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Easley

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I am pleasantly shocked that the NFL Seniors Committee named former Seahawks safety Kenny Easley their finalist for the Hall of Fame. Easley’s career ended at the age of 28 because of a kidney injury but he was as good as his contemporary Ronnie Lott during his shortened career. Easley absolutely deserves to be elected and if he isn’t, I may have to burn down Canton. He was a truly dominant player. This is also a good sign for the future that players whose careers were shortened by injury and who may not get in through the main committee could thanks to the senior committee. The name that of course comes to my mind is Terrell Davis, who also should be in the HOF.

The Seniors Committee has also been so focused on the 60s over the years that this is their first nominee who I actually remember playing. I may just be getting old. But if we are in the semi-modern era, Ken Anderson should be next.

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  • efgoldman

    Davis really only played for four (sensational) seasons. Tough luck that his career essentially was ended by injuries, but durability is one of the thing that makes a HOF career.
    (Denverite will be here any minute to refute my premise).

    • That’s not too different from Easley’s case. He had 5 sensational seasons at a less dramatic position than Davis before his kidneys gave out after the Seahawks traded him for Kelly Stouffer (!!!!!!). Safeties hardly ever make the HOF, which is dumb, but that’s how it is. So this is a pretty unusual nomination, I thin.

      • efgoldman

        I know much less about Easley. The Seahawks in those days were very seldom seen on the East Coast. Your general statement about safeties is true, though.

        • The Temporary Name

          Easley was a joy to watch.

          It was also fun to see him mush his hands around in a big bin of stickum. I think the league got mad about that during his dominance, but I could be wrong.

    • Denverite

      Went to bed relatively early.

      People have really skewed recollections of RB longevity. OJ Simpson and Earl Campbell both only had 5 1,000+ seasons. Campbell especially is the spitting image of Davis numbers-wise. He’s in the HOF. Davis has a significantly higher Y/A than Campbell, and nearly as much as Simpson. He was also significantly better than both in the postseason (1100+ yards vs. 420 yards vs. 49 yards).

      Davis should be in and it’s a shame that he is not.

  • erick

    I think Davis is hurt by a couple things besides just the injury shortened career. 1) RBs are probably over represented, too many good not greats (Jerome Bettis being exhibit A) are in. 2) Denver seemed to plug. In anyone and get results, how much was the RBs and how much was the system?

    In general I don’t like playing what if and projecting that guys would have been in except for an injury shortened careers unless they are real no brainers. There have been lots of guys who look like HOFers after a few years and then fade without injury. Easley fits the no brainier bill. He wasn’t just great, he basically redefined the safety position and was the prototype for how they play now. He’s up there with Sayers as guys whose 4 healthy years were so amazing they really didn’t need any more time. His best season, 10 ints with 2 TD returns, as a safety who was also playing the run, insane.

    • CrunchyFrog

      RBs are probably over represented

      Absolutely. There was a time when a getting a top running back could dramatically improve a team’s offense, even more so than a top quarterback. And that time lasted even longer in college football, as a top running back is able to avoid and elude less talented defenders. Watch some of the old video of Jim Brown, for example. Great runner, but it’s amazing just how inept most of those pro defenders were compared to even an average division 1 college team’s defenders today.

      Starting in the 1960s teams started trying to get better athletes on defense, and by the 1970s all the top teams had top athletes on defense. Eventually colleges caught up with the trend. When Doug Flutie won the Heisman in 1984 it broke a string of 12 straight RBs to win the trophy. In recent history it’s been almost all QBs with the occasional RB or other position.

      But, a lot of football elders still overvalue the RB position and that affects drafting decisions (we haven’t had a Trent Richardson post here for a while, have we? I see he just got cut again, probably for the last time) and HOF voting decisions. Curtis Martin? Jerome Bettis? Only if you apply criteria that says there must be a higher percentage of RBs in the hall than any other position but QB – but in terms of impact on the game both really belonged in the Hall of Very Good. (It helped them a lot that they played for Parcells and Cowher, respectively, as HOF voters have soft spots in their hearts for those teams.)

      • efgoldman

        HOF voting decisions. Curtis Martin? Jerome Bettis?

        Sometimes i think there should be separate HOF wings for longevity awards. Bettis, and especially Martin, made it in on that basis.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I think my case against Davis is overstated in retrospect, but that’s basically my take: short career, low impact position, you can plug virtually anyone into Shanahan’s scheme and get good production. I wouldn’t vote for him.

  • jamesepowell

    I remember really liking Easley and my memory matches Scott’s recollection that he played big and was a constant source of pain & consternation to offenses.

    But I want to ask the assembled, did he have a better career than Jake Scott?

    • Bill Murray

      Jake Scott was one I forgot below. Jake had a very similar career to Easley, except that he had good years that weren’t his peak

  • CrunchyFrog

    Ken Anderson is going to go up against the Peter King “how many super bowls did the guy win” nonsense. Seriously, back when I read King write about the HoF votes he put way too much weight on super bowls for individual players. Anderson was better than contemporaries Griese and Bradshaw, but without anything like defenses and running games Miami and Pittsburgh had. But, according to the King theory, rings are what counts or something. Ignore the supporting cast. Bradshaw had 8 other hall of fame players – Anderson had 1 (Joiner), and that was for only 4 seasons. Doesn’t matter to King (unless we’re talking about Dan Marino – then for some reason rings are irrelevant).

    • CrunchyFrog

      Speaking of Peter King, he has to be in mega-fantasy world right now. His two favorite authority figures, Paul Tagliabue and Jerry Jones, were nominated for the HOF contributor category. If they let in Tagliabue I suggest they save time in the future and just include the HOF entry as part of the severance package for the commissioner. As for Jones … well, he DID do a lot of marketing innovations. But football-wise his great decisions start and end with the hiring of Jimmy Johnson (granted, signing Deion Sanders was smart, but that was only after stupidly trying to pretend the free agent market didn’t exist the year before). And there is that matter of being the anti-Rooney when it comes to hiring minority coaches ….

  • Bill Murray

    If you go by weighted career AV, Easley is about the 900th best player so there are 100s of players who are as deserving of enshrinement, although that would get in to peak versus career value.

    Easley was great for 4-5 years, but off the top of my head, for just defensive backs, I think Deron Cherry, Donnie Shell, Eric Allen, Lemar Parrish, and Cornell Green have as good a top end as Easley (several times All-NFL, many Pro Bowls) and kicked in several other very good seasons so had better careers than Easley.

    Ken Anderson probably deserves enshrinement he basically was Joe Montana without the Super Bowls or Steve Young to replace him.

    • Bill Murray

      In addition to Jake Scott, a couple others that I forgot to add in the list of defensive backs are Bobby Boyd, the Colts DB from the 1960s and Louis Wright the Broncos corner from the 70s and early 80s.

    • ColBatGuano

      many Pro Bowls

      This is not a useful parameter.

  • MaureenDowdsLudes

    As long as we’re talking about deserving players, I think we should mention Chuck Howley who possesses a much higher AV AND had he not tripped over the hash mark returning a pick in Super Bowl VI, he would have won consecutive Super Bowl MVPs.

    Also too, Darren Woodson.

    • erick

      Woodson will be first ballot as soon as he is eligible

      • MaureenDowdsLudes

        He’s eligible now. Retired after the 2003 season.

      • Bill Murray

        You are likely thinking of Charles Woodson, not Darren. Darren was a very good player for the Cowboys — about the same level as Easley for their top years, a bit more of a career

        • erick

          Doh! Slinking away with egg on my face hoping no one notices…

  • thebewilderness

    I am very pleased that his name was put forward. I had long since given up on the possibility that they would find their way to Easley Street.

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