Smith, Brown for Hall
As the day when Art Monk and Darrell Green are to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame comes closer I can’t help but think about two Redskins who are not in the Hall but should be. I am referring to Jerry Smith and Larry Brown.
Jerry Smith played tight end for the Redskins from 1965 through 1977. During those years he caught passes thrown by Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer. He played in one Super Bowl — Super Bowl VII, a loss to the Miami Dolphins — and two Pro Bowls (1967, 1969). He was also selected first team All Pro twice and is one of the 70 Greatest Redskins of All Time.
I think Smith deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His career statistics exceed the stats of many of the tight ends who are currently in the Hall. Let’s look at the record.
Jerry Smith’s career statistics look like this:
Total Yards: 5,496
Currently there are seven tight ends in the Hall — Dave Casper, Mike Ditka, John Mackey, Ozzie Newsome, Charlie Sanders, Jackie Smith and Kellen Winslow. Their stats look like this:
Total Yards: 5,216
Total Yards: 5,812
Total Yards: 5,236
Total Yards: 7,980
Total Yards: 4,817
Total Yards: 7,918
Total Yards: 6,741
The stats alone show that Smith is worthy of the honor. And, the selectors say that when push comes to shove, it is the stats that they rely on. So why isn’t Jerry Smith in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
Larry Brown was the running back for the Redskins from 1969 through 1976. He was the first Redskins’ back to gain more than 1,000 in a single season — he did that twice. He was the League’s MVP in 1972 and was selected to four Pro Bowls (1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972). He holds the franchise record for most touchdowns in a game (4) against the Philadelphia Eagles (December 16, 1973). And he was tough. His running style threw caution to the wind. He often hurdled his body through the air to get those extra few yards. Because of his style of running, he was often hurt. But he played anyway. Said Brown, “The goal was always more important to me than the obstacles and distractions, including pain.” And he took a beating. In his career he carried the ball 1,530 times and gained 5,875 yards. That means he averaged close to 4 yards per carry. He was highly respected by the players who played against and with him. But he didn’t take any sh** from anyone. In a game against the New York Giants (October 29, 1972) Brown ran for about 190 yards. But it wasn’t the yardage of which he was most proud. A Giant defender was roughing up Brown after the whistle had been blown to end plays. Finally, Brown had just about enough and he delivered a punch which landed on the helmet. The impact tore a large piece of skin off the back of his hand. The team doctor treated the injury and Brown continued to play. In fact, he didn’t miss a play.
But Brown also overcame a physical handicap. He was completely deaf in one ear. While reviewing practice and game films in slow motion, then coach Vince Lombardi noticed that Brown was seconds late getting off the snap. Lombardi got permission from the League to fit Brown’s helmet with a hearing aide and the rest, as they say, is history.
It’s probably true that Brown’s stats don’t match up to other running backs who are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But being honored as a member of such an esteem institution should not rely only on stats. The player’s character, leadership abilities and team play should also be taken into account. I believe that if players were a part of the process of selecting members of the Hall, Larry Brown would already be in.
So, what can we do about this? As Redskins fans don’t we have an obligation to make a wrong right? Others have made the Hall as a result of a campaign. Why can’t Redskins fans execute a campaign to get both Jerry Smith and Larry Brown into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.