Worthiest candidate for the 2019 HOF senior nomination? It's Russell
There are nine Steelers enshrined in Canton from Pittsburgh’s 1970s team of the decade. That may be one light.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame will nominate one senior candidate for the Class of 2019. In our Talk of Fame Network poll this week, we asked our listeners and readers who that candidate should be – and offered up a slate of 10 attractive candidates.
Outside linebacker Andy Russell of the Steelers won going away with 59 percent of the vote, easily outdistancing Kansas City safety Johnny Robinson at 11 percent, Cincinnati quarterback Ken Anderson at eight percent and Denver inside linebacker Randy Gradishar, Detroit defensive tackle Alex Karras and Dallas wide receiver Drew Pearson, all at six percent.
Dallas safety Cliff Harris, Jets offensive tackle Winston Hill, Rams safety Eddie Meador and Atlanta linebacker Tommy Nobis all received single-digit support as well.
We at the Talk of Fame Network will be offering up four more polls of seniors in the weeks to come as a way of showing how difficult the task is of boiling the selection process down to one candidate. In all, we’ll display the candidacies of 48 worthy players – and we get to nominate only one for next year’s class.
Russell arrived in Pittsburgh in 1963 during the pre-Super Bowl era. After a two-year stint in the military in 1964-65, Russell returned to start the final 11 seasons of his career. He was the team MVP one season (1971) and the team’s defensive MVP in two others (1968, 1970). Russell served as defensive captain of the Steelers the final 10 seasons of his career and went to the Pro Bowl the final six years of his career. He started on two Super Bowl champions.
“Andy Russell is deserving of consideration for sure,” Talk of Fame Network host Ron Borges said, “but Johnny Robinson led both the AFL and NFL in interceptions, was selected to the AFL's all-time team and played a pivotal role on a Super Bowl winner whose victory was a key moment in NFL history. My vote is with Robinson.”
There were 22 players voted to the 1960s NFL all-decade team and Robinson is the only one not yet enshrined. Pearson is one of only two members of the 1970s NFL all-decade team not enshrined with Harris being the other. Gradishar is a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and Anderson a former NFL MVP and four-time passing champion. Karras and Meador were all-decade selections in the 1960s.
Talk of Fame Network host Clark Judge also weighed in for Robinson.
"All are Hall of Fame worthy, with some more than others, but there is no one I can see who is more worthy than Johnny Robinson," Judge said. "The guy's in just about every Hall of Fame … the AFL, the Kansas City Chiefs, the LSU, Missouri and Louisiana Halls of Fame … but he's not in Canton. The reason? I'm still trying to figure that out. It's way past time to recognize not just one of the greatest AFL players of all time, but one of the best pro football players ever."
Talk of Fame Network hosts Borges and Rick Gosselin both serve on the senior committee.