Today the College Football Hall of Fame will announce its 2011 HOF class from 79 players and nine coaches on the ballot.
The award as administered by the National Football Foundation and the full list of players and coaches are listed here. Several of the 79 nominees have a Vikings connection. They include:
Hal Bedsole, a split end with USC from 1961-63 who was a second-round draft pick of the Vikings in 1964 and played three years with the Vikings.
Bob Berry, a quarterback from Oregon from 1962-64 who had two stints with the Vikings – from 1965-67 and 1973-76. He was a member of three of the Vikings’ four Super Bowl teams.
Eric Bienemy, a running back at Colorado from 1987-90 who spent the last five seasons as running backs coach for the Vikings. He left the Vikings after the 2010 season to become offensive coordinator at his alma mater.
Ted Brown, a running back at North Carolina State from 1975-78, was the Vikings’ first-round draft pick (16th overall) in the 1979 draft. Brown played eight years with the Vikings and is fifth on the team’s all-time rushing list with 4,546, trailing only Robert Smith, Chuck Foreman, Adrian Peterson and Bill Brown. His 40 rushing touchdowns is fourth in franchise history, behind only Peterson, Foreman and Brown – who are all tied for the team record with 52. Brown is the only player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named First Team All-ACC four times. This is his first year on the ballot.
Dave Casper, a tight end at Notre Dame from 1971-73, is best known for his years in Oakland as one of the game’s top tight ends. Near the end of his career, he spent the 1983 season with the Vikings.
Randall Cunningham, a quarterback at Nevada-Las Vegas from 1982-84, became one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league as the face of the Eagles franchise. In 1998, he joined the Vikings and led the offense that shattered every existing team record and several NFL records, including most points in one season (a record that has since been broken by the New England Patriots). Ironically, Cunningham is listed on the list as finalists as a punter, which served him well when called upon by the NFL. While with the Eagles, Cunningham had a 91-yard punt that is one of the longest in NFL history.
D.J. Dozier, who played running back at Penn State from 1983-86, was the first-round draft pick of the Vikings in 1987. He played five years with the Vikings, but never rushed for more than 257 yards in any season.
Tommy Kramer, who played quarterback at Rice from 1973-76, became a folklore legend after being drafted in the first round (27th overall) of the 1977 draft. He played 13 years with the Vikings and is second in just about every major statistical category behind only Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton. Nicknamed “Two-Minute Tommy,” he became a fan favorite with several last-minute victories.
Darryl Talley, who played linebacker at West Virginia from 1995-98, became a household name as a member of the star-crossed Buffalo Bills teams that lost four straight Super Bowls. Talley spent the 1996 season with the Vikings.
Gene Washington, a wide receiver for Michigan State from 1964-66, was the second of three first-round picks the Vikings had in the 1967 draft. The team drafted Clinton Jones with the second overall pick, Washington with the eighth pick and future Hall of Famer Alan Page with the 15th pick. This is Washington’s first time on the final ballot.
To be eligible, a player had to be a First-Team All-America at some point in his college career, which helps whittle down this year’s pool of candidates from the 4.8 million players who have participated in college football to the 1,900 that have been named All-Americans. He also must be at least 10 years removed from playing collegiate football, played within the last 50 years and no longer playing professional football. For those who may have been confused by seeing the name Greg Lewis on the list, it’s not the Greg Lewis that has played the last two seasons with the Vikings, it’s the running back Greg Lewis who excelled at the University of Washington in the 1980s.
More than 12,000 ballots were mailed out and ballots returned are tabulated by the 13-member NFF’s Honors Court, which deliberates and selects the annual class of inductees. The Chairman of the NFF is former NFL great Archie Manning.
The induction ceremonies will take place July 15-16 in South Bend, Ind.
The NFL won the latest round of arguments in its ongoing fight with the players Monday. The federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled that the stay imposed to keep the lockout legal will remain in place while the court process takes place – a clear victory for the league.
Mediation talks started back up Monday with the NFL making a revised proposal. While the players are sure to reject the offer, it was viewed by many as a starting point from which future negotiations can continue.
Talks are scheduled to resume today between the owners and the players in a Minneapolis courtroom.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday regarding the Vikings’ stadium issue.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.