The Best Outside Linebackers Not In The Pro Football Hall Of Fame
Chris Hanburger Washington Redskins Linebacker 6'2" 220 1965 - 1978 14 Seasons 187 Games Played 19 Interceptions 5 Touchdowns 9 Pro Bowls 1972 NFL 101 NFC Defensive Player of the Year
Chris Hanburger was an 18th round draft choice of the Redskins in 1965. He played right away and was in the Pro Bowl by his second year in the league. Hanburger would then begin a string of Pro Bowl appearances until 1969. He then resumed that string in 1972 until 1976. Ever the complete player, he returned 3 fumbles for touchdowns, the fourth most in NFL history, in his career to go with 2 more on interceptions.
In 1972, Hanburger captained the Over The Hill gangs defense to a Super Bowl appearance and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Year. Hanburger was known not only for good speed, but his exceptional quickness. He had the innate ability to diagnose a play before the ball was hiked.
Chris Hanburger's nine Pro Bowl appearances are still the most by any player in the entire history of the Washington Redskins, and his four First Team All-Pro nods are tied with Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh as the most in team history.
There is NO DOUBT that Chris Hanburger SHOULD BE in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Sign my petition if you agree : http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/chrishanburgerhof/
Matt Blair 6'5" 232 Linebacker Minnesota Vikings 1974 - 1985 12 Seasons 160 Games Played 16 Interceptions 20 Fumble Recoveries 20.5 Blocked Kicks 6 Pro Bowls
Blair was drafted in the second round of the 1974 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, and would go on to appear in Super Bowl IX that year, where Blair would block a punt leading to the Vikings only points in their 16-6 defeat.
He earned the starting left outside linebacker job in 1976. He had a career high five fumble recoveries and had two interceptions that year, as the Vikings made it to Super Bowl XI before losing. In the NFC Championship Game two weeks earlier, he had helped block a field goal attempt that Vikings cornerback Pro Bowl Bobby Bryant took 90 yards for a touchdown that accounted for the first points of the game.
The 1977 season saw Blair make the first of six consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. His penchant for the big play was widely known throughout the league, as was his solid, steady play backed by great fundamentals. The entire defensive personnel around him changed at every position except his. He was named the captain of the defense in 1979 and held that position until he retired.
He was named the 1980 Most Valuable Linebacker of the NFC. Blair was also was named the 1981 NFL Man of the Year. He also was the Top 10 Outstanding Young Men of America by the Jaycees in 1983. His work with the homeless and hungry has raised millions of dollars as well.
The Vikings have never had a linebacker better than Matt Blair. His 1,452 career tackles still ranks second in team history. No other Vikings linebacker has intercepted more passes than him either.
His athleticism was on display in the 1975 season. The Vikings could not find a consistent punt returner that year, and used six different players that year. One of them was Blair, who took two punt returns that year. He may be the last linebacker ever in NFL history to be asked to field a punt.
His ability to block kicks was amazing. It didn't matter if it was a field goal, extra point, or punt, because he was a force each time the ball was snapped. His 20.5 blocked kicks in the regular season is a Vikings record, and this stat becomes even more spectacular when you factor in the fact Page blocked 16 more as well. In all, counting post season, he blocked 23.5 kicks. It is the second most in NFL history.
His 20 career fumble recoveries is tied as the 11th most by any defender in NFL history. What makes this statistic more impressive is the fact his teammates (Jim Marshall, Alan Page, and Carl Eller) all had more in their careers. It is a testament to the Vikings defense being able to create multiple turnovers, and Blair's abilities around so many teammates who shared his proclivity to jump on loose footballs.
He is a member of both the Vikings Silver and the 40th year anniversary teams, and soon will be inducted into the teams Ring of Honor. It should be quite apparent that Matt Blair deserves to be inducted into Canton.
Maxie Baughan 6'1" 227 Linebacker Philadelphia Eagles Los Angeles Rams Washington Redskins 1960 - 1970, 1974 12 Seasons 147 Games Played 18 Interceptions 9 Pro Bowls
Maxie Calloway Baughan was a second round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960, the 20th player chosen overall. He joined the Eagles and was inserted into outside linebacker on the right side of the defense as a starter immediately.
He played alongside future Canton inductees like Chuck Bednarik, Norm Van Brocklin, Sonny Jurgensen, and Tommy McDonald, as well as Eagles Legends like Pete Retzlaff, Bobby Walston, Tom Brookshier, Timmy Brown, Don Burroughs, and future Eagles head coaches Marion Campbell and Ed Khayat that year. The Eagles would go on to win the NFL Championship, the last the franchise has seen since.
Maxie would be named to the Pro Bowl that year, after picking off three passes and returning them for 50 yards. He went back to the Pro Bowl the next year after intercepting a ball and returning it 22 yards. Philadelphia won five games over the next two years, and Maxie went back to the Pro Bowl in 1963.
The teams roster turnover continued, as did the coaching staff, in 1964. Maxie went back to the Pro Bowl in each of the next two seasons. Baughan was 27 years old, and had been to the Pro Bowl in 5 of his 6 years, but felt that the Eagles wanted to keep cleaning house, and he was part of the guys they wanted out. He asked to be traded close to home, or to New York.
Little did he realize that Hall Of Famer George Allen was beginning his first year as a head coach of the Los Angeles Rams and had his eye on Maxie. Allen traded three players to the Eagles for his services. Baughan and Allen formed an immediate bond. The two would spend hours dissecting opponents game plans and films. Baughan is on record to have said he learned more about football from Allen than anyone he had ever met in his life.
The trade paid off handsomely for the Rams, as Baughan would go to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four years with the team. In 1970, he was injured and was only able to play in 10 games, and did not start in two of the games. They were the first two games that Maxie did not start in his entire career. He then retired from the NFL.
About this same time, Allen had taken over as head coach of the Washington Redskins. He wanted certain players on his team, and many were still employed by the Rams. He persuaded Maxie to return to the NFL in 1974. Allen made Baughan a player-coach, and Maxie got in on two games that year. He then retired permanently as a player.
Baughan was as solid and consistent a player as they come. He only missed five games in his first ten years in the league, and started every game he was able to play in. He was equally adept at playing the strong side linebacker as he was on the weak side. He played on the right side his whole career, and was a tackling machine. Statistics for tackles were not kept in those days, so his true impact escapes the younger fans, and voters, of these days.
It is simply disrespectful that the voters in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame have not put Maxie into Canton yet. He went to 9 Pro Bowls in his first ten years in the league, which is utterly amazing. You MUST realize that players EARNED their Pro Bowl bids back then, much more than they do today.
It wasn't a popularity contest then, where fans would vote you in based on shenanigans perpetrated on and off the field, like it is these days. Players and coaches did the voting, and they would only vote in the best of the best. Maxie's amazing run of Pro Bowls certainly shows he was one of the best ever in any era of NFL history.
Baughan himself has no idea as to why he isn't in Canton. He isn't alone in that thought. It is quite clear that Maxie Baughan should have been inducted into the Professional Football Hall Of Fame decades ago.
Robert Brazile 6'4" 244 Linebacker Houston Oilers 1975 - 1984 (10 Seasons) 147 Games Played 13 Interceptions 7 Pro Bowls 1970's NFL All-Decade Team
Robert Lorenzo Brazile, Jr. was a first round pick by the Houston Oilers in 1975. He was the 6th player picked overall. He was part a deal former Oilers coach Sid Gillman had made at the end of 1973. The Oilers acquired Kansas City's 1975 first round selection, along with nose tackle Curley Culp, for defensive end John Matuszak.
New head coach/general manager Bum Phillips switched Houstons base defense from the from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Brazile is credited by many to be most important in making the 3-4 popular by his ability to rush the quarterback from his outside linebacking position.
He was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1975. He was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons. Brazile was a key member of Oilers teams that went to back-to-back AFC Championship games in 1978 and 1979. In 1984, Braziles wife died in a car wreck. He retired immediately from the NFL. Brazile was chosen on the 1970's NFL All-Decade Team. He is the only linebacker from that team not in Canton.
Many may remember his moniker in the NFL. Brazile was nicknamed "Dr. Doom" by his team mates after being tossed out of a game in his rookie year for hitting Washington Redskin quarterback Billy Kilmer in the head. Some may recall the time he bulldogged Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett by the facemask.
Brazile was a viscious hitter. He was equally excellent is pass coverage and run support as he was rushing the passer. He didn't always play on good teams, so he wasn't given the nation wide notice, during that era, he deserved.
Since the NFL did not record sacks as a statistic until 1982, his impact on the game may not be fully realized by newer fans. Those who saw him play knew he was always one of the better defensive players in the NFL in his era year in and year out. Robert Brazile deserves to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ask his peers.
Then there are other outside linebackers to strongly consider because they are certainly worthy of induction.
Isiah Robertson 6'3" 225 Linebacker Los Angeles Rams Buffalo Bills 1971 - 1982 12 Seasons 168 Games Played 25 Interceptions 15 Fumble Recoveries 4 Touchdowns 6 Pro Bowls 1971 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
Chuck Howley 6'3" 228 Linebacker Chicago Bears Dallas Cowboys 1958 - 1973 15 Seasons 180 Games Played 25 Interceptions 18 Fumbles Recovered 3 Touchdowns 6 Pro Bowls 5 First Team All-Pro Super Bowl V MVP (The Only Super Bowl MVP on a losing team)
Joe Fortunato 6'1" 225 Linebacker Chicago Bears 1955 - 1966 12 Seasons 16 Interceptions 22 Fumble Recoveries 5 Pro Bowls 1950's NFL All-Decade Team
Andy Russell 6'2" 225 Linebacker Pittsburgh Steelers 1963 - 1976 14 Seasons 168 Games Played 18 Interceptions 7 Pro Bowls
Cornelius Bennett 6'2" 237 Linebacker Buffalo Bills Atlanta Falcons Indianapolis Colts 1987 - 2000 206 Games Played 27 Fumble Recoveries (Second Most by a Linebacker in NFL History) 5 Pro Bowls 1988 AFC Defensive Player of the Year 1991 AFC Defensive Player of the Year 1990's NFL All-Decade Team
Larry Grantham 6' 210 Linebacker New York Jets 1960 - 1972 13 Seasons 175 Games Played 5 Pro Bowls 5 First Team All-Pro AFL All-Time Second Team
Mike Stratton 6'3" 224 Linebacker Buffalo Bills San Diego Chargers 1962 - 1972 11 Seasons 156 Games Played 21 Interceptions 5 Pro Bowls AFL All-Time Second Team