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Thursday, February 2, 2012
Eli Manning puts spotlight on Jim Plunkett

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

One of the biggest storylines of the Super Bowl week is that New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has a chance to all but secure a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The general consensus is if a quarterback wins a second Super Bowl, he is all but guaranteed to make it to Canton. For the most part, that is true. Then there is former Raiders’ quarterback Jim Plunkett.

Of the five quarterbacks who won the Super Bowl twice who are eligible for the Hall of Fame, four are in. Plunkett is not. The other quarterback who has won two Super Bowl rings is current Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The three Hall of Fame eligible quarterbacks who have won more than two Super Bowl rings have been inducted.

“False premise,” Plunkett said this week with a laugh. “If winning two makes you a shoo-in, well, that’s just not the case.”

Plunkett led the Raiders to wins in Super Bowls XV and XVIII. Yet, he is not in Canton. He is considered by many as a journeyman. But the truth is, he was a leader who willed his team to two titles. And it may never change. There hasn’t been a big recent push for Plunkett to get into the Hall of Fame. He has never been a finalist.

“I had my up and downs, I struggled early in my career,” said Plunkett, who noted he played during an era in which running the ball was at a bigger premium than it is now. “I was very fortunate to play on two very good teams."

Plunkett said he believes his Raiders’ coach, Tom Flores, should be in the Hall of Fame. Flores coached the Raiders to two Super Bowl wins. Like Flores, Plunkett, 64, may have hope. He could someday get in as a Senior Committee selection.

“I really don’t think about (not being in the hall of fame) too much,” Plunkett said. “My family and my friends do. I might get ticked off about it once in a while, but I don’t think about it every day.”

Perhaps the talk centering on Manning’s quest for a second ring will ignite talk amongst voters to revisit Plunkett’s candidacy.