Who is the most deserving HOF senior candidate?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee named Jerry Kramer the best guard in the first 50 years of the NFL. In all, the committee voted 15 players the best at their position – but Kramer is the only one still waiting for a bust in Canton.

Johnny Robinson photo courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs
Johnny Robinson photo courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs

(Johnny Robinson photo courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs)

(Ken Anderson photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Bengals)

Talk of Fame Network

There have been 56 candidates nominated in the 44-year history of the senior committee and 76.7 percent have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Quarterback Ken Stabler and guard Dick Stanfel were both elected as senior candidates in 2016. But there will be only one senior nominee for the Class of 2017.

So who is the most deserving of that nomination? That’s the subject of our Talk of Fame Network poll this week. Here are your choices:

Ken Anderson, QB, Cincinnati. Anderson became the first quarterback in NFL history to complete 70 percent of his passes in a single season. He did so in 1982 – an NFL record that stood for 26 years before Drew Brees topped it in 2009. But that’s just the tip of the Ken Anderson candidacy iceberg. He was the NFL MVP in 1981 when he took the Bengals to a Super Bowl and also won four NFL passing titles, two in the mid-1970s and two in the early 1980s. He passed for 32,838 yards and 197 touchdowns in his 16-year career and went to four Pro Bowls. He’s been a Hall-of-Fame finalist twice.

Pat Fischer, CB, St. Louis/Washington. Fischer was tiny by NFL cornerback standards for his era at 5-9, 170 pounds, but he survived 17 NFL seasons. He intercepted 10 passes in 1964 and 56 in his career. That puts him ninth among pure corners in NFL history. He also returned punts and kickoffs in his first two seasons with the Cardinals, averaging 25.1 yards on kickoff returns as a rookie in 1961 and 9.3 yards on punt returns in his second year. Fischer went to three Pro Bowls and has never been a Hall-of-Fame finalist.

Pat Fischer photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins
Pat Fischer photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins

(Pat Fischer photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins)

Randy Gradishar, LB, Denver. A key figure in Denver’s Orange Crush defense in the 1970s, Gradishar started all 10 of his seasons with the Broncos and never missed a game. He went to seven Pro Bowls and was voted the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1978 when the Broncos credited him with a franchise-record 286 tackles. He also set a franchise record with his 2,049 career tackles. Gradishar also accounted for 33 takeaways on 20 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries. He has been a Hall-of-Fame finalist twice.

Jerry Kramer, G, Green Bay. The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee named Kramer the best guard in the first 50 years of the NFL. In all, the committee voted 15 players the best at their position – but Kramer is the only one still waiting for a bust in Canton. He also was selected to the 1960s' NFL all-decade team but has been passed over each of the 10 times he has been a Hall-of-Fame finalist. Kramer was a key cog of Vince Lombardi teams that won five NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls. He went to three Pro Bowls and was the leading scorer as a kicker on the 1963 Packers. with 91 points filling in for the suspended Paul Hornung.

Jerry Kramer photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers
Jerry Kramer photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers

(Jerry Kramer photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers)

Drew Pearson, WR, Dallas. There were 22 position players selected to the NFL’s 1970s first-team all-decade team. All but two of them have been enshrined in Canton with the exceptions of both Cowboys, wide receiver Drew Pearson and safety Cliff Harris. Of the 16 wide receivers selected to first-team NFL all-decade teams, only two have not been enshrined, Pearson and LaVern Dilweg of the 1920s. Yet Pearson has never even been discussed as a Hall-of-Fame finalist. A big-game player, Pearson was on the receiving end of football’s first “Hail Mary” pass from Roger Staubach that won a playoff game against Minnesota. He caught 489 passes for 7,822 yards and 48 touchdowns in his career.

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(Drew Pearson photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)

Johnny Robinson, S, Kansas City. There were 22 position players selected to the NFL’s 1960s' first-team all-decade team. All but two have been enshrined in Canton, with Jerry Kramer and Robinson the exceptions. Robinson led the AFL with 10 interceptions in 1966 and then led the NFL with 10 in the first year of the merged leagues in 1970. Robinson was the third overall pick of the 1960 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions but elected to sign with the AFL Dallas Texans. He went on to intercept 57 passes, which still ranks 12th in NFL history. He was voted to seven Pro Bowls in his 12 seasons and was a member of the 1969 Super Bowl champion Chiefs, the only team of the Super Bowl era to lead the NFL in defense across the board (yards, points, run and pass). He’s been a Hall finalist six times.

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