State Your Case: Dennis Harrah

Dennis Harrah was a six-time Pro Bowler and the anchor of one of the best offensive lines of the 1980s. So what's he got to do to open a pathway to the Hall of Fame?


(Dennis Harrah photo courtesy L.A. Rams)

By Ron Borges

Talk of Fame Network

Dennis Harrah has a lot of things working against his candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the quality of his play is not one of them.

You may wonder what other criteria there can be for enshrinement in Canton beyond the greatness of your play? The answer is twofold: Don’t play guard and don’t leave the NFL without a championship.

Almost 69 percent of all Hall-of-Fame enshrinees played on teams that won either an NFL championship or a Super Bowl. And of the 316 total inductees to date, only 13 were pure guards (some played tackle as well, and a few played all three interior line positions) -- or 4.11 per cent of all Hall of Famers..

In case you’re friend or family of Harrah, we can improve his chances if we limited the math to only the 271 players inducted. That ups the guards to 4.79 per cent of total inductees.

Those numbers do not mean there is no Hall-of-Fame case to be made for Dennis Harrah, who was so proficient an offensive guard during his 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams that he was selected as a member of their 40th anniversary team and named to the Pro Bowl six times.

Harrah started for 12 seasons in Los Angeles after apprenticing behind Joe Scibelli his rookie year. Beginning in 1976, when he started all 14 games next to future Hall-of-Fame right tackle Jackie Slater, Harrah would go on to start 144 of the remaining 154 games of his career.

Hannah was a unique blend of power and speed, able to run a 4.8 40 while bench-pressing 500 pounds. It was a time when the game valued mobility more than mass in offensive linemen, but Hannah had both. His physical dominance made him, along with Slater, the anchors of a Rams’ line that finished in the top 10 in rushing 10 times in those 12 seasons and twice led the NFC in rushing yardage.

Running behind that line, Eric Dickerson led the NFL in rushing three times in a four-year span between 1983 and 1986 and set the all-time rushing record of 2,105 yards in 1984, a record that still stands.

Harrah’s six trips to the Pro Bowl make him one of the dominant linemen of his era (1975-1987) and someone Slater singled out in his own Hall-of-Fame induction speech as “a guy who was Dodge City tough for 13 years.’’

During Hannah’s time in Los Angeles, the Rams won six NFC West titles, played in five conference championship games and reached Super Bowl XIV in 1979, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 after leading 19-17 going in the fourth quarter.

Might Dennis Harrah’s Hall-of-Fame fate been different had the Rams won that day? Had his teams reached that final game one or two more times might that have made a difference?

We will never know. What we do know is that Dennis Harrah was one of the best offensive linemen of his time and has never once had his credentials debated by Hall-of-Fame voters. His resume makes you wonder why.