Earlier this week during the Greatest Viking Ever round between Jim Marshall and Blair Walsh. I made the comment that caused some controversy that Jim Marshall is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Considering the obvious biases of this blog this comment caused some upset people. Some even accused me of having a personnel vendetta against Jim Marshall. To be honest- I hadn't really given him much thought before I woke up Tuesday Morning. I just don't believe him to be a Hall of Fame type player.
To be sure Jim Marshall was a good to very good NFL Player. He's one of 16 Viking Players in the Ring of Honor. I have no issue with this. His legacy- 2 Pro Bowls, 4 Super Bowls, 270 Consecutive Starts, and a key part of one of the league's greatest defenses is certainly worthy of such accolades.
Yet Jim Marshall is not a Hall of Fame Player.
This raises the question of what merits induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? The simple answer seems to be one of the All-Time Greats at their position who redefined the game. Quarterbacks are going to be voted in more frequently than Interior Linemen for this reason. Kickers and Punters should have to meet a very high threshold to merit such an honor. FWIW- I don't believe Ray Guy should be in the Hall of Fame.
So how do we evaluate if a Player is an All-Time Great
1. All-Pro Teams- Was a Player considered the very best at his position in a given season?
2. Pro-Bowl Teams- Was a Player considered one of the best at his position in a given season?
3. All-Decade Teams- Was a Player considered elite over the course of a whole decade?
4. Comparsion to peers-Are similar type players in the Hall of Fame?
To be clear all these things are somewhat subjective yet taken together they begin to paint a picture of player's impact compared to his peers. I fully admit that a player could be very underrated according to these metrics. A great example of this would seem to be Antoine Winfield who has been a tremendous player since coming into the league but due to low interception totals will never be considered a serious Hall of Fame Candidate.
Back to Jim Marshall let's look at his legacy
All Pro- Teams - 0-
By comparsion- Kevin Williams has made 5, Chris Doleman made 2 AP First Teams, Carl Eller made five such teams. Amongst Marshall's Hall of Fame peers- Jack Youngblood made 5, Deacon Jones made 5, and Willie Davis made 5. Marshall never even made a Second Team All-Pro in his career. This seems to be a pretty tough case to argue around that a player was one of the all time greats that defined his position.
Pro Bowl Teams- 2 (1968& 1969)- Joey Browner made 6 for comparsion- I've never seen anyone on here argue that he was screwed out of the Hall of Fame. In comparsion of Marshall to his peers- Deacon Jones made 8 Pro Bowls, Wille Davis made 5, Doug Atkins made 8, Jack Youngblood 7, and Carl Eller made 6. Even amongst peers Not in the Hall of Fame- LC Greenwood made 6, and Harvey Martin made 4 (Plus a Super Bowl MVP).
All-Decade Teams- 1960's or 1970's- No- Making the All Decade Team represents that a Player was considered amongst the best at his position over a longer time span then 1 year. Considering neither of the Second Team All Decade ends from the 1970's (Harvey Martin or LC Greenwood) are in the Hall. Marshall would seem to be down the Totem Pole in this regard.
Does Marshall have any case? Arif made the point about the 130 sacks being awfully impressive. The problem with such a number is that it's an estimate since Sacks weren't tracked till 1982. Players that play a long time will have an advantage in counting numbers due to the sheer fact they had more opportunities. I personally value a truly elite prime over longevity. The durability is also extremely impressive. Yet very few people would make NBA Hall of Fame arguments for AC Green on the basis of his durability. Durability paints an important part of a player's contributions but durability alone does not make a good/very-good player an All-Time Great.
One thing I was accused of in the previous post was an Anti-Viking Bias. This seems an odd accusation to make considering I plan Vacation Time around coming to Minneapolis to watch games.
So I'll close with asking another question "Are their any Vikings that I think should be in the Hall of Fame?"
I've already stated my case for Kevin Williams in previous posts. I'm somewhat worried that he won't merit induction even though he was the Best Defensive Tackle in the Decade he's played. But if one wants to complain about Vikings not inducted a much stronger case then Jim Marshall could be made for Mick Tingelhoff.
Tingelhoff made Five AP First Team All-Pros (1 Second Team)
Tingelhoff made the Pro Bowl Six Times
Tingelhoff had a really good case for the Best Center in the 1960's. Jim Ringo of the Packers was the Dominant Center of the First Half of the Decade, Tingelhoff the second half.
Tingelhoff even started 240 Straight Games another pretty impressive string of durability.
I wouldn't call Tingelhoff a sure fire Hall of Famer due to it being tough for Centers to truly redefine the game. While Matt Birk was a very good player I tend to think he has a weak Hall of Fame Case. I think Tingelhoff's case merits more serious debate.
In closing- saying "Jim Marshall does not belong in the Hall of Fame" is not meant to diminish his contributions to the History of my favorite football team. I expect him to advance past Scott Studwell into the Sweet Sixteen to meet Randy Moss. This seems to me to project to be the most heated argument of the Tournament. It will be a debate of Character vs Impact. A debate of Length vs Greatness. I will be leading the charge for Moss in this debate for reasons I will save for that day.