The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 just got inducted a couple of weeks ago, but it isn't too early to start looking ahead to the Class of 2015. . .particularly if a member of the Minnesota Vikings has an opportunity for enshrinement.
Now, it doesn't appear as though anyone with strong ties to the Vikings is going to get in the "traditional" way (i.e. more than five years after their retirement). However, there is another route for a couple of Vikings players, and one of them was highlighted by none other than Sports Illustrated's Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback column for this week.
I think I have one name to keep in mind as the Pro Football Hall of Fame senior committee gathers this week in Canton to nominate one old-timer for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, class of 2015: Mick Tingelhoff. Think of Tingelhoff's greatest accomplishment: For the last 358 games of his 17-year career-99 preseason games, 240 regular-season games, 19 postseason games-Tingelhoff started. He failed to start only once-the first exhibition game of his career for the Vikings in 1962. Amazing. He dressed for 359 games in 17 years, and started the last 358. "He never missed a practice either,'' his onetime quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, said. He made first-team All-Pro seven times; no NFL center was voted first-team All-Pro more times. Back when the Pro Bowl meant something, a back playing behind Tingelhoff made the Pro Bowl 13 times.
I know that a lot of people talk about Jim Marshall, who is deserving in his own right. But, quite frankly, Tingelhoff is the best player with significant ties to the Minnesota Vikings that is not yet enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Honestly, look at all the numbers King cited above and tell me the guy doesn't belong.
Tingelhoff, much like Marshall, is one of those players that is likely being held back by the Vikings' lack of Super Bowl victories during the time he was an active player. Yes, people actually try to use a team accomplishment in an effort to quantify individual greatness, which is nothing short of foolish. (Really, all you need to make that argument is the fact that Trent Dilfer has a Super Bowl ring while Dan Marino and Fran Tarkenton. . .among others. . .do not.)
So, how does the Seniors Committee work? Here's the procedure from the Pro Football Hall of Fame website.
To assure that older players will be considered along with the Modern Era players, a Seniors Committee, made up of nine veteran members of the overall Selection Committee, has been established to consider nominees whose active career has been completed by at least 25 years.
Like the full Committee, the members of the Seniors Committee are provided a preliminary list of eligible nominees. The list, which is compiled and mailed to the selectors by June 1, includes carry-over nominations from the previous year, first-time eligible candidates, and nominations from any outside source. By way of a mail ballot the Committee members reduce the list to 15 Senior Nominee finalists. Five members of the nine-man Committee, selected on a rotating basis, are designated to attend the annual Seniors Committee meeting held in Canton, where they are charged with the responsibility of nominating two candidates from that list to be among the 17 finalists for Hall of Fame election. In advance of the meeting, each selector is provided with detailed biographical information on the candidates.
Senior Committee members are assisted during their annual meeting by two Hall of Fame consultants, chosen by the Hall's president, who were contemporaries of the majority of the nominees. The consultants offer only their opinions and are not entitled to vote. After each candidate is discussed thoroughly, the consultants are excused from the meeting. Additional discussion is conducted followed by a series of reduction votes that results in the naming of two Senior Nominees.
Although the Senior Nominees will be presented to the full Selection Committee as two of the 17 finalists, their election to the Hall of Fame is not automatic. The Senior Nominees must receive the same minimum 80% of the vote as a Modern Era candidate to be elected.
The list of Pro Football Hall of Fame voters, including those that are on the Seniors Committee, can be found right here. (The Seniors Committee members are the ones with the asterisks next to their names.)
Here's hoping that Mr. King has the ear of enough of those committee members to get Mick Tingelhoff the recognition that he deserves. And if there's anything that we, as fans, can do to help the cause, we will pass it along to everyone as well.