A year ago this coming Saturday, Darrell Green was in Arizona in order to attend the announcement of the Class of 2009 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Art Monk didn't go West with his former Washington Redskins teammate but there's no doubt that he kept his cell phone on just in case his name was called in that press conference. As we know, both Green and Monk ended up on the list for enshrinement.
This coming Saturday, Russ Grimm, another member of those storied Redskins teams, will not be hanging around any media gatherings. He will be tough to reach by phone. During that time he and the rest of the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff will be making final preparations for the Super Bowl.
Will Grimm, who is one of the 15 modern-day finalists, get that call this year?
His resume for Canton is solid but it makes him far from a slam dunk. Since his position does not involve statistics, at least not his own, one must look at other, much more subjective criteria get examined by the committee.
The major strength in Grimm's case is that he was chosen as a guard on the NFL's All-1980's team. That's an impressive feather in his helmet. It means that there is an affirmative answer to this question considered to be key for induction: Was he among the very best at his position for an extended period of time?
While making such a team is a strong resume enhancement, it's not a guarantee of induction. Of the 22 offensive players on the all-80's team, 16 are in the Hall and a 17th, Jerry Rice, will sail to induction when he's eligible next year. Of the four guards on that team, two are in, John Hannah and Mike Munchak, are in while Grimm and Bill Fralic are not.
The four consecutive berths on the AP All-Pro team—that's the best among both conferences—earned by Grimm from 1983-1986 speaks to a period of dominance at his position as well.
After receiving that honor in 1986, Grimm figured to be aboard the express train to Canton but then injuries started to derail his chances. He missed 27 games from 1987 through 1989 and, although he did get back into the lineup for the Redskins' last Super Bowl run in 1991, he never again made any kind of all-pro or all-conference team and he didn't play in another Pro Bowl.
The fact that Grimm appeared in just four Pro Bowls in the major factor working against his induction. The members of the selection committee like to have numbers to justify their decisions and multiple Pro Bowls are big for offensive linemen. There is no magic number but eight to ten seems to where that stat works strongly in favor of a potential enshrinee.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated, a member of the committee, puts the odds of Grimm getting in at 6:1. He seems to be a supporter of Grimm:
Hard to believe there's no Washington Hog in the Hall from maybe the greatest offensive line in history, but I don't sense much traction for Grimm. I hope I'm wrong.
The key number always is five. That's the maximum number of the 15 finalists that can get in in one year. (There are two veterans' committee nominees but they are considered separately). Bruce Smith, who finished his career in Washington, will certainly get in. Rod Woodson has a very strong case and is likely to get selected.
Beyond that the outlook is murky. It may come down to whether or not they decide to give one of the five spots to a contributor—Paul Tagliabue and Ralph Wilson also are finalists. That almost certainly would leave Grimm on the outside looking in.
Even if a guard is selected, Grimm's case is about the same as that of Bob Kuechenberg of the Dolphins and Kuechenberg seems to be more likely to get selected. He went to six Pro Bowls, played for a winning team, and he has been waiting longer than Grimm. Since the committee tends to take things like that into consideration the presence of Kuechenberg makes Grimm's selection unlikely.
Grimm's best chance is if the committee decides to indulge in another of its quirks, clearing a backlog. Occasionally when there are few certain first-ballot candidates they will take advantage of the opportunity to put in multiple nominees who played one position in order to get them in before their Hall of Fame fate goes into the hands of the veterans committee.
That's a slim possibility, one that's not great enough to make watching the telecast of the announcement of the selections must-watch TV like it was last year. But keep you ears open to see if the long shot comes through and a deserving Hog gets the call to Canton.