Posts Tagged ‘Put ’em in the Hall’

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Put ’em in the Hall: Brian Mitchell

September 23, 2010

Brian Mitchell/UPI

by Oh No Romo

Brian Mitchell belongs in the Hall of Fame. He made the return specialist position sexy before Devin Hester and Dante Hall ever did.

Let’s face it, Mitchell made returners a hot commodity. And he did it during a time when there was a lot of returners (Eric Metcalf, Tim Brown, Darrien Gordon, and Desmond Howard).

Mitchell was a fifth round selection of the Washington Redskins in the 1990 NFL Draft. You might remember that draft for featuring the likes of Emmitt Smith, Cortez Kennedy, Junior Seau and even Larry Centers (who was picked in the same round, but ahead of Mitchell).

Washington at that time had Earnest Byner (fast forward to 6:44) and Gerald Riggs, among their running backs. Most running backs wind up fielding kick-offs for punts. Mitchell didn’t do much his first season in Washington, but he did get a rushing touchdown.

In ’91, Washington’s Super Bowl season, Mitchell put up a career high in punt return yards with 600, leading the NFL. His two punt returns for touchdowns also led the NFL. Mitchell had a 69-yard return for a touchdown in the opening game of the season against Detroit.

Mitchell would put up the big numbers again in ’94, when he finished third in the NFL in punt return yards (behind Brown and Gordon). His two returns for touchdowns also had him in a tie for first with Gordon, Metcalf and the Giants Dave Meggett.

Mitchell also led the league in punt and kick returns, yards per punt return, and kick and punt return yards.

The ’95 season was Mitchell’s Pro Bowl year.  Mitchell led the league in All-Purpose yards, beating out returners like Glyn Milburn, Eric Metcalf, and even star players like Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and Jerry Rice. Mitchell finished third in the NFL in kick return yards.

While he was racking up the yards in kick returns, Mitchell didn’t get his first kick return for a touchdown until 1997. He only has four career kick returns for touchdowns, which ties him with Devin Hester and Andre’ Davis, among others, for 14th all-time. For the record, Josh Cribbs leads the way with eight returns for touchdowns.

In the ’98 season, Mitchell finished third in punt return yards and punt returns. He also had his longest kick return of his career, a 101-yard return for a score against San Diego in week 14.

Mitchell played a couple more seasons and went to Philly in 2000. In ’02, Mitchell finished second in the NFL in punt return yards. Mitchell played his final season with the Giants in ’03 and retired soon after.

Mitchell holds numerous records. He’s the all-time leader in punt returns, kick returns (and punt and kick returns combined), punt return yards, kick return yards, as well as the punt and kick return yards combined.

Mitchell is second all-time in all-purpose yards with 23,316 yards. The only person ahead of him is Jerry Rice.

Mitchell’s credentials are worthy of having a bust in Canton. Even if he only made the Pro Bowl once, he’s still worthy of it. He’s by far one of the best, if not THEE best, return specialists of all-time. For that, he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

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Put ’em in the Hall: The Ken Anderson Edition

September 16, 2010

This is a new series of columns written by the one and only, Oh No Romo. The series hopes to go over some of the names on the 2011 Preliminary Nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So enjoy!

by Oh No Romo

Ken Anderson belongs in the Hall of Fame! I’ll say it, no problem at all. Any quarterback that can take the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl surely deserves a spot in Canton.

Ken Anderson

When you hear the name of Ken Anderson, most people my age don’t really know who that is (He retired before I was born, if that’s any indication).

While Boomer Esiason might be more well-known for his time with the Bengals, it’s Anderson who owns all the Bengals career passing records. Anderson leads the team in passing yards (32,838), touchdowns (197), wins (91) and completions (2654).

The Bengals drafted Anderson, from Augustana College in Illinois (D-3 BABY!) in the third round of the 1971 NFL Draft. The draft included such quarterbacks as Dan Pastorini (of Houston), Archie Manning (New Orleans) and Jim Plunkett (New England, but best known for his time with the Raiders).

His draft class also includes Hall of Famers like John Riggins (6th overall pick), Jack Youngblood (LA Rams), Jack Ham (Pittsburgh) and Dan Dierdorf (St. Louis Cardinals). In fact Anderson was selected in front of Lynn Dickey and Leo Hart, who only played three games in his career.

Anderson played 16 seasons in total, all of them with the Bengals. You don’t see many quarterbacks play their entire career with one team. But if it’s any indication of how long Anderson’s played, Brett Favre played 16 seasons with the Packers.

Anderson, went to four Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro once. His All-Pro season, 1981, was all the season he took the Bengals to their first ever Super Bowl. Anderson was fifth in the league in passing (3,754 yards) and third in touchdowns (29), both were career highs. He even threw the fewest interceptions in the league, for players starting the entire season.

After a terrible game in week 1, throwing two interceptions against the Seahawks, Anderson passed for 252 yards and two touchdowns in the win against the Jets.

Anderson’s best game that season came against the Browns on November 29. He completed 80 percent of his passes and threw four touchdowns (two of them to Cris Collinsworth) in the route against Cleveland, 41-21.

Cincy clinched the division with a 12-4 record. It was their first playoff appearance since 1975. (They tied for first in the AFC Central in 1976, but lost both games to Pittsburgh).

The Bengals took care of Buffalo in the Divisional round, 28-21. It was a balmy compared to the conditions they’d play the AFC Championship in.

In subzero temps, the Bengals froze Air Coryell and the San Diego Chargers, 27-7. Anderson passed for two touchdowns, but the Bengals kept the ball on the ground for the most part. Besides, who really wants to catch a football in -30 wind chills?

The dream would stop for the Bengals as despite a three touchdown performance (one rushing) by Anderson, the Bengals fell to the 49ers, 26-21. The MVP of the game was 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. Maybe you heard of him? Apparently, Montana was kind of a big deal! He does those Sketchers commercials now.

The next season, Anderson set the NFL record for completion percentage in a season with 70.55 percent. Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke the record last season with a 70.62 percent completion rate. However, when Anderson set the record, 1982 was a strike shortened season. But that shouldn’t take away from the consistency of Anderson.

Anderson also holds the third highest completion percentage in a game (minimum 20 attempts) in NFL history. Anderson completed 20-of-22 passes against Pittsburgh in 1974. Kurt Warner and Vinny Testaverde are ahead of Anderson.

Anderson wasn’t able to replicate the success of ’81 and ’82. He started only two games in 1985 and retired after the ’86 season.

Anderson is currently 25th All-Time on the NFL career passing list. Had Kurt Warner played another season, he would have passed Anderson. He did finish ahead of his ’71 Draft counterparts, Pastorini, Manning and Plunkett.

Anderson’s 197 touchdown passes (32nd best all-time) puts him ahead of the three quarterbacks mentioned. He’s also ahead of the likes of Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach and Joe Namath, all Hall of Famers.

His career completion percentage of 59.3 percent is 40th best all-time. However, that puts him ahead of Dan Fouts, Warren Moon, Bart Starr,  Fran Tarkenton, Johnny Unitas and John Elway. And again, they are Hall of Famers.

I could probably talk about this subject until I am blue in the face. But there’s plenty of evidence out there to prove that Ken Anderson is a Hall of Famer. He’s been a finalist twice. Hopefully, he’ll get his shot this year.