NFL Nation: Claude Humphrey
A punter may be on his way to election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
On Wednesday, it was announced that former Oakland punter Ray Guy is one of two senior committee nominees, along with Claude Humphrey. Usually, the two senior committee nominees are elected. The next election will be in February.
It would a watershed moment if Guy -- widely considered the best punter ever to live -- gets elected. There has never been a punter-only player elected into the Hall of Fame.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Guy gets some opposition in the voting process. There is a faction of voters who don’t believe punters should be in the hall of fame. Still, that fact that Guy made it this far is a good sign.
I have never gotten the argument that punters don’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Here’s my point: Try playing the game without punters. Thus, the greatest punter of all time deserves recognition.
Guy, Oakland’s first-round draft pick in 1973, recently expressed his angst over not being enshrined. Guy was a vital part of the 1970s hey-day Raiders. He was a supreme weapon. Guy, 62, averaged 42.4 yards per punt over his 14-year career.
Guy is an inspiration to most punters, and his election would give hope to all future punters. It would clearly please new Oakland punter Chris Kluwe. He was fined by the NFL last year while with Minnesota when he campaigned for Guy to make the Canton, Ohio, museum with a message on his uniform.
Perhaps the message has finally been heard.
Flores pointed to Ray Guy and asked about another former Raider, ex-coach Tom Flores. Soderberg stumped for a Canadian Football League legend. I offered thoughts from my perspective as a Hall of Fame voter.
One key point: Selectors do not vote "against" candidates. We vote for them, and some miss the cut because only five modern-era players can qualify in a given year. The very best candidates get in quickly, while others get in eventually.
The bar for enshrinement rises and falls depending upon the strength of the field. In that way, the process resembles a golf tournament. Shooting even par would have won the Masters in 2007. It would have fallen short by 19 strokes in 1997.
Still, there are some valid questions surrounding Hall of Fame candidates repeatedly considered as finalists before fading from the conversation. We discussed some of the considerations during this podcast.
The chart ranks candidates by most appearances as finalists without being enshrined to this point. Thirty-one others have been finalists up to three times, including NFC West favorites Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Roger Craig and Aeneas Williams.
The Falcons just announced that Sanders will be the eighth member of the Ring of Honor.
"Deion Sanders is widely regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the 91-year history of the National Football League," Falcons Owner & CEO Arthur Blank said. "He epitomized excellence on the playing field and was a tremendously gifted athlete who possessed great speed. Deion excelled as a defender, kick returner, punt returner and on offense on his way to establishing 12 club records. He was an electrifying performer who put fans on the edge of their seats every time he manned his cornerback position or dropped back to receive a kickoff or field a punt. He is without question one of the greatest players in the history of our franchise."
Blank pretty nicely summed up what Sanders did for the Falcons from 1989 through 1993. Sanders will join William Andrews, Steve Bartkowski, Mike Kenn, Claude Humphrey, Tommy Nobis, Jessie Tuggle and Jeff Van Note in the Ring of Honor.
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
TAMPA, Fla. -- Claude Humphrey has been on the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot for 23 years and I thought this might be the year he broke through.
Humphrey, who spent most of his career playing with the Falcons, had the powerful endorsement of the Senior Committee and I thought that might put him over the top. It didn't happen.
Humphrey wasn't one of the six new members elected Saturday. I'm not old enough to really remember Humphrey as a player, although I did collect (and still have) trading cards from near the end of his career. I do know playing on some mediocre Atlanta teams didn't help Humphrey's profile.
It's also pretty apparent Humphrey's chances were hurt by the competition this year. Defensive end Bruce Smith got in on his first year on the ballot. Can't argue with that one at all. Smith set the record with 200 career sacks. The late Derrick Thomas, who technically was a linebacker whose main job was to rush the passer, also was selected. I've thought that one was long overdue.
But I think Thomas' selection shows Humphrey is at least very close to being a Hall of Famer. Thomas finished his 11-year career with 126.5 sacks. Humphrey had 122 sacks in 14 seasons. Humphrey's numbers might not be Hall of Fame numbers today, but they're at least in the ballpark.
The Falcons will be introducing two new players into their Ring of Fame this Sunday. Defensive end Claude Humphrey and offensive tackle Mike Kenn will be honored at halftime of this weekend's contest against Tampa Bay.
If Atlanta's Arthur Blank had the worst 2007 of any NFL owner, then perhaps he is having the best 2008, writes Terence Moore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Despite taking over the division's No. 1 spot with a win over Tampa Bay on MNF, the Panthers know the title isn't theirs quite yet.
Spending the offseason hunting for running backs is really paying off for the Panthers, who have the most heralded duo in the league in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
New Orleans Saints
Despite a stellar passing game led by Drew Brees, the Saints have found the most success when the offense is balanced by the running game, writes Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune.
The Saints know they are a long shot, but coach Sean Payton knows as long as he sees his team's name in the "others" column, they aren't out of it yet.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs need to figure out how to be a better team on the road, says St. Petersburg Times columnist John Romano.
Veteran Joey Galloway did not play on Monday night, and coach Jon Gruden says the team has "moved on" from depending on him as an 18- to 20-play per game receiver.
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