Marino, Young First-Ballot Hall of Famers, Irvin Snubbed

Non-football fans can skip this one…

Marino, Young first-ballot Hall of Famers (ESPN)

Dan Marino and Steve Young made it a great day for quarterbacks when both were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Marino, the most prolific passer in NFL history, and Young, whose accuracy and speed made him one of football’s most versatile QBs, were joined by Benny Friedman, an early-era quarterback, and Fritz Pollard. Each received at least 80 percent of the votes from the panel of sports writers and broadcasters. Friedman and Pollard were nominated by the senior committee and chosen by the full panel. Induction ceremonies will be Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio.

“It’s an incredible honor,” Marino said. “It’s humbling to think of growing up wanting to be a professional football player. “Let’s overrun Canton with Dolphins fans. I invite you all to Canton and to have some fun.” When Marino left the Miami Dolphins after the 1999 season, he had NFL bests of 4,967 completions, 8,358 passes, 61,361 yards and 420 touchdowns. His record of 48 TD passes in a season was recently broken by Peyton Manning. Although he never won a Super Bowl, Marino was the 1984 league MVP, made three All-Pro teams and nine Pro Bowls. When he retired, he owned 21 NFL marks, including most seasons with 3,000 yards or more passing (13); most yards passing in one season (5,084 in ’84, the only year he won a conference championship); and most games with 300 yards or more passing (63).

Young, the first modern-era left-handed quarterback elected, won the 1995 Super Bowl with San Francisco and was the league’s most valuable player in 1992 and ’94. A clever runner with a strong arm and great field vision, Young made seven Pro Bowls and was a three-time All-Pro. He held the highest passer rating in league history (96.8) when he retired in ’99. He also set the highest single-season rating of 112.8, which Manning also broke this season. “Not many Hall of Famers come out of Greenwich, Conn.,” Young said with a chuckle. “I took a unique road, starting with being left-handed. I had a college coach, LaVell Edwards, who took a chance on a wild, crazy left-handed running quarterback from Connecticut.”

Pollard not only was the first black head coach in the NFL, in 1921, but a superb player, too. A running back, he led the Akron Pros to the fledgling league’s 1920 championship with an undefeated record. He later organized the Chicago Brown Bombers, an independent team of black players that barnstormed the country from 1927-33.

Friedman played for four teams from 1927-34 and was one of the early NFL’s great quarterbacks. A contemporary of Red Grange, he also was a strong draw at the box office. Giants owner Tim Mara purchased the Detroit Wolverines, for whom Friedman played in 1928, not only to get him in New York’s lineup but to fill the stands.

“We both appreciate and honor the people who played in another era,” Young said, speaking for Marino, as well. “You’re talking about having a passion for the game. We’re here on the backs of so many other players. “This is important Fritz Pollard and what he meant for the game. There’s a foundation there we are able to join arms with.”

Michael Irvin and Harry Carson, the other two finalists, did not get the required votes for induction.

Marino and Young certainly deserved enshrinement in Canton. Marino is the best statistical quarterback in league history and had tremendous longevity as an elite player. Young, who played first in the USFL, then for the woeful Tampa Bay Bucs, and then sat on the bench behind the great Joe Montana, had a different sort of career. He was truly great but for a short time.

The snubbing of Carson and, especially, Irvin is baffling, though. Aside from the incomparable Jerry Rice, a strong case could be made Irvin was the premier wide receiver of his era. He was a key factor in taking the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl championships and was a perennial Pro Bowler. For reasons that continue to baffle, great players from the Cowboys continue to get short shrift from Hall voters.

Michael Irvin Left Out Of Hall Of Fame (

One year after seeing two former Cowboys make the final six, only to be left out in the end, it happened again. This time to Michael Irvin, the Cowboys’ most prolific wide receiver in club history. Irvin made it to the final six, but was passed over in the final vote, which went to Dan Marino, Steve Young, Bennie Friedman and Fritz Pollard. Despite playing in eight Super Bowls and winning five, the Cowboys still have only five players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame voters deny Irvin

Former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, who helped lead the team to three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s, was rejected by Pro Football Hall of Fame voters on Saturday. It was Irvin’s first year on the ballot. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, former Miami Dolphins quaterback Dan Marino, Benny Friedman, who played quarterback for various teams in the ’20s and ’30s and Fritz Pollard, who played in the ’20s, were all elected.

Irvin’s former Cowboys teammate, safety James Washington, was not pleased that the receiver wasn’t elected. “Michael Irvin has done more for the game than Steve Young,” Washington said. “[San Francisco] bought a team to beat the Dallas Cowboys in 1994.”

From 1991 through 1998, Irvin had 1,000-yard seasons in all but one year. In 1995, he had his finest season, catching 111 passes for 1,603 yards. Irvin went to five straight Pro Bowls beginning in 1991. He was known for his fiery leadership and work ethic. In all, Irvin accumulated 750 catches for 11,904 yards.

I can’t disagree with Washington. As great as Young was, Irvin never sat on a bench when healthy. And in the four NFC Championship games in which they faced each other, Irvin’s team came out ahead in three.

I know next to nothing about Friedman and Pollard but I remain dubious of the selections by the Veterans Committee of players from decades ago who haven’t made it until now. It strikes me as unlikely that they’re truly worthy–and virtually noone alive now ever saw them play. It was one thing a few decades ago, when there was a legitimate need to recognize black players who had been snubbed because of racial prejudice. It’s unlikely that those snubs haven’t been rectified by now.

FILED UNDER: Sports, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bryan says:

    Perhaps Irvin was snubbed because of his predilection for high-end prostitutes.

  2. dw says:

    I was thinking it was the coke. He’s in next year, though.

  3. Brandon says:

    Then perhaps we should kick Lawrence Taylor out of the HOF.

    The whole voting process is nothing more than a sham. And Irvin deserves to be in more than Steve Young.