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Sports Then and Now



Pro Football Hall of Fame Gets a Bit Closer to Legitimacy 0

Posted on February 03, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Nearly 50 years after retiring from the NFL, Jerry Kramer (#64) has finally been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Nearly 50 years after retiring from the NFL, Jerry Kramer (#64) has finally been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

For me and likely many other long-time lovers of the history of pro football, the relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame has always been a messy one.

I have enjoyed the great fortune of visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame multiple times over the years, including taking my kids to Canton in 2015. The museum is a wonderful place to see, recall and learn about the many great moments, players and teams that have been part of the nearly 100 year history of the NFL.

However, while the Hall of Fame was created to be a historical archive to tell the story of professional football, over the years it has become more associated with the players specifically enshrined as Hall of Famers.

That is where for me the relationship starts to get a bit challenging.

While most of the 310 men who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame through 2017 are unquestionably deserving, the process in which players are chosen has often been an uneven process in which some former players, coaches and administrators are quickly recognized while others with similar credentials either wait for many years or are totally omitted.

Made up of sports media professionals, the Hall of Fame selection committee has a long history of personal vendettas and bias.

Longtime committee member Paul Zimmerman reportedly said that Ken Stabler would never get inducted in his lifetime and sure enough Stabler was not inducted until the year after he died in 2015.

My greatest frustration with the Hall of Fame selection committee stems from their regular practice of making players and coaches who clearly have Hall of Fame credentials wait extended periods of time before being inducted.

Among the clearly deserving Hall of Famers who have been forced to wait beyond their initial year of eligibility were Fran Tarkenton, Shannon Sharpe, Derrick Thomas, Hank Stram, Willie Lanier, Tom Mack and Willie Wood.

The one position that has historically been treated with limited respect by the selection committee is position of wide receiver. Entering 2018, 25 modern era wide receivers have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, but only four of them (Jerry Rice, Raymond Berry, Paul Warfield and Steve Largent) were selected in their first year of eligibility. Read the rest of this entry →

Some Notable Football Ankle Injuries, Then And Now 0

Posted on December 01, 2017 by Joe Fleming

McFadden-injuryProfessional football is one of the highest-satisfaction professions, as nine out of ten former athletes say they are glad they played the game. But fewer than half these men would want their children to participate in the sport, due to the frequency and severity of the injury. 90 percent of former players suffered at least one major injury during their careers, typically to their ankle, knee, hip, or foot.

To get back on the field faster, many injured football players wear orthotic braces over their injured joint. These devices are not the cumbersome braces they were just a few years ago. Instead, most braces are very lightweight yet also very strong. For example, ankle braces for running can fit snugly without inhibiting a runner’s motion, providing support and stabilization to the vulnerable joint, and helping to absorb the shock of the foot’s impact with the ground.

Don’t miss these notable ankle injuries:

Jerry Kramer, 1961 Green Bay Packers

Both before and after Kramer strained several ligaments in his left ankle during the championship game against the Minnesota Vikings, he was known as one of the toughest football players of his or any era.

As a youth in the 1950s, Kramer lost a fist-size chunk of his right side during a high school workshop incident and he was accidentally shot in the arm with a double-barrel shotgun. In college, doctors left a large, zipper-style scar on his neck after they removed a chipped vertebra.

After joining the Packers in 1958,  Kramer detached his retina during a game against the Los Angeles Rams in 1960. Four years later, he missed an entire season after surgery to remove four large wooden splinters that were lodged in his groin near his spine from a 1953 calf-chasing incident. Read the rest of this entry →

Will This Finally Be the Year for Jerry Kramer? 5

Posted on August 26, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Jerry Kramer (#64) should join his teammate Paul Hornung (#5) in the Pro Football hall of Fame in 2018.

Jerry Kramer (#64) should join his teammate Paul Hornung (#5) in the Pro Football hall of Fame in 2018.

In 1969, former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Jerry Kramer was selected as the greatest offensive lineman of the first 50 years of the NFL. Unless the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee commits a true travesty next February, Kramer will finally be selected to the Hall of Fame as the NFL completes its 98th season.

Much has been written on this site and in many others over the years about how ridiculous it was that Kramer continued to be overlooked for the Hall of Fame. After retiring from the NFL in 1968, Kramer was first a finalist for the HOF in 1974 and was a regular selection finalist nine times between 1974 and 1987 and was also a senior finalist in 1997.

Each time, Kramer failed to the necessary support from the selection committee to earn enshrinement.

Over time, it went from Kramer being an obvious pick, to a theory that there were already a large number of 1960s Packers to in recent year’s disbelief at some of the players and contributors earning induction while Kramer continued to be on the outside.

It has gotten over the last decade to the point where almost every list that looks at potential Hall of Fame candidates listed Kramer as the most deserving player not currently enshrined.

Yet, since 2010 there have been a number of “head scratching” selections, especially among senior candidates (players retired 25 years or more). None of the senior players selected since 2010 were members of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team or had played on more than three NFL Championship teams. Read the rest of this entry →

10 Players That Deserve Induction Into The Pro Football Hall of Fame 11

Posted on August 06, 2010 by Dean Hybl

The running backs he blocked for are in the Hall of Fame, but 10-time finalist Jerry Kramer is not.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is where NFL greats take the next step and become immortal legends.  Since opening its doors in 1963, 260 former players, coaches and administrators have received football’s greatest honor, but there is a growing list of seemingly deserving players who for one reason or another have been unable to earn a bust in Canton.

Being recognized as a Hall of Famer is certainly an honor that should be reserved for those few players, administrators and coaches that were truly the best of the best. It should be hard and there should be a thin line between being a great player and earning Hall of Fame immortality.

However, after reviewing all members of the Hall of Fame as well as more than 250 former NFL greats who have not yet earned a spot in Canton, it is clear that the Hall of Fame selection committee has been inconsistent in their choices and not done a good job in ensuring that all deserving players are inducted in a timely manner.

The 2010 Hall of Fame class marks the first time since 2001 that the maximum allowed number of inductees, seven, will receive Hall of Fame busts. In back-to-back years of 2004 and 2005 the committee chose only the minimum of four players despite the fact that 12 players who later were chosen for the Hall of Fame were eligible for induction during those years.

In a previous article I outlined my disappointment that the Hall of Fame committee has often made players wait more than 30 years after retirement before being inducted though they didn’t throw a pass, score a touchdown or make a tackle during that time.

While I generally believe that the Hall of Fame committee has done a pretty good job of making selections of players who are deserving of induction, I did also create a list of the 10 players who maybe shouldn’t be in the Hall.

Below is my list of the 10 players who are not in the Hall of Fame who I believe are most deserving of induction. Several have been tantalizingly close to selection, while others have been annually by-passed in favor of players with similar or lesser accomplishments. Hopefully all of them will one day get the thrill of having their bust immortalized in Canton. Read the rest of this entry →

The 10 Players Most Deserving of Being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame 16

Posted on August 08, 2009 by Dean Hybl
No player has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame more times than Jerry Kramer without getting into the Hall.

No player has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame more times than Jerry Kramer without getting into the Hall.

After two months of painstakingly looking at each position to determine which players that have been overlooked by the Pro Football Hall of Fame are the most deserving, it is finally time now, on the eve of the 2009 induction ceremonies, to look at the 10 players that I believe to be the most deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame, but who are still waiting for that call.

To create the top 10, I again reviewed all 225 players that had earned mention in the top 25 lists for each position. I then narrowed the field based on overall career performance, perception when they retired (where they considered at the time a Hall of Fame caliber player), team performance and accolades received.

Read the rest of this entry →

Best Players Not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Offensive Linemen 7

Posted on July 12, 2009 by Dean Hybl

Jerry Kramer

Jerry Kramer

In the fifth installment of our position-by-position look at the best eligible players not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we are looking at the position that has sent more than twice as many players to the Hall of Fame in the last 15 years than any other, the offensive line.

Since 1996, 17 offensive linemen have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. By comparison, in the same time period a total of only 22 offensive skill players (8-WR, 7-QB, 4-RB, 3-TE) have been selected.

Overall in the modern era, more offensive linemen (34) have been enshrined in Canton than players from any other position. Standing second is the defensive line with 27.

Read the rest of this entry →

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      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was an 11-time American League All-Star at one of the most demanding positions in baseball, yet outside of Detroit his exploits have been largely forgotten.

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