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Pro Football Hall of Fame Still Missing Many Deserving Players 0

Posted on August 06, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Jerry Kramer has shockingly been bypassed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for more than 40 years.

Jerry Kramer has shockingly been bypassed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for more than 40 years.

With the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducting its newest class of enshrines, it provides the annual opportunity for discussion about which former NFL stars that seem worthy of being included in the Hall of Fame still are without busts in Canton.

Since he first became eligible in the early 1970s, former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Jerry Kramer has been high on most lists of best players not in the HOF. As other Packers, as well as other offensive linemen with lesser career resumes, have received their HOF moment, Kramer has annually been denied.

A ten time HOF finalist, it has been nearly 20 years since Kramer last received serious HOF consideration. Some speculate that Kramer’s exclusion has been due to a glut of Packers from the 1960s. However, given that linebacker Dave Robinson became the 11th member of the 1960s Packers inducted just three years ago, that doesn’t seem totally accurate.

Given that the HOF selection committee has a history of vendettas (Ken Stabler was not selected until a year after his death), the explanation that seems more plausible has to do with Kramer’s foray into the world of journalism.

Following the 1967 season, Kramer and journalist Dick Schapp chronicled what turned out to be the last of the five championship teams of the 1960s in the award winning book Instant Replay. Two decades later, Kramer and Schapp revisited those players in the book Distant Replay.

There has been some speculation that journalists at the time resented Kramer treading into their world. In addition, because the Packers were known for their team mentality, having one player step out as a self-proclaimed spokesperson may have also created resentment.

Kramer’s on-the-field accolades would seem to unquestionably be HOF worthy. A five-time first team All-Pro offensive guard, Kramer was one of the lead blockers of the famed Packer Sweep. He also threw the lead block on one of the most famous plays of all-time to help the Packers defeat Dallas in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. In 1969 he was honored as one of the members of the NFL All-Time team for the 50th Anniversary of the league.

In recent years, his contemporaries Gene Hickerson, Billy Shaw and Dick Stanfel have received HOF selection while Kramer continues to wait for the call. Given that Stanfel is being inducted this year, slightly more than a year after his death at the age of 87, I hope the HOF Committee doesn’t wait too much longer before electing the 80-year-old Kramer.

While he is the most notable, Kramer is one of many former NFL stars who seem to have a strong case for HOF selection, especially when compared to others from their own era who have been inducted. Below is a breakdown of how some of those players compare with others from their own era who are members of the HOF.

1970s Wide Receivers:
Inducted: Lynn Swann (9 yrs, 336 receptions, 5,462 yards, 51 TD, 1 time All-Pro; Career-Highs: 61 receptions, 880 yards, 11 TDs)

Not Inducted: Drew Pearson: (11 yrs, 489 rec., 7,822 yds., 48 TD, 3 time All-Pro; Career-highs: 62 rec., 1,087 yds, 8 TD)

Cliff Branch: (14 yrs, 501 rec., 8,685 yds., 67 TD, 3 time All-Pro; Career-Highs: 60 rec., 1,111 yds., 13 TD)

Harold Jackson: (16 yrs., 579 rec, 10,372 yds., 76 TD, 1 time All-Pro; Career-Highs: 65 rec., 1,116 yds., 13 TD)

Otis Taylor: (11 yrs., 410 rec., 7,306 yds., 57 TD, 2 time All-Pro; Career-Highs: 59 rec., 1,297 yds., 11 TD)

While I have included only these four, in reality there are perhaps a dozen or more receivers who like Swann played much of their careers before the new rules started to increase the numbers for receivers in the late 1970s and are more deserving of being in the HOF than the former Pittsburgh Steeler. Read the rest of this entry →

What Do Injuries Spell for NFL Betting Fans 6

Posted on August 04, 2016 by Andrew Scott
After missing the 2015 season with a knee injury, can Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson return to past form?

After missing the 2015 season with a knee injury, can Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson return to past form?

Fans who plan on betting on NFL football should know there are two crippling components in the league, injuries and suspension. Players misbehaving off the field is one thing, but players not playing due to something that is completely out of their control is soul crushing for both the athlete and the sportsbook user. While offseason injuries can usually be accounted for, a mid-game injury could have a drastic outcome for the game. Sometimes a player being carted off can open the lane for a future hall of famer, as was the case for Brett Favre. Other times it can cost teams the game and those betting on NFL football their money. In a sport as physical football it’s important to have an indication of which players are prone to injuries, and which players are recovering from injuries. A quick glance at NFL history will reveal just how devastating injuries can be to players, teams, and sportsbook users.

Indubitably the biggest injury sustained in the history of the NFL was suffered by Joe Theismann. In one of the most memorable hits ever delivered legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor snapped both the tibia and fibula of the former Redskins quarterback. The film The Blind Side highlights this moment and states that this hit is the reason that left tackles usually receive the second highest salary on the team. Theismann’s career was ended and it took Washington 9 years to win another Super Bowl. The NFL lost a great quarterback, and those who picked the Redskins as favorites for NFL futures lost their money.

While not all injuries sustained in the NFL are that tragic, they can be just as costly to fans betting on NFL football. Last season Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers went without his favorite target, Jordy Nelson. Rodgers was able to find success by putting up modest numbers and the Pack still made it to the divisional round, but there’s no doubting that if Nelson had been on the field the Packers would have gone further. This example proves the impact injuries have on a football team, even if that injury isn’t sustained by that team’s most valuable player. Read the rest of this entry →

NFL Injuries That Will Impact the 2016 Season 5

Posted on July 18, 2016 by Scott Huntington

The 2016-2017 NFL season is fast approaching. The first game is a Super Bowl rematch between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, on Thursday, September 8th, and for most fans, it can’t come soon enough.

Before that, though, millions of fans are speculating on everything NFL: Who should I pick for fantasy this year? How will my favorite team perform? Will injuries wreak havoc like last year? They’re all valid questions that fans will be discussing until opening night and beyond.

While the preseason brings a variety of injuries that are speculative in nature, at least in terms of how long they’ll hold a player out, there are several injuries that have a high certainty of impacting the NFL season. These are four of the high-profile NFL injury names to keep an eye on as September approaches:

1. Sammy Watkins

sammy

The Buffalo Bills #1 wide receiver is clearly a star in development. When he’s on the field, he’s electric. However, injuries have derailed him so far at times, with a broken foot putting into question Watkins’ readiness for week one. Recent news is optimistic though, as Watkins posted a video on Instagram of him running, while mentioning that his goal is to “get ready for the first game.” Even if he’s slow or a non-participant during training camp, Bills fans can likely expect him lining up for week one. Read the rest of this entry →

Crucial Decisions Upcoming for Dallas Cowboys in 2016 NFL Draft 1

Posted on March 07, 2016 by Chris Kent

As the 2016 NFL draft approaches, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in a quandary with the fourth overall pick. Do they draft a quarterback to succeed an aging Tony Romo or pick an impact defender who can round out an average defense and make them Super Bowl caliber within a year or two? While the entire Cowboys’ organization of scouts, personnel people, and coaches, will be involved in the player evaluation process, the decision will ultimately come down to the franchise’s head brass of owner Jerry Jones and his son Stephen, the team’s Chief Operations Officer, and head coach Jason Garrett.

Tony Romo will turn 36 before the draft and he is nearing the end of his career with three or four years left to play. With this in mind, many NFL analysts believe it is time for Dallas to draft a quarterback such as North Dakota State University’s Carson Wentz or California’s Jared Goff who are widely regarded as the top two quarterbacks in the draft. Furthermore, the window is closing for the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl in the Romo-era. Romo’s three fractures of his left clavicle dating back to 2010 and his two back surgeries in 2013 have made him more susceptible to injury or re-injury. While he has played through some of those injuries and others – such as the broken rib and punctured lung that he played with in leading Dallas to an overtime win at San Francisco in 2011 – Romo is not as mobile anymore and needs to be protected better. Exposing him to big hits that drive him into the ground is too risky based on his prior back and shoulder injuries.

Helping the Cowboys here is the fact that their offensive line is the strength of the team and is one of the best in the league. Left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick, and guard Zack Martin are all first round draft picks between 2011 and 2014 that enabled Dallas to rebuild its’ line. Guard La’el Collins was signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2015 but graded out by many scouts as a first-round talent. Those four along with right tackle Doug Free, a nine-year veteran, have formed  a premier unit. Smith is a three-time pro-bowler while Frederick and Martin have appeared twice each.

With quality protection in place, Dallas can turn their attention elsewhere in the draft to help solidify their team. The Cowboys’ core players are Romo, tight end Jason Witten, wide receiver Dez Bryant, Smith, safety Barry Church, linebacker Sean Lee, defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, defensive back Byron Jones, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and kicker Dan Bailey.

Adding an impact pass rusher or cover cornerback makes sense and could turn an average defense into a top 10 defense in the league. Dallas ranked last in the league in 2015 in turnover differential at -22. Their 11 takeaways ranked last in the league and their 33 giveaways tied with Tennessee for last in the league. The Cowboys also lacked in getting pressure on the quarterback as their 31 sacks tied for 25th in the league. Furthermore, Dallas ranked 17th in total defense with an average of 348.1 yards allowed per game. Their front seven was leaky at times, allowing 120.9 rushing yards per game which tied with Chicago for 22nd in the league.

All these statistics point to the need for better defense especially in the pass rush and turnover areas. So here are five of the top defensive players along with a sleeper pick that could rise higher in the draft that would fit the Cowboys’ needs.

Joey Bosa – Defensive End, Ohio State

During the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February, Bosa said that he thinks he is the best player available in the draft.

Bosa is relentless and has excellent technique as a pass rusher.

Bosa is relentless and has great technique as a pass rusher.

Others in the media suggested that he is in the mold of J.J. Watt. If he lives up to those lofty descriptions, he will have a major impact for any NFL team. Bosa has good blood lines in the fact that his father and uncle both played in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. Bosa was consistently productive at Ohio State where he totaled 26 sacks and 51 tackles for a loss during his three seasons in Columbus.

His best season came in2014 when he had 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss. Last year he had five sacks and 16 tackles for a loss en route to being named a unanimous first-team All-American as well as an All-Big Ten performer. At 6-5 and 275, Bosa has the strength and agility to get to the quarterback. With defensive end Randy Gregory’s recent violation of the league’s substance abuse policy causing him to face a four-game suspension in 2016, this not only makes sense for Dallas but has become a pressing need. Bosa could provide the Cowboys with the consistent pass rusher they have lacked since they parted ways with DeMarcus Ware – the franchise’s all-time sack leader – following the 2013 season.

Read the rest of this entry →

Peyton Manning Leaving as a Champion 0

Posted on March 06, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Peyton Manning will retire as a two--time Super Bowl champion.

Peyton Manning will retire as a two–time Super Bowl champion.

Despite rumors in recent days that he wasn’t ready to hang up his cleats, multiple media outlets are now reporting that Peyton Manning will indeed announce his retirement on Monday after 17 NFL seasons.

While the 2015 season included some chinks in Manning’s tightly constructed public persona, you cannot argue Manning’s overall success on the field and that he will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

Regardless of whether you think the Broncos won Super Bowl 50 in spite of Manning, rather than because of him, on the football field he was able to finish in a way that everyone dreams of, as a Super Bowl Champion.

Critics of Manning seemingly took pleasure in pointing out that his 2015 season with just 9 touchdowns and 17 interceptions was among the worst-ever for a Super Bowl quarterback. They seemed to have forgotten that for his fist 16 seasons Manning was a quarterback with few statistical equals.

During each of his first 16 NFL seasons, Manning tossed at least 26 touchdown passes every year, including nine seasons with 30+ touchdowns and an NFL record 55 touchdowns in 2013. He will retire as the NFL career leader with 539 career touchdown passes and 71, 940 career passing yards.

He also will go down as one of the greatest regular season winners in NFL history having led his teams to 10+ victory seasons 14 times and boasting a regular season winning percentage above 70%.

There is no doubt that the competitor in Manning wanted to come back and finish his career with another high-quality regular season. However, given that he will be 40 years old later this month and struggled with multiple injuries over the last year and a half, in the end sticking around really wasn’t a practical option.

Much like Brett Favre five years ago, Manning is having a hard time walking away. However, unlike Favre, Manning is going out with his second Super Bowl trophy in hand. Read the rest of this entry →

Pro Football Hall of Fame Continues to Play Catch-up With Class of 2016 0

Posted on February 06, 2016 by Dean Hybl
There was no surprise in the selection of Brett Favre for the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

There was no surprise in the selection of Brett Favre for the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Between 2000 and 2009, the selection committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame chose for induction a grand total of 54 former player, coaches and league officials. You might think that number reflects exclusivity and ensuring only the “best of the best” are recognized with the highest honor for the sport. However, in a sport with 32 teams and more than 1,600 players every year, the reality was that the committee left a lot of deserving players waiting in the wings.

Because of that, over the last seven years the committee has been playing catch-up. Where a class of six or seven was once an exception (only nine times between 1970 and 2009), every class since 2010 has included at least six inductees and with the addition of eight new members for 2016, there have now been consecutive classes of eight for the first time since 1967 and 1968. Since 2010, 50 former players, coaches and contributors have been selected for the Hall of Fame.

I applaud the current committee for recognizing the mistakes of the past and continuing to grow the HOF, but even with their larger classes there continues to be questions and confusing decisions.

When Brett Favre finally retired (for the last time) following the 2010 season, there was little doubt that he would be a member of the 2016 Hall of Fame class. The other seven people who will join Favre in Canton this August include a few more surprises.

Perhaps the most disheartening thing about the Class of 2016 is that both of the senior selections, Dick Stanfel and Ken Stabler, are not alive to enjoy their day in the sun. Both died within a month of each other during the summer of 2015.

What is especially frustrating is that both players have been eligible for the HOF for decades and in fact had both previously been finalists.

One of my biggest disappointments with the HOF has always been the high number of former players or coaches who wait sometimes for as many as 50 years after they have retired before they get selected.

You would think that if someone is “Hall of Fame worthy” they would be inducted within a reasonable time after retirement, but unfortunately that hasn’t always been the case.
Read the rest of this entry →

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