Hobson's Choice: Hall snubs

Q: I watched the Hall of Fame inductions and did my research on Roger Wehrli. It is apparent that his skills on the field did not match one Ken Riley's. I've read your articles before about Bengals being snubbed from the HOF. I believe Boomer and Ken are two that do belong, so how does Bengaldom petition the Hall to get those two Bengal greats on the ballot?
--Alex R., Cincinnati, OH

ALEX: Send those letters to the Hall of Fame Committee, 2121 George Halas Dr. N.W. Canton, OH 44708 and tell them the Riley-Wehrli thing is a joke.

The amazing thing is they came out the same year (1969) and Riley had 25 more interceptions, three more touchdowns, and one more Super Bowl and he never made it to a Pro Bowl while Wehrli went to seven.

When I talked to Riley the day of the vote, he wasn't happy and had every right not to be.

The only Bengal who deserves to be in more is quarterback Ken Anderson, the only man that has at least four NFL passing titles and isn't in the Hall. And don't give me the dinker-and-dunker stuff. His career yards per attempt of 7.34 is the same as that of Dan Marino, the all-time yardage leader.

The only thing fans can do is blanket the committee with letters or e-mails. The Bengals are well represented on the committee by Chick Ludwig of The Dayton Daily News, but he can't even get them into the room for the presentation because they don't reach the Final 15.

The key voting comes a few months before the Final 15 discussion, when they pare the field from about 75 eligibles down to 25 in the fall. And anybody can nominate anyone for that with a simple letter or e-mail to joe.horrigan@profootballhof.com. Horrigan is the Hall's vice president of communications-exhibits and can get information to the 40-member committee.

Ludwig always nominates Riley, Anderson, wide receiver Isaac Curtis and cornerback Lemar Parrish, and is pushing former head coach Dick LeBeau to the veteran's committee because LeBeau has been retired more than 25 years.


Q: Any update on Jonathan Joseph? When he went down the plan was for him to be back by training camp. Now almost two weeks in he's still out with a boot on his foot. I know there's still a lot of time left before Baltimore, but when do we start getting nervous?
--Eric, New York, N.Y.

ERIC: He's out, but there is no boot on his foot and he ran to the practice field on Tuesday looking like he's about ready. He might be back on the field as soon as Saturday after he gets checked out by his doctor in South Carolina, but even if he's not it doesn't look like he's going to miss much more time.

And, really, why hurry him back? Deltha O'Neal, Leon Hall and Keiwan Ratliff can use all the work they've been getting, and Joseph should be able to get tuned up in the last two preseason games without much of a problem. Like you say, the opener is still 32 days away. If you don't see him in 10 days, OK, start counting sheep.


Q: With the reports out of camp being that Landon Johnson continues to progress as our best backer, and Ed Hartwell being that fiery leader who is also very impressive in camp, I don't see how we can put the two of them in a rotation at the same spot. Ahmad Brooks has shown flashes, but he is also very inconsistent as he is learning the pro game, and Hartwell made his name by playing in the middle. What are the chances that by the end of the preseason, we could see Hartwell playing in the middle, allowing Brooks to learn from a veteran? Also, I haven't heard a whole lot about Jeanty, which could be a good thing. Is he a lock at the strong side this year?
--Jeremiah, Centerville, OH

JEREMIAH: It's time to take the wraps off Brooks. He has to play. You've got to put your three best backers out there and Brooks is one of them. That was the problem last year. They didn't play him near the end of the season because, among a variety of things, his lack of experience. They can't afford to do that again.

Hartwell has certainly come to play, and they can use his experience. The interesting question there seems to be if he isn't a starter, do the Bengals opt to keep him and play him on some special teams in favor of one of the young guys (Frazier? Henderson? Everett?) who would probably play on all four kicking teams.

Yes, Jeanty is solid on the strong side.

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