BASN’s All HBC-Universe Team, Part IV
By Michael- Louis Ingram, Editor
(first presented January 13, 2009)
Part IV: The Case of the Missing Busts
PHILADELPHIA (BASN/BASN NEWSROOM)– As we carry on with our All HBC-Universe Bomb Squad, we want to take you inside the smoke-filled room where sadly, decisions are taken out of the hands of those who played the game in determining who could play the game.
For all of the great talent yet to be revealed, there are some issues which affect how these great players are seen.
This much we know to be true: the American Football League went from upstart to bona fide threat due to the huge influx of talent from the HBCUs.
For the most part, there was a show of respect for that talent by the AFL in contrast to the predilection by the NFL in waiting until deep in the draft to select players from Black schools.
This was part of an unspoken agenda in which a quota of Black players was set by NFL teams; with a further quota specific to starters and bench players.
AFL teams didn’t hesitate to select players like Buck Buchanan or Eldridge Dickey first; and while the Oakland Raiders stumbled in the handling of Dickey, the teams trusted their scouting reports and selected the best player to suit their needs.
Unfortunately, as time marched on, those who observed and kept score severely downplayed the combined body of work of the AFL and its players.
Our research roundtable at BASN has decided to present the view from our “Batchelor Pad” (as in our colleague, L.A. Batchelor) and our other affiliated shows on www.blogtalkradio.com in making our case for the players we feel have been overlooked and flat – out forgotten by pro football’ s Hall of Fame.
As we break down the remaining teams, our research team of BASN staffers as well as some special guests will help make the case for and “find” the missing busts of these Hall of Famers:
HEAD COACH – JAMES CARSON, JACKSON STATE
(Scout’s Notes: Carson succeeded Gorden and won over 67% of his games (54 – 25 -1), including a Black College championship in 1996; coached Fernando Smith, Marlo Perry and Corey Bradford to the NFL)
QB-KEN “SNAKE” RILEY, FLORIDA A&M *
(BASN Editor – in – Chief Tony Mc Clean: Ken Riley was the perfect combination of skill, smarts and talent. A product of Florida A&M, he was nicknamed “The Rattler” after his alma mater’s school. Riley not only was a standout quarterback for FAMU in 1960s, he was a Rhodes Scholar candidate!
Picked in the sixth round by the expansion Cincinnati Bengals in 1969 Common Draft, he was converted to defensive back as a rookie and played his entire career in Cincinnati, recording 65 interceptions in his 15-year career; leaving with the fourth highest number of picks in NFL history at the time of his retirement.
In spite of leading the NFL in interceptions in 1976 (9), Riley was not named to the Pro Bowl. He was a four-time All-Pro selection who retired in 1983; continued his career in football by serving two seasons as assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers before becoming FAMU’s head coach in 1986.
As the Rattler head coach, Riley compiled a 48-39-2 record, with two MEAC titles and two coach of the year awards before being bumped up to the school’s athletic director (1994 – 2003).
(Author’s notes: It is important to remember Riley graduated and left school as a championship quarterback coming to the newly – formed Bengals.)
Owner / head coach Paul Brown was so hot and bothered for a white passer to lead his new franchise that he made a deal with Miami, trading two draft choices for their backup, John Stofa, whose big league career lasted all of five games.
Although Cincinnati would have better luck with the homegrown Greg Cook and later, Ken Anderson, Riley would’ve been able to address their needs immediately.
Of the 1976 defensive secondary people making Pro Bowl rosters, Riley had more INT’s than teammates Lemar Parrish and Tommy Casanova; and played on a par or arguably better than his fellow defenders, Mel Blount, Ken Houston, Mike Haynes and Roger Wehrli (all HOF members).
Riley was a plug – in star from as soon as he walked onto the Bengals practice field; and went against receivers like Cliff Branch, Mel Gray, Drew Pearson, Roger Carr, John Jefferson, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Charlie Joiner – while playing out of his natural leadership and best position).
His quiet demeanor and desire to simply do his job – well – should not disqualify Riley’s greatness because he wouldn’t toot his own horn!
So we humbly submit our request — those parties responsible to return Riley’s bust to Canton. Oh, he doesn’t have one there? Well…you know how to fix that!)
OL- HOWARD “HOUSE” BALLARD, ALABAMA A&M
OL- LEON GRAY, JACKSON STATE
OL-CHARLIE GOODRUM, FLORIDA A&M
OL- LESTER HOLMES, JACKSON STATE
OL- RALEIGH ROUNDTREE, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE
(Scout’s notes: If Randall Cunningham had four more linemen as hard working as Holmes; he might’ve been able to get a ring while in Philly; fellow alum Gray an exceptional tackle who was a four – time Pro Bowl selection in 10 years; Ballard selected to 2 All – Pro teams in 11 years; Ballard may have earned his nickname of “House” because of his immense size, but his size belied his grace as a pulling lineman)
TE- JEROME BARKUM, JACKSON STATE
WR- YANCEY THIGPEN, WINSTON-SALEM STATE
WR – DONALD NARCISSE, TEXAS SOUTHERN
(Scout’s Notes: Barkum was a first – round draft pick for the Jets, and had a solid 12 year – stint in the same TE – WR mold as Richard Caster before him; Thigpen started slow in his career, but came of age as a Pittsburgh Steeler, garnering All – Pro selections in 1995 & 1997; knee injuries cut his career short, but Thigpen’s blocking and physical style was a precursor of what Black & Gold fans would later see from Hines Ward)
(Author’s notes: Donald Narcisse was a receiver with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL, signing with the Green Riders as a free agent on September 1, 1987.
At 5-feet-9 and 170 pounds, Narcisse was a quintessential slot receiver and a master at short yardage plays, often in critical situations needing a first down. Durable, quick, clever and a student of the game, Narcisse shared and held a few records. He had over 1,000 receiving yards for seven consecutive seasons from 1989-1995, including a career high 1419 yards in 1989, the year the ‘Riders won the Grey Cup in one of the greatest CFL games in history (43 – 40 over the Hamilton Tiger – Cats).
At the time of his retirement, he was first all-time in career receptions, third in career receiving yards and tied for first with 8 – 1000+ yard seasons. Narcisse still holds the CFL record for most consecutive games with at least one reception in every game (216). He is considered one of the greatest players in Roughriders history and one of the league’s greatest receivers.
Narcisse retired at the conclusion of the 1999 season, and was among 185 players nominated for The TSN/CFL 50 Greatest Players list, but was not voted into the top 50. He was among the 135 player Honor Roll of those who didn’t make the list.
Given these accolades and parameters already set by the CFL, it is merely a matter of time before Donald Narcisse will become a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in the near future).
RB- CHARLES “BOOBIE” CLARK, BETHUNE – COOKMAN
RB – J. D. SMITH, NORTH CAROLINA A&T
(Scout’s notes: Boobie had fullback size and nimble feet, and his skills made some waves as a Cincinnati Bengal; J.D. Smith an old – school star who was a 15th round selection of the Chicago Bears in 1955; bulk of his career spent with San Francisco, where he showed great versatility (46 TDs, a 4.2 rushing average and over 5700 yards of total offense in his seven years with the 49ers)
DL- VERLON BIGGS, JACKSON STATE
DL- JIM LEE “EARTHQUAKE” HUNT, PRAIRIE VIEW A&M
DL- IKE LASSITER, ST. AUGUSTINE
DL- COY BACON, JACKSON STATE
(Scout’s notes: Biggs played 10 seasons with the New York Jets & Washington; an unsung player who came up big under pressure; Lassiter was a sturdy defensive tackle who was part of “The Eleven Angry Men” defense that faced the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II;)
(Author’s notes on Jim Lee Hunt: Hunt is one of the Boston / New England Patriots greatest players, a nasty defensive tackle with a keen football sense; led AFL in fumble recoveries and likely has more than the 34 sacks he was credited with because of the era in which he played; Hunt was a four – time All – AFL selection whose versatility helped him make All – League at defensive tackle and defensive end inside an eight year span!
Hunt the rare starter whose sure hands helped him to excel on special teams; that Boston wasn’t one of the elite AFL teams didn’t change the fact Hunt dominated at his position; he played against the very best the AFL had to offer and is one of a handful of men who played the entire stint of the AFL prior to the merger; Hunt was selected to the AFL’s All – Decade team; and as a charter member of the Patriots’ Hall of Fame, his number #79 will never be worn by a Patriot player).
Because of his impact in helping to legitimize the AFL, Jim “Earthquake” Hunt deserves his bust in Canton as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.)
(Editor – in – Chief Tony Mc Clean on Coy Bacon: Began professional career with Charleston of the minor league Continental Football League; signed by Dallas Cowboys as a free agent in 1968, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for a fifth round draft choice (spent the year on reserve squad)
Succeeded Lamar Lundy in L.A.’s “Fearsome Foursome” in 1969; made the Pro Bowl for three straight seasons (1969-71); traded along with running back Bob Thomas to the San Diego Chargers for quarterback John Hadl in 1972, then traded to the Cincinnati Bengals for wide receiver Charlie Joiner in 1976.
Made the Pro Bowl in both seasons with Cincinnati (1976-77) and led the NFL in sacks in 1976 with 26 (Note: Sacks didn’t become an official NFL statistic until 1982); traded to the Washington Redskins along with cornerback Lemar Parrish for a first-round draft pick in 1978.
Bacon recorded 15 sacks in 1979 and 11 the next year (Credited with 130 career sacks) and ended pro career with the Washington Federals of the USFL in 1983).
(Author’s notes: Lander McCoy Bacon played at a high standard throughout his 16 years in pro ball; that he was an asset everywhere he played and was traded for near equal value in every situation is a testament to his ability.
While sacks didn’t become an official statistic until 1982, film records credited Bacon with 130 sacks – that’s pretty damn good proof of a player dominating at their position;
Bacon died late last year at age 66, and we feel this unsung gridiron great deserves his bust in Canton).
LB- GERALD IRONS, MARYLAND – EASTERN SHORE
LB- HENRY DAVIS, GRAMBLING STATE
LB- HAROLD MC LINTON, SOUTHERN
(Scout’s notes: Irons hit like his surname, and became an impact player for the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, who later drafted his son Grant; Davis, drafted in the 11th round (288 overall) by the New York Giants, got a lot of attention as a hard – hitting rookie; his trade to Pittsburgh in 1970 was a significant step in the Steelers building their Steel Curtain defense, although Davis would not last long enough to reap the fruits of his labors; Mc Linton played his entire 10 years in Washington, and was a pivotal player on Washington’s Super Bowl team of 1972.
DB – RASHEAN MATHIS, BETHUNE – COOKMAN
DB – DOMINIQUE ROGERS – CROMARTIE, TENNESSEE STATE
SS- KEN ELLIS, SOUTHERN
FS – BRENT ALEXANDER, TENNESSEE STATE
(Scout’s notes: While Ellis never had a chance to experience a championship in “Titletown, USA” as a Green Bay Packer, his sure hands and cover skills were appreciated enough to put him in the team’s Hall of Fame; Alexander an undrafted free safety who lasted 12 seasons and 28 interceptions and over 850 tackles; Mathis came in the league in 2003, made All – League in 2006; superior cover corner with tremendous upside barring serious injury; Rogers – Cromartie, already with 4 INT’s in his first full season, showing flashes of another tremendous talent in the defensive backfield)
P-JAHMAL BLANCHARD, HAMPTON
K- ANTHONY JOHNSON, ALABAMA STATE
PR – GLOSTER RICHARDSON, JACKSON STATE
KR- RICKEY FEACHER, MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE
ST- CLARENCE CHILDS, PRAIRIE VIEW A&M
(Scout’s notes: Richardson was a sleek, wiry speedster utilized as a flanker, or “Z” receiver in Hank Stram’s offensive sets while at Kansas City.)