Why no Carl Banks in Hall of Fame "bugs' Mark Bavaro

TalkOfFame

Mark Bavaro was one of the game's most accomplished tight ends ... and one of its most reluctant interviews.

In fact, when the Giants assembled on the Tuesday prior to Super Bowl XXI -- a day then called Photo Day -- Bavaro was absent for the required media interview session. When questioned later, he told officials he skipped the session because it was Photo Day -- which, strictly speaking, required his presence only for the team photo, which followed the interviews.

A year later, Photo Day became Media Day.

So Bavaro had an impact on and off the field, and there were few tight ends ... ever ... who blocked as well as the former Giants' star, with Hall-of-Fame coach Bill Walsh calling him the NFL's "premier tight end." But blocking is no longer required for the position, and those adept at it -- with Bavaro at the head of the class -- seem to have been forgotten by Hall-of-Fame voters.

And that's OK with Bavaro. Though he's one of the 108 preliminary candidates he admitted on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast that Canton seldom is on his mind.

"To be honest with you," he said, "I don't think about the Hall of Fame too much. Every year, as time goes by, I care less and less."

I don't think there's any linebacker in the Hall of Fame that's better than Carl Banks, and I definitely don't think there's any tight end who's in the Hall of Fame that's better than me.

What he does care about, however, are others who are excluded -- and he mentioned former teammate Carl Banks by name. Banks was an all-decade choice with the Giants and someone Bavaro practiced against ... and with ... daily. But he's never been discussed by the Hall as a finalist or semifinalist, and Bavaro has a problem with that.

"Carl Banks was the best run defender linebacker that I've ever seen," he said. "He was impossible to block and having to block him on a daily basis in practice ... it did sharpen both of our skills ... definitely."

Of course, Bavaro was more than just a blocker. Though his career was cut short by injuries, he retired with 351 catches, set a then-franchise record with 12 receptions vs. Cincinnati in 1985, had a 1,001-yard season a year later when he set a Giants' record for catches by a tight end, twice was named All-Pro and, later, was chosen to the Giants' Ring of Honor.

Banks, meanwhile, was so good he made 14 tackles in Super Bowl XXI, including 10 solos, and was also named to the Giants' Ring of Honor. However, he can't get a sniff from Canton.

"Which I think is ridiculous," said Bavaro. "To be honest, there are so many good players out there -- so many good players, so many great players -- (that) everybody can't be in there. So, does that make the guys who aren't in the Hall of Fame any less better than the guys that are in it? That's the sticking point that bugs me.

"I don't think that being in the Hall of Fame makes these guys better. I don't think there's any linebacker in the Hall of Fame that's better than Carl Banks, and I definitely don't think there's any tight end who's in the Hall of Fame that's better than me."

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