Saturday, March 12, 2011

Grady Alderman

Grady Alderman
6 '2" 247
Offensive Tackle
Minnesota Vikings
15 Seasons
204 Games Played
13 Fumbles Recovered
6 Pro Bowls

Grady Charles Alderman was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 10th round of the 1960 draft. He went to college at the nearby University of Detroit Mercy. Alderman and Kansas City Chiefs guard George Daney hold the distinction of being the last players from the school to have played in the NFL.

The football program at Detroit Mercy was disbanded in 1964 despite having put 62 players in the NFL and once winning a national championship. Alderman is a member of the schools Hall of Fame.

He spent his rookie year on the bench, playing both guard and tackle. Detroit left him exposed to the Vikings expansion draft in 1961. Though Minnesota got several good players, including Hall of Fame halfback Hugh McElhenny, Alderman was their finest selection.

He started at left tackle day one. Alderman started every game he played over the next nine seasons, missing just one game over that span. Though the Vikings were struggling as a team, he quickly stood out.

The 1963 season was his first of five consecutive Pro Bowl honors. The team have five losing seasons in their first seven years of existence, but people recognized the work of Alderman. He played in an era where players and coaches voted on who would get that honor.

The Vikings steadily improved, and Alderman was a consistent force each year. The offensive line was one of the reasons for the improvement, with Pro Bowlers Mick Tingelhoff at center and Milt Sunde at guard. It would get even better when Hall of Famer Ron Yary and Pro Bowler Ed White were added later on.

Though his Pro Bowl streak ended in 1968, it was the first year the Vikings won their division. Minnesota repeated as division champions the next year by winning 12 of 14 games. Though the team would win 12 games three more times up until 1973, it was a franchise record until the 1998 team won 15.

The Vikings are the last NFL Champion before the NFL and American Football League officially merged in 1970. They reached Super Bowl V that year before losing. Alderman was named to his last Pro Bowl, as well as earning his lone First Team All-Pro nod.

The last five years of his career was peppered with injuries, but he helped Minnesota keep winning. The team lost just 11 games in four of those years. Alderman would miss the first three starts of his career in 1970, and miss three more the next year. He also missed the second game of his career in 1971.

Now 36-years old in 1974, Minnesota took him out of the starting lineup for the first time in his career. He appeared in every game but one as a reserve. The Vikings reached their third Super Bowl in his career with them, but lost. Alderman then retired as the last of the original Vikings.

His 194 games played is still the seventh most in Vikings history. Few players in the history of the game were as reliable. Alderman missed just three games in his 14 years with Minnesota.

A masterful technician, he always took on the other teams best pass rusher. He also had to block with knowledge of the avenues Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton might take off running to. Tarkenton was known as the "Mad Scrambler", so blockers would have to stay blocking on plays longer for him than other teams had to.

He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of both their 25th and 40th Anniversary Teams. Alderman was an alert player who pounced on 13 fumbles in his career.

Alderman was somehow left off the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team despite going to the Pro Bowl more than two of the three tackles selected. One, Bob Brown, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brown went to the Pro Bowl four times in the 1960's and the other selection, Ralph Neely of the Dallas Cowboys, went twice.

The six Pro Bowls he played in are tied with 11 other Vikings as the fifth most in franchise history, and it is the most ever by a Vikings left tackle. He is the first tackle in team history to be named First Team All-Pro. Alderman was named Second Team All-Pro five times.

What fans forget with all of his longevity, durability, and excellence is how he accomplished all of this despite being one of the smaller left tackles in the game. Alderman stood 6'2" and weighed 247 lbs. in an era where blockers were not allowed to extend their arms and use their hands like today.

Surviving alone shows how stellar he was with his technique. Then you factor in all of the accolades he attained in his career as his teams went from the basement of the NFL to becoming a dominant squad for many years.

I can only guess his exclusion from Canton is some sort of punishment for the Vikings failing to win a Super Bowl. He hasn't even gotten close in the voting process, which is a head scratcher.

There are many men in Canton because their teams won championships, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame is not a team honor. It is supposed to honor individual achievement. This is somehow forgotten by voters too many times to count. Just because the Vikings failed to win, they have several extremely worthy players still waiting on induction.

Inferior players go in today as time forgets the greatness of these men of the past. The expression that no one remembers second place seems to get louder in the case of men like Alderman, yet the voters seem clueless how hard it is to reach a title game or even just make an NFL team.

Six Pro Bowls in a career is an excellent number for a offensive tackle, but it looks less thanks to how the National Football League ruined the Pro Bowl in both the game and how they sullied the honor by allowing no-nothing fans to vote within the last few decades ago. Where showboats or media whores get the honor instead of the deserving.

Offensive tackle is a position neglected by Canton's voters the last few decades. Yet Alderman's numbers match or exceed a few inducted. He has as many Pro Bowl appearances as Mike McCormack and Rayfield Wright and more than Bob St. Clair or Joe Stydahar.

It would be the right thing for the voters to do by getting the trenches some respect in Canton. Minnesota has three blockers worthy and two, Alderman and Tingelhoff, really should have been in long ago. Those who toiled in the trenches in virtual anonymity for the sake of victory.

The list of legendary tackles is long waiting for induction. Opening up the seniors pool to include a few more candidates would be the intelligent move as well, because watching inferior modern players get inducted first due to these rules is infuriating and diseased.

Not only is he still the greatest left tackle in the history of the Minnesota Vikings, but Grady Alderman is most certainly worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Notable 1960 Draftees * Denotes Hall of Fame Inductee

1. Billy Cannon, RB, Los Angeles Rams
3. Johnny Robinson, DB, Detroit Lions
8. Jim Houston, LB, Cleveland Browns
10. Ron Mix, OT, Baltimore Colts *
13. Harold Olson, OT, St. Louis Cardinals
17. Bob Jeter, DB, Green Bay Packers
20. Maxie Baughan, LB, Philadelphia Eagles
23. Don Floyd, DE, Baltimore
24. Marvin Terrell, G, Baltimore
32. Don Meredith, QB, Chicago Bears
35. Rod Breedlove, LB, San Francisco 49ers
37. Willie West, DB, Green Bay
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 Redskins
55. Abner Haynes, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
56. Don Norton, WR, Philadelphia
59. Len Rohde, OT, San Francisco
63. Gail Cogdill, WR, Detroit
69. Bob Khayat, G, Cleveland
72. George Blair, DB, New York Giants
74. Larry Wilson, S, St. Louis *
75. Jim Norton, S, Detroit
86. Carroll Dale, WR, Los Angeles
88. Bill Mathis, FB, San Francisco
105. Chris Buford, WR, Cleveland
106. Don Perkins, FB, Baltimore
109. Charley Johnson, QB, St. Louis
110. Curtis McClinton, RB, Los Angeles
111. Grady Alderman, OT, Detroit
118. Mel Branch, DE, Detroit
119. Bobby Boyd, DB, Baltimore
157. Bob DeMarco, C, St. Louis
161. Jon Gilliam, C, Green Bay
162. Brady Keys, DB, Pittsburgh
178. Larry Grantham, LB, Baltimore
181. Jim Hunt, DT, St. Louis
203. Goose Gonsoulin, FS, San Francisco
229. Tom Day, DE, St. Louis


Anonymous said...

What a great story. I didn't know of Alderman, probably b/c of the better known linemen as Yary and Tingelhoff.

These posts always impress me as your research is impeccable ... let alone identifying these worthy men.

PS: Seeing Billy Cannon's name warmed my heart as he was one of my early fav players (for the Oilers).

Anonymous said...

How do we get this guy in? What great accomplishments!