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Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.
A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday on Profootballhof.com.
Last weekend we announced the list of 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012. Add in the two senior nominees and that’s the group that will be heavily debated on the day before Super Bowl XLVI when our Selection Committee is locked into a conference room for their annual selection meeting.
The fact is that only five of the 15 modern-era finalists can be elected. There will be more debate about who didn’t get in than who did. Two things are for certain. All of the finalists are deserving of election to the Hall of Fame. And two, our Selection Committee has their work cut out for them.
So much information is available regarding the merits of the finalists. I thought I would devote this week’s blog to sharing the ONE fact per finalist that stands out most to me. Here goes.
Jerome Bettis – Eight times he rushed for 1,000 yards in a season.
Jack Butler – talk about what playing on a bad team does for your notoriety. He picked off 25 passes in his first four seasons and was never voted to a Pro Bowl (back when they meant something) or named All-Pro. Thank goodness, he eventually received his just due by the time he retired as the game’s second all-time leading interceptor.
Tim Brown – Tough to pick between either 1,000+ catches or 100 touchdowns. I’m going with the TDs.
Cris Carter – Sure, he’s noted for his touchdowns and 130 is nothing to sneeze at but I love firsts. So, I’ll go with his 1994 season when he set the NFL record by hauling in an unbelievable 122 catches. The record didn’t last long but what a super season.
Dermontti Dawson – he no doubt will end up in Canton whether it’s this year or in the future. How cool is it when a Hall of Famer follows a Hall of Famer. Dawson stepped in for Mike Webster at center for the Steelers.
Chris Doleman – eight seasons with 10 or more sacks says pretty much everything.
Ed DeBartolo, Jr. – his 49ers had the most wins in the NFL in not only the 1980s but the 1990s also.
Kevin Greene – Career-best 16.5 sacks in back-to-back seasons.
Charles Haley – Only player to win five Super Bowls.
Curtis Martin – quietly went about things during his NFL career and recorded 10 straight 1,000-yard seasons. But, the fact he earned his only NFL rushing title and set a career-high in his second-to-last season is the fact that wows me.
Cortez Kennedy – won Defensive Most Valuable Player honors on a 2-14 team in 1992.
Bill Parcells – I’m a big fan of “firsts” and “onlys” so I’ll go with the fact Parcells is the first and only coach to take four different teams to the playoffs.
Andre Reed – he made YAC (yards after catch) famous but let’s not ignore his big time play in the postseason. He added another season’s worth of stats in the playoffs as he racked up 85 catches for 1,229 yards and had five 100-yard games in the playoffs.
Willie Roaf – As great as he was with the Saints, his level of play never diminished in later years as he was named All-Pro three out of four seasons at the end of his career with the Chiefs.
Will Shields – Stepped on the field in his first game and never missed one from that point forward. His 224 games and 223 starts are Chiefs records.
Dick Stanfel – in a day when offensive linemen received far less fanfare than today, his Lions teammates named him team MVP in their 1953 championship season.
Aeneas Williams – The other three CBs who made the All-Decade Team of the 1990s are already in Canton (Darrell Green, Deion Sanders, and Rod Woodson). Aeneas’ nine career pick-sixes may just help him join them in the Hall.