl Banks; they're on the 2nd team because they got one vote each. Jackson clearly wasn't regarded as the best of his own era, and in cases like this I'm always suspicious about committee politics. How does someone like Jackson, a fine player but not really a standout among HOF candidates, a first-time Finalist who's been eligible for years, suddenly make so much progress in the voting?
Fair points to make. And I'll agree Jackson definitely wasn't the best of his own era at OLB. Lawrence Taylor was. The only point I can think re Banks and Anderson is why they got a vote at all on the 80s all-decade team. Politics may have played a role here as well given that only one vote is involved -- more votes for either candidate might have made things different, of course. Comparing Jackson, Banks, and Anderson one on one, I'd have chosen Jackson over the other two -- and for me, this raises some questions. And the big question in this case is, if not Banks or Anderson, then who belongs on this team? It might not be Jackson, either. Who should it be? Or do we assume there were no questions to be asked and accept both Banks and Anderson?

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To me, Jackson is a guy who could easily be left out, and the Hall wouldn't miss him. I suppose I feel about him the way I do about Floyd Little. Eh, they're in, they were good players and I'm happy for them. But Little was a hugely disappointing Senior candidate, and Jackson was about the 5th-best OLB without a bust in Canton, if that.

Little, we've agreed, doesn't really stand out from the best RBs not in the Hall. I think the same is true of Jackson. This is not someone who was obviously deserving of induction. If he deserves to be in, there are about a dozen other OLBs who probably should also: Baughan, Bennett, Matt Blair, Brazile, Bill Forester, Fortunato, Greene, Hanburger, Howley, Tom Jackson, Greg Lloyd, Clay Matthews, Robertson, Dave Robinson, Russell, Mike Stratton, Swilling, George Webster...

Is Jackson near the top of that group? Probably. But he's part of that group. He's not obviously better than most of those guys, and IMO he's clearly behind a few of them.
I can see a few possible differences between Jackson and Floyd Little in this regard. Agreed that neither are elite candidates at their position, of course. They're not Lawrence Taylor or Jim Brown, after all.

--outside linebacker is a poorly represented position in the HoF, while running back is arguably the most over-represented. As a result, I can see stretching the HoF to accommodate more of the former, not so much the latter.

--I don't see that voting in Jackson necessarily establishes a new floor level at his position regarding the HoF. I can see Jackson fitting in with a lower floor level of HoF LBs such as Harry Carson, Derrick Thomas, and Andre Tippett -- and perhaps guys like Dave Wilcox and Sam Huff from earlier eras as well. Maybe there are other LBs who belong there, too, but I'm not sure Jackson doesn't qualify. If this question can actually be answered affirmatively ("Is Jackson near the top of that group? Probably."), we may be more talking the difference between half full and half empty glasses than anything else. With Little, it's different -- in fact, I'm finding it tough to think of other HoF RBs that share his level of accomplishment. Maybe Paul Hornung qualifies, but I'm thinking he's a unique HoF mistake. And I'm not sure short career guys like Gale Sayers equate here.

--the difference between the second tier LBs from the 80s-90s and those from earlier eras is that several of the former are indeed getting elected. If they weren't, that would more likely be a problem. For me at least, the solution is to get the second tier LBs from previous decades into the HoF. Which may be just a restatement of my earlier point, or maybe another slant on that point.

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I'm not sure where you got this impression. Tippett was totally one-dimensional, and Jackson only a little better. They were superlative pass rushers with very few coverage responsibilities. I'm not aware that they had a particular reputation one way or the other on run defense; not liabilities, but not "very good", either. If you have a source, I'd be interested to see it.
These impressions came from reading things at pfraforum and elsewhere, plus some chats I've had. Here's one such thread involving Jackson I started over there and some thoughts from a poster over there named Bryan Lutes:

Saints '90s LB quartet -- how good on run, pass, in coverage? - Professional Football Researchers Association

I'll have to hunt up something regarding Tippett, and will post a link if/when I find one.

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I'm actually working on a column right now that I suspect will interest you. It's almost done, but it probably won't appear on the main site until next week.
Looking forward to it. <grins> Hope my being an opinionated horse's patoot helped out a little here.
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Old 02-14-2010, 06:47 PM   #27
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You as well. No question you're the most challenging poster I engage in these kind of exchanges with. It's most welcome.
Thanks. I've devoted a great deal of time to becoming an expert on these matters, and I'm gratified that you find me "challenging".

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
There's been some talk about the relative worth of different organizations' 1st team all pro squads over at pfraforum and other sites in the past. Some folks over there think the NEA and UPI squads hold as much weight as AP ones. I'm not so sure on this, but for those who value the NEA 1st team all pro squads as much, Jackson made two of them. He did not for AP in any year, that's for sure, and that's surely not a point in his favor -- perhaps a big one. Depends on what one values, I guess.
You know, I'm sympathetic to that idea. But the AP names two OLBs per season, and Jackson never made their top two. Even if we accept NEA and UPI as equally valid, we can safely assume that Jackson was never the #1 player at his position, and (because he didn't make the AP squad) never a clear #2.

There were a couple years when he might have been the second-best, but there wasn't a single season in which it was, "Oh, well he's obviously the best besides LT" or Tippett or whoever.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
The only point I can think re Banks and Anderson is why they got a vote at all on the 80s all-decade team. Politics may have played a role here as well given that only one vote is involved -- more votes for either candidate might have made things different, of course. Comparing Jackson, Banks, and Anderson one on one, I'd have chosen Jackson over the other two -- and for me, this raises some questions. And the big question in this case is, if not Banks or Anderson, then who belongs on this team? It might not be Jackson, either. Who should it be? Or do we assume there were no questions to be asked and accept both Banks and Anderson?
There is no question in my mind that Jackson was a stronger candidate than Anderson or Banks. The one vote is just a little flukey. I would never dream of ranking Jackson behind those two, but I think it's a real concern that nobody voted for him. Everyone voted for LT, and the other votes were split among Ted Hendricks, Tippett, and a pair of head-scratchers. None of the voters thought Jackson was better than Hendricks and Tippett.

What we're left with is a player who was probably the 4th-best OLB of his own era* and was never the best at his position. I appreciate Jackson's consistency and longevity, but those don't sound like HOF credentials to me.

* Hendricks really was not his era; their careers only overlapped by 5 years. But if we take Hendricks out, I think we have to add people like Bennett and Swilling with whom Jackson is roughly equal.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
--outside linebacker is a poorly represented position in the HoF, while running back is arguably the most over-represented. As a result, I can see stretching the HoF to accommodate more of the former, not so much the latter.
Great point.

It's sort of amazing how quickly I've shifted from complaining that OLBs are underrepresented to worrying that too many are getting in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bachslunch
--I don't see that voting in Jackson necessarily establishes a new floor level at his position regarding the HoF. I can see Jackson fitting in with a lower floor level of HoF LBs such as Harry Carson, Derrick Thomas, and Andre Tippett -- and perhaps guys like Dave Wilcox and Sam Huff from earlier eras as well.
Carson (also never an AP all-pro) is a decent comparison, though his 9 Pro Bowls make me feel better about him. Agreed that Jackson is comparable to Thomas and Tippett, and I won't argue with Huff. Wilcox, I think, was a level above. He made more Pro Bowls, more all-pro teams, and was on Dr. Z's All-Century Team. Wilcox is widely regarded as the most unblockable OLB in history.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
Maybe there are other LBs who belong there, too, but I'm not sure Jackson doesn't qualify. If this question can actually be answered affirmatively ("Is Jackson near the top of that group? Probably."), we may be more talking the difference between half full and half empty glasses than anything else. With Little, it's different -- in fact, I'm finding it tough to think of other HoF RBs that share his level of accomplishment. Maybe Paul Hornung qualifies, but I'm thinking he's a unique HoF mistake. And I'm not sure short career guys like Gale Sayers equate here.
I think Little is comparable to (or significantly better than) George McAfee, Tony Canadeo, Bill Dudley, Charlie Trippi, Doak Walker, Frank Gifford, and Larry Csonka. I like your characterisation of Hornung as "a unique HoF mistake." He's not one of the 100 best RBs in history.

Quote:
These impressions came from reading things at pfraforum and elsewhere, plus some chats I've had. Here's one such thread involving Jackson I started over there and some thoughts from a poster over there named Bryan Lutes:

Saints '90s LB quartet -- how good on run, pass, in coverage? - Professional Football Researchers Association

I'll have to hunt up something regarding Tippett, and will post a link if/when I find one.
Hmm. That's not a very authoritative source. Honestly, I suspect it's pretty accurate, but the post doesn't specifically mention pass coverage or playing the run.

In their careers, Jackson and Tippett had 8 interceptions and 1, respectively. Lawrence Taylor, who had almost no coverage responsibilities, had 9. I would suggest that even "decent in pass coverage" overstates their credentials, Tippett's in particular. He was the Derrick Thomas of the 80s. Jackson was a bit more balanced, but he was primarily a pass rusher.

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Originally Posted by bachslunch
Looking forward to it. <grins> Hope my being an opinionated horse's patoot helped out a little here.
Well, I don't think I would call you opinionated per se. On the contrary, you seem pretty open-minded about most of these issues.
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Old 02-14-2010, 07:07 PM   #28
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Here's an article by Boston sportswriter Mike Reiss on Andre Tippett's having good ability in pass rushing, pass coverage, and run play:

Patriot Tippett put in the work for his Fame - The Boston Globe

Here's an article in the American Spectator about Rickey Jackson. I'm suspicious of it, as it seems like serious overkill in many ways. But the idea that Jackson wasn't one-dimensional appears here as well:

The American Spectator : A Ballot for Rickey Jackson

As always, one needs to keep in mind the reliability of sources. Could be problems here in observation or bias here, but there it is.
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:14 PM   #29
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Just a couple things:

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I think Little is comparable to (or significantly better than) George McAfee, Tony Canadeo, Bill Dudley, Charlie Trippi, Doak Walker, Frank Gifford, and Larry Csonka. I like your characterisation of Hornung as "a unique HoF mistake." He's not one of the 100 best RBs in history.
All but Csonka are before my time. And I'll agree that Csonka isn't the world beater some folks think -- the few times I've seen much mentioned about him, the assumption seems to be that he's a no-brainer. Whether he's the equal or inferior to Little is indeed a good question. But from what I've been able to figure out on two of the other folks mentioned, they may be hard folks to compare well to Little because of the combination of skill sets involved.

--Frank Gifford doesn't strike me as an especially strong HoF-er, but my impression was that his basically just OK rushing stats got a strong boost from his skills as a receiver.

--Doak Walker was a real jack-of-all-trades who looks like he was a decent PK for the time, added some very healthy pass catch stats to what looks like some so-so rushing numbers, did some punting, was none too shabby as a KR, and also played DB. In fact, he may be hard to compare with anyone from the 50s and later.

Not sure about the earlier folks, especially since I'll bet several of these were two-way players -- again, pretty tough to compare to Little if so. Gives me something to take a look at, though.

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In their careers, Jackson and Tippett had 8 interceptions and 1, respectively. Lawrence Taylor, who had almost no coverage responsibilities, had 9. I would suggest that even "decent in pass coverage" overstates their credentials, Tippett's in particular.
Remember, I'm a healthy skeptic regarding the significance of INTs. Re Tippett: his single career INT might indeed mean he was poor in pass coverage or never did this, but could also mean that nobody ever threw against him when he played coverage, or maybe more likely that Tippett could cover okay but had bad hands. In fact, I'd guess that if any of these guys had good hands, they would have been TEs instead of LBs.
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Old 02-14-2010, 10:52 PM   #30
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Here's more praise for Andre Tippett's complete LB skills, maybe the most reliable source I've seen so far. The relevant excerpt:

"Tippett, the Patriots' director of community affairs, was considered the best linebacker in the AFC during an era when Lawrence Taylor ruled the other conference. An outstanding pass rusher who also could handle coverage, Tippett was a force against the run after a stint in junior college and a standout career at Iowa."

Redskins' Monk, Green headline HOF class; Tagliabue shut out again - NFL - ESPN

Another one on Tippett, apparently a quote from Irving Fryar:

“Anything LT (Lawrence Taylor) could do, Andre could do it just as well,” said former Patriots teammate Irving Fryer. “He could rush the passer just as well, stop the run just as well, (and) cover backs out of the backfield just as well. He just never got the notoriety of LT because we played up in New England.”

Scout.com: Honoring Andre Tippett

And something pro-Tippett-as-complete-linebacker from Mike Vrabel quoted in an article from the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, though I have no idea if Vrabel actually saw him play or not:

“It’s more than deserving, it’s long overdue,” Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel said this week. “You can’t really talk about outside linebackers without saying Lawrence Taylor and Andre Tippett. To me, this is a guy that rushed, covered, played against the run and put up a lot of great numbers when linebackers really weren’t doing those types of things in the ’80s.”

Telegram.com - A product of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette
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