No. 14 has a wait, but there could be handshakes at the end.
PHOENIX, Ariz. _ The good news is that Ken Anderson has some influential supporters on the senior committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which goes a long way in securing his induction.
The bad news is that it could take five to ten years. But it may be the one time later is as good as sooner.
While saying he would be "stunned," if Anderson wasn't nominated by 2025, Ron Borges of The Boston Herald also said his numbers make Anderson a worthy Hall-of-Fame candidate.
And Rick "Goose," Gosselin, a columnist for The Dallas Morning News and another senior committee member, would put Anderson and teammate Ken Riley on his list of top ten seniors that would be virtually locks. Anderson's four NFL passing titles and Riley's 65 interceptions are hard to beat.
"I may be on the other side of the lawn by then," Borges said. "But (Anderson's) resume is not an issue. If he gets nominated, he'd be a hard guy to keep out. I'd say within the next five to 10 years."
Borges and Gosselin, along with another Hall of Fame voter, Clark Judge, run talkoffamenetwork.com, a web site devoted to the NFL that provides a lot Hall of Fame discussion. Last year it featured Anderson and extolled his credentials.
Borges, Gosselin, Judge, and the other 43 Hall-of-Fame selectors disappeared Saturday morning into the black hole of a Phoenix Convention Center conference room and took all day to vote for the class of 2015. For the candidates this is called, "Getting into the room," where the finalists are presented, debated, and vetted, in the final obstacle to Canton.
The thinking is when Anderson "gets in the room," he's got a shot just like Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff made it on Saturday. Tingelhoff made it in large part because of the respect the nine-member senior committee has among the selectors.
Anderson, 65, the Bengals' all-time passing leader, moved to the senior process once he went past the 25-year mark after his last snap. When he left the game in 1986, only Green Bay's Bart Starr had more passing titles with five. Since then, Steve Young has caught them with six. Both are in the Hall. So is everybody else with at least three.
But the committee's efforts to cut through the pool backed up with 50 or so worthy senior candidates took a hit this year with the addition of a contributor's category. For the next five years the Hall is going to alternate, so next year there will be two seniors and one contributor nominated for the final field. Until this year it had been two senior candidates per year in the finals. On Saturday, all three were elected when former executives Bill Polian and Ron Wolf got in as contributors.
"If it were up to me we'd have two senior candidates for the next 20 years," Gosselin said. "Our goal is to cut through the backlog and now the number has been reduced by three for the next five years. A guy like Mick Tingelhoff hasn't been in the room for 32 years. That's not right. Not enough people are cycled through the room. The senior category gives you a chance to right some wrongs, but when you cut the number your chances are reduced. The problem is there are 26 established teams and they all think they have two, three, and or four guys that should be in there. That's 70 to 80 guys."
But the senior committee doesn't want to bust out of the historical chronology. It's why guys like Borges and Gosselin are preaching to the Who-Dey faithful to be patient.
"Most of us feel there really has to be a queue," Borges said. "Most of these guys are going to only get one shot. You can't start jumping ahead two decades and go up to the '80s. It's hard to jump back. I think Kenny will get his day in court and deservedly so."
A big reason he will is because of the work of David Kubicki, a Cincinnati commercial realtor who ushered in Anderson's foray into the senior process in 2011 with a stunning project of stats and testimonials he unleashed on the senior committee.
(Exhibit A: in 1974, when Anderson won the first of his passing titles, Kubicki showed how he outrushed Stabler, 314 yards to minus-2 while throwing for more yards, more yards per attempt and a higher completion percentage. Anderson threw three more TD passes than Stabler in his career while getting picked 160 times while Stabler threw 222 interceptions. And Stabler is his biggest rival among the senior quarterbacks.
Borges liked the package from Kubicki and gave him some advice on how to manage it the rest of the way.
" It helped. It made the younger voters aware of him," Borges said. "I told him what I'm telling you. It's good to get that information out there, but you have to be careful pounding it over and over in the early years. When it comes time to push, people may roll their eyes because they've already seen so much of it. It can work in the opposite direction.
"But he does have to keep educating because over the next 10 years there are going to be new voters who never saw him play and that's a problem. There aren't many guys left like me who saw (Johnny) Unitas play."
The hope is the senior committee keeps getting passionate guys like Jeff Legwold, who covers the Broncos for ESPN. It's believed Legwold is the youngest member of the committee and yet he has still covered nearly 20 Super Bowls and has been covering the NFL for more than two decades.
And if he didn't see Anderson play, it's OK. He didn't see Denver running back Floyd Little play, either, and his painstaking research for Little's presentation into Canton is generally regarded as the reason Little ended his four- decade wait a few years ago. Legwold chronicled every carry of Little's career from play-by-play sheets and watched every one of his carries that he could find on film in an effort to chart such categories as yards after contact.
"I try to be as thorough as I can," Legwold said. "You have to look at guys in their time. What they did against their peers. You have to frame them in their time frame."
That should bode well for Anderson, who retired as the NFL career leader in game, season and postseason completion percentage. When Kubicki found an ally in Kerry Byrne of coldhardfootballfacts.com, Anderson's case against his peers builds like a Supreme Court decision.
Byrne wrote, "Anderson twice led the NFL in passing yards – more often than Aikman, Bradshaw, Dawson, Elway, Griese, Kelly, Montana, Starr, Staubach, Tarkenton, Tittle, Van Brocklin, Waterfield and Young."
He also said, "The deadly accurate Anderson led the NFL in completion percentage three times – more often than Aikman, Blanda, Bradshaw, Elway, Fouts, Griese, Jurgensen, Kelly, Layne, Marino, Moon, Namath, Staubach, Tarkenton, Tittle, Unitas, Van Brocklin or Waterfield."
His career bumped against plenty of those guys. Such as Terry Bradshaw, Dan Fouts, Bob Griese, Roger Staubach, and Fran Tarkenton.
But he'll still have to win over some senior committee men, such as John McClain of The Houston Chronicle, Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report, and Ira Miller of the Sports XChange. They've all got open minds on the subject. Another problem, Miller says, is that no senior candidate is "a slam dunk. It's not like a (Joe) Montana or (Jerry) Rice. There's not much separation."
But Miller, who covered the Bill Walsh 49ers, knows how Walsh groomed and worshipped Anderson as the Bengals quarterbacks and receivers coach in the first six seasons of Anderson's career.
"I could get talked in to Kenny Anderson," Miller said.
Pompei hopes Anderson comes up for discussion because, "he's got rare numbers for a guy who hasn't got chance in this room. Anyone who gets in that room has a shot. It's not a slam dunk, but they've got a shot."
McClain, who is also on the contributor committee, isn't sold on Anderson. But he can be persuaded. He prefers to pick the brains of opponents and not teammates of candidates. He's looking for someone 'who doesn't have a dog in the fight," and you can see him down here before the vote talking to guys who either lined up against the list of candidates or game planned against them,
"Ken Anderson is right on the periphery, but I've changed my mind on people down through the years," McClain said. "Dan Hampton, Tim Brown were two guys I changed my mind on. Tim Brown changed my mind because he played with so many bad quarterbacks compared to Marvin Harrison. Both should go in, but Brown should get in first."
And that's what happened. Brown got the call Saturday and Harrison didn't.
Even before McClain joined the senior committee he so admired the work it did researching candidates that he recommended to his colleagues that the entire voting body should "rubber stamp," any senior candidate.
The nine members confer all year and then vote to pare down a list of about 70 to a list of 15. Then every year in August, five of the nine (in a rotation) meet in Canton during a weekend with two Hall-of-Famers whom consult with them. Then the five select the one or two seniors that make it "into the room," the day before the Super Bowl.
"Some of the Hall-of-Famers are great, some are OK," McClain said. "We spend two days talking about it and the Hall-of-Fame gives us a great booklet. Everything a Hall-of-Famer says in these meetings about these guys is transcribed going back (decades). I think Paul Brown is in there. I can see what the greatest people in history think about these guys. It's an invaluable resource….I always give it back to them. I'm afraid to lose it."
Gosselin appreciates the efforts by Kubicki and others, but it looks like Anderson won't get lost.
"We know who Ken Anderson is," Gosselin said. "If a player belongs in Canton, he'll get there. It may be the fifth year or the 50th year, but if he belongs, he'll get there. I trust the process that much."
Kenneth Allan Anderson?
"Yeah," Gosselin said. "He belongs."
Sooner? Or later?