For new Hall of Famers, a time to celebrate and campaign
CANTON, Ohio — For several members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2017, it was a time to campaign while celebrating.
Terrell Davis wants more attention paid to the running game, and stronger hall consideration for running backs — something similar to this year, when both he and LaDainian Tomlinson were selected.
Morten Andersen, just the second full-time kicker to make the hall, spoke out Friday for the guys who put the foot in football.
Kenny Easley can’t believe there are only eight pure safeties enshrined.
So while enthusiastically embracing their entry into the hall, which will happen tonight along with Kurt Warner, Jerry Jones and Jason Taylor, Davis and Andersen and Easley represented.
“The running game is not just go to minicamp and then training camp in shorts and T-shirts and think you will be successful,” Davis said when the unusual presence of two running backs in the same hall class was mentioned. “You need the pads on, need lots of hitting and repetitions. It’s like an orchestra.
“I think now they are realizing in the NFL you’ve got to find other ways of getting the running game going.”
Davis pushed for more Broncos in the hall. From the two Denver teams he helped win NFL titles in 1997 and ‘98, only John Elway and Shannon Sharpe also are in.
“Steve Atwater, Jason Elam, Rod Smith, (owner) Pat Bowlen,” he said, reeling off the names. “Those are ones I played with and I certainly think they will all be in.”
Andersen joins Jan Stenerud as the enshrined kickers; Ray Guy is the only pure punter in the hall. Although Andersen is the NFL’s scoring leader and kicked for 25 seasons, it took him eight years of eligibility before getting in.
Considering the role kickers play, especially in today’s game, he believes that trend will change.
“With my election to the Hall of Fame and the level of skill today, it moves the conversation along,” Andersen said. “I would argue that, besides the quarterback position, kickers affect the outcome of games more than anyone.
“There are a lot of guys I feel should be looked at more seriously,” he added, mentioning not only kickers such as Gary Anderson and the still-active Adam Vinatieri, but special teamer Steve Tasker and punter Sean Landetta. “It’s a tight squeeze.
“It feels good to be on the other side, and now it’s my obligation to enhance their chances. I hope it’s not another 21 years where no one gets in.”
Andersen doesn’t expect a special teams player to get in yearly, instead targeting “every three to five years.” Easley, selected by the seniors committee, is in more of a rush to see safeties inducted.
“We set the tone on defense,” the former hard-hitting Seahawks star said. “We’re going to get a lot of these guys in the hall. Between John Lynch, Atwater, Brian Dawkins, Darren Woodson — any of those four are fine, or all of them.”
Beyond that quartet — Lynch has been a frequent finalist in the voting — Easley recognized another group that soon will be eligible.
“We’ve got a lot of guys coming behind them, you know, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu,” Easley said. “We got some guys who (annually) will be genuine contenders.”
Davis’ election was delayed by questions about such a short career: Davis played seven NFL seasons, the last two wrecked by injuries. But the other five were spectacular.
His comparison, he noted, is Gale Sayers, who also had a mercurial career but was a first-ballot entry. That led to more campaigning by Davis.
“Now the precedent is reset,” he said. “It should not be how long you played. What it should be based on is how well you played in the NFL.”
Asked about the exclusivity of any hall of fame, Davis said: “That’s what makes it special, everyone can’t get in.”
Then he chuckled.
“But when you’re on the other side, you say, ‘Can’t they open the floodgates and unplug the hole and let guys in?’”