(Morten Andersen photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings)
(Kevin Greene photo courtesy of the Carolina Panthers)
Talk of Fame Network
Now that he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, former linebacker Kevin Greene is in position to comment on the process that took him 12 years to reach Canton. And he has two suggestions for voters: 1) Be more receptive to defensive players and 2) be more receptive to Morten Andersen.
He has a point.
Greene was the only defensive player among this year’s eight inductees, and he’s one of three over the past two years. By contrast, there were nine offensive players chosen in 2015-16.
Unusual? Not really. There are more than twice as many offensive players (179) in the Hall as there are defensive (86). But it’s with specialists in general – and Andersen in particular -- that the discrepancy is overwhelming. There’s only one kicker (Jan Stenerud) and one punter (Ray Guy) in the Hall, with Guy – a 75th anniversary-team member -- waiting over two decades for his induction.
Andersen is the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, but he's the only career scoring leader in any major sport (NBA, NHL, MLB) not in a Hall of Fame.
(Kevin Greene with the Talk of Fame guys in San Francisco)
“I hate to be selfish,” Greene said on the Talk of Fame Network's latest broadcast, “ but I do wish the voters would look at little bit more at the defensive side of the ball and see that there have been some really, really fine players who have slipped through the cracks for one reason or another -- kind of like I had felt that was happening to me. The Steve Atwaters of the world and the Sam Millses of the world.
“I would like the voters to consider kickers a little bit more seriously. I look at Morten Andersen, and the reality of Morten Andersen is that he has scored more points than anybody in the history of the NFL. And for me, as a player, that holds a lot of weight.
“I know he’s a kicker. I got that. But the man has scored more points, and he played for 23, 25 years (it was 25), and he was on the all-decade team of the ‘80s and ‘90s. I don’t know, a six-or-seven-time All-Pro ... a six-or-seven-time Pro Bowler ... I wish those stats stuck out and mattered a little bit more.”
Greene’s stats did, but it still took him 12 years to make it to Canton. His 160 career sacks are more than all but Hall-of-Famers Bruce Smith and Reggie White. But it wasn’t simply productivity that stood out; it was the consistency of his performance, with Greene having double-digit sacks in 10 seasons, including 12.5 in his final season … at the age of 37.
Yet Greene never complained. While he had a Hall-of-Fame resume, he didn’t have a Hall-of-Fame entrée. But now that he does, he admitted that the wait made him appreciate his arrival more than had he been voted in on his first try.
“I always thought I belonged,” he said. “I looked around at some of the people who were put in before me … some of the people who played the same position that I did, that 3-4 outside linebacker, that pass-rush kind of guy … and I know that I played longer and really did better as far as the production and impact on four teams.
“I looked at that, and I was confused about the process more than anything. So I guess it was a relief that it finally happened. Of course, I know a lot of Hall of Famers (who) think it should have happened three, five, seven years before, but it was just a relief that it finally happened – a relief of no more confusion about the process; it really doesn’t matter anymore. I’m in. I’m a member of the 2016 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.