Who Should be in the NFL Hall of Fame Series – Defensive Tackles

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Earlier this month, CowGirl Cas 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. 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 not now Hall of Famers at each position. This is not a ranking but rather an alphabetical listing. For reference, the player must be eligible for Hall of Fame. Here is the order of our journey through some of the NFL’s all-time greats.

Pass Rusher (4-3 DE, 3-4 OLB)

Defensive Tackle

Inside Linebacker

Cornerback

Safety

Specialists

Offensive Tackle

Offensive Guard

Center

Tight End

Running Back

Full Back

Wide Receiver

Quarterback

Today we will look at the Defensive Tackle position. Whether they played Nose Tackle or spent their time in the trenches at the 1-technique or 3-technique, these players had distinguished careers and are worthy of consideration in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Defensive tackle is one of the hardest positions to quantify by statistics as, many times, their responsibility is to free up the players around them to make the flashy plays.

ROOSEVELT GRIERPotential Hall of Famer Rosie Grier

Case for the Hall of Fame:

3 All-Pro Selections; Defensive stalwart of the 1956 NY Giants NFL Championship team. Roosevelt “Rosie” Grier was a dominant DT for the Giants in the late 1950’s but his football career is defined by his time with the Los Angeles Rams. Rosie Grier is the last living member of the original Rams famed “Fearsome Foursome” along with Lamar Lundy and Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones. Grier was the last one of the four to arrive with the Rams when he was traded there from the Giants in 1963. Grier’s arrival took the talented Rams defensive line to the highest level. The Fearsome Foursome is considered by many as the best defensive line in the history of the NFL.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Grier was not voted to the 1960’s All Decade team. Grier also played next to two of the best players in league history. Many Hall of Fame voters seem reluctant to induct multiple players from the same position group of one team.This is especially true when the team they play for doesn’t have any championships. With Olsen and Jones, there are already two members of the Fearsome Foursome in the hall of Fame.

ALEX KARRASPotential Hall of Famer Alex Karras

Case for the Hall of Fame:

3 First team All-Pro Selections; Member of 1960’s All Decade team. Karras was one of the best defensive tackles in the 1960’s. He played 12 years for the Detroit Lions and was a consistently disruptive force in the middle of the Lions’ defense.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Along with Paul Hornung, Alex Karras was suspended for the entire 1963 season for involvement in gambling on NFL games. This is one of the biggest taboos in sports as it brings into question the integrity of the games. While Hornung was able to overcome this and make it to the Hall of Fame, the main difference for the two men was the immense success of his team, the Green bay Packers. While Hornung was a part of several NFL championship teams, Karras only appeared in one playoff game in his entire career. His Lions lost to that one playoff game to the Dallas Cowboys in Karras’ final NFL season. Karras’ Hall of Fame candidacy was further damage by his reputation as a selfish, coach-killer. Whether true or not, this has dogged him over the years.

STEVE MCMICHAELPotentially Hall of Famer Steve McMichael

Case for the Hall of Fame:

Steve “Mongo” McMichael was drafted by the New England Patriots in 1980 an played his last season in 1994 for the Green Bay Packers. In between, McMichael defined his career as a starting Defensive Tackle  for the Chicago Bears. His toughness and talent allowed him to become one of the defensive leaders for Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl championship. This defense is widely considered the best single-season defense in the history of the NFL.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

As with Grier, the writers that vote for the Hall of Fame are reluctant to put what they consider too many players from the same team’s position group. This is true even when it is a part of such a dominant unit. Dan Hampton and Richard Dent are already Hall of Famers but that doesn’t mean “Mongo” shouldn’t join them there one day.

TOM SESTAKPotential Hall of Famer Tom Sestak

Case for the Hall of Fame:

3 First-team All-AFL Selections; One of only 6 defensive lineman in the 1960’s to be a 3-time unanimous All-league choice; The other five players are already enshrined in the hall of Fame; Tom Sestak was a star from the start of his career as he was an AFL All-Star in his rookie season. He was the key defensive cog in two AFL Championship teams with the Buffalo Bills. Over the two championship seasons Sestak led his defense in setting a record with 17 consecutive games without giving up a touchdown. that record still stands to this day.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Sestak’s career was shortened to only six years by injury. He is also hurt by the fact that he played his entire career in the AFL and never played against his NFL contemporaries.

BRYANT YOUNGPotential Hall of Famer Bryant Young

Case for the Hall of Fame:

4 All-Pro Selections; Selected to 1990s All-Decade Team; Bryant Young was voted UPI Rookie of the Year in 1994 which was also the year his San Francisco 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Young sustained his stellar play even through a major leg injury in 1998 that required him to have a steel rod inserted in his leg. He returned to form in 1999 and was selected the Comeback Player of the Year for that season.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Young’s first year of eligibility was with the 2013 class. He was not viewed as a first ballot Hall of Fame candidate so I would expect his candidacy to strengthen over the next 2-3 years.

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. Add your comments below to let me know your thoughts on this group.

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