Worthiest candidate for the 2019 HOF senior nomination (Round 2)? It's Gabriel
Round 2 of the Talk of Fame Network series of senior polls goes to a former NFL MVP.
We asked our listeners and readers to vote on a slate of 10 candidates and former Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel won in the closest poll of the 200 in our site's history. Gabriel received 1,318 votes to edge former Redskins cornerback Pat Fischer at 1,233 votes. That gave Gabriel 44 percent of the vote total with Fischer at 41 percent.
Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch was next with 221 votes for seven percent of the support. Linebackers Mike Curtis and Chuck Howley received enough support to win several of our past polls, as did Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall. But they registered mere blips in this one compared to Gabriel and Fischer.
From 1967-1970, Gabriel quarterbacked the Los Angeles Rams to a 41-11-4 record. He was voted to three Pro Bowls and NFL MVP in 1969. Gabriel was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1973 and led the NFL that season with 3,219 passing yards and 23 touchdowns. He was voted the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year that year and was sent to his fourth Pro Bowl.
Gabriel passed for 29,444 yards and 201 touchdowns in his career and also rushed for 1,304 yards and 30 more scores.
Fischer was voted one of the 70 greatest Redskins and a member of the franchise’s Ring of Honor. He played 17 seasons and 213 games at cornerback, which was at the record for his position at the time of his retirement. He intercepted 56 career passes, which ranks 18th all-time and ninth among pure corners. That ties him with Lem Barney, a Hall of Famer, and Charles Woodson, a soon-to-be Hall of Famer.
Fischer overcame a huge obstacle – his size (5-9, 170 pounds) to go to three Pro Bowls and set an NFL record for cornerbacks with his 16 fumble recoveries.
Talk of Fame Network host Ron Borges believed there was one cornerback shorted in this poll – Cincinnati’s Ken Riley. He barely registered a blip.
“Ken Riley has 65 interceptions,” Borges said. “He didn't get them by accident or by being an average player. He's fifth all-time in picks and started 14 games at cornerback in his final NFL season at the age of 36. What that tells me is if he'd played in New York or Los Angeles instead of Cincinnati we wouldn't be having this discussion.”
Pittsburgh linebacker Andy Russell won the first of the five senior polls.