St. Louis Rams: Kevin Greene

ST. LOUIS -- For five modern-era players, the Pro Football Hall of Fame will open its doors this summer. For Kevin Greene, the former Los Angeles Rams pass-rusher, the wait continues.

The Hall of Fame announced its next class of inductees Saturday night, a class that for the 10th consecutive year does not include Greene.

That Greene didn’t make the cut again doesn’t come as much of a surprise given the competition among the 15 finalists. In the company of other talented pass-rushers with more cache such as Michael Strahan and Charles Haley; it stood to reason that Greene would have to wait yet another year.

Although Greene still stands third in league history in sacks with 160, the fact that he bounced around to three other franchises after spending his first eight seasons with the Rams has left some to wonder about his legacy.

Likewise, Greene’s pass-rushing production is Hall of Fame caliber, but many wonder if he was a bit too one-dimensional.

It still seems likely that Green’s time will come, but it doesn’t figure to get any easier in the coming years.

For Rams fans just hoping to see one of their guys get in, the odds should increase dramatically next year when quarterback Kurt Warner, receiver Isaac Bruce and tackle Orlando Pace join Greene on the ballot.
ST. LOUIS -- Each week throughout the playoffs, we've used this space to offer what I like to call "predictions you didn't ask for" at the end of each playoff notes post.

There, we've made some predictions for each weekend of games. Today, we're going to offer up a Super (pun intended) sized version with predictions for all that is about to take place this weekend. Some will involve the St. Louis Rams, some will not. If nothing else, think of this as an opportunity to come back later and tell me how terrible I am as a prognosticator.

So without further ado, here are my predictions for Saturday night's NFL honors and the 2014 Hall of Fame class. I'll spare you any thoughts on what designer each player is going to wear.

[+] EnlargeRobert Quinn
Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY SportsRobert Quinn forced seven fumbles and had 19 sacks this season.
Defensive Player of the Year: The award most worth watching for Rams fans as defensive end Robert Quinn is part of a crowded field vying to take home the big prize. Strong cases can be made for Quinn, Indianapolis linebacker Robert Mathis, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, Seattle safety Earl Thomas, San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman, Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly and others.

Should win: Quinn. In the the voting we did at the Pro Football Writers of America, I cast my vote here and I see no reason to change. Quinn posted his numbers despite rarely playing with a lead and was able to single-handedly alter the way games went. His 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles speak for themselves but his run defense was above average as well.

Will win: Mathis. This is going to be a tough one to call because there are so many players with a strong case to be made. When in doubt, I'll err on the side of the guy who led the league in sacks. Make no mistake, Mathis is deserving, piling up his statistics on a defense without any other consistent pass rush threats.

Offensive Player of the Year: This award can sometimes throw people for a loop because voters like to separate it from the MVP. That means someone like Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles or Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy could spring an upset win instead of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.

Should win: Manning. He set nearly every major season record for a passer and led the most prolific offense in league history.

Will win: Manning. If voters don't want to double down on Manning with MVP, perhaps they go elsewhere but this should be a no-brainer.

Comeback Player of the Year: Confusion usually surrounds this award because the criteria can allow for it to go to a player coming back from injury, bouncing back from a bad season or both. As such, the candidates are all over the place but Miami cornerback Brent Grimes, Tampa cornerback Darrelle Revis, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, Buffalo running back Fred Jackson, Denver running back Knowshon Moreno and others.

Should win: Jackson. At 32, Jackson is coming off an injury that cost him six games in 2012 and many expected C.J. Spiller to take the bulk of the work. Instead, Jackson posted 1,277 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. Not many 32-year old running backs coming off injury produce at that level.

Will win: Rivers. Quarterbacks seem to take precedence in these awards and Rivers had a strong bounce back season after a rough 2012 year. I prefer to see players coming off true hardship like injury win this award but since the criteria is open to interpretation, Rivers has a great shot to win.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Rams fans would like to see running back Zac Stacy in the mix here but it's almost certainly a two-horse race between Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy and San Diego receiver Keenan Allen to win it.

Should win: Allen. It's not easy for rookie receivers to come in and have the type of impact Allen did but if you want to find the biggest reason Rivers "bounced back" this year, here he is.

Will win: Lacy. Without the services of Aaron Rodgers, the Packers leaned heavily on Lacy, who responded with a strong performance. But it didn't yield much in the way of wins. Green Bay fell into a playoff spot while San Diego seized one. Still, I think Lacy's production will win out.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Another award Rams fans would like to see one of their own in the mix and in the case of linebacker Alec Ogletree, he probably should get more love. Again, this one seems set to be a two-way battle between Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and Buffalo linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Should win: Richardson. Yes, I'm a Mizzou alum so I'm a bit biased here but Richardson was consistently dominant from down to down while playing end in a 3-4 defense. He was an integral part of the Jets' dominant run defense and though he didn't rack up sacks, his impact on games was always felt.

Will win: Alonso. That isn't to say Alonso isn't deserving, just that I believe Richardson was a hair better. No matter, Alonso has the numbers to generate support and will be the one to take home the award.

MVP: There is no real suspense here. Manning staked a claim to this award with seven touchdown passes in Week 1 and never relinquished it. This would be MVP No. 5 for Manning, who continues to rewrite the record books.

Should win: Manning.

Will win: Manning.

Coach of the Year: What a group of possible winners. Many coaches did a phenomenal job this year, including Kansas City's Andy Reid, Carolina's Ron Rivera, Arizona's Bruce Arians, New England's Bill Belichick, Seattle's Pete Carroll and others. This should be the toughest decision on the ballot.

Should win: Rivera. It's really tough to pick from this group but I went with Rivera because he did outstanding work under the toughest circumstances as a potential lame duck coach. Not only did he lead the Panthers back to the playoffs but earned a contract extension in the process.

Will win: Rivera. I expect it to come to Reid and Rivera but Rivera's work came against a tougher schedule in a tougher conference and his team held its own against those opponents.

Hall of Fame class: None of the honors on this list is harder to predict than the five modern era players who will be selected to form the next Hall of Fame class. Trying to guess what the committee will do is an exercise in futility but there's no doubting the group has some tough choices to make. Here are the five I believe get the call Saturday night:

New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks and Arizona Cardinals defensive back Aeneas Williams.

My final pick for the Super Bowl will come in Sunday's Rams-related playoff notes.
ST. LOUIS -- Although his name may not ring out in conversations of the league's greatest pass-rushers, Kevin Greene sits third in NFL history with 160 career sacks.

Bruce Smith, Reggie White and Chris Doleman, the players ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 4 have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Greene is in his 10th year of waiting for the call and is a finalist for the third straight year.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee will convene Saturday afternoon and sift through the 15 modern era finalists. The competition, as it's been for the past nine years, will be tough. Despite his strong credentials, Greene is anything but a lock for election.

Looking closer at Greene's pure production, one would think he's already been enshrined in Canton (see right).

Perhaps it works against Greene that he spent plenty of years bouncing from team to team rather than establishing his legacy with one. Players like Smith and Lawrence Taylor made their names known for dominating in one place while keeping track of Greene was a bit more difficult. Even for the purposes of this piece, it was hard to peg what team would handle the case for Greene's induction.

Many will likely remember Greene's work with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1993-1995 since that was right in the prime of his career, but Greene actually served the most years with the Rams and had his best seasons with the Los Angeles edition of the team.

Greene was originally a fifth-round choice of the Rams out of Auburn in 1985. He played for the team from 1985 to 1992 and posted a career high 16.5 sacks in 1988 and 1989. He would go on to play in Pittsburgh, Carolina and San Francisco as well.

In looking at Greene's chances for induction, it can be difficult to see how he might breakthrough this year. Some of the game's greats such as linebacker Derrick Brooks, offensive tackle Walter Jones, running back Jerome Bettis and guard Will Shields are also up for induction. Beyond that, the competition amongst pass-rushers is tight in itself.

Giants defensive end Michael Strahan and Dallas defensive end Charles Haley are also on the ballot and it seems unlikely that more than one of that trio would land a spot. Although Greene has more sacks than both players, Strahan has the advantage of winning a Super Bowl and the season record for sacks in a season. Haley has fewer sacks than Greene and Strahan but is also one of the winningest players of all-time with five Super Bowl trophies to his name.

Beyond a lack of star power, Green is also viewed as a bit more one-dimensional than the likes of Haley and Strahan. He was never known as an elite run stopper and most of his claim to fame comes from his ability to get after the quarterback.

Ultimately, it seems unlikely Greene will get his call for Canton this year. It seems the popular Strahan is the most likely of the pass-rushers to get the nod. Greene may also have to wait behind Haley as well. Greene's impressive sack total is too good to keep him out forever but more patience may be required.

Three former Rams are Hall finalists

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ST. LOUIS -- For the second consecutive year, a trio of former Rams has landed spots as modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Greene
Defensive back Aeneas Williams, running back Jerome Bettis and linebacker Kevin Greene made the list of 15, which was whittled from 25.

Williams, Bettis and Greene spent varying parts of their careers with the Rams. While none are exactly remembered in the big picture for their time with the team, all made valuable contributions to the organization at some point.

Probably the most familiar to Rams fans is Williams, who came to St. Louis via trade in 2001. He promptly moved to safety and served as a veteran leader of a defense that helped the Rams reach Super Bowl XXXVI. Williams still lives in St. Louis and is active in the community. He spent most of his career in relative anonymity in Arizona but was long regarded as one of the team's best cover corners. His time is probably coming in Canton, but this year might not be it.

Bettis spent just one season in St. Louis after his first two came with the team in Los Angeles. He was traded to Pittsburgh in 1996 and went on to become the sixth-most accomplished rusher in league history. Of this group, Bettis probably has the best chance to break through this season.

Greene never played a down for the St. Louis version of the Rams, but he played for the Los Angeles edition from 1985 to 1992. Greene also has local ties as he hails from nearby Granite City, Ill. Like Bettis, Greene is probably more renowned for his time with the Steelers. He finished with 160 sacks, which ranked third all-time at the time of his retirement. Much like Williams, Greene will probably have his day, but it might not happen right away.

The competition to make it to Canton this year figures to be difficult. First-ballot candidates such as Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones, Indianapolis wide receiver Marvin Harrison and Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks look to have strong cases to earn a nod this year. Giants end Michael Strahan, defensive end Charles Haley, Buffalo receiver Andre Reed and guard Will Shields are among the others with a shot to get in.

This year's crop of Rams candidates will pale in comparison to what the team figures to have in the next couple of years. Receiver Isaac Bruce, tackle Orlando Pace and quarterback Kurt Warner are due for Hall of Fame eligibility for the class of 2015, followed by receiver Torry Holt in 2016.

Three former Rams up for Hall induction

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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 25 semifinalists for induction in 2014 on Wednesday night and three former Rams made the cut.

Defensive back Aeneas Williams, running back Jerome Bettis and linebacker Kevin Greene made the list of 25, which was whittled from 126. Williams, Bettis and Greene spent varying parts of their careers with the Rams. While none are exactly remembered in the big picture for their time with the team, all made valuable contributions to the organization at some point.

Williams, Bettis and Greene all made the cut to the list of 15 modern-era finalists last year which could portend possible inductions this year. They'll receive tough competition from some of the new additions to the ballot, a list that includes receiver Marvin Harrison, tackle Walter Jones, coach Tony Dungy and linebacker Derrick Brooks.

Williams is probably the most familiar to Rams fans after he came to St. Louis in a trade in 2001. He promptly moved to safety and served as a veteran leader of a defense which helped the Rams reach Super Bowl XXXVI. Williams still lives in St. Louis and is active in the community. He spent most of his career in relative anonymity in Arizona but was long regarded as one of the team's best cover corners. His time is probably coming in Canton but it seems this year may not be the one.

Bettis spent just one season in St. Louis after his first two came with the team in Los Angeles. He was traded to Pittsburgh in 1996 and went on to become the fifth most accomplished rusher in league history. Of this group, Bettis probably has the best chance to break through this season.

Greene never played a down for the St. Louis version of the Rams but he played for the Los Angeles edition from 1985-1992. Greene also has local ties as he hails from nearby Granite City, Ill. Like Bettis, Greene is probably more renowned for his time with the Steelers. He finished with 160 sacks, which ranked third all time at the time of his retirement. Much like Williams, Greene's day is probably going to come but it may not happen right away.

Two other semifinalists have St. Louis area ties. Coach Don Coryell, one of the most innovative offensive minds in league history, coached the St. Louis Cardinals from 1973-77. Safety Steve Atwater made his name with Denver but is a native of St. Louis and played high school ball at Lutheran North.

For Rams fans looking for further connections to possible Hall of Fame inductees, the real fun will begin next year. Receiver Isaac Bruce, tackle Orlando Pace and quarterback Kurt Warner are due for Hall of Fame eligibility for the class of 2015 followed by receiver Torry Holt the following year.

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