Today is the day that the football world congregates in Canton, Ohio, to enshrine this year’s inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Two days ago, I wrote an article highlighting the impact the defensive inductees made to the game, which includes safety Brian Dawkins and linebackers Robert Brazile, Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis. Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Jerry Kramer will be sporting their newly acquired golden jackets, signifying that they will be Hall of Famers for life. Let’s take a closer look at how these offensive greats made their impact on the NFL.
NFL Class of 2018 Hall of Fame Weekend: Offensive Inductees
Kramer No Longer Considered Best Player “Not in Canton”
For years, former Green Bay Packers offensive guard Jerry Kramer did not even think he would ever get into the Hall of Fame.
“I went through a period where I didn’t want to hear about the Hall of Fame,” Kramer said. “I wanted nothing to do with it. I literally drove by the Hall of Fame three or four times and I wouldn’t go in because I was not invited in.”
Kramer’s accomplishments speak for themselves. He was a member of Vince Lombardi’s Packers squads that won the first two Super Bowls and five NFL championships. Kramer is a five-time first-team All-Pro and the only guard to be on the NFL’s All-Decade 1960s team. He was an integral part of the Packers sweep, where the guards would be the lead blockers, giving the running back an opening to run around the end. This was the crucial play in the Ice Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys that would forever etch Kramer into Packers lore.
“There was an area almost like a golf divot where my left foot went, it was about an inch deep, three-quarters of an inch deep,” Kramer stated. “And my left foot just snuggled down into that divot and gave me like a starting block.”
But for years the committee that selects which players get inducted into the Hall of Fame did not choose Kramer. According to Rick Gosselin, a sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News, the committee had a credibility issue when it came to inducting guards.
“I looked back, and this committee did not enshrine any guards,” Gosselin said. “During the window of Jerry Kramer’s eligibility, it enshrined one guard, Eugene Upshaw, and I think that was the last year of Jerry’s modern-era eligibility.
“It wasn’t just Jerry Kramer. We were not putting guards in. This committee has always favored players with stats – catches, passes, sacks, interceptions – and Jerry was a guy that didn’t have stats.”
From 1974-81, the guard was a Hall of Fame finalist seven of the eight years. He didn’t even make it as a finalist in years ’84, ’87 or ’97. But in 2018, Canton will finally put a place for arguably one of the greatest guards in NFL history. He may not have had the stats but Kramer was a tough, physical guard that racked up a plethora of accomplishments that the Hall of Fame committee could not ignore.
“There was such a range of emotions as deep as you can go into the Earth, and then cloud high,” Kramer said. “So, it’s been a fascinating journey.”
“It just occurred to me that if I was going to be angry over one honor that I didn’t get and trash 100 honors that I did get, that would be stupid.”
At the age of 82, the guard finally got the honor and respect he deserves.
Randy Moss’ Career Garners First-Ballot Hall of Fame Honors
Randy Moss is one of two wide receivers to be inducted into Canton this weekend. In his 14 seasons playing in the NFL, his numbers speak for themselves. He finished his career with 982 receptions, 15,292 yards (15.6 yards per reception) and 156 receiving touchdowns. He holds the NFL record for single-season touchdown receptions with 23 in 2007, the touchdown reception record for a rookie with 17 in 1998 and is second all-time on the touchdown reception list.
But in the backdrop of his stellar receiving play is a complicated figure mired in on and off-field controversy. There was the “mooning” incident when he played with the Minnesota Vikings. He also walked off the field before a playoff game concluded, not shaking hands with his opponents. When he played for the Oakland Raiders, he had the competitive spirit of a player that did not want to play for a mediocre franchise. All of these incidents are self-inflicting and it is something that Moss could have avoided if he just stuck to being a leader rather than a divider.
But the talented receiver, when he decided to, was quite the dominant player. In his last season, he was a critical asset on a San Francisco 49ers team that got to Super Bowl XLVII. Arriving in Canton this week, it is clear that Moss would not change a thing about his career, and blames the media for creating unnecessary attention around the receiver.
“Being able to look back and reflect back, man, I wouldn’t change it,” Moss stated. “I just wanted to play football. Now that I look back and reflect back and seeing all these cameras and all these positive stories written about me, it’s still not fair and I’m still not pleased with it.”
Moss wears his heart on his sleeve, which is an admirable trait. No one can ever take away his gold jacket, as he is a Hall of Famer for life. But maybe if he had focused solely on playing the game of football, instead of getting involved with controversial actions, he may have a Super Bowl ring today.
Terrell Owens Declines Invitation to Hall of Fame Ceremony
When you look up the word ‘rebel’ in the dictionary, chances are you will see a photo of wide receiver Terrell Owens beside it. In his third try, Owens will finally be etched into the Hall of Fame with all of the previous great football players.
Owens’ stellar career as a receiver has been overshadowed by his unfortunate ability to divide and fracture the teams he played for. No one would deny that the receiver’s numbers are first-ballot worthy. Having played 16 seasons in the NFL, his 15,934 career receiving yards rank second among all NFL receivers and his 153 receiving touchdowns rank third.
His flamboyant touchdown celebrations were only just the beginning. He wanted out of San Francisco after a contract disagreement with management and a run in with quarterback Jeff Garcia questioning his sexuality. In Philadelphia, he fractured the Eagles locker room with his tumultuous relationship with quarterback Donovan McNabb. Finally, as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Owens’ antics continued to impede the productivity of the offense, particularly when quarterback Tony Romo did not throw him the ball. For a player with so much talent and potential, his off-the-field personality made all of the teams he played for eager to cut him loose.
When Canton finally decided to induct Owens, this could have been the perfect opportunity for him to take the high road. The chance for the receiver to pay tribute and thank the people that got him to this tremendous honor of being a Hall of Famer. But instead, Owens declined his invitation to the enshrinement ceremony, where he will go to his college of UT-Chattanooga to deliver his speech. It is clear that the superstar receiver doesn’t care what the pundits or Hall of Fame organizers think. Are we really surprised by TO’s decision to not attend the ceremony in Canton? Owens will do what pleases him most, which is to continue to be bitter towards the NFL rather than being humbled by the moment.
“My character has been challenged for many years,” Owens said. “Today I stand here to put truth to power.”
Owens is another one of those super athletes that will be remembered for his temperament rather than superlative onfield play. His boycott of the Canton ceremony is a fitting conclusion for the career of a wide receiver defined by rebellion.