Harding: Special Teams Players Deserve A Place in Professional Football Hall of Fame | Local sports

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FILE – In this October 17, 2010 file photo, Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (23) celebrates as he scores on an 89-yard punt return in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during of an NFL football game in Chicago.


Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press


The first player to be unanimously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame was a guy whose job it was to pitch an inning.

Think about it. In a sport played by Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb and Ken Griffey, Jr., it was Mariano Rivera – the longtime leader of the New York and all-time Yankees – who was universally backed by the electors .

There was a time when many wondered if the closest ones should enter the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Rivera is a member. The same goes for Trevor Hoffman, the longtime San Diego Padres reliever. Lee Smith entered after 16 years of waiting. It looks like the voters made the right decision – that if a player was great at what he or she has done, it is worth considering for the induction.

For professional Football Hall of Fame voters, it’s time to right a long-standing mistake. It’s time to give special team players their due.

Two weeks ago, the Hall of Fame announced the 122 Modern Era nominees for the 2022 class. This is the first step in a process to narrow this list down to a pool of semi-finalists. , finalists and the group of inductees. There are a few notable players in this group who were mostly special team aces during their squad in the NFL. Longtime Buffalo Bills star Steve Tasker is one of them. Devin Hester, arguably the best returner in NFL history, is on the list. Brian Mitchell, who holds the record for most career yards on punt and punt returns, has been nominated.


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