Z Nominees Are...

January 24, 2000

SI senior writer Paul Zimmerman, a member of the Pro Football
Hall of Fame selection committee, will join 37 colleagues in
Atlanta on Jan. 29 to choose Canton's Class of 2000 from among 15
candidates: Harry Carson, Dave Casper, Carl Eller, Marv Levy,
James Lofton, Howie Long, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana, Mike Munchak,
Dan Rooney, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Dan Wilcox, Ron Yary and
Jack Youngblood.

Before I became a Hall of Fame selector in 1992, I thought the
Hall elected too many members each year. Then I did a one-eighty
and realized it didn't bring in enough. How will I vote this
year? I've got seven favorites, one over the limit, plus Wilcox,
the Seniors Committee's candidate. Sorry, but I simply can't
break the tie.

I chose Wilcox as my strongside backer when I selected my alltime
NFL team (SI, Aug. 30). No other linebacker ever did as good a
job against tight ends. Wilcox stifled them. Mike Ditka said that
Wilcox was a big reason why he retired as a player in '72. It was
rare that any team ever tried to sweep Wilcox's side. I never saw
him hooked to the inside.

Montana probably will produce the shortest discussion of the day
when the selectors meet. Who could vote against him? Lott is
close behind, but I hope he isn't presented as a free safety. He
had his greatest years at cornerback.

Long is my top defensive end of the trio up for consideration. He
was a sacker but also took great pride in stopping the run. He
played his career on the strong side, constantly fighting the
double team. If he'd had a chance to work on the open side, away
from the tight end, his sack figures would have been out of
sight. Jack Youngblood, a relentless pass rusher, is the other
defensive end I'd bring in, a guy with a nonstop motor and an
unbelievably high pain threshold.

I've always been in wide receiver Lynn Swann's corner. Not enough
numbers, the selectors have said. Quality over quantity has been
my answer. He saved his best plays for when the stakes were
highest. I'm also voting for Harry Carson, who ran a great Giants
defense for many years. One of the finest goal line linebackers
ever.

Finally there's Dave Casper, who blocked like the tackle he'd
been at Notre Dame and caught passes deep or short through the
forest of legalized muggings that constituted pass defense in his
era. I consider him the best tight end in the history of the
game.

COLOR PHOTO: HEINZ KLUETMEIER Ring 'im up The Niners' Wilcox deserves a call to the Hall.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)