In the 1998 season, the Atlanta Falcons took on the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game, a game that came down to one last field goal by Falcons' kicker Morten Andersen in overtime giving the team a 30-27 victory.
Let's call it case number 5-79-78. The summary question on the file states… Why former Falcons Morten Andersen, Bill Fralic and Mike Kenn should be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015?
Subject No. 5 - Morten Andersen
Andersen is the NFL's all-time leading scorer with 2,654 points. He eclipsed long-time record holder George Blanda in a Falcons uniform against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15 of the 2006 season. Andersen is the only player in League history to be the top scorer for TWO teams, leading the Falcons in most career points with 806 and the Saints with 1,318. That has never happened in the 95-year history of the League.
Among his many Atlanta records, the lethal left-footer also holds marks for most field goals made (184), PATs (254) and most consecutive games scoring (124). Likewise, he's also in the Saints record books for most field goals (302), PAT's (413) and consecutive games scoring points (174), in addition to games played (196).
In a true testament to his greatness from long range and a prerequisite also for measuring his Hall worthiness, the "Great Dane" was clutch from 50-yards and beyond. He's the Falcons all-time leader in most 50-yard field goals with 15. He also owns the record for most 50-yard field goals in a season with 8 and most 50-yard field goals in a game with 3 (against New Orleans), which is tied with Neil Rackers for the most ever in a single-game in NFL history. Andersen's 40 boots from 50-plus yards is second all-time. His career-best of 60 yards is one of the longest field goals in NFL history.
Andersen's list of records as the most accomplished kicker in the history of the game is remarkable. But the most amazing NFL mark that validates his candidacy the most I think, besides points scored are; most consecutive games scored in with an eye-opening 360, most field goals at 565 and games played at 382.
Let's break it down even further.
The level of consistency he displayed over an extended period of time, which should be a measuring stick for his induction into the Hall of Fame, is quite extraordinary. Andersen scored at least one point in a game for 22.5 straight years. It's an unbelievable mark that should never be broken.
The case for Morten Andersen is rock solid when you look at the unprecedented records he established during his lengthy and productive career. I will sum it up succintly in the form of a simple question for the selection committee. How can you not have the all-time scoring leader in the NFL in your Hall of Fame?
*Subject No. 79 - Bill Fralic *
A ferocious run blocker who attacked pass rushers with the same tenacity, Fralic suited up for the Birds from 1985-92 after being the second overall draft choice '85. He was the only guard in the NFL to play in four consecutive Pro Bowls from 1986-89. His influence was so dominating that Sports Illustrated even tabbed him as its NFL Rookie of the Year. Yes, an offensive guard, as their top rookie in the entire league, with a draft that included names like Jerry Rice and Bruce Smith.
This menacing lineman from the University of Pittsburgh started 115 of 116 games played in a Falcons uniform, earning numerous All-Pro honors. But his highest compliment came could be when he was named to the NFL's All-Decade team of the 1980's, even though he only played in half of the decade.
Displaying his usual trademark toughness that marked his career, Fralic once injured his knee in the season opener of the 1987 campaign, missed three days of practice before the next game, but played the entire contest on Sunday against the Redskins, helping the Falcons upset the defending Super Bowl champs. The next day he was forced to have knee surgery. Now that's tough.
Fralic's mauling presence on the Falcons line enabled the Birds to set various team records during his career such as rushing yards in a season two different times (in 1985 and 1986). In 1990, his powerful blocks allowed Atlanta to finish in the top 10 in the league in time of possession, points scored, total offense, touchdowns scored and passing. Through his steady play, the Birds soared to lead the NFL in touchdown passes and set team marks for total first downs and completions in 1992.
*Subject No. 78 - Mike Kenn *
Kenn is the team's all-time leader in games started and played with an astonishing 251 from 1978-94. "Mr. Consistency" was voted by his peers to five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1980-84, which is tied with two other Birds for the most in the 49-year history of the franchise.
These accolades are even more impressive when you consider he played the always demanding left tackle position, protecting your most valuable players blindside.
Kenn's adept blocking allowed QB Steve Bartkowski to set all of team's passing records, including yards passing (23,470), touchdowns (154), and completions (1,871). He was also responsible for RBs William Andrews (5,986) and Gerald Riggs (6,631) to establish new club rushing marks for all-time yards.
Kenn faced some of the most difficult pass rushers the League has seen and delivered top notch performances against the likes of Hall of Famers such as Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Fred Dean, Richard Dent, Derrick Thomas, Andre Tippett and Jack Youngblood. But, unlike Andersen, you cannot compare mere stats (for obvious reasons) for an offensive lineman to make a compelling argument why they should be in the Hall of Fame. So let me give you some other intangibles to add to their resumes that also make these guys very special and Hall worthy.
Fralic or aptly nickname, "Bull," was a brute force in the interior of the Falcons line. He led the League in toughness every year and he was feared by his opponents every week. Fralic would practically beat his opposing defensive lineman up legally and going against him was a 60 minute street brawl that this gritty player from the rough, steel country of Penn Hills, PA was not about to lose. He lived up to a sign in his yard growing up that stated; "Forget the dog, Beware the owner."
Few players in the NFL were as tough or as feared as Bill Fralic during their career.
Kenn was a classic technician who would neutralize each team's best pass rushers from his left tackle position with his textbook footwork and hand placement. Unlike left tackles today who play comfortably close to 310 pounds, this former Michigan All-American played the most demanding offensive line position at 270 pounds, often times relying on his smarts and heady play for an added advantage.
Mike Kenn was a consummate technician and a quarterback's best friend, manning the blindside for Falcons signal-callers at the highest level for 17 seasons.
So I've presented my case for why I believe Morten Andersen, Bill Fralic and Mike Kenn should be voted into the Hall of Fame. The final judgment is now up to the HOF committee to select their names and help them advance to the next phase of voting when the current list of 113 on the preliminary ballot is pared down to 25 semi-finalists in early November.
Falcons fans… how do you feel about their chances?