Will Cris Carter’s wait to get selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame end this year? For the fourth straight year, Carter is among the 15 finalists for membership in the Class of 2011. But, it may be as hard to make this year as it was last year, when Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and former Viking John Randle were among the Class of 2010 inductees.
The Class of 2011, which will be anywhere from four to seven members, will be determined Feb. 5, the day before Super Bowl XLVI. But Carter’s problem is going to be one of the most heavyweight first-year classes in recent history.
Running back legends Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis are all up for induction, as is Deion Sanders. Two other first-time finalists include former Viking Chris Doleman and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol. A case could be made that all six of the first-time finalists could be expected to get the required 80 percent of votes from the 44-member selection panel. It may be difficult for players like Sanders and Bettis, who had a tenuous relationship with media members from time to time, to get in during their first year of eligibility. But the class looks deep with worthy finalists.
Aside from Carter, Doleman, Faulk, Martin, Bettis and Sabol, the other finalists include wide receivers Tim Brown and Andre Reed, center Dermontti Dawson, offensive tackle Willie Roaf, defensive ends Charles Haley and Richard Dent, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and tight end Shannon Sharpe. The veteran’s committee forwarded the last two finalists – linebacker Chris Hanburger, who spent 14 seasons (1965-78) with the Washington Redskins, and Les Richter, a linebacker who played nine seasons for the Los Angeles Rams.
As part of the process, which has become quite dramatic and grueling, the 15 finalists are reduced to 10 before the final announcement is made, so players who didn’t make the top 10 – like Carter last year – are aware of it. As part of the process, 11 finalists were cut loose from the Class of 2011.
Those who didn’t make the final cut to 15 (do you get the following someone should be yelling, “You’re Going to Hollywood!” with these announcements?) included former Cardinals and Chargers head coach Don Coryell, 49ers (and cameo Viking) running back Roger Craig, Broncos running back Terrell Davis, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., current Packers coach and linebacker great Kevin Greene, Raiders punter Ray Guy, Raiders cornerback Lester Hayes, Browns/Ravens owner Art Modell, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Cardinals/Rams cornerback Aeneas Williams and former Colts/Dolphins/Giants general manager George Young, who won Super Bowls with all three franchises.
Considering those that didn’t make the cut, it’s going to be difficult to find a consensus as to the Class of 2011.
While winning championships has always been a priority for Hall of Fame induction – the Hall is littered with Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins players who didn’t put up great individual numbers, but were cogs in the greatest NFL teams of all time.
Having great statistics don’t always translate into immediate enshrinement. Carter is among the NFL’s top receivers by just about any statistical measure, but has failed to be enshrined in three previous attempts, lending the belief that the 44 media members, many of them in their 70s and beyond, take a dim view of players who had significant off-field issues or were known as being difficult for the old-school media to deal with. That has been often cited as the reason Fran Tarkenton was snubbed in 1985, despite holding every major passing record that ever existed, but was not only bypassed, but snubbed in favor of Joe Namath. Namath’s career numbers never approached Tarkenton’s, but he was enshrined in a year that Tark was forced to wait for his call.
The inductees will be announced on a televised one-hour special on NFL Network at 6 p.m. Central Feb. 5, live from North Texas, where the Super Bowl will be played the following day. Will the Vikings’ roll into Canton continue. First Randall McDaniel. Then John Randle. Now C.C.?
The Vikings are quite well represented at the Hall of Fame despite never winning a Super Bowl title. A total of 15 Hall of Famers have some connection to the Vikings – some finishing out their Hall of Fame careers with the Vikings and others who made their names as cornerstones of the franchise. The 15 are Dave Casper, Carl Eller, Jim Finks, Bud Grant, Paul Krause, Jim Langer, Randall McDaniel, Hugh McElhenny, Warren Moon, Alan Page, John Randle, Jan Stenerud, Fran Tarkenton, Ron Yary and Gary Zimmerman.
Given the perception of the personality factor in the Hall of Fame induction, one has to wonder what will happen when players like Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are up for induction. If dominating their position for years is the top priority, all three should be first-ballot picks. But, given the history of the selection process, one has to wonder if their wait will be longer than it should be?
Josh McDaniels is surfacing as a potential offensive coordinator in a couple of different spots. His name has surfaced a logical contender to replace Charlie Weis in Kansas City. Weis is going to the University of Florida to be closer to his family. McDaniels’ name has also surfaced as a potential replacement for Dan Henning in Miami.
No matter how you look at the McDaniels visit in Minnesota last weekend, it seems clear that the team is looking to replace Darrell Bevell and, in the process, most likely scrap the West Coast offense.
Rumors continue to persist that former 49ers head coach Mike Singletary will be hired as the Vikings linebackers coach. Singletary and head coach Leslie Frazier remain close friends from back in their playing days with the Chicago Bears.
The Vikings have several assistant coaches to be hired. Assuming Fred Pagac will remain defensive coordinator, the team needs to fill the linebacker coach position, as well as vacancies at quarterback, offensive line and assistant offensive line coach – openings created when the team fired Kevin Rogers, Pat Morris and Jim Hueber. The team also is in search of a new running backs coach after Eric Bieniemy accepted the offensive coordinator position at his alma mater, the University of Colorado.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN said Sunday that the Vikings might be a logical fit for troubled Tennessee quarterback Vince Young. Would a new system, a strong locker room of veterans and a motivated former blue chip draft pick looking to reclaim his career be a recipe that would be worth trying as the Vikings attempt to transition into the post-Favre era?
In a surprising move after spending so much money to keep Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the Raiders apparently were victims of an obscure contract provision. His deal included a clause that would void his contract he didn’t reach his not-likely-to-be-earned contract incentives. He didn’t reach them and, as a result, voided his contract. In early 2009, he signed a contract worth $45 million, making him the highest paid defensive back in league history. In his first two years, he was paid $28.5 million, leaving a little less than $17 million left on the deal. It’s unclear why Asomugha believes he can get more on the open market, but, thanks to his contract language, he’ll find out of it’s possible.