Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Isiah Robertson

Isiah Robertson
6'2" 225
Los Angeles Rams
1971 - 1982
12 Seasons
168 Games Played
25 Interceptions
15 Fumbles Recovered
4 Touchdowns
6 Pro Bowls
1971 Defensive Rookie of the Year

Isiah B. Robertson was a first round draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1971 NFL Draft. He was the tenth player chosen overall. Robertson hailed from Southern University, where he became the school's first College Division All-America selection as a senior in 1970.

He is a member of the school's athletic Hall of Fame, the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame, the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Robertson still holds the school record of returning an interception 102-yards for a score.

While at Southern, the football team was stacked with future NFL players. Some of his teammates included Hall of Famer Mel Blount, Harold Carmichael, Al Beauchamp, Ken Ellis, Ray Jones, Richard Neal, Jim Osborne, Alden Rouche, Lew Porter, Donnel Smith, and Harold McLinton.

When Robertson joined the Rams, the famous "Fearsome Foursome" front line was nearing the end of their glory days. They still had Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones, as well as Pro Bowler Coy Bacon, but Jones would leave the Rams at the end of the season and Bacon would join him with the San Diego Chargers in 1973.

Los Angeles just lost legendary linebacker Maxie Baughan, who should be in Canton, to retirement. Robertson stepped into that vacant spot and stood out right away. He got a career best four interceptions and was named to the Pro Bowl. He was also named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, beating out such future Hall of Famers like Jack Ham and Jack Youngblood, as well as legends like Jack Tatum, Lyle Alzado, Phil Villapiano, Mike Wagner, and Dwight White, for the honor.

He returned to the Pro Bowl in 1973, as well as earning a First Team All-Pro honor. He scored once off of three of his interceptions that year. It was the first of five consecutive Pro Bowl seasons for Robertson.

Known for blazing speed mixed in with high intelligence and a knack for always being around the ball, Robertson became one of the NFL's top outside linebackers in the 1970's. He matched his career best total of four interceptions in 1975, yet gained a career high 118 yards. One swipe went 76-yards for a score, the longest ever by a Rams linebacker.

The 1976 season was his last being named First Team All-Pro, but he went to the Pro Bowl one last time the next year. He was hurt much of the 1978, causing him to miss three games, as well as eight starts. They would be the only games of his career that Robertson missed.

The Rams traded Robertson to the Buffalo Bills just before the 1979 season. Buffalo signed him to a contract extension that made Robertson one of the highest paid linebackers in the league. He picked off two balls that year, both of which happened in one game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He took one ball 23 yards for the last touchdown of his career.

The Bills had a young linebacking unit with Jim Haslett, Lucius Sanford, Shane Nelson, and Chris Keating. All would be key ingredients in the Bills resurgence, and Robertson served as their mentor.

Buffalo had not won their division since 1966, when they were members of the American Football League. The 1975 season was the only time they had made the playoffs since the AFL merged with the NFL in 1970, but they lost in the first round. The Bills won 11 games in 1980, which was the most wins they had since winning the 1964 AFL Championship.

The Bills won their division again in 1981, helped by a pair of interceptions by Robertson. Buffalo would win their first playoff game since winning the 1965 AFL title before losing to the Bengals, who eventually reached Super Bowl XVI, that year.

The 1982 season is best known for losing seven games to a players strike. Robertson started in all nine games, picking off a pass. He informed Buffalo that he was retiring at the end of the year, so Darryl Talley was drafted to take over.

Once clocked at 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, Robertson was more than a linebacker with blazing speed. It is no coincidence that most of the defensive units he suited up for ended up being amongst the best in the NFL yearly.

The Rams were ranked first in defense in both 1974 and 1975, and gave up the fewest points. Los Angeles would reach the NFC Championship Game thrice in his eight season with them. His reuniting with Chuck Knox was no mystery. Knox, who took over as the Bills head coach in 1978, was Robertson's head coach with the Rams from 1973 to 1977. Knox knew Robertson would help Buffalo start winning again, which they did.

Sacks and tackles were not recorded statistics in his era, but Robertson was often seen crashing off the edge to lay into the opposing quarterback. He was also superior in pass coverage, often seen shutting down a tight end or running back all game. A sound technician, Robertson also was known for bone-crunching hits at high speeds.

He had a knack for the big play much of his career. In a 1974 playoff game against the Washington Redskins, he picked off a pass thrown by Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen. Robertson then proceeded to hurdle several men and break four tackling attempts on his way to a 59-yard touchdown that sealed a 19-10 win for the Rams.

Hall of Famer Les Richter is the only Rams linebacker who appeared in the Pro Bowl more than Robertson. His six Pro Bowls is tied with five other Rams as the most in team history. Robertson is the only Rams linebacker ever to be named First Team All-Pro twice.

No other Rams linebacker has more interceptions or yards returned off of interceptions than Robertson, as well as his having the longest interception return ever by a Rams linebacker. His two scores off of interceptions is second to Jack Pardee as the most ever.

He is fourth, behind Richter, Pardee, and "Hacksaw" Jack Reynolds, for having the most fumble recoveries ever by a Rams linebacker. While he played just four years in Buffalo, only five Bills linebackers have more interceptions than him.

Consistent, dependable, tough, fast, and smart. Though Hall of Famers like Ham, Ted Hendricks, and Bobby Bell were chosen on the 1970s NFL All-Decade Team, Robertson was worthy as well. Bell went to one Pro Bowl in 1970 and none more until he retired in 1974. Hendricks went to four Pro Bowls that decade.

The 1970's had some of the greatest outside linebackers in NFL history. Ham, Hendricks, and Bell are joined by Chris Hanburger and Dave Wilcox enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yet it is a neglected position in Canton as well. Men like Baughan, Robert Brazile, Chuck Howley, and Matt Blair join Robertson on hoping Canton awakes and finally inducts them.

What makes the situation sadder is to see one-dimensional outside linebackers like Andre Tippett, Derrick Thomas, and Rickey Jackson get inducted in the last decade while a long list of equal or better players like Robertson still wait. Though worthy, they basically spent their careers rushing the passer while the more well-rounded players are now going three or four decades since they retired.

If you want the big play, Robertson provided it. Of you want steady consistency that never came off the field and could cover all aspects of defense, Robertson provided it. If you need accolades, he provides that as well.

Since retiring as a player, he has created a message called "Run To Win" in a long-term resedential recovery program for men he named "House of Isaiah". It helps youths keep clear of drugs. Robertson also works with the Special Olympics. If you want to see some rare video football of him scoring touchdowns, laying out crushing tackles, as well as doing spectacular things while possessing the football, visit

There is little to no argument about the worthiness of his inclusion into Canton. When one looks at his whole body of work, it is easy to see that Isiah Robertson should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Notable Players Drafted In 1971 * Denotes Hall of Fame Inductee

1. Jim Plunkett, QB, New England Patriots
2. Archie Manning, QB, New Orleans Saints
3. Dan Pastorini, QB, Houston Oilers
4. J.D. Hill, WR, Buffalo Bills
6. John Riggins, RB, New York Jets *
8. Frank Lewis, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
9. John Brockington, RB, Green Bay Packers
14. Clarence R. Scott, CB, Cleveland Browns
19. Jack Tatum, FS, Oakland Raiders
20. Jack Youngblood, DE, L.A. Rams
22. Don McCauley, RB, Baltimore Colts
27. Julius Adams, DE, Patriots
34. Jack Ham, LB, Steelers *
43. Dan Dierdorf, OT, Saint Louis Cardinals *
45. Phil Villapiano, LB, Raiders
56. Lynn Dickey, QB, Oilers
57. Jim Braxton, FB, Buffalo Bills
67. Ken Anderson, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
79. Lyle Alzado, DE, Denver Broncos
99. Joe Theismann, QB, Miami Dolphins
104. Dwight White, DE, Steelers
105. Larry Brown, OT, Steelers
142. Doug Dieken, OT, Browns
147. Mel Gray, WR, Cardinals
161. Harold Carmichael, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
206. Ron Jessie, WR, Dallas Cowboys
230. Vern Den Herder, DE, Dolphins
268. Mike Wagner, FS, Steelers
272. George Starke, OT, Washington Redskins

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cris Carter

Cris Carter
6'3" 202
Wide Receiver
Minnesota Vikings
16 Seasons
234 Games Played
1,101 Receptions
130 Touchdowns
8 Pro Bowls
1990s All-Decade Team

Cristopher D. Carter was drafted in the fourth round of the Supplemental Draft in 1987 by the Philadelphia Eagles. He had to go into the supplemental draft because he lost his senior year of eligibility at Ohio State University after signing a contract with an agent.

While in college, Carter was the Buckeyes big-play receiver. Though he lost a year of college, he had the most receptions in Ohio State history when he left. Not only is he a member of the Buckeyes All-Century Team, but Carter is inducted into the Ohio State Varsity "O" Hall of Fame.

The 1987 season is best known as being shortened by a players strike. Carter was rarely used, catching two touchdowns off five receptions, though he did return 12 kicks. He would only return one kick the rest of his career.

Kenny Jackson, the Eagles first-round draft pick in 1984, was not working out as a starter opposite Pro Bowler Mike Quick. Carter was inserted into the starting lineup and grabbed 17 touchdowns off 84 receptions over two seasons.

The Eagles were known for their swarming defense and athletic quarterback during this time. Their head coach, Buddy Ryan, was a defensive expert, but the Eagles offense could not score in the playoffs and were bounced out in their first game in both years Carter started.

Ryan suddenly cut Carter after the 1989 season, with the reason was that all Carter did for the Eagles was "catch touchdown passes". The truth was that Carter was abusing drugs and the wide receiver credits his being cut as the wake up call that saved his life.

Minnesota claimed him off the waiver wire right away. He spent his first year in Minnesota backing up Anthony Carter (no relation) and Hassan Jones. Though the Vikings started three receivers seven times in 1991, he supplanted Jones as the starter and would hold that spot the remainder of his Vikings career.

One of Carter's strengths was his conditioning and durability. Though he missed four games because if injury in 1992, he played every other game possible for Minnesota. Except for his rookie and final seasons, those would be the only four games that he missed.

His 1993 season was the first of eight straight Pro Bowl years. He became one of the very best receivers in the NFL over this time. Carter caught a career best 122 pass in both 1994 and 1995, becoming the only player in NFL history to have that many receptions twice. He led the NFL in receptions in 1994, and his career best 17 touchdown receptions in 1995 led the league as well.

The Vikings had a revolving door at quarterback during Carter's time there. Seven different men were the primary starter in his 12 seasons with the team. Despite all the lunacy and confusion, Carter was a beacon of steady leadership and consistent production.

Carter had 86 or more receptions in seven of his eight Pro Bowl years. He had 90 or more catches five times. He also grabbed those touchdowns Ryan mentioned. Other than the 17 scores in 1995, he led the NFL with 13 touchdown catches two times. He was in double figures in touchdown receptions in five of his Pro Bowl years.

What made his production even more special, other than the ever changing quarterback, is the fact he had to share receptions with future Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, Pro Bowl wide receivers Jake Reed and Anthony Carter, and Pro Bowl tight end Steve Jordan.

Besides his eight consecutive Pro Bowls, he was named First Team All-Pro twice. He holds the Vikings record for Pro Bowls by a wide receiver, and only Moss has been named First Team All-Pro more. Just two Vikings, Hall of Famers Alan Page and Randall McDaniel have represented Minnesota more at the Pro Bowl than Carter.

Though he caught 73 balls for six scores in 2001, the Vikings let the 36-year old receiver go. He joined the Miami Dolphins the next year, but appeared in just five games and retired. Carter hold the Vikings records of receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches for a career. He also holds the single-season Vikings record for receptions and is tied with Moss with touchdown receptions.

Carter has been a finalist for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame three times so far. He ranks third in NFL history with 1,101 career receptions, fourth in career receiving touchdowns with 130, and eighth in career receiving yards, and total career touchdowns.

He was blessed with long arms and a lot of strength, making it very hard to cover him in a five-yard chuck. The two modern receivers he is jockeying for induction into Canton is Tim Brown and Andre Reed.

Brown had seven less receptions, but 1,035 more receiving yards. He went to one more Pro Bowl, but was never named First Team All-Pro and had 26 less touchdowns. What might get him in ahead of Carter is the fact he was an incredible return specialist.

Reed got most of his receptions off the arm of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. He has less Pro Bowls,receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches that both Brown and Carter. Yet he played in four Super Bowls, where Brown appeared in one and Carter never did.

Then there are the old school fans who point to the obvious fact none of these three receivers ever dealt with the ten-yard chuck rule, which makes it much harder to excel as a receiver, as opposed to the offensive-friendly rules the trio participated in. Rules that greatly inflated statistics, perhaps making a player look better than an older player because the modern numbers dwarf the statistics from the ten-yard chuck era.

Men like Mac Speedie, Lionel Taylor, Harold Carmichael, Drew Pearson, Gino Cappelletti, Sonny Randle, Cliff Branch, Harold Jackson, Pete Retzlaff, and LaVern Dilweg are just a few great receivers on par with Carter, Brown, and Reed still awaiting their inductions. Men who dealt with a much rougher game, let alone the ten-yard chuck.

Carter has a feel-good story attached to his career, one that has now extended to where he provides analysis on television. With career on the ropes because of drugs, he rebounded and became a leader. Most recall him serving as a mentor to Moss.

He won the Bart Starr Man of the Year Award in 1994, the Bryan "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year Awards in 1998, and the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 1999.

Besides the 17 NFL records he either owns or shares, he is a member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team. He is one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings as well as being a member of their 40th Anniversary Team.

The Vikings have retired his jersey and inducted him into their Honor Roll. His induction into Canton is inevitable, the only question left is the year it will happen. The Vikings have had a huge amount of great receivers to play for them, but Cris Carter may be the best ever.

Notable Players Drafted in 1987 * Denotes Hall of Fame Member

1. Vinny Testaverde, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Cornelius Bennett, OLB, Indianapolis Colts
8. Shane Conlin, MLB, Buffalo Bills
9. Jerome Brown, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
10. Rod Woodson, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers *
13. Chris Miller, QB, Atlanta Falcons
20. Haywood Jeffries, WR, Houston Oilers
22. Harris Barton, OT, San Francisco 49ers
23. Bruce Armstrong, OT, New England Patriots
26. Jim Harbaugh, QB, Chicago Bears
29. Nate Odomes, CB, Buffalo
34. Tim McDonald, SS, Saint Louis Cardinals
35. Christian Okoye, FB, Kansas City Chiefs
63. Jerry Ball, NT, Detroit Lions
72. Henry Thomas, DT,Minnesota Vikings
98. Rich Gannon, QB, New England
110. Steve Beuerlein, QB, Oakland Raiders
122. Hardy Nickerson, MLB, Pittsburgh
150. Greg Lloyd, OLB, Pittsburgh
183. Bo Jackson, RB, Oakland
206. Kevin Gogan, OG, Dallas Cowboys
261. Merril Hoge, Pittsburgh
276. Frank Winters, Cleveland Browns
283. Howard Ballard, OT, Buffalo
292. Elbert Shelly, DB, Atlanta
334. Tyrone Braxton, DB, Denver Broncos

1987 Supplemental Draft

1. Brian Bosworth, MLB, Seattle Seahawks

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