By Chris Schisler
The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is where football’s legends are celebrated forever. This hallowed ground is where the memories and the history of the world’s greatest game lives forever. I have visited the Hall of fame twice; once as a young boy and once as a young adult. The history of the game is fascinating enough to bear the 7 hour drive from Finksburg, Maryland. It is important to see the whole picture of this history. With the glory that comes to inductees is the heartbreak of those who have waited to long to be inducted.
In September of 2012, Art Modell passed away. He was an iconic figure in NFL history that will never be able to wear that famous gold jacket. Modell is mostly remembered as the man who took football away from Cleveland and returned football to Baltimore. Its a shame that Cleveland’s resentment has tainted the memory of Art Modell and made his great contributions to the game of football be forgotten. He was a huge part of the NFL-AFL merger which might be the single most important moment in the history of the sport. He was influential in making Monday Night Football a weekly event for television viewers. Art Modell was a great man. Modell gave black players a chance in a time where racial tensions were high. The list of his merits could go on forever but hatred is keeping him out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The said thing is if the new Browns could just operate like a pro sports team should people would be over it by now.
We pick sometimes weak arguments to keep out worthy candidates for induction. Marty Schottenheimer has been kept out of the hall of fame for one reason: he never won a Super Bowl. Schottenheimer gave his life to the game as a player and a coach. Much of Schotenheimer’s success is probably due to Lou Saban’s influence as a mentor. Schottenheimer’s coaching tree impressively includes Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy and Herm Edwards. Cowher and Dungy are also in the category of great coaches and have impressive coaching trees of their own. Both his sons have been assistants in the NFL, most notably Brian (OC for Rams, formerly the Jets). Certainly Schottenheimer has had a major impact on the history of professional football.
With 200 wins in the NFL (101 with the Kansas City Chiefs) Marty Schottenheimer is in elite company. He is one of only 5 coaches in history with 200 wins. He was a great coach who won a lot of games. There is no denying this. People criticize his overly conservative approach to football but their real complaint is that he has no Super Bowl ring. Does this make him less devoted to the game of football? Does this really tarnish his legacy?
Marty Schottenheimer is 70 years old and could still live a good while. But lets hurry up and decide that he should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Lets celebrate the impact he has had on the game. We waited too long with Art Modell. We cannot make the same mistake with Marty.
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From making less than $6.00 an hour at a Hy-Vee supermarket to Super Bowl glory the story of Kurt Warner is script worthy. Undrafted out of Northern Iowa, Warner tried out for the Green Bay Packers, unsuccessfully. He then went to his grocery store job before entering the Arena Football. League. He got his chance to be an NFL quarterback in 1998 with the St.Louis Rams. In his second season with the Rams he became the starter when Trent Green tore his ACL. Saying Warner took advantage of the opportunity would be an understatement. The Rams won the Super Bowl that season with what came to be known as “the greatest show on turf .” Warner’s case for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame rests on his involvement with football’s biggest game, the Super Bowl.
In Super Bowl XXXIV, Warner threw for 414 yards; and is the only quarterback to throw for 400 yards in the big game. His record breaking performance earned him a Super Bowl ring as well as the honors of being the Super Bowl MVP. Although Warner has only 1 Super Bowl win on his resume, he performed greatly in all 3 Super Bowl appearances. Warner has the three highest performances in Super Bowl history in terms of passing yards. Warner was a big game player and he stepped up in the big moments. He shares a record with Joe Montana and Joe Flacco throwing 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in a single post-season run.
The beginning of Warner’s career was pure magic. He was the quickest player to reach 10,000 and then 30,000 passing yards in NFL History. He was the conductor of one of the all time great offenses of all time with St.Louis. But there is a reason for the question mark in the article’s title. The entire story is not magical. Warner lost his job to Marc Bulger due to injury. Kurt Warner then became a pedestrian place holder for Eli Manning in New York. Warner was not finished with his brand of magical football yet, despite it appearing that way.
Warner became an Arizona Cardinal in 2005. Warner was replaced as the starting quarterback week 4 of the 2005 season. Warner would earn back the starting job but would be injured before the end of the season. In 2006, rookie quarterback Matt Leinert was named the team’s starter after Warner lost it with poor play. Warner did not become the full time starter until week 5 of the 2007 regular season. Warner took the Cards to three straight playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl run in 2008. Warner and the Cardinals fell just short in the big game losing to Pittsburgh 27-23. in the 2009 season Warner had one of the finest playoff performances I have ever seen. He threw 5 touchdown passes to beat Green Bay in overtime 51-45 completing 29 of 33 passes.
So you know the story. Do you believe he is a hall of fame worthy player? Warner’s career was about great moments not overall greatness. There were portions of his career that were hardly worth noting, let alone enshrining. It is hard to consider Warner one of the top 10 quarterbacks of all time. Warner as I said was about moments, big stage moments. Some would argue that when he won he had great players. In St. Louis he had Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Marshall Faulk. In Arizona he had Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. You can’t punish a guy for playing with great players, all the greats have. If you asked me the question, I would tell you to induct the man into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame should honor those who made a lasting imprint on the history of the game. Kurt Warner had magical moments that did just that.