The NFL and Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 2018 Enshrinement Class last night, bringing seven players and an executive into the Canton, Ohio based Hall of Fame. Randy Moss, Terrell Owns, Ray Lewis, and Brian Urlacher headline the group, which also includes Jerry Kramer, Brian Dawkins, Robert Brazile, and Bobby Beathard. Beathard has ties to the Miami Dolphins, having been the Director of Player Personnel in the 1970s, including for the 1972 Perfect Season team, but it does not appear the Dolphins will see any of their legendary players make it into the Hall of Fame for the next several years.
That does not mean there are not worthy players who should be in the Hall of Fame, but for whatever reason cannot get the recognition.
Kuechenberg was never a favorite with the media, and he seemed to like it that way. That does not change what he did on the field, playing 14 seasons, with 176 starts out of 196 games played, primarily serving as the team’s left guard. He was selected to six Pro Bowls and was a First-Team All-Pro in 1975 and 1978. He was a member of the team’s Super Bowl championships in 1972 and 1973, as well as being a part of the 1971 and 1982 AFC Championship teams. Kuechenberg played with Bob Griese and Dan Marino, he was on the same offensive line as Jim Langer, Larry Little, and Dwight Stephenson, and he was a lockdown guard for all those years. Kuechenberg was a Hall of Fame finalist from 2002 to 2009, but was never elected to the Hall of Fame.
After a 13-year NFL career (nearly 14, if a concussion had not ended his stint with the Kansas City Chiefs before it began), Thomas cannot get any love for the Hall of Fame despite being a mainstay in the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams for nearly a decade. After seven Pro Bowl selections and five First-Team All-Pro selections, Thomas should be a consideration for the Hall of Fame. He was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s, was the AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1996, and was the Linebacker of the Year twice (1998 and 2006). His 1,727 career tackles are more than any Hall of Fame player other than Junior Seau (1,846) and this year’s inductee Ray Lewis (2,055). Comparing Thomas to Urlacher should point to the Dolphins’ 54 making progress toward the Hall of Fame after the Bears’ 54 was a first-ballot selection:
13 yrs, 22 INT (2TD), 85 PD, 11 FF, 15 FR (2TD), 41.5 sacks, 1354 tackles = HOF— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) February 4, 2018
13 yrs, 17 INT (4TD), 38 PD, 16 FF, 8 FR, 20.5 sacks, 1727 tackles = nothing.
8 x Pro Bowl, 4 x First Team All Pro = HOF— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) February 4, 2018
7 x Pro Bowl, 5 x First Team All Pro = nothing
Roby spent 16 seasons in the NFL, ten of them with the Dolphins. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and a two-time First-team All Pro. He appeared in 238 career games from 1983 to 1998, kicking the ball 992 times for 42,951 yards, giving him a career average of 43.3 yards per punt. He only had five punts blocked in his career, with his longest kick coming with the Dolphins in 1987 when he connected on a 77-yard punt. His 45.7 yards per kick average in 1991 led the league, and he spent 13 of his 16 seasons in the top ten in the league in punting average, eight of those in the top five. When you compare Roby to Hall of Fame punter Ray Guy, the comparisons are fairly close. Guy played 14 seasons with seven Pro Bowl selection, three First-Team All Pro selection, a 42.4 yards per kick average, a long of 74 yards, and three blocked kicks. Guy pinned 209 punts inside the 20 during his career (the stat was only kept for the final 11 years of his playing time), while Roby had 298 in his career. Punters do not get a lot of love, but the man that wore a watch to time his own hang time should be a Hall of Fame candidate.
AFC Rookie of the Year. Seven-straight Pro Bowls. Two-time First-Team All Pro. NFL All-Decade Team for the 1990s. Thirteen years played with 183 starts of 184 appearances. Webb was the definition of a dominant left tackle, locking down Dan Marino’s blindside for the second-half of the Hall of Fame quarterback’s career. There is no excuse for why Webb cannot get any traction to getting into the Hall of Fame, a place where he should, rightfully, be.
Arnsparger will not be recognized for his career as a head coach, going 7-28 in two-plus seasons with the New York Giants, but there is no denying the impact he had on the NFL as a defensive coordinator. Moving from the Baltimore Colts to the Dolphins with Don Shula, Arnsparger was promoted from defensive line coach to defensive coordinator and, eventually, assistant head coach. He was with the Dolphins from 1970 through 1973, then again from 1976 to 1983. Zone blitz? Arnsparger development. 3-4 defense? Arnsparger development. Defensive linemen dropping into coverage? Arnsparger. Dick LeBeau is seen as one of the greatest defensive minds in the game. Where did he learn? He went to visit Arnsparger at the University of Florida in the 1980s to try to pull some of the techniques Arnsparger used to create pressure (Arnsparger was working as the Florida Athletic Director). The Dolphins built two legendary defenses under Arnsparger, with the “No-Name Defense” and the “Killer Bs” both leading the team. The use of Bob Matheson in the “53 defense” added a fourth linebacker to the defense, allowing him to either rush or drop into coverage - setting up the formation we now know as the 3-4 defense. Kim Bokamper blitzing on one side of the defense while defensive linemen from the other side dropped back into coverage became the zone blitzing we see now. Defensive tackle Manny Fernandez dropping into coverage - something we still see in the Dolphins with Ndamukong Suh at times - all Arnsparger. If ever a defensive mind needs to be represented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is Arnsparger’s.