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Big E in The HOF

Discussion in 'Football: NFL, College, High School' started by giddyup, Jan 26, 2003.

  1. giddyup

    giddyup Contributing Member

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    Elvin Bethea had waited 15 years for the telephone call that finally came Saturday morning. Almost every year around this time, he'd routinely survey the list of finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and would convince himself that others deserved the honor more than he did.

    In all that time, he refused to watch a single highlight film of his 16 seasons with the Oilers. He wouldn't even watch the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on television because he could not bring himself to believe that one day he'd sit beside guys named Jim Brown and Deacon Jones and Joe Montana.

    But that's exactly where he'll be sitting next summer after being elected along with four others to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

    Other members of the 2003 induction class include: running back Marcus Allen, former coach Hank Stram, offensive lineman Joe DeLamielleure and wide receiver James Lofton.

    "I'm speechless," Bethea, 56, said shortly after receiving the news at his home. "I'm talking, but I have no idea what I'm saying. It's the end of a long journey. I can now say I'm with the elite -- the best of the best -- and that sounds unbelieveable."

    Bethea, who'd never even made the finals in his first 14 years of Hall of Fame eligibility, endured a mostly sleepless night, then showered, paced his home, showered again and paced some more while waiting word.

    "This has been a long uphill run," he said, "but it has finally happened. I finally got across the finish line. It's been a great and wonderful ride."

    He was arguably the greatest defensive player in Oilers' history, a big quick defensive end who tormented offensive linemen and quarterbacks on his way to making the Pro Bowl eight times in 16 seasons.

    He led the Oilers in sacks six times and finished his career with 105.

    He was part of the saga of the Oilers at their best and worst. He was a starter on those back-to-back 1-13 teams and was once so disgusted that coach Bum Phillips had to talk him out of signing with another team.

    He then was a star on the Luv Ya Blue Oiler teams, those that could not get past the Pittsburgh Steelers, but were among the best NFL teams at the time. He retired after the 1983 season.

    Bethea thanked Tennessee Titans executive Bob Hyde and the Chronicle's John McClain, both of whom did hours of work in getting Bethea the support of the 39 media members who cast ballots Saturday morning.

    "Disbelief," Bethea said. "I thought it was a joke. I can't tell you how many times the last 15 years people would tell me, `You'll get there.' I just didn't believe. Every year, I'd look at the list or the web site, and I'd see names of people who I thought should have been in before me."

    Bethea said he'll ask his college coach at North Carolina A&T, Hornsby Howell, to present him at the Hall of Fame.

    "He pushed me and pushed me," Bethea said. "He played me at four different positions. He was the man who made me. I tell people my mother raised me, but he was the one who made me a football player. He's a tough man, and that's what I like about him. I think his toughness came out in me. He used to tell me you should never come out of game unless you're really hurt. If you're really hurt, lick your wounds and get back in there."

    "Now when I autograph a ball, I'll sign it `Elvin Bethea HOF,' " he said, laughing. "That sounds pretty good. That sounds unbelieveable really."

    Bethea was drafted by the Oilers in the third round of the 1968 draft and began his career by starting 135 consecutive games. When he retired, he held franchise records for Pro Bowls, seasons played (16), regular-season games played (210), consecutive regular-season games played (135) and sacks (105).

    "What a wonderful day this has been," Bethea said.

    Allen, who rushed for 12,243 yards and scored 145 touchdowns during a 16-year career for the Raiders and Chiefs, was elected in his first year of eligibility.

    He played his first 11 seasons for the Raiders and departed in a bitter feud with team owner Al Davis.

    He took the high road on Saturday and wished Davis luck in today's Super Bowl against Tampa Bay.

    While Bethea wondered if he'd ever make it, Allen had no doubt that one day the call would come.

    "Yes, I did," he said. "That's what I had envisioned when I began my career."
     
  2. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    Congrats for him, however, here's what I don't understand.

    What has he accomplished in the past few years that all of the sudden warrant induction into the HOF? I know there are only a few that are selected a year, but to me, that doesn't make much sense. I think once someone becomes eligible for the HOF, in any sport, whoever votes looks at the list and says yes or no to each person eligible. If you receive more yays than nays, you're in. If not, you're out...for good.
     
  3. Behad

    Behad Contributing Member

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    It could be that voters saw that this was his last year of eligibility and said "What? 15 years and he hasn't been voted in yet?"

    If enough thought that way, he's in. Apparently enough did.
     
  4. giddyup

    giddyup Contributing Member

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    This is just a part of the legendary Oiler jinx.
     
  5. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

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    Congrats Elvin. In my younger days, you were my favorite Oiler.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Rocketman95

    Rocketman95 Hangout Boy

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    I understand the way it works, it just doesn't make any sense. Why is he all of the sudden Hall-worthy just because it's his last year of eligibility? Did they discover some new stats ala Hack Wilson?
     
  7. Rocket Fan

    Rocket Fan Member

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    it's just a shame that with the titans being in tennessee now he wont exactly get a big fan base or a lot of support since most in nashville probably dont even know who the guy is....

    hopefully some old oilers fans will go to canton:)
     
  8. Smokey

    Smokey Contributing Member

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    That's true. It would have been much better if he had been elected last year with the Texans playing in the HOF game.
     
  9. Rocket Fan

    Rocket Fan Member

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    smokey. yeah im up here in nashville for school. and i had a chance to meet mike munchak a while back. i dont even think a lot of them realize his greatness .. the other people around seemed to be like. . oh he's just assistant coach.. .

    its a shame not that many know the history as far as earl, and elvin etc...

    in a way i wish there was someway we honor them in houston. .. i know we want to keep connections to the oilers minimal.. but i'd almost like matthews, earl, etc to be rememberd some how. maybe a place in the stadium that recognizes the houston greats....

    do they even have earl's jersey etc hanging at the titans stadium. i dont remember seeing it
     
  10. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    EB was the best
    Just because some Jackasses did vote him in on the 1st ballot
    is no reason he should be out FOREVER

    Sometimes people need time to RIGHT some injustices

    If it was a ONE AND DONE situation . . then bias could hurt alot
    of players. . .considering in 5 yrs a lot of former opponents
    could be voting and may do it out of spite


    Rocket River
     

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