Five men from the modern era ballot will be announced as the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014. Everybody has an opinion on who those might be because there are maybe only two or three stone locks. However, that list will almost certainly exclude one name: Morten Andersen.
That brings me to the stigma that continues to exist with pure special teamers. They’ve been frowned upon, even when it’s the best player at a particular position. Where have you gone, Ray Guy? Voters simply don’t value the third phase of the game.
I’ve heard the arguments against Andersen extend beyond the fact that he’s just a kicker. His accuracy is not near the top of any all-time list. His home games were played mostly in domes (Superdome in New Orleans and the Georgia Dome in Atlanta). Plus, it’s easier to pass the “no rings” argument on Andersen.
The simple fact is, you don’t accumulate 2,544 points, make seven Pro Bowls, and get named to the All-Decade Team of the 1980s AND 1990s. Plus, his accuracy was even better when he was kicking well into his 40s. Did you know for instance that Andersen hit 80 percent or more in five of his first 15 seasons. He achieved that same mark in nine of his last ten seasons.
Let’s put it this way- if you’re considered the best in your line of work for two different decades, wouldn’t you think you would be strongly in the discussion for that line of work’s highest honor? It seems like a pretty clear answer.
Currently, kicker, Jan Stenerud is the only pure special teams player to be enshrined in Canton; there are others (George Blanda, Lou Groza) who kicked, but also played other positions. Now comes an opportunity to elect who many consider to be the best kicker in the game. But my question- how long will Andersen have to wait? Will he ever get in?
Walter Jones and Michael Strahan are locks, and Derrick Brooks is very close to a lock. Then you get to guys such as Tim Brown, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene, Jerome Bettis, and perhaps Andre Reed who are in that next wave of players who will battle for those final spots. The rest will most likely wait another year, including Andersen.
I have grasped that already. What about in 2015 though? Or 2016? With each year that passes the question only rings louder. What happens when guys like Adam Vinatieri and Devin Hester, who are more modern examples of impactful special teamers, come up for induction five years after their careers are done? Are these guys going to get the same treatment even though they had a profound mark, and in some cases, broke records?
There’s another angle in play with Andersen. He was part of those Saints teams in the late 80’s and early 90’s that went 0-4 in playoff games. I have to wonder if that is unfairly being held against him as well. In those years, the Saints had one of the more dominating defenses, but Andersen at times was their offense. How much can you pin on a guy who was in some weeks, expected to produce because of the inconsistent nature of the quarterback play at the time?
I can bring up so many theoretical arguments about Andersen, but this piece may turn into a novel in length. I know this much. Andersen deserves a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It almost certainly won’t happen in the ceremonies leading up to this year’s Super Bowl in MetLife Stadium. However, the case is solidly built for the best kicker ever to have his bust in Canton. And if he doesn’t get it, then the final question is simple for all special teamers who have at or near the same impact. Who will?