Ed White left terrific football memories everywhere he played.
Indio High School in Indio, Calif., named its home field “Ed White Stadium” for its most famous son. White has been inducted into the University of California Hall of Fame, his alma mater, and the Pac 12 named him to its all-century team. White also has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
White became a second-round draft pick by Minnesota in 1969 and played nine seasons for the Vikings. He has been named to both the 25th and 40th anniversary teams of the Vikings. In 2010 was selected one of the 50 Greatest Vikings.
White was traded to San Diego in 1978 and played the final eight years of his career with the Chargers. He has since been named to the 40th and 50th anniversary teams of the Chargers and has been elected to the franchise Hall of Fame.
White was a Pro Bowl blocker in one of the NFL’s top rushing offenses at Minnesota with Bill Brown, Dave Osborn and Chuck Foreman. He was one of only 10 players to participate in all four of Minnesota’s Super Bowls in the 1970s.
Then White became a Pro Bowl blocker in one of the league’s top passing offenses at San Diego with Hall of Famers Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow. The Chargers led the NFL in passing in White’s first six seasons there and in seven of his eight seasons. When White retired after the 1985 season, no offensive lineman in NFL history had played more games than his 241.
Yet White’s career has never come up for discussion by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.
Is it the absence of a Super Bowl ring on his hand? The selection committee tends to favor champions. Sixty-seven percent of all those enshrined in Canton won titles. Is it the absence of NFL all-decade acclaim? The selection committee also is partial to those performers. Almost 67 percent of the players enshrined in Canton were all-decade selections.
What makes White an even better story – and arguably a better candidate – is that he never expected to block anyone in the NFL. That’s because White was an All-America nose tackle at Cal in 1968. But the Vikings used their first pick in the 1969 draft on White, projecting him against his wishes as a guard.
White made the Vikings as a rookie in 1969 in a reserve capacity as he was learning his new position, then moved into the starting lineup midway through the 1970 season at left guard. He switched to right guard in 1975 and was voted to his first of three consecutive Pro Bowls. He remained there for the next nine seasons, three with the Vikings and six with the Chargers, before San Diego moved him to right tackle in 1984. He moved back over to left guard for his final NFL season in 1985.
White’s resume features quality, durability and versatility, yet his Hall of Fame candidacy languishes in the senior committee. His 25-year window of eligibility came and went without anyone giving the career of Ed White a second thought. And that’s an injustice to a one of the most talented linemen the NFL has ever seen.
This is a player who moved from offense to defense, from guard to tackle, from left side to the right. White started at three different positions on teams that won 67 percent of their games. His blocking protected two Hall of Fame quarterbacks (Fran Tarkenton and Fouts) and opened holes for three 1,000-yard rushers (Foreman, Chuck Muncie and Earnest Jackson).
White played on teams that won 11 division titles and qualified for the playoffs 12 times in his 17-year career. In addition to his four Super Bowls, he appeared in six conference championship games.
Maybe it’s time the Pro Football Hall of Fame follow the lead of Indio High School, the University of California, the Pac 12, the NCAA, the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers and recognize greatness. The career of Ed White deserves long-overdue scrutiny from Canton.
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