The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

The Case For Hayes, Grimm, Tagliabue

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I don't really know who's going to get snubbed. It's hard to have a feel this early in the voting process for what the selectors are thinking. The process really has just gotten under way, with the 133 modern-era nominees for next year's Hall of Fame class just being announced.

But I will talk about three people who, in my opinion, should be enshrined next summer: Bob Hayes, Russ Grimm and Paul Tagliabue.

Hayes is a nominee of the seniors committee, meaning that he automatically will be among the 17 finalists considered by the voters the day before the Super Bowl. Really, it's a shame that he's not in already. He changed the game with his speed and big-play ability, and he's deserving. The guess here is that it will happen this time.

I'm not as optimistic about Grimm and Tagliabue. I guess, then, they would be my picks as the deserving candidates most likely to be snubbed, but it shouldn't be that way.

Grimm was a finalist last year but wasn't swept into Canton on the wave of Redskins euphoria that surrounded the elections of Darrell Green and Art Monk. It's too bad. There was so much indignation around here for so many years that Monk wasn't enshrined. To me, Grimm is every bit as deserving as Monk was. Those terrific Redskins teams won games and championships with their straight-ahead, power running more than with big plays in their passing game. Grimm, at guard, and Joe Jacoby, at tackle, not only were among the best offensive linemen of their generation, but they and the other "Hogs" also made fans notice offensive line play. That shouldn't be dismissed. It is the Hall of FAME, after all. Grimm should be in, and maybe his chances are improved in a year in which there doesn't seem to be all that many automatic first-year choices aside from Bruce Smith, and maybe Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson.

Tagliabue, too, should get in, but the voters haven't seemed particularly enthused about his candidacy since his retirement as commissioner in 2006. Part of that may be due to his less-than-dynamic personality; part may be that he's viewed by some as a mere caretaker of what predecessor Pete Rozelle created. If that's the thinking, it's misguided, however. If you're going to tell the story of pro football, you can't tell it without mentioning Tagliabue pretty prominently. The sport became the nation's most popular and prosperous sport--it became the national pastime, really--on his watch. Along with the late Gene Upshaw, Tagliabue gave the NFL longstanding labor peace. He helped give the NFL its mammoth television contracts. He ushered in the salary cap era to aid competitive balance. He played a major, major role in making the game what it is today. And if that isn't a Hall of Famer, I don't know what is.

Four to seven new Hall of Famers are to be announced on Jan. 31 in Tampa, Fla. Bob Hayes, Russ Grimm and Paul Tagliabue should be among them.

By Mark Maske  |  October 30, 2008; 10:34 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Grimm had a great run from 1982-86. He was voted to four Pro Bowls and made 1st team All-Pro three times. But injuries limited him after that. Grimm did not start on the 1987 or 1991 Super Bowl squads. It's easy to see why he keeps getting passed over by the voters.

Because of his sustained dominance, I think Jacoby deserves the Hall of Fame more than Grimm.

Posted by: Poops | October 30, 2008 4:00 PM

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