(Photos courtesy of the Buffalo Bills)
By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
Bill Polian is right: Steve Tasker and Kent Hull deserve Hall-of-Fame consideration. Unfortunately for both, consideration is probably all they get from Canton.
That’s not a knock on either. It’s simply reality, and like the movie said …. reality bites.
Several ex-Bills, including Polian and Hall-of-Fame coach Marv Levy, have stood up for Tasker before, with Polian on Thursday calling him “the greatest special-teams player that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.” That’s a glowing endorsement, especially from someone just elected to Canton.
But the reality is that special-teams players seldom reach the Hall of Fame, and the envelope, please. There are exactly two in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Kicker Jan Stenerud and punter Ray Guy. And, OK, so that’s discouraging. But consider this: It took Guy, the punter on the league’s 75th anniversary team – nearly three decades to make it, and then only when the Hall’s senior committee brought him back to voters for an eighth … and final … time.
Now the kicker: The Hall’s 75th anniversary team is named by the Hall’s selectors, the same group that didn’t vote him in until 2014.
With Guy’s selection, there’s only one member of the 75th anniversary team not in Canton, and any guesses what position he played? If you said, “special teams,” go to the head of the class. It’s Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, and maybe now you can see the hurdle Tasker is up against.
Now let’s turn to Hull. Polian called him “probably the most highly respected and, in many ways, feared player” on the Bills’ teams that went to four consecutive Super Bowls, and I have no doubt he’s right. But Hull wasn’t an all-decade choice at center. Dermontti Dawson and Mark Stepnoski were. And while Dawson is in the Hall, Stepnoski is not. In fact, he’s never made the list of 25 semifinalists.
Logic would tell you that Hull would be somewhere in Stepnoski’s neighborhood, and, as far as Canton goes, that’s a long way down Highway 77. But then there’s this: By my count, dating back to the 1950s, there are 17 offensive linemen on the last six all-decade teams not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Logic would tell you Hull would have to get in line behind them, too.
That’s not encouraging. But neither is this: Jerry Kramer. He’s not in the Hall, either, and, yeah, OK, so he’s a former guard. So what? Well, so he’s the only member of the league’s 50th anniversary team not chosen to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Now someone explain that one to me. The same group that believed he was one of the game’s greatest players in the league’s first 50 years keeps him out of the Hall. Before we start talking Kent Hull … or any other offensive lineman … we must deal with Jerry Kramer, and, so far, nobody’s dealing.
Like I said, reality bites.