Friday, February 4, 2011
By Rich Tandler
We will find out Saturday night whether or not senior committee nominee Chris Hanburger gets in on what probably is his one shot at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are plenty of great columns and blog posts out there this morning making the case for the former Washington Redskins linebacker. At the risk of leaving some good ones out, Hogs Haven, Thom Loverro, and Michael Richman have put up work that makes a clear case for Hanburger. I am going to look at one other piece of the argument in Hanburgers favor, the one that says if Player X is in the Hall then Player Y, who has a similar or superior resume, should be in, too. Player X in this case is San Francisco 49ers linebacker Dave Wilcox, who was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. Here are his credentials from the Hall of Fame website: Linebacker >>> 6-3, 241
(Boise Junior College, Oregon)
1964-1974 San Francisco 49ers David Wilcox. . .Third round draft pick, 1964. . .Also drafted by Houston (AFL). . .Nicknamed The Intimidator for aggressive style of play. . . Considered by many to be finest outside linebacker of his era. . .Particularly effective at keeping tight ends from getting off line. . .Prided himself on not allowing opponents to block him. . .All-NFL five times, second-team All-NFL three other times. . . Named All-NFC three times. . .Elected to seven Pro Bowls. . . Born September 29, 1942, in Ontario, Oregon The first thing to note is that Hanburger and Wilcox were very much contemporaries. Hanburger came into the league a year later than Wilcox did, in 1965, and played until 1978. So it certainly is fair to put them head to head on a numbers basis. One area where Wilcox has an edge over Hanburger is in All-NFL honors, selections as the best player in the entire league at your position. Wilcox was All-NFL five times to four for Hanburger. But Hanburger is ahead when it comes to other season honors, far ahead in some cases. Hanburger was selected All-NFC eight times to three for Wilcox. Hanburger went to nine Pro Bowls, Wilcox to seven. In 1972, Hanburger was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year. Wilcox never received a similar honor. The Redskins went to the Super Bowl that year while the 49ers with Wilcox never played for the world title. And lets look at the statistics. Hanburger intercepted 19 passes to 14 for Wilcox. They both recovered 12 fumbles. Hanburger scored five touchdowns, two on interception returns and three on fumble recoveries while Wilcox score one touchdown. Maybe Hanburgers numbers were superior because he played longer. But longevity is part of what the Hall is about. That is another factor is favor of Hanburger. So, to sum up the case for Hanburger vs. Wilcox, Hanburger played longer and had better statistics. Hanburger went to more Pro Bowls, was All-NFC over twice as often, and he has a major award that Wilcox does not have. Hanburgers resume stacks up well against those of other current Hall of Fame linebackers in addition Wilcox. Ricky Jackson played for 15 years was All-NFL four times, All-AFC four times and played in eight Pro Bowls. Andre Tippett was All-NFL twice, all AFC five times and went to five Pro Bowls. There was a hue and cry for several years to get Harry Carson of the Giants in. He was All-NFL twice, All-NFC five times, and he played in nine Pro Bowls. Like Wilcox, none of those Hall of Fame linebackers ever was named the best defensive player in the conference. Hanburger did take home that piece of hardware. All of this would seem to make Hanburgers selection nearly an automatic. These things never are automatic, of course, but there is a fairly good chance that Hanburgers name will be among the names that are read off shortly after 7:00 Eastern time on Saturday. You can reach Rich Tandler by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @RealRedskins. Rich also writes about the Skins at www.RealRedskins.com.