Who is the Bears' biggest HOF snub? Will Texas ever again produce top NFL talent?


What Chicago Bears’ legend not already in Canton is most deserving of Hall-of-Fame consideration?

That is a question the Talk of Fame Network’s Hall of Fame hosts pose this week to HOF voter Dan Pompei, the Chicago rep, in the latest installment of TOF’s ongoing series exploring each team’s most deserving Hall-of-Fame candidates.

Pompei makes the case for offensive tackle Jimbo Covert ahead of the likes of 1940s legend Ed Sprinkle, 1950s’ stars Rick Casares, Harlon Hill and Joe Fortunato, 1960s’ all-decade linebacker Larry Morris and more recent vintage Bears like Jay Hilgenberg and Wilbur Marshall.

Why does Pompei feel the Bears’ most deserving non-Hall of Famer is Covert?

Covert is one of seven first-team all-decade players lost in the great abyss of the senior pool and one of the few never once discussed as a Hall-of-Fame finalist. Pompei points out Covert was “the linchpin of the ’85 Bears’ offensive line.’’

Covert is not the only Bears’ offensive lineman Pompei favors. He points out Hilgenberg went to seven Pro Bowls at center and twice was a first-team All-Pro. Only four centers in history have gone to more Pro Bowls than Hilgenberg. Yet he, too, has never been as much as a semifinalist in Canton.

Just as odd has been the absence of all-decade linebackers Fortunato and Morris from the Hall-of-Fame discussion. Fortunato’s 38 takeaways are more than any Bears’ linebacker in history except Dick Butkus, who many feel is the greatest middle linebacker of all-time. One reason both have been slighted could be that each played in the shadow of Bill George, the Hall-of-Fame middle linebacker some credit with creating the position.

The Talk of Fame Network also begins its lead up to next month’s college draft with its annual series revisiting the storied histories of some of the top college producers of NFL talent. This week we kick things off with the first of the seven schools we’ll survey: the University of Texas Longhorns.

Texas has produced 44 first-round draft picks, with half of them top-10 selections. UT has produced three players who were the overall first picks – linebacker Tommy Nobis, fullback Earl Campbell and defensive tackle Kenny Sim. Texas also has had two players selected second and three more picked third overall. Yet for all the players UT has produced only three – Bobby Layne, Tom Landry and Campbell reached Canton.

Dallas-based co-host Rick Gosselin, a Hall-of-Famer in the writers’ wing, leads the discussion not only about Texas’ glorious history of producing NFL players but also explains their recent nosedive. UT hasn’t produced a Pro Bowl selection since Earl Thomas, and this year its highest rated draft candidate is a punter.

Long-time Cleveland Browns' beat man and Hall-of-Fame voter Tony Grossi also drops by to discuss the Browns' spate of trades and signings. Is new GM John Dorsey on the right track? Grossi believes so and agrees with head coach Hue Jackson’s decision to name newly acquired quarterback Tyrod Taylor the starting quarterback without so much as a training camp competition.

Are they optimistic in Cleveland? Grossi gives a qualified yes to that question.

“When you’re 0-16 what’s optimism?’’ he asks. “4-12?’’

Listen to Grossi explain what shocked Dorsey when he first arrived in Cleveland and began to study the team’s roster and why they may be the only team in pro sports “trying to get older.’’

There’s all that, plus Ron Borges’ take on whether Kirk Cousins’ fully guaranteed $84-million contract was won in a way that’s good for the overall future of player negotiations. To hear it all dial your local SB Nation station Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. or download and subscribe to our free podcast at iTunes, by using the TuneIn app or by simply going to our website, talkoffamenetwork.com and clicking on the helmet icon.