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Sports Then and Now




Best Players Not In the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Special Teams

Posted on August 06, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Brian Mitchell is the NFL's all-time leader in kickoff, punt and total return yards.

Brian Mitchell is the NFL's all-time leader in kickoff, punt and total return yards.

We conclude the position-by-position look at the best eligible players not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame by looking at the top special teams players who have not yet earned a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

While special teams has long been considered an important element of winning football, special teams players have never really received much recognition or respect.

It doesn’t take long to call roll for the special teams players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

There is only one player in the Hall of Fame, kicker Jan Stenerud, who never played on either offense or defense.

There are several players, including Yale Lary, Paul Hornung, George Blanda, Lou Groza, Gale Sayers, Mel Renfro and Sammy Baugh, who contributed to their team either as a placekicker, punter or returner. However, in each case they also played either offense or defense at a level that warrants their Hall of Fame selection.

Now I am not suggesting that there are a plethora of kickers, punters, return specialists or kamikaze tacklers who should be in the Hall of Fame. However, given the emphasis placed on special teams and how much they can contribute to the success, or failure, of a team, I do think there are some specialists who have stood out over their careers and deserve consideration.

In determining this list I considered any player who spent significant time as a punter, placekicker, return man or even as a regular participant as a tackler and blocker on special teams as being eligible.

While I primarily looked at their prowess as a specialist, I did give some “extra credit” if a player also regularly contributed to his team on either offense or defense.

I considered season and career statistics, All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition and performance in “clutch” moments when the game was on the line.

So, here is my list of the top 10 eligible linebackers not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I look forward to your comments, discussion, and disagreements.

The series will conclude with two lists that will be released this weekend that highlight the top 10 players (regardless of position) deemed to be worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame as well as a list of 10 Hall of Famers that perhaps should not have been enshrined.

Click Here to read more and see pictures of each player in the top 10.

10. Dave Meggett – New York Giants/New England Patriots/New York Jets – 1989-1998

9. Norm Johnson – Seattle Seahawks/Atlanta Falcons/Pittsburgh Steelers/Philadelphia Eagles– 1982-1999

8. Mel J. Gray – New Orleans Saints/Detroit Lions/ Houston Oilers/Philadelphia Eagles – 1986-1997

7. Gino Cappelletti – New England Patriots – 1960-1970

6. Reggie Roby – Miami/Washington/Tampa Bay/San Francisco/Houston  – 1983-1994

5.  Billy White Shoes Johnson – Houston Oilers/Atlanta Falcons/Washington Redskins– 1974-1988

4. Nick Lowery – New England Patriots/Kansas City Chiefs/New York Jets – 1978-1996

3. Steve Tasker – Houston Oilers/Buffalo Bills – 1985-1997

2. Ray Guy – Oakland Raiders – 1973-1986

1. Brian Mitchell – Washington Redskins/Philadelphia Eagles/ New York Giants – 1990-2003


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