All hail the NFL’s Rings of Honor

by Gary Shelton on December 18, 2017 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Monday, 4 a.m.

In a way, it is a second-best honor. A Miss Congenialty of the NFL. No, it is not the Hall of Fame.

But let's face it: A Ring of Honor, any team's Ring of Honor, is still pretty cool. It's like winning a Golden Globe. It isn't an Oscar, but it's not bad.

Okay, we can talk about what the Ring of Honor is not. It's not the Hall of Fame, and no one who is in the Hall of Fame will ever confuse the two.

But there is something to having your name attached to the

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stadium where a player earned his fame. There is something to a fan nudging his son, pointing to a name on the stadium and saying “I saw him play, you know.”

Forever, a man's name looks down on the field where the player (or coach or owner) did his work. No, it isn't a bust in Canton, and it doesn't come with a gold jacket. But think of it like this: Those guys who are in both the Hall and a Ring of Honor don't want to give either of them up.

Tonight, former Bucs' coach Jon Gruden goes into the Bucs' Ring of Honor, a rather bloated group when you consider how few good seasons the Bucs have had. But that's the point of a Ring of Honor. You don't have to be a champion to be in. You don't have to be a record-holder. You just have to be elite enough to be thought of as special for the fan base.

Mike Alstott is the perfect example of a Ring of Honor player. He played fullback, and as such, he was not always the team's leading ground-gainer. But he was an effort guy, a guy who built a bond with the fans. Sure, he deserves to be in.

Look around the league. Stan Humphries, of all people, is in the Chargers' Hall of Fame. Dexter Manley is in the Redskins'. Cliff Harris made it for the Cowboys. Brian Piccolo made it for the Bears. Christian Okoye is there for the Chiefs. Jason Hansen is there for the Lions.

In other words, the selection process is a bit more relaxed for local Rings of Honor. Oh, not for the Packers, and almost not for the Steelers. But most teams reserve a spot for a guy who won over the fans. Pat Tillman is in the Hall for the Cardinals. Bob Kalsu is there for the the Bills.

There there is Gruden. For whatever reason, he had only one great season for the Bucs. Ah, but what a season. His team won the Super Bowl, which is one reason Gruden remains so highly regarded in town. Oh, afterward, there was controversy. He had a winning record in only three of his last six seasons, and he never won another playoff game.

But while the Hall of Fame picks at the flaws of its candidates, a Ring of Honor celebrates the best moments. And Gruden did lift a Lombardi Tropy.

A few of the Ring of Honor (or whatever teams call theirs) oddities from around the league:

– Pat Tillman is in the Cardinals' Hall of Fame. Any questions?

– Tony Dungy is in the Colts' Ring of Honor. He is not in the Bucs.

– Dexter Manley is in the Redskins' Ring of Honor. He is not in the Bucs.

– Warrick Dunn is in the Falcons' Ring of Honor. He is not in the Bucs.

–  Ron Wolf is among the Packers' Hall of Famers displayed at Lambeau Field. He is not in the Bucs'.

– Randall McDaniel is the Vikings' Ring of Honor. He is not in the Bucs' Ring of Honor.

– Joe Ferguson is in the Buffalo Bills Wall of Fame. He is not honored by the Bucs.

– John Hannah is in the Patriots' Hall of Fame. Brother Tommy Hannah is not in the Bucs' Ring of Honor.

– Joey Browner is in the Vikings' Ring of Honor. His brother Ross is not in the Bucs' Ring of Honor

– John Randle in is the Vikings' Ring of Honor. His brother Earvin is not in the Bucs' Ring of Honor.

– Doug Williams is in both the Bucs and Redskins Rings of Honor.

– John Lynch is in both the Bucs and Broncos Ring of Honor/Fame.

– Earnest Byner, who played in Cleveland, is in the Ravens' Ring of Honor.

– The Tennessee Titans have inducted Elvin Beathea, Warren Moon, Earl Campbell, Ken Houston, Mike Holovak, Jim North and Mike Munchak. None of them ever played in Tennessee.

-- One reason you can appreciate Malcolm Glazer in the Bucs' Ring of Honor more than Art Modell (Baltimore), Robert Irsay (Colts) and Bud Adams (Titans). Those guys all moved their teams.

– Kellen Winslow is in the Chargers' Ring of Honor. Kellen Winslow Jr. is not in the Bucs' Ring of Honor.

– Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Ray Berry, Art Donovan, Jim Parker, Ted Hendricks, John Mackey and Gino Marchetti are all in the Ravens' Ring of Honor. They played in Baltimore, but for a different franchise.

– The Packers have the names of their Hall of Famers – 24 of them – on their stadium. No one else. That's the most elite Ring of Honor of them all.

–  Of the 21 former players in the Dallas Ring of Honor, 14 are in the Hall of Fame.

– There are 21 Cleveland Browns in their Ring of Honor. Only three of them have played since the Bucs joined the league in 1976.

– The Steelers have 27 members in their Hall of Honor, which opened this year. Twenty-three of them are in the Hall of Fame.

– Jerry Burns is in the Vikings Ring of Honor. He was 52-43.

– Tiki Barber is in the Giants' Ring of Honor. Ronde Barber is not in the Bucs' Ring of Honor.

– O.J. Simson is on the Wall of Fame for the Buffalo Bills. For at least 20-life.

– Bud Adams, the owner of the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans, established a Titans' Hall of Fame. Bud Adams is in it.

– The Saints have only four members in their Ring of Honor. At their meetings, they can play cards.

– Andre Johnson is a one-man ring. He's the only member of the new Houston Texans Ring of Honor.

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