The path to Canton, Ohio, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame usually is for a player who stars primarily on defense or offense. Special teams — like in the case of Rod Woodson, who was an excellent kick returner in Pittsburgh — do not usually get pushed to the forefront of the minds of voters. If there are NFL odds regarding who would get into the Hall of Fame, betting on a special teamer would pay out a decent price. Make sure you keep up with NFL odds updates at credible sites like BetUS.
Chicago Bears wide receiver / kick returner Devin Hester will make a unique case for the committee. Hester was chosen as one of the last 15 candidates for the 2022 class. Hester, who played for Chicago, Baltimore, Seattle, and Atlanta in a career that spanned from 2006 to 2015, was so excellent he’s changing perceptions. Hester accrued 3,311 receiving yards but truly shined on special teams. Hester ran 19 kicks back for touchdowns, including 14 punts. He compiled over 11,000 total yards between punts and kick returns. Here’s a look at four other players known primarily for special teams in the hall of fame.
Old Man Blanda
George Blanda is a curious addition to the Hall of Fame. While he did pass for 26,920 yards in his career that spanned from 1949 to 1975, he was also a kicker. When Blanda retired from football at the age of 48, he had the NFL record for total points scored. For career achievements, Blanda’s best time may have come as a member of the AFL’s Houston Oilers.
Blanda was the MVP of the league in 1961 and quarterbacked the Oilers to the championships in 1960 and 1967.
Blanda’s efficiency did not last long. In 1962, the year after being named MVP, he set an interception record of 42 in a season that will likely never be broken. Blanda’s kicking career was also marked with inaccuracy. He made 98.3 percent of his extra points but only made 52.4 percent of his field goals. Blanda’s career-long was 55 yards, but he was 21 percent (8 of 38) from beyond 50 yards in his career.
Different Approach Helps Stenerud
Jan Stenerud, who was originally from Norway, became one of the first kickers to adopt a “soccer-style” approach to kicking field goals. Before Stenerud started kicking for the Chiefs in 1967, pro football kickers primarily used a straight-on kicking style. While Stenerud’s numbers do not stack up today, his efficiency during his time period earned him the honors of being the first kicker ever selected to the hall of fame.
Stenerud was a member of Kansas City’s Super Bowl IV championship team and was chosen to six six All-Pro teams, including four first-team selections. He played from 1967 to 1985 with the Chiefs, Packers, and Vikings. Stenerud made 66.8 percent (373 of 558) of his kicks and finished his career with 1,699 points.
The Great Dane
Morten Andersen retired as the NFL’s all-time scoring leader, having collected 2,544 points during his career. Anderson, who grew up in Denmark, played for six NFL teams during a career that ranged from 1982 to 2007. Anderson set more than 17 records during his career, including most seasons with 75 or more points and most games with three 50 or more yard field goals in the same game.
Unlike the other kickers in the hall of fame, Andersen never got a chance to kick in a championship game.
Lou Groza was not a specialist by any means. In Groza’s career, which spanned from 1946-1967, he had to play on the offensive line in addition to kicking from 1946-59. Teams did not have kicking specialists in those days.
While Groza’s numbers pale to modern specialists, he far outperformed his contemporaries.
Groza made 57.8 percent of his field goals, while kickers of his era made fewer than half of their attempts. Groza’s longest kick was 52 yards.
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