Jeff Van Note 6'2" 247 Center Atlanta Falcons 1969 - 1986 18 Seasons 246 Games Played 5 Pro Bowls
Jeffrey Aloysius Van Note was an 11th round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 1969. He was the 262nd player picked overall. Van Note would go on to play his entire 18-year NFL career as a center for the Atlanta Falcons from 1969 to 1986. After beginning his college career as a fullback, Van Note then moved to defensive end at the University of Kentucky. Van Note earned 2nd team All SEC honors in his sophomore year. He was named Kentucky's team MVP his senior year. He was drafted as a linebacker.
Van Note was soon moved to Center by Falcons NFL Hall of Fame head coach Norm Van Brocklin. Van Note eventually became an upper echelon Center in the NFL. His 18 NFL years is amongst the top 25 longest in NFL history and is the second longest while staying with the same team. He played in 246 games over this stretch, and his 225 games started is second in Falcons history to. Van Note only missed four games in his entire NFL career.
The Falcons retired Van Note's number at halftime of his final home game. He was voted the franchise's favorite player during the Falcons' 25th Anniversary season in 1991 by fans. Van Note was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame and to the Falcons' Ring of Honor.
Jeff Van Note played in an era full of excellent Centers in the NFC. Tom Banks, Rich Saul, Len Hauss, Forrest Blue, Ed Flanagan, Mick Tingelhoff, Jay Hilgenberg, and Doug C. Smith were all multiple Pro Bowl Honorees during Van Notes era. Jeff made 3 straight Pro Bowls from ages 34 to 36. He was an athletic, strong, and technically sound player. He languished on some bad teams, but was one of the players the Falcons could rely on week in and week out for many years. His name was constantly bandied about as one of the NFL's top Centers during his career. His status as a fan favorite exemplifies this. Many great offensive lineman languish in anonymity. The Falcons had flashy players like Tommy Nobis, White Shoes Johnson and Steve Bartkowski, but Van Note is the guy most Falcon fans say symbolize the franchise best. He may not be the greatest Center who ever played, but he is certainly amongst those mentioned as one of the greats. Jeff Van Note should be inducted into Canton.
Notable Players Drafted In 1969 (* Denotes Canton Inductee)
1. O.J. Simpson, RB, Buffalo * 4. Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh * 7. Ted Kwalick, TE, San Francisco 11. Bill Stanfill, DE, Miami 13. Fred Dryer, DE, NY Giants 16. Gene Washington, WR, San Francisco 19. Roger Wehrli, CB, St. Louis Cardinals * 20. Ron Johnson, RB, Cleveland 24. Calvin Hill, RB, Dallas 31. Bill Bergey, LB, Cincinnati 33. Ted Hendricks, LB, Baltimore * 39. Ed White, OG, Minnesota 41. Bobby Douglass, QB, Chicago 48. Ed Podolak, RB, Kansas City 56. Jon Kolb, C, Pittsburgh 63. Eugene "Mercury" Morris, RB, Miami 69. Bill Bradley, S, Philadelphia 80. Bob Kuechenberg, OG, Philadelphia 93. Charlie Joiner, WR, Houston * 96. Roy Gerela, P, Houston 99. John Zook, DE, LA Rams 101. Jack Rudnay, C, Kansas City 135. Ken Riley, QB, Cincinnati 139. Harold McLinton, LB, Washington 238. L.C. Greenwood, DE, Pittsburgh 273. John Fuqua, RB, NY Giants 337. Carl Mauck, LB, Baltimore 338. Steve O'Neal, P, NY Jets
Clifford Allen Harris was not chosen in the 1970 NFL Draft. He went to Ouachita Baptist College. He played all positions of the defensive secondary during his collegiate career. Harris was a two-time All-AIC selection. He was part of the Ouachita 1966 AIC Championship team. Cliff Harris is a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame and a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Harris started immediately at Free Safety in his rookie year. He intercepted 2 passes, returning one for 60 yards. Harris also recovered 3 fumbles. Although military obligations caused him to miss the second half the season, he returned in time for the Cowboys' Super Bowl VI win. Harris also returned punts and kickoffs for the Cowboys from his second season until his fifth season. His best season returning kickoffs was in 2nd year. Harris returned 29 kicks for 823 yards at an excellent 28.3 average. All of these stats are his career highs. He took one kick 77 yards for the longest return of his career. He also averaged a career best 7.6 yards per punt return on 17 punts. Harris picked off 2 passes that year and recovered 3 fumbles as well. He ended up with 63 kick returns at a very impressive 25.7 average for his career. He also returned 66 punts in his career. Harris was steady. He intercepted 2 or more passes every year of his entire career. His career high was 5 in 1977, when the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII. In 1975, Harris took an interception 27 yards for the only touchdown of his NFL career. Harris was named to his first Pro Bowl in 1974, and would be named to the Pro Bowl each year for the rest of his career.
Harris earned the nickname "Captain Crash" during his career. He was a starter his entire NFL career, and was fearless versus the run. Harris was a notoriously hard hitter who would make opposing wide receivers get alligator arms when coming across the middle. He was on five Dallas Super Bowl teams during his career. Harris wore the pads of place kickers in order to keep his speed and quickness up throughout his career, making his hitting prowess even more impressive. Harris announced his retirement following the 1979 to concentrate on his business ventures, where he runs a company with former Cowboys SS Charlie Waters. They also wrote a memoirs about their time together with the Cowboys. Sports Illustrated named him to their Dream Team at free safety. Harris was named to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2004.
Cliff Harris changed the way the Free Safety position was played. His run support is legendary in Texas, and his intelligence was a big part of his game. Harris teamed with his best friend, Waters, to form one of the better Safety duos in the NFL throughout the 70's. Waters made 3 Pro Bowls from 1976 to 1978. Harris was noted for always being around the ball. He got the ball back for the Cowboys 47 times in his 10 year career. He has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I don't know what the voters are waiting for. He should have been in already. With his being so close in 2004, there is little doubt in my mind that Cliff Harris will one day be in Canton. Hopefully sooner than later.
Notable Players Drafted In 1970 (* Denotes Canton Inductee)
1. Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh * 7. Mike Reid, DT, Cincinnati 9. Cedric Hardman, DE, San Francisco 10. Ken Burrough, WR, New Orleans 13. Doug Wilkerson, OG, Houston 17. Bruce Taylor, CB, San Francisco 18. Norm Bulaich, FB, Baltimore 19. Steve Owens, RB, Detroit 22. Jack Reynolds, LB, LA Rams 23. Duane Thomas, RB, Dallas 24. Raymond Chester, TE, Oakland 29. Jim Mandich, TE, Miami 30. Dennis Shaw, QB, Buffalo 31. Leo Brooks, DT, Houston 36. Joe "Turkey" Jones, DE, Cleveland 39. Art Malone, RB, Atlanta 43. Bill Brundige, DE, Washington 46. Richard Caster, WR, NY Jets 53. Mel Blount, DB, Pittsburgh * 55. Tim Foley, DB, Miami 66. Charlie Waters, DB, Dallas 76. Gerald Irons, DE, Oakland 80. Ed George, OT, Pittsburgh (CFL Hall of Fame) 110. Ron Saul, OG, Houston 114. Manny Sistrunk, DE, Washington 153. Pat Toomay, DE, Dallas 159. Jake Scott, DB, Miami 163. Lemar Parrish, DB, Cincinnati 201. Mike Holmgren, QB, Saint Louis Cardinals 204. Rich Saul, OG, LA Rams 218. Jim Otis, FB, New Orleans 248. Joe Dawkins, RB, Houston 259. Stu Voight, TE, Minnesota 287. Butch Davis, DB, Chicago 335. Mark Washington, CB, Dallas 346. Mark Moseley, K, Philadelphia 348. Doug Sutherland, DT, New Orleans
Dennis Harrah 6'5" 260 Offensive Guard Los Angeles Rams 1975 - 1987 13 Seasons 168 Games Played 6 Pro Bowls
Dennis Wayne Harrah was a first round draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in 1975. He was the eleventh player picked overall. Harrah went to college at the University of Miami in Florida. Unfortunately, the colleges gridiron records are not in good shape past 1983. Dennis played all over the offensive line in his collegiate career before settling in at Tackle. In 1973, he was an honorable mention All American. Harrah then was selected a unanimous All American in 1974. Dennis Harrah is a member of the University of Miami (Fla) Sports Hall of Fame.
Harrah joined a very good, but aging, offensive line in Los Angeles. Led by Hall of Famers like Guard Tom Mack, Defensive Tackle Merlin Olsen, and Defensive End Jack Youngblood, the Rams went 12-2. The Rams went to the NFC Championship game that year. Harrah backed up legendary Center Rich Saul, and former Pro Bowl Guard Joe Scibelli that season. Harrah was part of a Rams draft that produced 5 Pro Bowlers.
Harrah started at Right Guard in 1976 after Scibelli retired. The Rams went 10-3-1, and got to the NFC Championship game once again. Dennis was injured in the eighth game on the 1977 season, and missed the rest of the year. The 10-4 Rams would go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1978, as the 12-4 Rams would lose in the NFL Championship game yet again. L.A. had 4 of their offensive linemen go to the Pro Bowl that year, and ten players total. Sitting on the bench in his 3rd season was Hall of Fame Tackle Jackie Slater. By 1979, the Rams featured one of the best offensive lines in football. Harrah, Doug France, Saul, Slater, and Kent Hill were all multiple Pro Bowlers. Dennis was named to the Pro Bowl again that year, and the 9-7 Rams went on to play in Super Bowl XIV. Harrah was only able to play 8 games in 1980 due to injuries. The 11-5 Rams would lose in the Wild Card game. The Rams would win just 8 games total over the next two seasons. 1980 saw the Rams go 9-7 behind rookie Eric Dickerson's 1,800 yards rushing, 51 catches, and 20 TD's. The Rams won the Wild Card game, but lost in the next round, as Dennis was named to the UPI All Conference Second Team. Harrah was also named to the UPI All Conference Second Team in 1984. 1985 saw him missing six games, but still being named to the Pro Bowl. The 11-5 Rams would go on to lose in the NFC Championship game. Dennis went to the Pro Bowl again in 1986, as the 10-6 Rams lost in the Wild Card game. Harrah missed 7 games in the 1987 season due to injury, but was named to his last Pro Bowl team. He retired at the conclusion of the season.
Dennis Harrah was an amazing athlete. He ran the 40 in 4.8 seconds, and could bench press over 500 lbs. He played all over the offensive line with equal skill. He helped lead Lawrence McCutcheon, Wendell Tyler, and Eric Dickerson to 1,000 yard seasons during his career. He was an exceptional pass blocker as well. Harrah seems to have been neglected by the Hall of Fame voters so far. He was part of some of the best offensive lines in football. Two are in Canton, but neither played together. The one constant was Harrah. He played with both, and was so good that he made his team mates look better. The best way to determine an offensive lineman's impact is not by counting his Pro Bowls. It is by watching him, and seeing the effect he has on each game he plays. Still, you can see his worthiness by counting his Pro Bowl accolades. Dennis Harrah should have been elected into Canton years ago.
Notable Players Drafted In 1975 (* Denotes Canton Inductee)
1. Steve Bartkowski, QB, Atlanta 2. Randy White, MLB, Dallas * 4. Walter Payton, RB, Chicago * 6. Robert Brazile, LB, Houston Oilers 8. Gary Johnson, DT, San Diego 16. Russ Francis, TE, New England 17. Louie Wright DB, Denver 18. Tom Henderson, LB, Dallas 20. Doug France, OT, LA Rams 22. Mike Williams, DB, San Diego 26. Dave Brown, DB, Pittsburgh 28. Monte Jackson, DB, LA Rams 30. Louis Kelcher, DT, San Diego 31. Mike Hartenstein, DE, Chicago 33. Fred Dean, DE, San Diego * 36. Fred Solomon, WR, Miami 53. Mike Washington, DB, Baltimore 70. Bob Breunig, LB, Dallas 82. Tony Peters, DB, Cleveland 85. Cleveland Elam, DE, San Francisco 95. Rich Upchurch, WR, Denver 105. Roosevelt Leaks, RB, Baltimore 108. Mike Thomas, RB, Washington 116. Steve Grogan, QB, New England 120. Pat McInally, WR, Cincinnati 121. Rubin Carter DT, Denver 135. Bob Avellini, QB, Chicago 164. Ricky Young, RB, San Diego 176. Pat Haden, QB, LA Rams 199. Steve Foley, DB, Denver 216. Mike Strachan, RB, New Orleans 228. Dallas Hickman, DE, Washington 253. Roland Hooks, RB, Buffalo 262. George Martin, DE, NY Giants 291. Doug Plank, DB, Chicago 420. Roland Harper, RB, Chicago
Deron Cherry 5'11" 185 Safety Kansas City Chiefs 1981 - 1991 11 Seasons 148 Games Played 50 Interceptions 688 Yards 3.5 Sacks 1 Touchdown 7 Pro Bowls
Deron Leigh Cherry was undrafted in 1981. He was a safety and punter at Rutgers University. In 1979 he was named the Scarlet Knights MVP. In 1979 and 1980, Cherry earned AP All-East honors. Cherry recorded nine career interceptions and punted for a then-record 39.4 career average. In 1981, he signed by the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent punter, but was cut at the conclusion of the pre-season. Cherry was signed by the Chiefs in late September as a safety after injuries hit the position.
Cherry has been often called one of the top free safeties in NFL history. He was a 7 time All-Pro in his 11 year career. Cherry's 15 career fumble recoveries place him in a three-way tie for the Chiefs record. He ranks third on the Chiefs list of most interceptions, and is only the 26th player in the history of the NFL to reach the 50 interception plateau. In 1987, he was selected to the Chiefs 25 year All-Time Team, and named the Chiefs NFL Man of the Year. In 1988, Cherry won the Byron White Humanitarian Award. When the NFL named the 1980 All Decade Team, Cherry was amongst those selected.
Cherry picked off a pass early into his rookie year, then waited until his 3rd season to get another. That year he picked off 7 passes. He would pick off 7 passes in each of his next 2 seasons as well. He scored the only touchdown of his career in his 5th season. Cherry then picked off 9 passes in his 6th year, which led the entire NFL that year. He followed that up with 3 interceptions in the strike shortened season of 1987. He picked off 7 passes, once again, the following season. Cherry would go on and pick off 5 passes over the next 2 seasons, which were marred by injury. His final NFL season saw him pick off 4 passes. Though he was never asked to punt in the NFL, Cherry did return 7 kick offs for 145 yards in his first 4 seasons. Cherry topped 100 tackles 6 times in his career and accumulated 927 tackles in his career. Cherry led Chiefs in tackles four times and in interceptions on six occasions.
When Cherry joined the Chiefs, they had an exceptional defense. The secondary was led by Gary Barbaro, who played Cherrys position. Lloyd Burris was a newly drafted Strong Safety who started right away. Teamed with Cornerbacks Eric Harris and Gary Green, the Chiefs often picked off passes. Barbaro, a 3 time Pro Bowler in his 7 seasons, bolted for the USFL in 1983. Cherry and Burress would form one of the NFL's best safety tandems until they both retired together in 1991. The tandem picked off 72 passes for 5 touchdowns, recovered 24 fumbles, and went to 8 Pro Bowls in the 145 games they played together.
Deron Cherry is a class act. His play on the gridiron was spectacular, but he never was one to blow his own horn. He preferred to donate his free time to charities and is still active with many organizations. He became a part owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars in their 1995 expansion year also. When you look at his career, it can be lauded for several areas of excellence. If you just stick to his gridiron play, you see him on the 1980 All Decade team, as well as 7 Pro Bowls, to go with 50 interceptions. Whatever the hold up for his induction has been, there can be no excuses nor reasoning. He should have been given his bronze bust and induction ceremony by now. Deron Cherry epitomizes the definition of what a football player should strive to attain to be in the NFL Hall of Fame.
Notable Players Drafted in 1981 (* Denotes Hall Of Fame Inductee)
1. George Rogers, RB, New Orleans 2. Lawrence Taylor, LB, NY Giants * 3. Freeman McNeil, RB, NY Jets 4. Kenny Easley, S, Seattle 7. Hugh Green, LB, Tampa Bay 8. Ronnie Lott, CB, San Francisco * 11. Keith Van Horne, OT, Chicago 20. Mark May, OL, Washington 22. Hanford Dixon, CB, Cleveland 24. James Brooks, RB, San Diego 25. Bobby Butler, CB, Atlanta 33. Neil Lomax, QB, Saint Louis Cardinals 34. James Wilder, RB, Tampa Bay 37. Cris Collinsworth, WR, Cincinnati 38. Mike Singletary, LB, Chicago * 40. Eric Wright, CB, San Francisco 41. Joe Delaney, RB, Kansas City 48. Howie Long, DT, Oakland * 51. Rickey Jackson, LB, New Orleans 57. Frank Warren, DE, New Orleans 65. Carlton Williamson, DB, San Francisco 69. Russ Grimm, C, Washington 71. Hoby Brenner, TE, New Orleans 74. Tim Irwin, OT, Minnesota 78. Lloyd Burress, S, Kansas City 98. Mark Herrmann, QB, Denver 119. Dexter Manley, DE, Washington 125. Ken Lanier, OL, Denver 156. Bryan Hinkle, LB, Pittsburgh 177. Jeff Fisher, S, Chicago 201. Charlie Brown, WR, Washington 208. William Judson, DB, Miami 210. Wade Wilson, QB, Minnesota 226. Stump Mitchell, RB, Saint Louis 231. Darryl Grant, G, Washington 305. Jim Wilks, DT, New Orleans 314. Clint Didier, TE, Washington
Jim Norton Defensive Back Houston Oilers 1960 - 1968 9 Seasons 125 Games Played 45 Interceptions 625 Total Yards 1 Touchdown 4 All Star Games
James Charles Norton was a 7th round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in the 1960 NFL Draft. He was also drafted as a territorial pick in the inaugural season of the American Football League by the Dallas Texans. He opted to sign with the Houston Oilers instead. While attending the University of Idaho, Norton was of the nation’s top defensive backs in 1958. His 9 interceptions that season were the most in the nation, and his 217 interception return yards during that time were a school record that lasted nearly 50 years. He snagged one interception and returned it 99 yards in for a touchdown against Utah State in 1958, which stood as a school record until 1997. Norton also punted, handled the return duties, and played Tight End for the Vandals. He led the team in receiving in 1958 and 1959. While at Idaho, NFL Greats like Green Bay's Jerry Kramer and Detroit's Wayne Walker played with Norton, as did NFL Defensive Tackle Jim Prestel. Jim Norton is a member of the Idaho Sports Hall Of Fame.
Norton first played Cornerback with the Oilers. Playing as a reserve, he managed one interception, the lowest season total of his career, as the Oilers would go on to win the first AFL Championship. Norton was moved to Strong Safety the following year, and was named a starter. He responded with a career high 9 interceptions for a career best 150 yards. He also assumed the punting duties, and averaged 40.7 yards per punt on 48 attempts. The Oilers wound up winning the 1961 AFL Championship as well. His punting in that game was an integral reason for Houston's win in a low scoring affair dictated by field position. Norton was named to his first AFL All Star Team that year. In 1962, Jim swiped 8 more passes, and punted the ball 56 times for a 41 yard average. Three interceptions came in a crucial late season win over Denver, enabling the Oilers to get into the playoffs. The Oilers made it to the 1962 AFL Championship Game, a double overtime loss that was the longest game in AFL history. Norton again was named to the AFL All Star Team. In 1963, Norton was again named to the AFL All Star Team, as he stole 6 balls and has a 43 yard punting average on 65 attempts. He even caught a 15 yard pass. Jim punted the ball a career long 79 yards in 1964. He averaged 41.2yards on 55 attempts, and intercepted the ball twice. In 1965, Norton led the AFL with 85 punts for 3,711 yards. He averaged 43.7 yards per punt. All were career highs for Jim. He also had 7 interceptions that season as well. Jim had 4 picks in 1966, gaining 125 yards. He also averaged 42.1 yards per punt on 69 attempts. Norton made his last AFL All Star Team in 1967, as he had 6 interceptions and averaged 42.6 yards per punt on 71 attempts. He also scored the only touchdown of his career, which came off of an interception. 1968 was Jim's last season. He punted 73 times for a 41.2 yards per punt average. He intercepted the ball twice, and caught a pass for 20 yards. He retired after that season.
Jim Norton's 45 interceptions are the most in AFL history. It is also the most in Oilers/ Titans franchise history. His 592 interception return yards are the second most in the franchises history behind Hall of Famer Ken Houston. His 519 punts were the most in franchise history until 2004, when Craig Hentrich passed him. He ranks third in AFL history in punts as well, and finished his career with an average of 42.1 yards per punt. Jim never missed one game in his entire career, even once after suffering a major concussion. What makes this feat even more amazing is the fact Norton never wore any hip or thigh pads. He averaged over an interception every 3 games he played in his career, an amazing rate. Jim Norton's number 43 was the first jersey ever retired in Oilers/ Titans history.
Jim Norton was nicknamed "The Blade", due to his physique. His team mates also called him "tough as nails," "half-psycho," "crazy," and "masochistic". He was known for his fearless play, and for having a nose for the ball. He seemed to be in on virtually every defensive play the Oilers made throughout his career. He had at least an interception in every year of his career. He was one of the big reasons for the Oilers dominance in the early days of the AFL. My only thought as to why he is not in Canton yet is because he chose the AFL over the NFL. As I have stated many times in this series, Canton is suppose to house the PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL Hall Of Fame. Not JUST the NFL! The ONLY player inducted into Canton who spent his entire career just in the AFL is Buffalo Bills Offensive Guard Billy Shaw, and he was forced to wear a jacket emblazoned with the NFL logo at his induction ceremony. The disrespect of the AFL CERTAINLY continues to this day. Perhaps it is the spite of the old guard who were forced to merge with the AFL because of the success the AFL was having? When you go down the list of all the amazing PRO football players from the AFL not yet inducted into Canton, this theory holds credence. Players like Johnny Robinson, Ed Budde, Walt Sweeney, Gino Cappalletti, and many more. It is truly a disgusting happening still occurring today. The fact that the AFL Interception King is not in Canton shows a distasteful disrespect that should have corrected decades ago. Norton died in 2007, so he went to his grave witnessing this criminal act by the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE "voters". Jim Norton certainly belongs in Canton.
Notable Players Drafted In 1960 * Denotes Hall of Fame Member
1. Billy Cannon, RB, LA Rams 3. Johnny Robinson, DB, Detroit 8. Jim Houston, LB, Cleveland 10. Ron Mix, OT, Baltimore * 13. Harold Olson, T, Saint Louis Cardinals 17. Bob Jeter, DB, Green Bay 20. Maxie Baughan, LB, Philadelphia 23. Don Floyd, DE, Baltimore Colts 24. Marvin Terrell, G, Baltimore Colts 32. Don Meredith, QB, Chicago 35. Rod Breedlove, LB, San Francisco 37. Willie West, DB, St. Louis 40. Ted Dean, FB, Philadelphia 41. Johnny Brewer, TE, Cleveland 42. Roger Brown, DT, Detroit 44. Jim Marshall, DT, Cleveland 48. Vince Promuto, G, Washington 55. Abner Haynes, RB, Pittsburgh 56. Don Norton, WR, Philadephia 59. Len Rohde, T, San Francisco 63. Glen Coqdill, WR, Detroit 69. Bob Khayat, G, Cleveland 72. George Blair, DB, NY Giants 74. Larry Wilson, S, St. Louis Cardinals * 86. Carroll Dale, WR, LA Rams 88. Bill Mathis, FB, San Francisco 105. Chris Burford, WR, Cleveland 106. Don Perkins, FB, Baltimore 109. Charley Johnson, QB, St. Louis Cardinals 110. Curtis McClinton, RB, LA Rams 111. Grady Alderman, T, Detroit 118. Mel Branch, DE, San Francisco 119. Bobby Boyd, DB, Baltimore 157. Bob DeMarco, C, Saint Louis 161. Jon Gilliam, C, Green Bay 162. Brady Keys, DB, Pittsburgh 178. Larry Grantham, LB, Baltimore 181. Jim Hunt, DT, Saint Louis 203. Goose Gonsoulin, DB, San Francisco 229. Tom Day, DE, St. Louis
Notable 1960 AFL Allocation Picks
Jim Otto, C, Minneapolis/ Oakland Raiders * Wayne Hawkins, G, Denver Dean Look, WB, Denver (Noted NFL Referee, and MLB Player) Bill Mathis, RB, NY Titans/ Jets Pat Dye, T, Boston Patriots (College Football Hall of Fame Coach) Billy Brewer, QB, Boston (Ole Miss Legend as Player, then Coach) Chuck McMurtry, DT, Buffalo Ray Jauch, RB, Buffalo (Noted CFL, USFL, and Arena League Coach) Ron Burton, RB, Boston Jim Walden, QB, Denver (Noted College Football Coach) Jacky Lee, QB, Houston Paul Maguire, LB/ P, LA Chargers ( Noted Football Commentater ) Ed "Wahoo" McDaniel, LB, LA Chargers ( WWE Hall of Fame) Bob Talamini, G, Houston Curt Merz, C, NY Titans
Tommy Nobis 6'2" 240 Linebacker Atlanta Falcons 1966 - 1976 11 Seasons 133 Games Played 5 Pro Bowls 1966 NFL Rookie of the Year
Thomas Henry Nobis Jr. was the first draft pick ever by the expansion Atlanta Falcons in the 1966 NFL draft. He was also the first player chosen overall. Nobis is a legend in Texas. He was an All State football player, while growing up in San Antonio. He then attended college at the University of Texas at Austin. There, he started at Linebacker and Offensive Guard. Tommy was the only sophomore starter on the Longhorns' 1963 National Championship team. Nobis averaged nearly 20 tackles per game at Texas, and was a two way player on teams that were ranked No. 1 in the nation at some point during each of his three years. Tommy was also named to the All-Southwest Conference team in his three years as a Longhorn. He still holds the Longhorns record for most interceptions in a season by a Linebacker, and currently ranks third in Texas history for career interceptions by a Linebacker. Nobis' profile made national headlines while playing the 1964 Orange Bowl versus Alabama. Late in the game, with Texas leading by 4 points, Alabama had the ball on the Longhorns one yard line. On 4th down, future Hall of Fame Quarterback Joe Namath tried to score and was greeted by Nobis inches short. Tommy graced the covers of Life, Sports Illustrated and Time magazines. A two-time All-American, Nobis won several awards in his senior year. While winning the Knute Rockne, Outland, and Maxwell Awards, he finished 7th in the Heisman voting. Tommy Nobis was selected to the Football News All Time All America team, Sports Illustrated's All Century Team, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation All Century Team. He is also a member of the Texas and Georgia State High School Halls of Fame, Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Hall of Fame, the San Antonio Hall of Fame, the Longhorn Hall of Honor and the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame.
Nobis started right away for the Falcons, and was very busy on a new team that struggled to a 3-11 record. He set a Falcons record, that still stands today, when he amassed 294 tackles. It may be an NFL record, but that stat is unofficial and kept by individual teams. He was named to his first All Pro team, and was the 1966 NFL Rookie of the Year. Tommy intercepted the first 3 passes of his career the next season, and returned one for a touchdown. He was also selected to his second All Pro team. In 1968, he was named to his third All Pro team, as the struggling Falcons went through a coaching change by hiring Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin after the third week of the season. Nobis was injured in the 5th game of the following year, and missed the rest of the season. Nobis came back in 1970 and was named to the All Pro team. He then was injured in the 4th game of the following season, and missed the rest of the year. Tommy would only miss two games for the rest of his career. He made his last All Pro team in 1972, and also scored the last touchdown of his career. 1973 would be the best record the Falcons had during Nobis' career. They went 9-5. Atlanta won 50 games in his eleven seasons. His number 60 the first number retired by the team, and he is a member of the Falcons' Ring of Honor, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame. He has also been named the NFL Man of the Year (Dodge and Vitalis), and Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. award, due to his work with the Special Olympics as a member of the Falcons front office, and in his own foundation. Tommy Nobis is on the NFL's All-1960s team, which is quite an accomplishment if you consider he didn't even play half of the decade.
It is TRULY astounding that 'Mr. Falcon' still has yet to be inducted into Canton. Sure, he played on many lousy Falcons teams, but he was outstanding. The team got little publicity during Tommy's time, but the voters CANNOT use this as an excuse. These voters are supposed to represent the whole NFL, not just the media driven franchises. They are supposed to be experts, or at least this is what their positions as voters implies. The exclusion of Nobis for all of these years belies that thought. Tommy Nobis epitomizes what a Hall of Fame football player is supposed to symbolize. Both on and off the field. It is truly disgraceful, and disrespectful, that Tommy Nobis is not in Canton.
Notable Players Drafted In 1966 (* Denotes Canton Inductee)
2. Tom Mack, G, Los Angeles Rams * 5. John Niland, G, Dallas 13. Gale Gillingham, G, Green Bay 14. Milt Morin, TE, Cleveland 18. Mike Garrett, RB, LA Rams 20. Gary Pettigre, DT, Philadelphia 26. Bob Windsor, TE, San Francisco 36. Ben Hawkins, WR, Philadelphia 37. Al Randolph, DB, San Francisco 42. Don Hansen, LB, Minnesota 49. Ken Reaves, CB, Atlanta 55. Doug Van Horn, G, Detroit 60. Doug Buffone, LB, Chicago 63. Hoyle Granger, RB, Baltimore Colts 66. Diron Talbert, DT, LA Rams 69. Mel Phillips, DB, San Francisco 73. Jack Clancy, WR, St. Louis Cardinals 79. Walt Garrison, RB, Dallas 89. Mel Tom, DE, Philadelphia 93. Fred Hoaglin, C, Cleveland 98. Emerson Boozer, RB, Pittsburgh 110. Ray Perkins, WR, NY Giants 119. Dave Witcher, WR, San Francisco 139. Jack Gregory, DE, Cleveland 152. Bobby Burnett, RB, Chicago 167. Terry Owens, T, Chicago 174. Bruce Van Dyke, G, Philadelphia 179. Ken Avery, LB, NY Giants 208. Elmer Collett, G, San Francisco 209. Howard Twilley, WR, Minnesota 273. Charlie Harraway, RB, Minnesota
Notable 1966 AFL Draftees
15. Francis Peay, T, Kansas City 25. Randy B. Jackson, T, Buffalo 58. Tom Mitchell, TE, Oakland 59. Pete Banaszak, RB, Oakland 61. Jim Tolbert, DB, San Diego 68. Pete Lammons, TE, NY Jets 73. Paul Guidry, LB, Buffalo 140. Steve Smith, T, Houston 141. Rick Acks, LB, NY Jets
JACK BUTLER 6'1" 200 Safety Pittsburgh Steelers 1951 - 1959 9 Seasons 103 Games Played 52 Interceptions 827 Yards 10 Fumble Recoveries 9 Touchdowns 5 Pro Bowls
Jack was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Steelers in 1951. Butler went to college at Saint Bonaventure University in New York. He is the last person to play in the NFL from Saint Bonaventure. In fact, the college dropped their football program after 1951. He played with 2 college teammates on the Steelers, George Hays, a defensive end who scored 1 touchdown, from 1950 - 1952, and Ted Marchibroda. Marchibroda, a Quarterback, is the only NFL first round pick in the schools history. In fact, only 2 other Bonnies were ever drafted by the NFL, neither higher than the seventh round. Marchibroda was drafted in 1953 and was finished playing by 1957. He later became a successful Head Coach for the Baltimore Colts, Indianapolis Colts, then the Baltimore Ravens. George Kenneally is the only Bonnie to play as long in the NFL as Butler. Kenneally was Defensive End,for the Pottstown Maroons, Boston Bulldogs, Chicago Cardinals, and Philadelphia Eagles. The only other Bonnie Alumni to be named an All Pro was Johnny Gildea for the 1938 New York Giants. Butler joined the football team at the request of Bonnie athletic director, Father Dan Rooney, the brother of Steelers owner Art Rooney. He played on the varsity team all fours years in school. He played End on offense, and caught just one pass in his first two seasons. He also played Defensive Back on defense. Butler was named to the 1949 Honorable mention All Western New York College Football Team due to his defensive prowess. In 1950, Jack set a ECAC pass receiving record with 29 catches for 522 yards and 5 TD's. Butler then got a tryout with the Steelers due to the Rooney connection. Jack Butler is a member of the Saint Bonaventure University Hall Of Fame.
He started right away and had 5 interceptions for 142 yards and a touchdown in his rookie year. He followed that up with 7 interceptions for a career high 168 yards. Jack also caught 3 passes for 2 touchdowns. In 1953, he caught 2 passes for 1 touchdown, and had 9 interceptions for 147 yards and an NFL leading 1 touchdown. He also had a career high 3 fumble recoveries. Butler led the NFL in 1954 with 2 touchdowns off of his 4 interceptions. Butler was named to his first All Pro team in 1955, despite it being the only season of his career where he did not record an interception. He would be named an All Pro until 1959, the year he retired. He recorded 6 interceptions for 113 yards in 1956, and returned a fumble for the last defensive touchdown of his career. He also caught the last pass of his career, a 10 yard touchdown reception. It was also the last touchdown of his career. Butler led the NFL with 10 interception in 1957. He followed that up with 9 the next season. Though he only managed to play 7 games due to a knee injury in 1959, he still had 2 interceptions. He retired after that season because of the injury. His 52 interceptions in nine seasons were second most in NFL history when his career abruptly ended in 1959 and still rank second in the Steelers history. Butler was named to the NFL's Team of the Decade for the 1950s, and was selected as one of the top 300 players to play in the NFL at that time. In October 2008, Jack Butler was named as one of the 33 greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of all time. The Steelers named those players to this team as part of their 75th anniversary season celebration. He is also a member of the Steelers 50th Anniversary All Time Team. When he retired from playing, Butler became an NFL scout. He was the director of BLESTO for over 40 years until he retired at 80 years old in 2007. If you know the game, you realize how important BLESTO is to the NFL. Butler has helped start the career of innumerous scouts, player personnel directors, and geneneral managers in the NFL.
There is only two reasons I can see how the voters in Canton have overlooked Butler as a player. Winning and lack of knowledge when it comes to professional football. The Steelers didn't do a whole lot of winning until the 1970's, and I have long said in this series that the majority of voters are incompetent. Many do not know a thing about football, and get their insights from headlines...and maybe even kickbacks. Butler was one of the hardest hitting Cornerbacks to have ever played the game. Yet, he also had shut down ability, which is shown with his 52 thefts. Those 52 interceptions were tied for 2nd All Time in NFL history when he retired. Personally, I think Jack's contributions off the field make him worthy two different ways. But, sticking to just his play on the gridiron, there is no question that is is truly a disgrace that Jack Butler has not yet been inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
Notable Players Drafted In 1951 (* Denote Hall Of Famer)
1. Kyle Rote, End, NY Giants 5. Bob Gain, DT, Green Bay 6. Jerry Groom, MG, Chicago Cardinals 11. Bud McFadin, DT, LA Rams 12. Gene Schroeder, E, Chicago Bears 14. Ken Konz, DB, Cleveland 18. Don Joyce, DE, Chicago Cardinals 19. Dick Stanfel, G, Detroit 23. Bill George, LB, Chicago Bears * 25. Ray Krouse, DT, NY Giants 34. Mike McCormack, OT, New York Yanks * 54. Al Carapella, DT, San Francisco 55. Jim Doran, E, Detroit 58. Lavern Torgeson, LB, Detroit 61. Jack Stroud, G, NY Giants 65. John Martinkovic, DE, Washington 67. Dale Dodrill, MG, Pittsburgh 68. Ken Farragut, C, Philadelphia 69. Jack Christiansen, DB, Detroit * 81. Ray Matthews, HB, Pittsburgh 86. Walt Michaels, LB, Cleveland 90. Leo Sanford, LB, Chicago Cardinals 151. Volney Peters, DT, Chicago Cardinals 166. Bobby Walston, E, Philadelphia 196. Gene Brito, DE, Washington 198. Al Michalik, MG, San Francisco 217. Dick Daugherty, G, LA Rams 228. Andy Robustelli, DE, LA Rams * 235. Fred Wallner, LB, Chicago Cardinals 304. Johnny Williams, DB, Washington 311. Will Sherman, DB, NY Yanks
Lemar Parrish 5'11" 181 Cornerback Cincinnati Bengals 1970 - 1982 13 Seasons 166 Games Played 47 Interceptions 13 Fumble Recoveries 13 Touchdowns 8 Pro Bowls
Lemar Parrish was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of the 1970 NFL Draft. He was the 163rd player picked overall that year. Parrish went to college at Lincoln University of Missouri. Parrish was a Running Back in college. In 1969, Lamar set the schools record for for longest punt return, when he returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown against Southwest Missouri State. He also set school records for most punt return yards in a game (129 yards on 3 returns), and highest average per punt return in that game (43 YPR). That year, Parrish averaged 16.8 yards per punt return. That, and his career average of 15.5 YPR, are still school records. He made the NCAA All American Team in 1969. Lemar Parrish is the most famous athletic figure in the schools history since the 1950's, when tennis great Althea Gibson taught there, and Canadian Football League Hall of Fame Running Back Leo Lewis attended the school. Parrish has returned to his alma mater, and is the head coach of the schools football team. Lemar Parrish is in the Lincoln University Hall of Fame.
In his 1970 rookie season, Parrish was incredible. Parrish had 5 interceptions,and scored a touchdown on both a punt return and kickoff return. He averaged 30.1 yards per kick return and recovered a fumble. He also scored on a blocked field goal return. He followed that up next season with 7 interceptions. He took one interception 65 yards for a touchdown, and one fumble for a touchdown. In 1972, Parrish picked off 5 passes and took 2 for touchdowns. He also returned a punt for a touchdown. In 1973, he has 2 interceptions and returned a fumble for a touchdown. In 1974, Parrish set a still standing Bengals record with an NFL leading 18.8 yards per punt return average. He also scored 2 touchdowns on punt returns. One went for 90 yards and is presently the 2nd longest in Bengals history. He also recovered a fumble and took it 47 yards for a touchdown. In 1977, Parrish had 3 interceptions and took one in for the last touchdown of his career. After the 1977 season, Parrish was traded to the Redskins after a contract dispute. Parrish was traded with defensive end Coy Bacon by the Bengals to Washington for the Redskins’ first-round pick in the 1979 draft. That first-round pick ended up being the 12th overall selection, which Cincinnati used to pick running back Charles Alexander out of Louisiana State. Parrish was not asked to return kicks on the Redskins. Parrish made a immediate impact on the Redskins defense his first year with 4 interceptions. The next year, he had 9 interceptions. He followed that up with 7 interceptions in 1980. Parrish left the Redskins after 1981, and joined the Buffalo Bills in 1982. He retired after that year.
Lemar Parrish is the Bengals All Time leader in touchdowns scored by "return or recovery" with 13. This is still tied 3rd All Time in NFL history with 2 others. Parrish’s two interceptions returned for TDs is still tied for the most in a game, with many others in NFL history. He was also the only player in franchise history ever to score 2 "return or recovery" touchdowns in a single game, which he did separate 3 times. When he retired, his 3 fumble returns for touchdowns tied an NFL record. He still 4th All Time in Bengals history for interceptions in a career, and 2nd in touchdowns scored by interception. His 4 punt returns for touchdowns ranks 1st in Cincinnati Bengals history. He also is 1st in career average for kickoff returns with 24.7, and touchdowns in a season on kick off returns. Parrish also is 1st in Bengals history with interceptions made in one game, touchdowns returned via interceptions in a season and a single game. He ranks 2nd All Time with 130 punt returns. He also ranks 2nd in Bengals history for punt return yardage in a season and career. He is 3rd in franchise history in interception return yardage in a career. His 95 yard kick off return currently is the 6th longest in Bengals history. Parrish did not win the 1970 Rookie of the Year Award probably because the Bengals had 2 players win the award the two previous seasons, even though he had a superior season to the winner, 49ers CB Bruce Taylor. When he left the Bengals, Parrish was the Bengals All Time leader in punt return yards in a career and season. Lemar Parrish is a member of the Cincinnati Bengals 40th Anniversary Team.
Lemar Parrish epitomized the definition of "play maker" in his career. He was a shut down Cornerback who teams tried to avoid. He would make the opponents cringe when he was asked to return kicks. Parrish teamed with Ken Riley to form, perhaps, the best CB duo in the NFL in the 1970's. Parrish was noted for his ability to stop the run, which is something he had to supply often due to the Bengals porous front seven. Safety Tommy Casanova was a beneficiary of this tandem, and made 3 Pro Bowls from 1972 to 1977. Casanova retired after Parrish left the Bengals. Teams could not beat the Bengals by passing the ball,but they would win by running the ball up the middle. The Bengals often challenged the great Steelers teams of the 1970's, but would come up short. The pass defense was never the reason. While with the Redskins, Parrish also made fellow CB Joe Lavender a better player. Lavender made the Pro Bowl twice in his career, the same years that Parrish did. Parrish was a complete player. He could do it all. His penchant for taking the ball to the end zone was prodigious. He made his teams better,his teammates better, and now is teaching his students to be better. I find it amazing to see Lemar Parrish yet to be inducted into Canton. Recent inductee Roger Wehrli went in with finally, so hopefully the voters are going to right long standing wrongs. It would be fitting to see Parrish and Riley inducted together.
Notable Players Drafted In 1970 (* Denotes Canton Inductee)
1. Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh * 7. Mike Reid, DT, Cincinnati 9. Cedric Hardman, DE, San Francisco 10. Ken Burrough, WR, New Orleans 13. Doug Wilkerson, OG, Houston 17. Bruce Taylor, CB, San Francisco 18. Norm Bulaich, FB, Baltimore 19. Steve Owens, RB, Detroit 22. Jack Reynolds, LB, LA Rams 23. Duane Thomas, RB, Dallas 24. Raymond Chester, TE, Oakland 29. Jim Mandich, TE, Miami 30. Dennis Shaw, QB, Buffalo 31. Leo Brooks, DT, Houston 36. Joe "Turkey" Jones, DE, Cleveland 39. Art Malone, RB, Atlanta 43. Bill Brundige, DE, Washington 46. Richard Caster, WR, NY Jets 53. Mel Blount, DB, Pittsburgh * 55. Tim Foley, DB, Miami 66. Charlie Waters, DB, Dallas 76. Gerald Irons, DE, Oakland 80. Ed George, OT, Pittsburgh (CFL Hall of Fame) 110. Ron Saul, OG, Houston 114. Manny Sistrunk, DE, Washington 153. Pat Toomay, DE, Dallas 159. Jake Scott, DB, Miami 201. Mike Holmgren, QB, Saint Louis Cardinals 204. Rich Saul, OG, LA Rams 218. Jim Otis, FB, New Orleans 248. Joe Dawkins, RB, Houston 259. Stu Voight, TE, Minnesota 287. Butch Davis, DB, Chicago 335. Mark Washington, CB, Dallas 346. Mark Moseley, K, Philadelphia 348. Doug Sutherland, DT, New Orleans