Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Discuss candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the PFRA's Hall of Very Good

Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby JameisLoseston » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:40 pm

In my opinion, the HOVG has been, well, very good at inducting the right players, much better than the HOF on average, which has accepted several solidly HOVG level guys. However, while I'm sure we can all agree on this matter, I doubt any of us think it's perfect either. So what do you think are its biggest mistakes? Who got in who shouldn't have, and who deserves to get in who hasn't received fair consideration yet?

For me, worst player in has to be Jack Kemp. HOVG is miles better than HOF at picking QBs in particular, but this one just boggles the mind. Kemp was not even league average once, he was equally bad his entire career with zero good seasons, and his Bills tenure in particular was a dumpster fire on wheels. He played in 6 championship games, his 57.3 career rating was dragged kicking and screaming to all of them, and he played like flaming garbage in at least 4. I find it interesting how it's only terrible NFL QBs who enter government and public service after retirement: Davey O'Brien, Whizzer White, Jack Kemp, Heath Shuler...

For the best players not in, I find myself looking to the receiver position; we somehow just now got Art Powell in, and now I'd like to see Bill Groman, Homer Jones, or even Lionel Taylor. On defense, Coy Bacon feels like a particularly glaring omission; has he been on multiple ballots? But for my number one pick I have to go with Billy Sims, who has almost identical credentials to Terrell Davis and Gale Sayers, who are both HOF and the latter first ballot. Sims is at least HOVG. Can't control injuries.
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Re: Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby conace21 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:15 pm

JameisLoseston wrote:For me, worst player in has to be Jack Kemp. HOVG is miles better than HOF at picking QBs in particular, but this one just boggles the mind. Kemp was not even league average once, he was equally bad his entire career with zero good seasons, and his Bills tenure in particular was a dumpster fire on wheels. He played in 6 championship games, his 57.3 career rating was dragged kicking and screaming to all of them, and he played like flaming garbage in at least 4. I find it interesting how it's only terrible NFL QBs who enter government and public service after retirement: Davey O'Brien, Whizzer White, Jack Kemp, Heath Shuler...

Are you basing this off any personal observations or just reading the stat sheets? Kemp was the consensus 1st Team All-AFL twice, in 1960 and 1965. He was also the AFL Player of the Year in 1965. He made 2nd Team All AFL 2x. So to say Kemp was not even league average once is incorrect.
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Re: Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby TanksAndSpartans » Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:00 am

A recent one I didn't vote for is Earl Morrall - he played a position where coming up big in a few big games is a big deal and as a result is probably better known than a lot of HOFers in most circles, but looking at the entire career, I would say a notch below on him.

Obviously, I'm going to say Latone, but I can actually see why people don't vote for him. The biggest head scratcher for me is George Christensen, a solid All-Decade player, seems like a no-brainer but fails to get in every year.
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Re: Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby JameisLoseston » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:08 am

conace21 wrote:
JameisLoseston wrote:For me, worst player in has to be Jack Kemp. HOVG is miles better than HOF at picking QBs in particular, but this one just boggles the mind. Kemp was not even league average once, he was equally bad his entire career with zero good seasons, and his Bills tenure in particular was a dumpster fire on wheels. He played in 6 championship games, his 57.3 career rating was dragged kicking and screaming to all of them, and he played like flaming garbage in at least 4. I find it interesting how it's only terrible NFL QBs who enter government and public service after retirement: Davey O'Brien, Whizzer White, Jack Kemp, Heath Shuler...

Are you basing this off any personal observations or just reading the stat sheets? Kemp was the consensus 1st Team All-AFL twice, in 1960 and 1965. He was also the AFL Player of the Year in 1965. He made 2nd Team All AFL 2x. So to say Kemp was not even league average once is incorrect.


I'll give you 1960. Kemp had the best completion, yards, TDs, and rating of his career that year. He was second, second, fifth, and fourth in the 8-team league in those categories respectively. He also scored 8 TDs on the ground, bringing his TD/INT over the Mendoza line. Moreover, there wasn't really any high level QB play in the AFL at all that year, so he wasn't a bad All-Pro pick. He was certainly above league average. But it was also a coin flip between 4 or 5 guys. Also significant was that Len Dawson was not in the league yet. But one season does not a career make, and, well, I already said this was the best completion, yards, TDs, and rating of his career.

Then we get to 1965, which did nothing to distinguish itself and may have been one of his worse seasons. It was very, very Jack Kemp; an average completion and yardage output for him, his fewest TDs (but also second fewest INTs), and a rating a hair below his average. However, again, this was one of those odd years where there really wasn't any superlative QB play at all. Len Dawson was in the league by now, but he also had one of his worst years. Still, however, he led the league in completion by a bit, TDs by one and rating by a lot, because it seemed like he couldn't not lead in rating. Dawson was still the right All-Pro pick here, and probably John Hadl for second team. Kemp seemed a touch below league average, and had no business being anywhere near a POY trophy.

All in all, it's far easier to argue that the awards voters were stumped in bad league years, drawing lots, and Kemp got lucky because his teams dragged him to relevance, than that he earned any of it. In years where the QB play was better, Kemp was routinely bringing up the rear, sharing space with the likes of Dick Wood, Cotton Davidson, and whatever the Broncos threw out there. Those seasons count for his HOVG candidacy too. And they stunk. He stunk like clockwork, probably the most consistently mediocre quarterback I've ever seen. After 1960, he never got better or worse. He's actually a perfect case study for why it's important to dig deeper into the circumstances of awards results, rather than just blindly posting resumes like (7/2/60s) and expecting them to mean anything on their own. And I didn't even get to those 7 Pro Bowls... I can only say that the voters either didn't care about effectiveness as long as the team won, or were deliriously high. Hey, it was the 60s!

What do you all think of the case for Billy Sims?
Last edited by JameisLoseston on Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby JeffreyMiller » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:13 am

Is it your intent to just throw things at the wall a d see what will stick?
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Re: Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby JameisLoseston » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:58 am

TanksAndSpartans wrote:A recent one I didn't vote for is Earl Morrall - he played a position where coming up big in a few big games is a big deal and as a result is probably better known than a lot of HOFers in most circles, but looking at the entire career, I would say a notch below on him.

Obviously, I'm going to say Latone, but I can actually see why people don't vote for him. The biggest head scratcher for me is George Christensen, a solid All-Decade player, seems like a no-brainer but fails to get in every year.


Earl Morrall comes off to me as a case of being treated extremely unfairly by his teams. He was awesome almost every time he was given significant run as a starter, and it's baffling why he never got a more extended look. That he managed to put together a totally solid career despite being the league butt monkey is actually pretty impressive. HOVG seems to be the right amount of benefit of the doubt to give him in my opinion, but I can definitely get the aversion against voting for someone who was mostly a career backup.
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Re: Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby Rupert Patrick » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:50 am

[quote="JameisLoseston"But for my number one pick I have to go with Billy Sims, who has almost identical credentials to Terrell Davis and Gale Sayers, who are both HOF and the latter first ballot. Sims is at least HOVG. Can't control injuries.[/quote]

Sims rates a notch below both Davis and Sayers. Sims may be HOVG, but he never rushed for 2,000 yards in a season, or won two Super Bowl rings. Davis was in my opinion the key factor behind Denver's two Super Bowl victories, he was the missing ingredient that John Elway never had before, an elite running back who could take the pressure off him. With Sayers, you also have the punt and kickoff returns, and he was among the best at that I have ever seen.

Comparing Sims's career (60 games) to Davis 95-98 (before his injury - 61 games), Sims rushing line is 1131-5016-42-4.435, Davis is 1343-6013-56-4.775. Davis rushed for 105 yards per game compared to 84 for Sims, 25 percent more, and rushed for 33 percent more touchdowns, and rushed for a third of a yard more per carry, and won a league MVP, and a Super Bowl MVP, rushed for over 2000 yards in a season, and twice led the league in touchdowns. Terrell Davis was considered a controversial HOF selection by some, but I feel what he accomplished from 1995-98 was enough to get him into the HOF in the short-but-brilliant career defense. Could Billy Sims have accomplished the same things had he been drafted by the Broncos in 1995? Perhaps, but he wasn't. Terrell Davis was.

Gale Sayers twice led the NFL in rushing and twice led the NFL in kickoff return average; off the top of my head I believe he is the only person ever to lead in both categories, and in fact, he led in both in the 1966 season. His 30.6 career yards per kickoff return average remains the highest in pro football history, and three time he led the NFL in all purpose yards, once leading in yards from scrimmage. Looking at Sayers yards per carry for the five full seasons during his career, 5.2, 5.4, 4.7, 6.2, 4.4, and Billy Sims career rushing average is 4.43. I can't put Sims in the same class with Sayers either. Gale Sayers is also a HOFer, he also passes the short but brilliant career test in my opinion, and unlike Davis, played for a lot of really bad teams.

Billy Sims was really good in his prime, and his career may merit HOVG. Among contemporaries, I think I would rate him behind William Andrews for the HOVG. But I cannot make a HOF argument for Sims based on short but brilliant career. I do not see his career being anywhere near identical to either Terrell Davis or Gale Sayers.
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Re: Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby TanksAndSpartans » Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:00 am

Sims was actually my favorite player not on my team as a kid in the 80s, but I agree with Rupert - I don't think he warrants HOF discussion. I'd rather have him and Andrews in the HOVG than Abner Haynes though, another one I didn't vote for. Its been mentioned before, there's probably a natural tendency to go heavier on the skill position players, I'm sure I do the same, but once in a while I balance it out by not voting for one. Sayers, Andrews, Sims - would the knee surgeries they do not have brought any of them back?
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Re: Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby bachslunch » Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:28 am

Hard to choose one significant omission, but among them:

Abe Woodson
Lionel Taylor
Earl Faison
Houston Antwine
Mike Stratton
George Christensen
John Niland
Tommy Davis
Mark Gastineau
Mike Kenn
Marvin Powell

There aren’t many head-scratchers among those already in, though I could see Jack Kemp making such a list. Kyle Rote and Ray Wietecha seem like curious choices to me as well.
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Re: Worst player in HOVG? Best player not in?

Postby JameisLoseston » Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:49 pm

Rupert: I will grant you Sayers, I briefly forgot to consider his return prowess. I think Davis is a good comparison, however, and while Davis did have better output than Sims, I do like Davis as a HOFer; the main argument against, imo, is the amount of Olandis Garys and Mike Andersons thereafter who waltzed to big seasons behind
Shanahan and that line. TD was better than all of them, but considering that, Davis' HOF case makes Sims' HOVG case extremely hard to dismiss.

The critical point you forgot to highlight was Sims' receiving work, which is what I think seals his HOVG case. His receiving in both of his first two healthy seasons was enough to almost get him to 2000 and 20 from scrimmage, which is far more impressive than his rushing stats taken alone, which would not merit HOVG induction. William Andrews, who you mention, also has this going for him, but he was so TD-starved that it makes him a bit more difficult imo, even though I'd also definitely support and vote for him. Davis was a competent receiver, but in terms of total scrimmage output, Sims' best two seasons (his first two) were about equal to Davis' second and third best seasons (the two before his 2000/20). Sims was also still an elite per game producer every year of his career, even after he started getting injured. Seems undisputed HOVG to me.
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