The popular assumption is that when the Pro Football Hall of Fame nominates two coaches for its proposed Centennial Class of 2020 that Don Coryell and either Tom Flores or Jimmy Johnson will be the candidates.
And maybe they will. But I’ll give you two wild cards you shouldn't forget: Clark Shaughnessy and Buddy Parker.
Shaughnessy is known as “the father of the modern T-formation,” and you’d think based on that alone he’d already be in Canton. Of course, you’d think wrong.
Parker is the guy who not only made the Detroit Lions a dominant team in the 1950s but a back-to-back league champion. OK, you say, big deal. Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it is. Parker was 2-1 in NFL championship games and built the 1957 league champion that won behind Tobin Rote-- a backup quarterback Parker acquired shortly before quitting the Lions prior to the season.
Moreover, what do we say about Flores and Johnson when their names come up for Hall-of-Fame consideration? Correct: They each won two league titles.
Well, so did Buddy Parker.
He also won nine or more games in four of his last five seasons, and while that seems modest consider this: That was when the NFL played 12-game regular seasons.
And what do we say about Coryell when his name is mentioned for Canton? Uh-huh, he was an offensive innovator. OK, so was Parker. He teamed up with Hall-of-Fame quarterback Bobby Layne to popularize what would later be known as the two-minute offense.
And, unlike Coryell, he went to a championship game. In fact, he went to three of them.
I mention Shaughnessy and Parker because I’ve been told a blue-ribbon panel will pick the senior, contributor and coaching candidates for the proposed 2020 class and present them to voters. If so, that means the seniors committee won't make the initial choices, and neither will the contributor committee.
Instead, it could be a group chosen by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and that’s important to consider.
Because it's the Hall’s current 48-member board of selectors that made Coryell a finalist in four of the last five years, including a Top-10 finish in 2017. And it's that same board that made Flores a finalist this year for the first time since he stopped coaching following the 1994 season.
However, if the Hall's sub-committees aren’t involved in the nominating process, it could open the door for Shaughnessy and/or Parker. I know there’s a feeling among some voters that the Centennial Class should include a considerable number of candidates from the pre-modern era, and Shaughnessy and Parker qualify.
Parker won league championships and put Detroit on top of the NFL ... and tell me the last time you heard that. Shaughnessy forever changed the game by moving the quarterback behind center and making him the focal point of the offense instead of a blocking back in the single wing. Oh, yeah, he also developed the pro set and three wide-receiver set as head coach of the L.A. Rams.
"While he is known for being 'the father of the T-formation,' " said Ken Crippen of Pro Football Researchers Association, "he was also responsible for creating a defense to stop it (the 5-3-3). He did not just force a system on people. He adapted for the personnel that he had on hand. A true innovator."
Shaughnessy was a three-time Hall-of-Fame finalist, with 1976 the last year, and there’s a feeling among some voters that he’s a wrong that needs to be corrected. Parker’s .581 winning percentage is superior to Chuck Noll (.566), Bill Parcells (.569), Marv Levy (.561), Hank Stram (.574), Sid Gillman (.552) … and, yes, Coryell (.572), Johnson (.556) and Flores (.527), too.
Noll, Parcells, Levy, Stram and Gillman are in the Hall. Coryell, Flores or Johnson may be there soon. But don’t sleep on Clark Shaughnessy and Buddy Parker. They’re deserving, and they could be factors in the expanded Centennial Class of 2020.