In the latest edition of Old School Scribe Podcast, Ron Borges, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame senior committee, says the candidacies of Ken Riley and Ken Anderson continue to draw plenty of attention.
"Some of us on the committee feel very strongly we need to bring a Bengals player out of there," Borges says at about the 40-minute mark of a freewheeling conversation with the long-time NFL and boxing reporter.
Borges, who has dubbed the senior pool "The Great Abyss," has long supported both men's bids for Canton. But he also knows, "Nothing is for sure when you're in the senior pool."
It's tough enough that Borges pulls out a "Dante's Inferno," reference as he describes how the committee is faced annually with nominating one name from the star-studded list of players that have been retired longer than 25 years.
Anderson and Riley are believed to have made the almost unreachable list of 20 senior candidates last year before former Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson got the nod in a final taxing session Borges has often described as "We leave with Hall-of-Famers piled up on the floor."
He points to players like former Green Bay guard Jerry Kramer, voted as the only guard on the NFL's 50th anniversary team in 1969. Yet Kramer wasn't elected to the Hall until nearly 50 years later in 2018.
"How does that happen?" asks Borges, who earlier this month saw Browns linebacker Clay Matthews' first appearance in the finals in his last year of eligibility end unsuccessfully.
"Now he tumbles into the senior pool and some people are saying you have to bring him out now because he's only been discussed one time," Borges says. "How do you turn around and bring out a guy that has just tumbled into "The Great Abyss," when you've got guys that have been in "The Great Abyss," for 30, 40 years?"
Borges also asks how can it happen that a guy like Riley and his 65 interceptions that are the fifth most of all-time can slip through the cracks. When candidates have been in the senior pool for so long, he says you begin to hear "absurd," arguments to support the status quo. He refutes a few here.
Borges, who covered Paul Brown's last game as the Bengals head coach, hits plenty of other topics, from the signed picture of Muhammad Ali on his wall, to his favorite football fights that include The Boston Globe's Will McDonough blasting Patriots cornerback Raymond Clayborn in an iconic locker room KO.
Borges also riffs on his needling Tom Brady about Otto Graham's seven championships long before this one and why Bill Parcells always broke it down as "coaches plan and players play."