Pittsburgh native Russ Grimm was denied entrance into the Hall once again for the 2009 class, as defensive end Bruce Smith, defensive back Rod Woodson, wide receiver Bob Hayes, offensive lineman Randall McDaniel, linebacker Derrick Thomas and Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson all got the call to the Hall.
Finalists not selected for enshrinement, along with Grimm, were Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Claude Humphrey, Cortez Kennedy, Bob Kuechenberg, John Randle, Andre Reed, Shannon Sharpe, and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Grimm's qualifications are solid, but since there basically are no statistics for offensive linemen -- at least not his own -- it's more subjective when deciding on players such as the former Pitt star (1978-80). The Panthers were 8-4, 11-1 and 11-1 in Grimm's seasons.
Grimm was selected in the third round during the 1981 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins and became an immediate starter for a unit that developed the club into a dominant running team. Grimm was selected to four straight Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro and All-NFC performer from 1983-86.
The Redskins reached five NFC championship games, four Super Bowls with three victories. He was elected to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1980s. Even though he was a center at Pitt, Grimm was moved to left guard. By his second season in the NFL, Grimm gained much notice from around the league. Teaming with tackle Joe Jacoby, the pair formed what was perhaps the most punishing side of an offensive line in football at the time.
With Grimm utilizing his speed and strength, the Redskins rode the success of a dominating running attack all the way to a victory in Super Bowl XVII. In that game, Hall of Fame fullback John Riggins gained a then-record 166 yards. Washington averaged an astonishing 152 yards during that season's playoffs. It was in his third pro year, 1983, that Grimm reaped the rewards of his efforts with the Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections. In 1987, Grimm was moved to center in training camp and started five games at the position before he suffered a torn ligament in his left knee that sidelined him until the season finale.
The following year, Grimm again suffered cartilage damage to his left knee which forced him to miss 11 games. Although he remained a guiding force on the Redskins front line he continued to battle various injuries through the remainder of his career. His 11-year, 140-game NFL career ended in 1991. After the Reskins beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI, Grimm retired.
Those enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame have some amazing individual statistics and accomplishments, but Grimm's primarily are team awards -- other than being chosen for the 1980s All-Decade team and four straight All-Pro honors. Only two of the four guards on that All-Decade team are in the Hall. John Hannah and Mike Munchak are in, Grimm and another former Pitt star and current radio commentator, Bill Fralic, are not.
Probably working against Grimm is that he made just four Pro Bowls. These numbers might have been enhanced had injuries not derailed the final years in Grimm's NFL career. Those with eight Pro Bowl appearances have been inducted more times than not.
That's really not fair to a player like Grimm, who for a brief stretch was at the top of his game and position, but it's a reality. It's been more than a decade since he's been eligible, and it's getting increasingly unlikely that he'll get in. But one never knows.
Since Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson went in as a contributor, that cut down on one open spot that might have gone to Grimm. But that's just a guess. Kuechenberg actually has been waiting longer than Grimm, and he played in six Pro Bowls. Both are considered to be among the league's all-time best guards.
For players like Grimm, a Hall selection would be icing on the cake to an amazing playing and coaching career. Or maybe Grimm would rather have a win in Super Bowl XLIII against the Steelers, the team that didn't hire him as a head coach after years of service.
Only time will tell.
Scout.com's Washington Redskins Warpath also contributed.
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