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Behind the Scenes in Canton
Storytelling is really one of the major functions of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are so many great stories about this awesome game that we all love. Yet, only the major ones make their way into our exhibits or are made into stories on our website. This blog will help tell some of the others.
Ok, so the 2011 National Football League Scouting Combine is in the books. The last 40-yard dash was recorded, Pro Days are underway and the NFL Draft is just around the corner. For every club in the NFL this is regarded as the time in which you add the pieces in the quest to build a championship team. Scouts have been on the road all year long scouring the country for prospects, taking notes, breaking down film, watching games and cataloging data from Indianapolis. Now, each NFL team will gather their personnel departments together and attempt to make sense of all of the information that has been collected and build their draft boards.
Over the years, many clubs have done a nice job building their teams through the draft. Perhaps no better example is what the Pittsburgh Steelers did in the late 1960s and into the '70s that turned them from basement dwellers to capturing four Super Bowl titles in six seasons. Leading the charge in the philosophy of building through the draft was a group of Hall of Famers in Art Rooney and his son Dan Rooney along with the team's new coach at the time Chuck Noll.
From 1969 to 1974 the Steelers drafted nine future Hall of Famers – Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Mel Blount, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster.
Only 14 times since the league's first draft in 1936 has a club drafted multiple players in the same year who have gone on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Steelers (1970, 1974), the Chicago Bears (1936, 1965), Green Bay Packers (1956, 1958) and the Cleveland Browns (1957, 1964) have all done it twice. Two teams hit the jackpot by selecting three future Hall of Fame players in the same draft. The Browns did it in 1957, under the direction of Paul Brown, when they selected Jim Brown, Henry Jordan and Gene Hickerson. The Cowboys accomplished it in 1964, when the team's brain trust of Coach Tom Landry, General Manager Tex Schramm and Player Personnel guru Gil Brandt drafted Mel Renfro and two future selections in Bob Hayes and Roger Staubach.
As impressive as three Hall of Famers by the same team in the same draft is, it all comes back to the Steelers. They are the only franchise to ever select four future Hall of Fame players in the same draft. Remarkably, they drafted Swann, Lambert, Stallworth and Webster all in the 1974 draft.
Most personnel experts will agree that neither the draft nor the scouting process is an exact science. But, all teams hope that their efforts land them a future Hall of Famer. Or for that matter, four would be nice also!
Here’s a shot from our files that shows four Steelers at a team get-together in the ‘80s – Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Mel Blount, and Jack Ham.