Who will be the first Arizona Cardinal to make it into the Hall of Fame? That could be an interesting race.
Former cornerback Aeneas Williams is among the 17 finalists for induction this year, just as he was last year. Williams, drafted by the Cardinals in 1991, is the first homegrown Arizona Cardinal to have a chance at the Hall. He deserves to get there at some point. He made eight Pro Bowls in his career (a decade with the Cards, and then four seasons with the St. Louis Rams), seven as a cornerback. He made one after moving to safety with the Rams. He had 55 interceptions, nine that he returned for touchdowns. Cowboys Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin has often talked about how hard Williams made his life. He was one of the game’s all-time best, although his career was underplayed because the Cardinals were often bad during his playing days.
Williams may be in a waiting game. If he doesn’t get in this year — and it will be tough with the names there — when would it happen?
In the meantime, quarterback Kurt Warner waits for his chance for eligibility. Warner isn’t homegrown, not after successfully breaking in with the Rams. But there is little question that the only reason Warner’s career elevated to possible Hall of Fame status was because he had a rebirth with the Cardinals. Without those years from 2005-2009 — particularly his renaissance with Ken Whisenhunt from 2007-2009 — this wouldn’t even be a topic. Warner’s first year of eligibility comes after the 2014 season, when, in a nice twist of coincidence, the Hall vote will take place at the Super Bowl in Arizona. (Team president Michael Bidwill also said on Radio Row the other day the team’s plans to eventually honor Warner themselves — perhaps the Ring of Honor? — would likely wait until Warner’s Hall status is possible.)
Many believe Warner is a surefire get-in-right-away Hall of Famer, but we will see. There are some significant players that have come up for the Hall of late and will be reaching eligibility over the next few years. There will be a logjam of worthy candidates. If Williams doesn’t get in this year, it’s because of the guys who he is up against. Finalists include Cris Carter, Warren Sapp, Tim Brown, Will Shields, Michael Strahan and Jonathan Ogden, among others. Hopefully, Williams gets in sooner rather than later. Who knows? Maybe they could both get in the same year, in Arizona.
This year’s class is announced at 3:30 p.m. Arizona time Saturday.
UPDATE: Williams did not make it, although he did get to the final 10.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Hall of Fame, Kurt Warner
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At each year’s induction ceremonies at the Pro Football Hall of Fame includes the chance for each Hall of Famer to return to Canton, don his gold jacket and take part in the festivities. That’s something Cardinals assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm — inducted in 2010 — wants to do as much as he can.
This year, he can’t. The Cardinals won’t even arrive in Canton until Saturday night, and besides, Grimm said, “there are priorities.”
“I’ve got three young kids we drafted and a couple more young kids (on the offensive line), those are priorities,” Grimm said. “I’d rather spend an extra day in meeting time then sitting there in a gold jacket. That’s reality.”
The three draftees are guard Senio Kelemete, tackle Bobby Massie and tackle Nate Potter. Massie and Kelemete are second-string. They can use the time with Grimm.
But that doesn’t mean Grimm isn’t looking forward to the trip back to be around “a very humbling weekend.” Grimm will be part of the private tour the team will take of the Hall of Fame, and he still hasn’t had a chance to see his bronze bust in the Hall.
“I have the replica they give you but I want to see the one in Canton,” Grimm said. “I’m glad it happened. I didn’t play the game to get into the Hall of Fame. It’s a great reward. But it was getting to the point where family and friends were saying, ‘This is the year, this is the year.’ I was more excited just so I could stop hearing from people, ‘Aww, you got screwed.’ “
As for his gold jacket, that’s staying behind. He’ll wear Cardinal red this weekend. “I’m not even going to take it,” Grimm said. “It’s hanging in the closet.”
Tags: Hall of Fame, Russ Grimm
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Trying to run some errands on a Friday in prep for going to training camp — that doesn’t mean I didn’t post a story about the top 10 questions the Cards face heading to Flagstaff — I just wanted to drop a couple of small notes:
– Ken Whisenhunt’s last free weekend is being spent at the American Century Championship, the annual celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Whiz was a plus-11 today on the first day of the three-day event, using the modified Stableford scoring system. Actor Jack Wagner and former Major League pitcher Mark Mulder are tied for the lead at plus-22. Whiz played with former NFLers Marshall Faulk (plus-14) and Vinny Testaverde (plus-11) — I wonder if Vinny and Whiz talked at all about how Testaverde turned down the Cards in 2007 when they tried to sign him after Matt Leinart got hurt, instead picking the Panthers and then beating the Cards a few days later.
– In just a couple of weeks, Sunday, Aug. 5, the Cards will be playing in the Hall of Fame game. When I think of the Hall of Fame, I think of burnt pizza. OK, not really, but that was the best segue I can come up with to have to take a look at this entertaining video of Cards coaches being flown by Michael Bidwill to Canton a couple years ago, a surprise for Russ Grimm when he was being inducted to the Hall.
– At long last, we are unveiling a Cardinals’ app for your smartphones and iPad Monday. And guess what? It’s free. For more info, click here.
Have a good weekend. I’ll be talking to you all a lot more very soon.
Tags: Hall of Fame, Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Bidwill
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A couple of tidbits as I return from some time off:
The NFL’s draftees are in Canton this week for the annual rookie symposium, a plan last in place back in 2008. A brainchild of Hall of Famer Michael Irvin, who thought it was important young players understand the history of the league, the draftees get to see the Hall of Fame while attending seminars how to deal with life as a pro athlete. Below is a picture of some Cards’ rookies looking at a Hall display (that’s Nate Potter on the left, Michael Floyd on the right). There’s also a shot of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who grew up in a military family, checking out the Pat Tillman display. (A photo gallery is here.)
– In other news, longtime ESPN anchor Chris Berman, who has been the face of that network’s TV coverage, will finally get a chance to do a couple games of play-by-play in the NFL this season. The network trumpeted his placement on the second “Monday Night Football” game of opening weekend — Chargers at Raiders — with the annual doubleheader that night, working with Trent Dilfer. But Berman’s actual debut in the booth for play-by-play will be a couple weeks earlier, calling the Cardinals’ preseason game in Tennessee that will be televised nationally on ESPN.
“That’s great news,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said on Berman’s move to the booth. “I don’t know if there’s anyone who brings more enthusiasm and passion to his job than Chris Berman. For a lot of fans and people involved with the game, Chris is synonymous with the big time NFL events so this it’s exciting that he’s doing our preseason game against the Titans.”
Tags: ESPN, Hall of Fame, Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Floyd, Michael Irvin, Nate Potter, Pat Tillman
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Former Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams made it to the Hall of Fame’s final list of 10, but he was not elected in the end to Canton. It’s not a surprise. The fact Williams did make the final 10 in his first year as a finalist does bode well for the future, although with the Hall, there’s no way to know exactly how long the wait will be — or even if the wait for sure will ever end.
The 2012 Hall of Fame class included running back Curtis Martin, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, center Dermontti Dawson, tackle Willie Roaf, running backs Curtis Martin, defensive end Chris Doleman and senior committee pick Jack Butler, a one-time cornerback.
The Cardinals’ beat writer for the Arizona Republic, Kent Somers, was the presenter for Aeneas in the voting room and is Arizona’s voter. He tweeted out this message: “Aeneas Williams did not make the final 5. Think he’ll be there in the future, however.” Given that Kent will have a pulse of what happens in the voting realm, that would seem to be a good sign.
(Kent, by the way, blogged about his thoughts and ballots during the Hall meeting today.)
This is going to be a yearly blog post, methinks. Would be interesting if it turned out Williams and Kurt Warner ended up in the same Hall class.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Hall of Fame
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Former Cards cornerback Aeneas Williams, who was the anchor of the secondary from the time he was drafted in 1991 until he was traded to the Rams after the 2000 season, was among 15 finalists of the 2012 Hall of Fame announced Saturday.
The Hall class will be voted on and announced the day before the Super Bowl. Among the other finalists are receiver Cris Carter, running back Jerome Bettis and coach Bill Parcells.
Williams made seven Pro Bowls as a cornerback and another one as a safety, the position he played during two of his final three seasons in St. Louis. He had 55 interceptions in his career, returning nine for touchdowns. The Cardinals inducted him into their Ring of Honor during the 2008 season.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Hall of Fame
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First, Patrick Peterson achieves NFL history. Then his shoes are immortalized.
The shoes the rookie wore during his 99-yard overtime winning touchdown punt return Nov. 6 against the Rams have been sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and are on display in Canton. And the request to put the shoes was even before Peterson’s NFL-record-tying fourth TD return this past weekend.
“When I heard the Hall of Fame called, I was obviously extremely flattered,” Peterson told the Hall of Fame website. “To have your name mentioned alongside some of the best players ever to play the game is humbling.”
(The picture of the display with the shoes is below, in the bottom right of the case. They are alongside a pair of mementos from the 2010 season: A jersey of Jaguars receiver Mike Thomas worn when he caught the Hail Mary deflected game-winner against the Texans, and a jersey of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick from the game in which he became the first player to pass for 300 yards, run for 50, throw for four touchdown passes and run for two TDs in a single game.)
I remember the last time the Hall came calling for something.
A quick thought on Peterson: It’s amazing to me that, as much as he dominated college, he’s been a better punt returner in the pros thus far. He averaged 16.1 yards a return with two touchdowns last year at LSU. This year, it’s 18.0 and four touchdowns.
Tags: Hall of Fame, Patrick Peterson
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The Cardinals are off until Monday, when they return with two practices. By then, coach Ken Whisenhunt and assistants Matt Raich, Kevin Spencer, Mike Miller and Chad Grimm will be back from Canton where they attended the induction ceremony for Russ Grimm. So too will players Alan Faneca, Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, who went for both Grimm and their former Steelers coach Dick LeBeau.
By then, I’ll be back in Flagstaff too.
Anyway, it’s a good time to assess where the Cards are (although it’s only fair to note Whisenhunt’s point that you don’t want to too quickly judge anything). But remember, these are just my opinions and not absolutes, so please, no wagering.
I suppose we start with the quarterbacks. While Derek Anderson did lead the offense to the lone touchdown Saturday, I still think Leinart played a bit better during the week as a whole. And the way Whisenhunt talked about Leinart after Saturday’s work — “I thought Matt did good” and “We just have to look at the tape and correct it and move forward” – sounded like Leinart remains in good standing. We’re not going to know until the preseason games anyway.
The battle between Max Hall and John Skelton is going to be very interesting. I don’t know if Skelton can really “catch” Hall before the regular season, given how much experience Hall had in college compared to Skelton’s experience. But Skelton’s potential is the wild card here.
For now, Tim Hightower remains running with the No. 1, but Beanie Wells has gotten reps with the starters. It truly feels like a split situation, which is probably how it will be during the season (although Beanie will end up with more carries, I am sure).
Whisenhunt isn’t necessarily going to mix and match his offensive linemen. I will be surprised if the line changes much to be honest; I think extra weight or no Deuce Lutui has looked pretty good thus far. Then again, he has been going against the “2s” a lot of the time. Deuce vs. Reggie Wells will be the battle of the preseason, but the weight thing is going to be a factor.
The Cards need some health. They are short at tight end and fullback going into the second week. Whisenhunt already said he doesn’t want to make a roster move; they need Anthony Becht and/or Jim Dray to come back.
The cornerback position is definitely one to watch. DRC is fine and we all know that. Other than that … I have said this many times before and I’ll say it again, I still think this team chases a cornerback at the end of preseason – someone released by another team — that will be in the mix.
Now, at linebacker, it may be a little different. Not having Gerald Hayes is still a concern (especially reports he will be out into September, and even then he’ll be so far behind physically). But there is a better feeling about Paris Lenon after a week of camp. We’ll see if the Cards look at bringing in an inside ‘backer on the waiver wire too.
Before I forget, Dustin Stover wants everyone to know he’s OK and was back to work both Friday afternoon and Saturday. Who is Dustin you ask? He’s the ball boy. He actually wouldn’t mind seeing video just to see what happened. And everything is good between him and Skelton. (Oh, and we have a photo too? Sorry Dustin).
Tags: Anthony Becht, Beanie Wells, Derek Anderson, Deuce Lutui, DRC, Gerald Hayes, Hall of Fame, Jim Dray, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Matt Leinart, Max Hall, Paris Lenon, Reggie Wells, Russ Grimm, Tim Hightower, training camp
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First of all, a big congrats to Russ Grimm for making it into the Hall of Fame Saturday. But then Grimm said in his press conference that former offensive line coach Joe Bugel — yes, the same former Cards’ coach — will be his presenter in Canton Aug. 7 when Grimm is inducted.
Does that leave an opening for Bugel to discuss the now-infamous (thanks to the internet) story of Grimm and the hot dog? Not that Grimm is concerned, although I did ask him the question over the weekend.
“The hot dog story was a little elaborated but it has some truth to it, so I will just leave it at that,” Grimm said. “Offensive linemen are usually your characters or whatever you want to say, they put a little bit of spice into the football team and I was around a lot of characters.”
Grimm was one of those characters. Said former teammate Doc Walker, “(Russ) was the toughest guy on the block. He was mean. He had a nasty attitude, and he was a smart guy. He played the role of a Hell’s Angel, but the guy is really smart. He would break an opponent down on film. He had great technique. He was explosive. There was nothing he couldn’t do.”
Tags: Hall of Fame, Joe Bugel, Russ Grimm
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Not that Russ Grimm is the anxious type — I saw him yesterday briefly at the facility, wearing his big Harley jacket and ball cap, looking like he’s enjoying his down time — but the Cardinals’ assistant head coach/offensive line coach/run game coordinator has a big day Saturday as he has another chance to go into the Hall of Fame.
UPDATE: Grimm was elected to the Hall of Fame Saturday.
Grimm would get in not for his coaching, of course, but his days as the backbone of the Redskins’ famous “Hogs” offensive line. Mostly a guard, Grimm was a four-time Pro Bowler, was named to the NFL’s all-decade team of the 1980s and played in four Super Bowls (winning three). The line as a whole, which spawned the most famous offensive line nickname, has yet to get any representatives into the Hall of Fame.
“That group was the foundation for four Super Bowl teams,” former Redskins general manager Charley Casserly told the Washington Post. “It’s hard to believe you can’t get one guy into the Hall of Fame.”
The Hall of Fame voters meet tomorrow morning and the announcement of the 2010 class will be made at 3 p.m. Arizona time (and aired on the NFL Network). Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith are locks. The rest of the potential enshrinees are up in the air.
Like I said, I don’t think Grimm is sweating it, although I am sure he would like the honor. There seems to be growing sentiment that Grimm has a real shot this season after falling short at this stage the past couple of years.
Tags: Hall of Fame, Russ Grimm
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