My partner Nowdy says she is a justice blogger……

Well then, here is an injustice that is literally crying out for her considerable talents, the travesty that former New Orleans Saints linebacker extraordinaire Rickey Jackson has not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. John Deshazier has the sports story for the Times Picayune:

Another NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend has passed.

Silently, again, in New Orleans for Saints fans, who by now should have celebrated the induction of former Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson to the Hall, but continue to watch the selection committee overlook “City Champ” as if Jackson never existed.

That’s not so much a slap at the credentials of the players and contributors who’ve been voted in since Jackson became eligible five years after his last season, 1995. The most recent class included former Bills defensive end Bruce Smith, former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, former Steelers defensive back Rod Woodson and former Cowboys receiver Bob Hayes. You wouldn’t win an argument in favor of any one of them being overlooked in favor of Jackson.

But certainly, you can argue that he can stand alongside them.

Somehow, the obvious perception is that Jackson was less of a player than everyone who has been selected since he became eligible. Somehow, the ultimate honor continues to elude a player whose numbers – and impact – merit inclusion.

“It’s not even a question,” said former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert, who played all seven of his Saints seasons (1985-89 and 1991-92) with Jackson (1981-93). “To me, it’s not even a question.

“Rickey was the kind of player, teams were aware of him and Pat (Swilling). That year that Pat won Defensive Player of the Year, Rickey had a lot to do with that.”

Indeed, while Swilling was rolling up 17 sacks, an interception, six forced fumbles and 60 tackles in 1991, Jackson was putting up 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 59 tackles the same season.

No one blinked last year when former New England linebacker Andre Tippett was elected with numbers (100 sacks, one interception, 19 fumble recoveries and five Pro Bowls in 151 games over 11 seasons) that didn’t measure up to City Champ’s 128 sacks (10th most in league history), eight interceptions, 40 forced fumbles and 29 fumble recoveries in 227 games, with 225 starts, over 15 seasons.

True, the six-time Pro Bowler never was named Defensive Player of the Year and often, his presence was diluted – if not entirely lost in the shuffle – during the Saints’ Dome Patrol days, when he combined with Swilling, Sam Mills and Vaughan Johnson to give New Orleans the most formidable linebacker corps in the league. But he had two or three Defensive Player of the Year-caliber seasons and if anyone says he was anything less than a standout, they’re not being honest.

Undoubtedly, the fact that the Saints didn’t win a playoff game during Jackson’s 13 seasons in New Orleans doesn’t help. Playing in one of the league’s smallest market wasn’t a positive. Ultimately, Jackson had to go to San Francisco to win a Super Bowl ring.

But whatever team shortcomings the Saints experienced, no one would say Jackson was the major contributing factor.

He’s being penalized for his well-publicized child support issues, you say?

Please. The NFL Hall of Fame – heck, every hall of fame affiliated with a professional sport – is full of scamps, scoundrels, reformed (or unreformed) lawbreakers and people you wouldn’t recommend as a babysitter. Given that those failings perennially have been separated from what occurred on the field, there’s no reason to believe they now have become the standard for exclusion in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Rather, it just seems the NFL’s Hall of Fame voters have a blind spot when it comes to Jackson, that he doesn’t have a vocal enough advocate when the door closes and the debate ensues.

Instead, on Jackson’s behalf, there mostly (only?) has been silence. Which, for now, keeps Hall of Fame weekend quiet in New Orleans where he’s concerned.

Nowdy are you up for this mission?

sop

4 thoughts on “My partner Nowdy says she is a justice blogger……”

  1. Hey Sop, I’m not big on sports WHATSOEVER, but did (in a fleeting glance) catch an article in today’s Tampa Tribune that may interest you:

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks finally has a line on a new gig.

    New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton confirmed Tuesday that Brooks is one of two linebackers who will arrive today for workouts.

    “Typically we wait until they’re here to comment on them, but Derrick will be one of those guys that we’ll work out and Derek Smith will be the other one that we work out,” Payton told reporters at the team’s facility in Metairie, La.

    The arrivals of Brooks and Smith were prompted by an injury to linebacker Mark Simoneau. Simoneau will be sidelined for at least several weeks with a torn triceps.

    Brooks, 36, has played 14 NFL seasons, all with Tampa Bay, and has been named to 11 Pro Bowls. He was released after the 2008 season along with several other Bucs veterans after head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen were fired and replaced by Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik, respectively.

    Payton said he talked to Gruden about Brooks and received a positive report.

    “Yes. He was real positive,” said Payton, who admitted he’s not sure what Brooks has left in the tank.

    “That’s a good question,” Payton said. “We’re bringing him in to work him out to see. When we graded him last year prior to him getting nicked up and injured, we felt like he was still playing at a high level. He’s an intelligent player; he’s instinctive; he’s a guy that has really been a pain for us over the years. We have a lot of respect for his ability and we’ll see when he comes in.”

    “I’m grateful and excited that New Orleans wants me to come there and work out, and possibly be on their team,” Brooks told the Tribune in a text message.

    “I truly believe I have a lot to offer and will do my best.”

    The Bucs and Saints compete in the NFC South division, which means the teams play twice each season. They meet Nov. 22 in Tampa and Dec. 27 in New Orleans.
    ———————————————————————-

    Are you one of those fans that follows his team everywhere? If so, maybe I’ll see you here in Tampa on 11/22/09.

    SHIRLEY HEFLIN

  2. The City Champ was one of the toughest to play the game, and without doubt, one of the best linebackers ever. Whenever Swilling put up big numbers, it was due in large measure to the oposing offense keying on Rickey.

    It’s a shame about the child support thing, but there was a recent news story explaining that he has rectified those problems. Jackson was never a media darling, even though he was, and still is, a Saints fan-favorite. Hopefully, he’ll be in Canton soon; he deserves it.

  3. Rickey is simply the best Saints player ever. Drew Brees is close, but given Rickey’s longevity no one other than Brees even comes close.

    People forget Rickey missed one game in 12 seasons and that was because of a broken jaw suffered from an auto accident. People alos forget that Rickey was overshadowed at Pittsburgh by teammate and hall of famer, Hugh Green. Then, the Saints draft Rickey in the second round right after drafting George Rogers. Guess who the number 2 overall pick was that year? Lawrenece Taylor. As an aside, the story is that Bum philips came within moments of drafting Taylor over Rogers but thought Rogers could give us what Earl Cambell gave the Oilers.

    Imagine Rickey and LT along with Sam, Vaughn and Pat.

    If Rickey had played in New York he would have been inducted into the hall of fame years ago. he played longer and at a higher level than LT.

    Hopefully the writers will wake up and vote him in.

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