Who Should be in the NFL Hall of Fame Series – Offensive Guards

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Who Should be in the NFL Hall of Fame Series – Offensive Guards.

 

Earlier this offseason, CowGirlCas and I posted our opinions and reasoning for who should next be enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. This was in our He Said (Darren Woodson); She Said (Harvey Martin) series. Afterwards, we had a lively discussion on which Cowboys players should be in the NFL Hall of Fame. With the 2014 Hall of Fame induction this weekend, we will finish out the series.

That got me thinking. While that in itself is a dangerous thing, I was interested in looking at which players, by position, were the most deserving of getting a call from the Hall of Fame throughout the league. Over the next few days, we will do this by looking at the players I believe are the top 5 players who are not currently Hall of Famers at each position. This is not a ranking, but rather an alphabetical listing of my top 5 offensive guards. For reference, the player must be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Here is the order of our journey through some of the NFL’s all-time greats.

Today we will take a look at the guards that protected their quarterbacks and opened holes for their ball carriers. Some of them were classic road-grading bulldozers that opened holes for 1000 yard rushers. Others kept the middle of the pocket solid in front of their quarterbacks. All of these guards were key to helping the skill position players around them prosper. Whether it was with finesse or power, these five guards distinguished themselves as the best at their position when they played and deserve further consideration for induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Bill Fralic Guard Bill Fralic

Case for the Hall of Fame:

3-time All-Pro; Voted member of National Football League 1980′s All-Decade Team; 1984 Offensive Lineman of the Year; Bill Fralic was drafted #2 overall in 1985 by the Atlanta Falcons. Fralic was such a great guard because he was dominant as a run blocker for his entire 8 years in Atlanta. He is the only guard of the 1980′s All-Decade that has not already been enshrined in Canton.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Bill Fralic’s career at guard was played for one of the NFL’s worst franchises at the time. His Falcons rarely had good seasons and were not often nationally recognized as a team or individually, except for Bill Fralic. Fralic’s candidacy is also hurt by the fact that his career was only 8 seasons long. He didn’t play for as long as many of the other deserving guards on this list. That fact has continued to keep the hall of fame voters from moving the Falcons guard further along in the process.

Jerry Kramer Guard Jerry Kramer

Case for the Hall of Fame:

6-time All-Pro; Voted member of the National Football League 1960′s All-Decade Team; Voted member of the National Football League 50th Anniversary Team; Jerry Kramer was a 5-time NFL Champion including the first 2 Super Bowls. He was such a versatile athlete that he also served as the kicker for his Green Bay Packers for two full seasons early in his career. He is the only member of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary team that has not already been enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame. He has already been a finalist 10 times for the Hall of Fame so the writers obviously recognize the significance of his contribution to the famed “Packer Sweep”.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Jerry Kramer has the misfortune of playing for a Packers dynasty that has already produced double-digit inductees in the NFL Hall of Fame. Most writers are hesitant to put so many teammates from the same era in Canton. Kramer’s candidacy is also hurt because he suffered many injuries and missed significant time to those injuries throughout his career.

Nate Newton Guard Nate Newton.

Case for the Hall of Fame:

2-time All-Pro; Voted member of United States Football League All-Time Team; 3-time super bowl champion; Nate newton pulled himself up from being cut as an undrafted free agent tackle for Washington in 1983 to being the vocal leader of one of the best offensive lines in the history of the league. Newton was able to effectively play tackle during his career but where he really shone through was as a guard for the “Great Wall of Dallas” in the 1990’s. Newton was consistently at his best when the lights were the brightest. He was a great combination of strength to open holes for Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith and agility to keep the pocket clean for hall of Famer Troy Aikman.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Nate Newton has had some major missteps off the field since his retirement including multiple arrests and prison time for drug related charges. These occurrences hurt his chances far more than they would a skill position player who had gaudy personal stats upon which to fall back. There also seems to be a feeling among the voters that, other than guard Larry Allen, Dallas’ Great Wall” was simply a collection of good players that played great together. This sentiment has hurt the chances of the big Cowboys guard.

Will Shields Guard Will Shields

Case for the Hall of Fame:

7-time All-Pro; Voted member of the National Football League 2000′s All-Decade Team; Will Shields is tied for the most Pro Bowls played in NFL history. He started 231 straight games at guard including playoffs in his career. Shields was the 2003 Walter Payton Man of the Year and the 2005 Ed Block Courage Award recipient. He is a 2-time finalist for the Hall of Fame.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Will Shields career at guard seems very worthy of induction. So far he has been caught up in a numbers game with a crop of new, highly regarded candidates becoming eligible each of the past few years. It seems to me that it is only a matter of time until Shields is recognized with a gold jacket and a Hall of Fame bust.

 

Steve Wisniewski Guard Steve Wisniewski

Case for the Hall of Fame:

8-time All-Pro; Voted member of the National Football League 1990′s All-Decade Team; Steve Wisniewski started all but 2 regular season games in his 13 year Raider career. Known to his teammates as “Wiz”, Wisniewski was one of the most consistently dominant guards of his generation and he is the only guard on the 1990’s All-decade team that is not yet enshrined in Canton.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Steve Wisniewski may be a victim of playing great in an era where other guards were transcendent. His contemporaries on the 1990’s all-decade team are Bruce Matthews, Larry Allen and Randall McDaniel. All three of these players are considered among the top offensive linemen in NFL history, not just guards. Wisniewski also played for the Raiders when they weren’t usually very good.

 

These are my five most worthy for induction. I’m interested in your opinion on where I got it right and who I may have missed. You can add your comments or suggestions below.

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