Monday, October 30, 2006

HOF Plaque Wanted on Craigslist

Friday, the NFL announced the nominees for the Hall of Fame class of 2007. The list included 11 first time nominees: Terrell Davis, Bruce Matthews, Randall Cunningham, Ricky Watters, Randall McDaniel, Mark Stepnoski, Steve Wisniewski, Eric Allen, LeRoy Butler, and Carnell Lake. Davis and Matthews are thought to be the two players from this list that will get the most consideration.

There are some players on this list that had very solid careers, but they should feel honored just by being nominated, because they just weren't transcendent enough to be worthy of the hall of fame. One such player is Ricky Watters. Nobody is pushing for him to make it to the hall, nor do I think they should. However, let's look at how his numbers compare to another player who will be retiring this year that has been the subject of recent hall of fame talk- Tiki Barber.

Ricky Watters

Rushing Yards: 10643
Rushing Avg: 4.1
Rushing TDs: 78
Receiving Yards: 4248
Receiving TDs: 13
Pro Bowls: 5
Super Bowl Rings: 1

Tiki Barber:

Rushing Yards: 9434
Rushing Avg: 4.7
Rushing TDs: 50
Receiving Yards: 4940
Receiving TDs: 12
Pro Bowls: 2 (likely 3 at the end of this year)
Super Bowl Rings: 0

The two players matchup pretty evenly, with a slight statistical edge to Watters. Nobody realistically considers Watters to be a hall of fame player, yet because he plays for the New York Giants, some writers want to put Tiki in. Hopefully, they are just hyping him now to show their appreciation for his career, but cooler heads will prevail in five years.

Before multi-dimensional backs like Watters and Barber are given consideration for the hall of fame, the veterans committee needs to induct the player who laid the foundation for their achievements to be possible. Roger Craig revolutionized the game by becoming the first running back in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards and receive over 1,000 yards in the same season, yet for some reason he is overlooked by voters. Granted his career numbers aren't mind-blowing, but they are nevertheless impressive- especially when considering that he started his career as a fullback:

Roger Craig:
Rushing yards: 8189
Rushing avg: 4.1
Rushing TDs: 56
Receiving Yards: 4911
Receiving TDs: 17
Pro Bowls: 4
Super Bowl Rings: 3

Because he had to share a backfield most of his career (Wendell Tyler, Joe Cribbs,and to a lesser degree, Tom Rathman) he didn't have the gaudy statistics of some other featured backs, but that shouldn't diminish the impact he had on both the Niners dynasty and the evolution of the running back position. However despite having to share the ball with so many players (there was also this Rice guy who demanded it from time to time), Craig finished his career as the all time receptions leader among running backs. Roger Craig opened the eyes of the football world by demonstrating how a multidimensional back could be utilized as a powerful weapon on the football field. For that revelation, guys like Thurman Thomas, Tiki Barber, and Marshall Faulk should be thankful. And for that contribution, Roger Craig should be in the hall of fame.


At Mon Oct 30, 05:02:00 PM PST , Anonymous jetleeroy said...

preach on, my brutha!
roger craig may not have been the BEST running back of all-time, but he is definitely one of the all-time greats.
he did whatever walsh and company asked him to do.
he had the rare combination of fullback power, receiver's hands, and breakaway speed!
the guy could juke one defender while bowling over another all during one play...he was the protypical "complete" running back.

oh yeah...and any defender who tried to tackle him low would get one of those HIGH knees to the head!

nobody before him or since had that unique high knees running style...when he was in his prime, john madden called him the "best running back in the game", and this was during the eric dickerson and marcus allen era.

At Tue Oct 31, 12:03:00 AM PST , Anonymous The Big Picture said...

carnell lake. if his name was carnal lake, it'd probably be a porno.

At Tue Oct 31, 06:00:00 AM PST , Anonymous Pacifist Viking said...

I actually think Ricky Watters would be a good HOF candidate. Not only was he the RB on the greatest offense ever (the '94 49ers), but he had running success with three different franchises, something few other HOF-worthy RBs can boast. I'm not saying he's a sure-thing HOFer or anything, but if I were on the selection committee, I would look closely at his career with an open mind.

I'm not sure Craig was a better pass-catching RB than Lenny Moore or Chuck Foreman. Craig was the first 1,000-1,000 guy, but check out the numbers for guys like Moore and Foreman. You could just as easily say they laid the groundwork for Craig.

Remember when looking at Moore's numbers you're looking at a 12 game schedule, in a very different era, on a team where he too split carries.

As a RB, Foreman actually led the league in receptions in 1975.

So I think there were forerunners to Craig. Moore is already in the HOF, though.

At Wed Nov 01, 12:09:00 AM PST , Anonymous WBRS Sports Blog said...

Great work Insomniac! Watters shouldn't be in the HOF and neither should Tiki if he retires at the end of this season.

At Wed Nov 01, 12:17:00 AM PST , Anonymous insomniac said...

Viking, good points re: Lenny Moore and Chuck Foreman. Perhaps I gave Craig too much credit, however I still think he should be in the HOF for his contributions to the 80's Niners dynastly.

As for Ricky Watters, I don't see how being successful with three different franchises adds to his resume. Does Terrell Owens get HOF bonus points if he gets 1,000 yards with the Cowboys? You may recall that like Owens, Watters torpedoed an Eagles season after he refused to go all out for a ball in a blowout, then in the postgame responded with "For what?" (meaning why was it worth risking his body when the game was out of reach.)

At Wed Nov 01, 10:07:00 AM PST , Anonymous Pacifist Viking said...

And the year that Watters did that in the first game, the Eagles went 10-6 and scored 58 pts. in a playoff game before falling to the eventual champion Cowboys, so he didn't really ruin the Eagles' season that year.

The only thing about him succeeding in three places is that it kiboshes any "product of the system" talk, so that we can look at Watters for his own merits.

But I admittedly like Watters more than most; he's the sort of player that's going to get overlooked for the HOF, even though, for examply, I think he had a better overall career than people like Jerome Bettis and Tiki Barber (though Barber has more great seasons).

At Wed Nov 01, 10:26:00 AM PST , Anonymous insomniac said...

Hey....what's up with undermining my off the cuff the opinions with actual facts?!?!

Btw, I also don't think the Bus should be in the Hall of Fame.

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