Search for missing senior HOF candidates; Cromwell recalls Rams' Super Bowl near-miss

The depth of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's senior pool is becoming a growing concern. How did so many deserving players never get discussed?

The Talk of Fame Network has long spoken about the alarming depth of Hall of Fame candidates trapped in the depths of the senior pool.

To illustrate that more clearly, co-host Rick Gosselin has begun a five-part series of polls to identify the most deserving senior candidates out of a pool of 10 players. Rick and co-host Ron Borges, who are both not only Hall of Fame voters but members of the Hall’s senior selection committee, spent time in this week’s show discussing some of those “missing’’ Hall of Famers and delving into the possible reasons they seemed to disappear.

One case in point is this week’s State Your Case segment on former Vikings and Charger’ guard Ed White. He was a Pro Bowl player on the run-oriented Vikings and on the pass-happy Chargers. He was named to the anniversary teams of both and selected as one of the 50 greatest Vikings of all-time.

Yet he never once came up for discussion during his 25-years of eligibility. How can this be and why did it happen?

Why are 20 of 22 first-team selections on the 1970 All-Decade team in the Hall while the other two, both Dallas Cowboys, are not? How did Drew Pearson and Cliff Harris slip through the cracks? What of Steelers' great L.C. Greenwood. And who was the guy whose receiving numbers rival those of HOF tight end Kellen Winslow during the same era...yet has never been discussed by the HOF selection committee?

It all makes for an interesting debate and an exploration in the game’s history. The guys enhance it with an interview with 1980 Defensive Player of the Year, 1980s all-decade safety and four-time Pro Bowler Nolan Cromwell, who also somehow has never been once discussed and has joined the senior pool as well.

Cromwell discusses the culture shock coming from a town of 400 in Kansas to play in Los Angeles in 1977 and how head coach Chuck Knox eased the transition by telling him exactly how he would be developed.

“He told me I’d play special teams my rookie year, (my) second year nickel back to learn the system and by the third year I’d start (at safety),’’ Cromwell recalled. “Things went exactly the way he told me.’’

Cromwell would start for eight consecutive seasons, become one of the dominant safeties of his era and reach the Super Bowl against the Steelers in 1979. Had the Rams been able to hold on to their lead that day perhaps Cromwell’s trip toward Canton would have been easier. But they did not. Although they would not have reached the game without his season-long playmaking, what he remembers most about that day is the play he didn’t make.

“I remember one moment,’’ Cromwell said of an interception he uncharacteristically dropped that day. “I had an opportunity to intercept (Terry Bradshaw) and I didn’t make it. It’s haunted me forever. What if?’’

“What if’’ is a big part of this week’s show as Rick and Ron ask that question about a number of senior candidates. Joining them in the debate are fellow Hall of Fame voters Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald and Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Salguero and Craig focus on the players the fans and the organization they cover feel are most deserving. Salguero says fans support linebacker Zach Thomas, the organization favors perennial Pro Bowl guard and tackle Bob Kuchenberg (who was a six-time finalist) but Salguero leans toward another perennial Pro Bowl selection, left tackle Richmond Webb.

“I know this,’’ Salguero said of Webb, “(Hall of Fame defensive end) Bruce Smith was not too eager to talk about Richmond Webb. Bruce Smith doesn’t like to talk about failure. (Richmond) often got the better of Bruce Smith.’’

Craig says the overwhelming selection in Minnesota would be defensive end Jim Marshall, calling him “Mr. Viking.’’ Marshall made 270 consecutive starts, anchored four Super Bowl teams, collected 100-plus sacks and is in the team’s Ring of Honor.

Craig also thinks because of the election of Terrell Davis, the candidacy of short-term success of Chuck Foreman should be revived. His other favorite is 1980s all-decade safety Joey Browner, who has received very little love from the Committee thus far.

The guys also discuss the odd case of Johnny Manziel. June Jones, his coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League, said Manziel should be playing in the NFL yet has yet to play him in the CFL. Maybe a guy you’ve never heard of, Jeremiah Masoli, has had something to say about that? To find out what and why tune in to your local SB Nation Radio Network station Wednesday nights or you can download the free podcast at iTunes or by using the TuneIn app. You can also access this show and all out past shows and interviews by going to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.

Comments