With former Raiders great Ray Guy sounding off on the absence of punters from the Hall of Fame, Guy has given the media fresh meat for the questioning of NFL types.
Surprisingly, the subject prompted Pats coach Bill Belichick to offer up something much more than a disinterested, perfunctory, half-hearted reply.
“I think that’s a good question,” Belichick said Friday when asked about the relevance of the kicker position to the Hall of Fame, via comments distributed by the team. “I don’t know what Hall of Fame means. There are guys who have great, long careers. There are other guys with very short careers in the Hall of Fame, from championship teams. There are guys that never or hardly ever played on winning teams. There are guys with personal stats, there are guys with I’d say less personal stats but maybe more championships or more longevity.
“I don’t know what the criteria is for the Hall of Fame, I’m not in any position to be honest with you. That’s something you’d have to ask the Hall of Fame committee or voters or something like that, because I don’t really know what the criteria is. I don’t know if it’s ever been defined.
“I don’t know if it’s a popularity contest or if it’s a political thing. I don’t know what it is. It’s hard for me to believe that, as great as this game is, that there are no punters and one kicker in the Hall of Fame. We can argue that they only play ‘X’ number of plays and everybody else plays a different number of plays but they’re still significant players at their position. Again, what the criteria is for them, I don’t know.”
Belichick had a kicker named Adam Vinatieri, who provided the margin of victory in each of New England’s Super Bowl win. Belichick thinks Vinatieri, whom he’ll face Sunday, should have a bronze bust in Canton.
“He’s certainly one of the greatest kickers I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in the league — the longevity, the production, the performance in championships and big games,” Belichick said. “What more could he do? Go out there and play wide receiver and catch a bunch of passes? Is that what he needs to do? I don’t know. What more could he do? I don’t know what more Dave Jennings could have done at his position or Ray Guy or guys like that. What else would they have had to do? Get a bunch of interceptions? We don’t judge quarterbacks on their rushing yardage. We don’t judge them on how many tackles they made. I don’t know if we even judge them on how many games they win. We judge them on a lot of their quarterback rating and stats and running backs on rushing yardage. What does a guy have to do if he excels at his position? Is that good enough? I don’t know. Like I said, you’d have to ask somebody that knows a lot more about it than I do because I don’t understand what the criteria is.”
The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a uniform, objective criteria. Instead, it’s more of a “know it when you see it”-type thing, and the problem with only a handful of available spots every year is that there always will be non-kickers who are deemed more worthy than kickers.
That’s the real issue. For every guy who isn’t in who should be in, someone who is in needs to be out.
While the process is far from perfect, no tweaks to the rules will ever alter that basic reality.