NFC West: Bob Hayes

Kennedy, Craig and the Hall of Fame

January, 6, 2009
1/06/09
6:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Longtime Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy made the cut of 17 finalists for the 2009 Hall of Fame class. Linebacker Kevin Greene (Rams), running back Roger Craig (49ers), pass-rusher Charles Haley (49ers) were among the semifinalists missing the cut this time.

 
 AP Photo/Cheryl Hatch
 In 11 seasons with the Seahawks, Cortez Kennedy amassed 58 sacks.

A quick look at finalists with current or past ties to the Rams, 49ers, Cardinals and Seahawks:

  • Richard Dent, DE, 49ers: Longtime Bears standout won a Super Bowl with the 49ers in 1994.
  • Russ Grimm, OL, Redskins: Finishing his second season as the Cardinals' assistant head coach and offensive line coach.
  • Bob Hayes, WR, 49ers: Longtime Cowboys receiver finished his career with the 49ers in 1975.
  • Kennedy, DT, Seahawks: Eight-time Pro Bowl lineman was the NFL's defensive player of the year on a 2-14 team.
  • John Randle, DT, Seahawks: Longtime Vikings pass-rusher spent his final three seasons with Seattle.
  • Rod Woodson, DB, 49ers: Longtime Steelers safety spent the 1997 season with the 49ers.

Of the six, only Kennedy will be remembered for his career with a team currently aligned in the NFC West. The 49ers have certainly had an appreciation for stars from other teams. Dent, Hayes and Woodson were three of the best.

I would have no problem with any of the 17 finalists earning enshrinement. I'd be interested in hearing the cases for and against Craig, Greene and Haley. We discussed Craig previously. I have advocated Kennedy. More info on the semifinalists here.

Roger Craig vs. Ricky Watters

July, 24, 2008
7/24/08
11:25
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

 
 Andy Lyons/ALLSPORT
 Ricky Watters rushed for 10,643 yards and caught 467 passes.

Former 49ers and Seahawks running back Ricky Watters made NFL Network's list of the 10 best players not enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The list includes only players who have been retired long enough to become eligible. Roger Craig didn't make the cut. Would you rank him ahead of Watters among all-time backs?

Watters was a terrific every-down player. He played and practiced with emotion and energy. He was exceptionally durable, at one point starting 116 consecutive games -- the longest streak for any running back who was active at the time (LaDainian Tomlinson leads current running backs with 48 consecutive regular-season starts).

Watters rushed for 10,643 yards and caught 467 passes. He ranks 14th in NFL history for yards from scrimmage. He respected the players who came before him and earned the respect of his peers. In 2000, his Seattle teammates named Watters the Steve Largent Award winner, presented to the Seattle player who best illustrates the spirit, dedication and integrity of the team.

NFL Network's list also includes Ken Anderson, Cris Carter, Bob Hayes, Alex Karras, Jerry Kramer, Jim Marshall, Ken Stabler, Steve Tasker and Derrick Thomas. Carter will almost surely enter the Hall of Fame in the near future. Hayes' supporters point to how he forced defenses to change their approach entirely to account for his speed.

I can think of a few Hall-eligible players from NFC West teams -- Craig among them -- who deserve strong consideration for enshrinement:

Seahawks: Cortez Kennedy was defensive player of the year on a 2-14 team that featured one of the worst offenses in NFL history. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl player. At his best, Kennedy could not be blocked.

Rams: Henry Ellard averaged nearly 17 yards per reception on 814 catches. He averaged 19.5 yards per catch while putting up more than 1,000 yards with Washington at age 35.

49ers: Craig topped 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. He caught more than 566 passes and topped 8,000 yards rushing. The numbers only begin to explain how he played. The high-kneed running style helped him bull over defenders.

Cardinals: Help me out here. Larry Centers caught all those passes out of the backfield. Roy Green? There has to be someone I'm missing. Perhaps on defense.

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