The San Francisco 49ers can’t complain, as they had two members, Charles Haley and Eddie DeBartolo Jr., make the final 15 candidates for the 2014 Professional Football Hall of Fame. They can, however, whimper just a little, as they were slighted when Roger Craig was again left off that finalist list. Based on the fact that the 49ers were the team of the 80s, all three of these guys should have a bust in Canton.
Haley deserves to be in the HOF purely because he is the only player in NFL history to acquire five Super Bowl rings. He earned two championships as a member of the 49ers and three as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Haley was not only a part of five Super Bowl championship teams, but he was a major contributor on all of those teams. He contributed 100.5 sacks over his 13-year career. Haley was on the 15 finalist list in 2010 and 2011 and did not make it to Canton. I think it is about time for Haley to get the nod.
DeBartolo Jr., former owner of the 49ers, has also made the final list and rightfully so. DeBartolo bank rolled the 49ers team to four Super Bowls in the 1980s. DeBartolo was responsible for hiring coaching genius Bill Walsh and the rest is well, history. In a time when there was no salary cap and big pockets led the way, DeBartolo was a major player in the NFL game of the 80s. He paid to bring great players to San Francisco and then paid to keep them around for years to come. He also fostered an environment where players wanted to play for the 49ers and stay there. For these reasons, I feel DeBartolo is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame voting committee dropped the ball, though, when they did not vote Craig to at least the final list for the fourth year in a row. This is a football travesty. How can he have not made the HOF yet? Craig was an integral part of three Super Bowl championship 49ers teams during the 1980s. He also high-stepped his way to becoming the first player to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in one season, back in 1985. In fact, that feat has only been accomplished one other time by Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, in 1999. Craig along with Chuck Foreman are the only running backs to lead the NFL in receptions for a single season, and Craig is the only back to ever record over 100 receiving yards in a Super Bowl. He was also named the Associated Press’ 1998 NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Considering all this, it is clear that the voters should reconsider next year and get Roger Craig a spot in Canton. The San Francisco 49ers will be happy if two alums in Haley and DeBartolo Jr. are voted into the Professional Football of Fame in 2014, but they must also be questioning why Craig is no longer getting enough votes to make it to the final list. Maybe 2015 will be the year for Craig. For the time being at least, let’s hope the committee does the right thing and votes Charles Haley and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. into the Hall of Fame. They both deserve enshrinement.