Talk of Fame Network
Former wide receiver Henry Ellard is one of 94 players on the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame's preliminary list for the Class of 2017 ... and he should be.
He was three-time Pro Bowler, a two-time All-Pro, a member of the 10,000-yard club and someone who, in 1996, at the age of 35, averaged 19.4 yards per catch, and who, two years earlier, had nearly 1,400 yards in catches and produced first downs with 71 of his 74 catches. What's more, he had four 1,000 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams before switching coasts and producing three more of them in Washington.
Henry Ellard could catch. He could block. He produced first downs. He produced touchdowns. And he returned punts. So why isn’t he on the short list for Canton? Good question. Not only hasn’t he ever been a finalist. He's never been a Hall-of-Fame semifinalist.
So what gives?
Ellard has an idea, and he shared them with us on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. The way he sees it, there are two factors working against him – beginning with the Rams' 1995 move to St. Louis.
"I proved the point that I could still play at a high level even though it was with a different team," he said. "I think really what hurt more than anything else is that, once I left the Rams, the Rams left L.A. and moved to St. Louis. So I think you kind of get lost there in that move, more than anything else. You don’t have the coverage in L.A. where I had the majority of my career. All that moved to St. Louis. And I'm not known in St. Louis. That’s for sure."
He's right about that. Ellard is … and always will be associated … with the L.A. Rams. But which quarterback do you think of when you mention his name? Jim Everett? Chris Chandler? Jeff Kemp? Steve Dils? They all threw to him. And so did others.
"When I compare myself to guys who are already there," he said of the Hall, "the only question … and something I have always asked .. is (what would have happened) if I would have had the opportunity to play with some of the quarterbacks these Hall of Famers have played with -- compared to my career where I played with 10 different quarterbacks? And yet the body of work still speaks for itself.
"Even though I worked and played with 10 different quarterbacks, compared to some of these guys that had a Hall-of-Fame quarterback after another Hall-of-Fame quarterback that they played with. I never got that opportunity to play with a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, so who knows what might have happened if I had that opportunity?"
Tim Brown voiced the same concerns about his career, especially after he had been a Hall-of-Fame finalist six years before finally crossing the threshold in 2015.
"And that’s what I would speak on more than anything else," said Ellard. "The Joe Montanas, the Steve Youngs, the Troy Aikmans, the Jim Kellys of the world that became Hall of Famers I can only (dream) of what might’ve been if I had that opportunity."
(Henry Ellard photos courtesy of the L.A. Rams)