By John P. Lopez
You don’t know Maxie Baughan. You probably never heard of him.
But by most any standard — other than those of Pro Football Hall Of Fame voters whose biased and antiquated voting system somehow allowed him to slip through the cracks — Baughan is an NFL Hall Of Famer.
He was named to the all-decade team of the 1960s, by Pro Football Reference. A starter from the day he joined the Philadelphia Eagles, Baughan earned a world championship and ultimately played on four playoff teams. He earned Pro Bowl status in nine of his 12 seasons. He was voted team captain. He was consistently among the league’s leading tacklers. He was All-Pro four times, including twice 1st-team. And as for character, Baughan literally was an Eagle Scout.
So exactly why are we talking about Maxie Baughan? Because he’s the standard-bearer for a simple fix to the NFL’s backlog of deserving players who likely never will get the call.
Of the NFL’s best defensive players of his era with at least nine Pro Bowl appearances, Baughan is the only one not in the Hall Of Fame. This can be remedied by simply taking a page from Japan’s version of the Baseball Hall Of Fame.
Certain criterion should just get you induction. Period. No waiting, no hemming and hawing from a room full of politicking voters, no biases, no “eye tests.”
No more Maxie Baughans slipping through the cracks. Who knows exactly why Baughan’s hall call never came. It probably was a mix of him not being a flamboyant star like the Butkuses and Nitschkes, and simply being caught in a numbers game. He always was on Hall Of Fame ballots, but by the time he could have moved up in some voters’ eyes, the next generation passed him.
Hall voters constantly gripe about the backlog of deserving players. How ’bout you look to something along the lines of what got Nori Aoki induction this week, when he smashed his 2,000th hit.
Bang. Hall Of Famer.
The next question becomes what would those standards be? Clearly, it’s open to debate which statistics would be automatic qualifiers. Perhaps 35,000 passing yards, 11,000 rushing yards, or 115 sacks. Feel free to discuss.
But more than anything, how a certain player ranks in his era, among his peers should hold the most value. Like Baughan’s nine pro bowls. Suppose that was one of the automatic qualifier standards — nine Pro Bowls.
Current players with at least nine: Julius Peppers, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Peters, Jason Witten, Joe Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
Clearly, it’s a quality standard. No need to vote, ladies and gentlemen. Put them in. Then, backlog of players quickly would disappear.
And maybe players who long-deserved induction finally would get there.