The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee had their vote for 2017 inductees on Saturday, and on his third try, former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner was elected. Warner, along with LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Terrell Davis and Morton Andersen comprise the modern players group, joined by former Seahawks safety Kenny Easley.
As it turns out, the 49 years St. Louis had pro football; 28 with the Cardinals and 21 with the Rams, compare favorably in terms of Hall of Famers and championships with many of the lower level franchises in the NFL.
As we’ve noted before, 44 of the 51 Super Bowls have been won by twelve franchises. The Steelers have six, the 49ers and Cowboys and Patriots have five each, the Giants and Packers have four. Then the Raiders, Broncos and Redskins each have three and the Colts, Ravens and Dolphins have two. The other seven Super Bowls have been won by teams that have claimed a single title: the Rams, Bears, Buccaneers, Seahawks, Chiefs, Jets and Saints. Thirteen franchises, the Falcons, Cardinals, Browns, Lions, Jaguars, Oilers/Titans, Chargers, Bills, Vikings, Eagles, Panthers, Texans and Bengals have yet to win a Super Bowl.
That one St. Louis championship, one that they can’t take away, is more than twelve franchises and thirteen cities.
Cleveland, Detroit, Houston and Jacksonville fans have never even had their team in a Super Bowl.
With Warner being elected to be inducted in Canton on August 5, St. Louis fans have had the chance to witness seven Pro Football Hall of Fame players. Larry Wilson of the Cardinals invented the safety blitz and was one of the toughest players in football history. Jackie Smith shared Wilson’s toughness, and was one of the first tight ends to make a dramatic impact in the passing game. Roger Wehrli was so good at cornerback that opposing quarterbacks wouldn’t throw his way. And Dan Dierdorf was as good as it gets at pass protection AND run blocking. He was an all-decade offensive tackle during the 70’s.
After a seven year NFL layoff, the Rams came here and in 1999 we were treated to the start of the Greatest Show on Turf. In 2011, Marshall Faulk, who earned his Hall of Fame status in St. Louis, was inducted. Last year it was the great Orlando Pace and this year Warner. And we aren’t dismissing Aeneas Williams, who was a great Ram and is a great St. Louisan, but made the Hall of Fame as a member of the Cardinals in Arizona.
It’s actually pretty amazing to look at how many cities haven’t had near the star power that St. Louis had. We’ve had seven players make it while playing the majority of their career in our town. Others haven’t been so lucky.
Here’s a look at a handful of teams with one or no Super Bowls and their Hall of Famers in the span St. Louis had a team and could have had an eligible Hall of Famer, 1960-2012.
Atlanta Falcons: (2) Claude Humphrey, Deion Sanders
Cleveland Browns: (7) Paul Warfield, Ozzie Newsome, Jim Brown, Lou Groza, Gene Hickerson, Leroy Kelly, Joe DeLamielleure.
Chicago Bears: (10) Doug Atkins, Dick Butkus, Richard Dent, Mike Ditka, Bill George, Dan Hampton, Stan Jones, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Mike Singletary.
Detroit Lions: (7) Lem Barney, Dick Lane, Yale Lary, Dick LeBeau, Barry Sanders, Charlie Sanders, Joe Schmidt.
Kansas City Chiefs: (9) Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanon, Curly Culp, Len Dawson, Willie Lanier, Will Shields, Jan Stenerud, Derrick Thomas, Emmitt Thomas.
New Orleans Saints: (3) Morten Andersen, Rickey Jackson, Willie Roaf
New York Jets: (4) Curtis Martin, Don Maynard, Joe Namath, John Riggins.
Philadelphia Eagles: (3) Bob Brown, Sonny Jurgensen, Reggie White.
San Diego Chargers: (8) Lance Alworth, Fred Dean, Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, Ron Mix, Junior Seau, LaDainian Tomlinson, Kellen Winslow.
Houston Oilers/Texans: (8) Elvin Bethea, George Blanda, Earl Campbell, Curly Culp, Ken Houston, Bruce Matthews, Warren Moon, Mike Munchak.
San Diego might get one more in Philip Rivers, and St. Louis could get a few more in Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. But the seven we have so far during the NFL’s stay in St. Louis were worth the price of admission. And as our teams were in their time here, the great players and high points were as good as or better than a lot of cities enjoyed.
We hope it’s not the case, but Warner’s induction could be the last NFL moment for St. Louis. Let’s hope St. Louis makes it great on August 5.
Video: Kurt Warner Describes the Moment He Learned He Was Headed to the Hall of Fame