Cliff Branch, Dick Vermeil are finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022

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Cliff Branch and Dick Vermeil are the first two finalists named for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022.

Branch has been chosen as the senior finalist, while Vermeil has been chosen as the coach finalist, the Hall of Fame announced today. Their candidacies will be voted on the day before the Super Bowl, along with a contributor finalist who will be named next week and 15 player finalists who will be named in January.

The Class of 2022 will have between four and eight members. Branch and Vermeil will be voted upon separately from the rest of the class.

Branch was drafted by the Raiders in 1972 and played for them through 1986. He won three Super Bowl rings, was a three-time first-team All-Pro, led the league in receiving yards in 1974 and finished his career with 501 catches for 8,685 yards and 67 touchdowns.

Vermeil became the Eagles’ head coach in 1976 and led them to the Super Bowl (losing to Branch’s Raiders) in 1980. He retired after the 1982 season, citing burnout, but returned to coaching with the Rams in 1997. He led them to a Super Bowl victory in 1999 before retiring again, but just a year later he again came back, coaching the Chiefs for five seasons before retiring for good.

Branch died in 2019. Vermeil released a statement to the Hall of Fame saying, “I am overwhelmed. I’m not sure I belong there.”

21 responses to “Cliff Branch, Dick Vermeil are finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022

  1. Now that Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy are in Canton, there is a long list of guys who should be following them in… Holmgren, Vermeil, Mike Shanahan to name three and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone…

  2. The HOF is so biased. The fact that Ken Anderson and Ken Riley aren’t in is a joke.

  3. Branch, absolutely. He was underrated if that is possible/makes me sick he and Ken Riley had to pass away before they got in. A disgrace by the NFL, really.

    Jerome Bettis, Terrell Davis, etc are in but 2 very elite player over a 15 year span, somehow didn’t get in.

    Vermeil, not so much. Nice career and everything, 1 ring. Feels like Dungy where it’s just not really a thing for them to be in.

  4. NinersFan1973 says:
    August 24, 2021 at 4:50 pm
    Now that Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy are in Canton, there is a long list of guys who should be following them in… Holmgren, Vermeil, Mike Shanahan to name three and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone…

    0 0 Rate This

    —————-

    Absolutely not.

  5. Happy for both but surprised. Two years in a row for receivers rather than defense. I like Vermeil but he could have waited. Buddy Parker should have been the pick.

  6. To have Swann and Pearson in before Branch is a travesty, and I saw all of them play.

  7. I personally agree with Vermeil’s take, he probably doesn’t belong there, as much as I like him. Schottenheimer probably would more likely belong there than Vermeil, but he couldn’t win in the playoffs while Vermeil could.

  8. Branch should have been in the HOF a while ago. When the Raiders were once consistently one of the best teams in football, and in an offense loaded with HOFers (Stabler, Casper, Biletnikoff, Shell, Upshaw, and later Marcus Allen), Branch was THE home run threat despite his size

  9. touchback6 says:
    August 24, 2021 at 4:58 pm
    Branch, absolutely. He was underrated if that is possible/makes me sick he and Ken Riley had to pass away before they got in. A disgrace by the NFL, really.

    —————

    Don’t forget, Stabler had to die before he got in, too. That’s a huge disgrace.

  10. Shame on the HOF for finally essentially voting Cliff in after he died. He should have been voted in 20 years ago. He’s still something like #3 in playoff stats and was way better than that wuss Swann.

  11. always enjoyed watching him when I got to see OAK play on tv – and back then it was a lot being as good as they were each year. Nothing better than OAK/PIT battle to go to SB. This from a Jets fan who didn’t see any Jet postseason in 70’s.

  12. Both Drew Pearson and Lynn Swann were on the Pro Football Hall of Fame All Decade Team 1970s. Both were 1st Team. 2nd Team was Harold Carmichael and Paul Warfield. All of them are in the Hall Of Fame.

  13. “Vermeil, not so much. Nice career and everything, 1 ring. Feels like Dungy where it’s just not really a thing for them to be in.”
    ____________

    Oh, it’s FAR worse than Dungy. Dungy went 139-69 overall and won 75% of his games with Indy. Vermeil was 120-109 for his career and had an overall losing record with St. Louis where he won his only Super Bowl. He’s a wonderful guy but if he qualifies you might as well say every Super Bowl winning coach should be in.

  14. Imagine being Otis Taylor and watching dudes who played in your era and then just after you retired getting selected.

    And you were The prototype wide receiver for the early modern era. The only reason you’re not gaining mentions is because most of the rest of your team mates from the 1960s were already selected and enshrined. Can’t be voting in entire rosters from the old AFL from one team.

    Posthumously ‘honored’… in another 30 years.

  15. mtintex says:
    August 24, 2021 at 5:38 pm
    Both Drew Pearson and Lynn Swann were on the Pro Football Hall of Fame All Decade Team 1970s. Both were 1st Team. 2nd Team was Harold Carmichael and Paul Warfield. All of them are in the Hall Of Fame.
    __________________________

    While Swann probably deserves to be in the HOF you could make a very good argument that there were many years he wasn’t even the best receiver on his own team. But since he was the pretty boy 1st round pick from USC and that blathering drunk Cosell loved him well….

  16. Cliff branch is a no brainer, and a head-scratcher as to why so many others made it in before he was considered for enshrinement.
    Dick vermeil is a different case. Vermeil took two franchises in sad repair to a super bowl and won one. He took a third franchsise from disarray and made them a contender. As a coach, he was great. The poor win-loss record was due to early bad seasons as his system and culture was being built in all three franchises. Ultimately he won in all three franchises.
    His other big impact was as an announcer. He was well prepared- knew situational football and had a ream of stats and background on every player. When he commented, it was pure football talk, throughout the broadcast. He was well prepared because he did the research and crunched the numbers- before the internet was available to retrieve the info- like it is for announcers today. many of the best announcers today do the same thing Vermeil did back in the 80’s. I’d like to see him get in because of his impact on the game and the three franchises. If you didn’t have Vermeil in KC, Andy Reid may have never ended up there. Reid consulted Vermeil before taking the job. I understand others who know only about his statistics-thinking he doesn’t belong. I’d submit that he is a borderline ‘belongs’ in the HoF, but lean towards enshrinement.
    Other coaches have left the game and come back after multiple years- Vermeil was the one who was successful upon his return-ultimately he was a student of the game and learned from his mistakes in Philly, and was a teacher to the players. He taught success to young men and the practices it takes to be successful, like John Wooden did in UCLA. He is not john Wooden, but he is a great coach.

  17. Re: Otis Taylor, spot on comment about a player very deserving of enshrinement. As a 50+ year Raider fan, I can state w/ certainty that he’s the reason Len Dawson has a bust in Canton.

  18. nflhistorybuff68 says:
    August 24, 2021 at 4:59 pm
    Happy for both but surprised. Two years in a row for receivers rather than defense. I like Vermeil but he could have waited. Buddy Parker should have been the pick.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Wow, Buddy Parker? you got me reading up. Even I don’t go that far back with firsthand knowledge… interesting comment. (Thanks)

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