of Very Good
in 2002, the Hall of Very Good seeks to honor outstanding
players and coaches who are not in the Hall of Fame.
Class of 2015
Team(s): Baltimore Colts (1955-60)
Bio: After winning the Heisman Trophy in 1954 at the University of Wisconsin, Alan Ameche was the third pick in the 1955 draft. He ran 79 yards for a touchdown on his first NFL carry and went on to lead the league in rushing yards, touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. He was fourth in rushing yards in 1956 and second in 1958, and was also a receiving threat who caught more passes than any NFL fullback in both 1955 and 1956. Ameche was a regular on the all-pro teams for five years including 1955 when he was selected to everybody’s first team, and he was selected to the Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons (1955-58). Ameche was a mainstay on a Colts team that rose from doormats to win NFL championships in 1958 and 1959. He scored one of the most famous touchdowns in football history, the championship-winning score in overtime against the Giants in the 1958 title game. With the Colts in first place in 1960 in pursuit of a third straight title, Ameche suffered a serious Achilles tendon injury. Baltimore fell out of contention with four consecutive losses to close the year and Ameche retired after just six seasons.
Team(s): Chicago Bears (1955-64), Washington Redskins (1965), Miami Dolphins (1966)
Bio: Selected 18th overall by the Chicago Bears in the 1954 NFL Draft, Rick Casares made an immediate impact in Chicago. Like Ameche, he scored on a long touchdown (81 yards) on his first career carry. He led the Bears in rushing each season from 1955 through 1960 and topped the NFL in rushing by a wide margin in 1956 when he amassed 1,126 yards good for 4.8 yards per carry. Casares also led the league that year with 14 touchdowns and 12 rushing touchdowns. His yardage total was just 20 yards shy of the NFL single-season rushing record and the Bears won the Western Conference. Casares spent ten years with the Bears and was the team’s all-time rushing leader with 5,657 yards until Walter Payton. He made five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, was a first team all-pro in 1956 and a second team all-pro several other times. The Bears were contenders for much of Casares’s stay in Chicago and in 1963 he provided veteran leadership as the team won the NFL championship. He went on to play one season each with the NFL's Washington Redskins and the AFL expansion Miami Dolphins.
Position: Linebacker/Middle Guard
Team(s): Green Bay Packers (1953-63)
Bio: The 1950’s were bleak times for the Green Bay Packers and linebacker Bill Forester was one of their few bright spots. He was only 20 years old when he was drafted in the third round by the Packers, and he earned a starting job as a rookie in 1953. From his outside linebacker position, Forester intercepted 21 passes in his career and in 1955 and 1957 led all NFL linebackers in picks. When the Packers became contenders in 1959, Forester began to earn postseason honors as he was named to four straight Pro Bowls (1959-62). He was also a first team all-pro three straight years (1960-62) and earned second team honors in 1963. Forester, Dan Currie and Ray Nitschke were an outstanding linebacking trio and the heart of a Green Bay defense that did not allow a single offensive score to the high-powered Giants in either the 1961 or 1962 Championship Games. Forester retired after the 1963 season when the 11-2-1 Packers finished second behind the Bears.
Position: Defensive End/Linebacker
Team(s): Oakland Raiders (1966), Denver Broncos (1967-72), Cleveland Browns (1972)
Bio: The trading of Rich Jackson was one of the few personnel mistakes Al Davis ever made. Undrafted out of Southern University, Jackson played five games for the Oakland Raiders in 1966. He was traded the following year to the Denver Broncos and soon became one of the best defensive ends in the American Football League and in the post-1970 merger NFL. The esteemed Paul Zimmerman, a long-time football writer for Sports Illustrated, has called Jackson one of the very best DEs he’s ever seen. Jackson’s accomplishments while he was healthy bear out that judgement. He was all-AFL in 1968 and 1969 including to all of the all-league teams in 1969 and was picked to play in the AFL All-Star game both seasons. Jackson continued his elite play in 1970 when he was picked to every all-pro team and for part of 1971. He suffered a severe knee injury halfway through the 1971 season, however, and was never the same. He was traded to the Cleveland Browns during the 1972 season and retired at the end of the year.
Position: Head Coach
Team(s): Los Angeles Rams (1973-77), Buffalo Bills (1978-82), Seattle Seahawks (1983-91), Los Angeles Rams (1992-94)
Bio: Chuck Knox was a believer in sound, fundamental football, including a run-first, ball-control offense that observers labeled "Ground Chuck." He combined his conservative offensive approach with aggressive defenses to compile a career head-coaching record of 186-147-1 and seven division titles in 22 seasons. Knox is the only coach in league history to win a division title with three different teams and he won Coach of the Year honors three times (1973, 1980 and 1984). In 1973, Knox coached the Rams to a superlative 12-2 record in his first season as a head coach one year after they finished 6-7-1. The Rams also posted a 12-2 record in 1975, finished first in the NFC West in all five of Knox’s years in Los Angeles and advanced to the NFC Championship Game three straight years (1974-76). In the playoffs, Knox’s teams scored road victories over higher-seeded opponents in 1981 and 1983. With the Rams, he experienced the disappointment of three playoff losses to teams with inferior records (1973, 1975 and 1977). Overall, his postseason record was 7-11 including 0-4 in conference championship games. He was enshrined in the Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor in 2005.
Position: Head Coach/Center
Team(s): Columbus Panhandles (1920-21)
Bio: The Nesser brothers were among the biggest stars of pro football during the 1900s and 1910s. Six of them were long time members of the Columbus Panhandles, and some historians have argued that Ted Nesser may have been the best player of the bunch. He played just about every position during his career, most notably at tackle. All of the brothers were renowned for their toughness, but Ted may have been the toughest of the bunch. During a 1908 contest, he broke his arm in two places. He didn’t want to leave the field, despite the fact that the bone was protruding through the skin. He claimed to have broken his nose eight times. Nesser was also considered a great leader and an innovator. He developed several plays – the triple pass, the criss-cross, and the short kickoff – that quickly became part of the standard playbook. By the time the NFL was formed in 1920, Ted was 37-years old. He spent two more years as the Panhandles’ player coach. He was the team’s center in 1921, snapping the ball to his son Charlie, the starting tailback.
Position: Wide Receiver/Split End
Team(s): San Francisco 49ers (1969-77), Detroit Lions (1979)
Bio: Gene Washington was an integral part of the 49ers transformation from a sub-.500 team to division winners for the first time. Possessed of outstanding speed, Washington was an immediate deep threat and remained one for most of his career. As a rookie, he made the Pro Bowl, was a 2nd team all-pro and was named to The Sporting News all-rookie team. He also finished in the top ten in receptions, the first of many times he would be among the league leaders in the important receiving categories. Washington’s best season was probably 1970 as the 49ers won the NFC West and he finished 1st in receiving yards, 4th in touchdowns, 2nd in receiving touchdowns and 7th in yards per catch. He again made the Pro Bowl and was a first teamer on all the all-pro squads. Washington had excellent seasons in 1971 and 1972 when the 49ers repeated in the NFC West, as he was selected for the Pro Bowl both seasons, was a second team all-pro in 1971 and a first teamer in 1972. He had outstanding career marks in yards per catch with 17.8 and in TDs per catch with one every 6.25 receptions. Washington enjoyed a second career as an actor and was for many years the NFL’s Director of Football Operations.
Entire Hall of Very Good
into the Professional Football Hall of Fame after induction
into the Hall of Very Good.