When we spoke this week with Carolina coach Ron Rivera on the Talk of Fame Network, there was one question he was ready to answer. And it wasn't long before he had his chance.
"If you had one pass," he was asked, "to give someone not in the Hall of Fame ... but someone you believe deserved to be in ... who would it be?"
"Jim Plunkett," Rivera answered immediately. "Without a doubt in my mind, Jim Plunkett. Two-time Super Bowl winner. Number-one draft pick. rookie of the Year NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Super Bowl MVP."
Why stop there? He was also a Heisman Trophy winner ... and Maxwell Award winner ... and UPI Player of the Year winner.
In short, Jim Plunkett is a qualified candidate for the Hall.
"He's got tremendous career record numbers," Rivera said of the former Patriots' and Raiders' star. "As you can tell, I'm a huge fan. I really am. I thought he was in the Hall of Fame for the longest time until I got in a discussion with somebody, and he said, 'Aw, he's not in.' So I looked it up. And he's not in."
Correct. He's not only not in; he's never been a finalist or semifinalist.
Quick now, name another quarterback eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame who started and won multiple Super Bowls but who is not in Canton. Answer: You can't. Jim Plunkett is it.
"To be honest," said Rivera, "if you go back and look at Bob Griese's numbers ... and, remember, the undefeated season (1972 when the Dolphins were 17-0), Griese didn't play most of those games (Earl Morrall did).
"Not to disparage Bob Griese because he is a great quarterback, but I'm just looking at who I would compare (Plunkett to) ... and to me, I know it's tough, and I understand there are certain things about it, but, to me, this is a guy who was a great role model for me growing up."
Because Plunkett retired over 25 years ago, he's eligible for Canton only as a senior nominee, and good luck there. The senior pool is so deep that 96 all-decade choices through the year 2000 are still waiting to be inducted, and no more than two can be chosen every other year.
Plunkett and former Cincinnati Bengals' star Ken Anderson are considered the most eligible senior candidates at quarterback.