George Floyd: Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott makes $1m donation to address ‘systemic racism’

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has pledged to donate $1m (£793,850) for police training and addressing “systemic racism” in the U.S.A, following the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, 46, died last week in Minneapolis after police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on his neck for at least eight minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note in a shop.

In a powerful Instagram post, 26-year-old Prescott wrote: “We will clean our streets and our communities not only of the looting and violence, but most importantly the racism, racial-profiling and hate.

“I plan to take action and pledge $1,000,000 to improve our police training and address our systemic racism through education and advocacy in our country.”

On the nationwide protests over the last week, he added: “I have the utmost respect for those of you with a passion for protecting and serving your communities.

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“When you chose to wear the badge of a police officer, you pledged to PROTECT life and property through the enforcement of our laws and regulations.

“How can you claim to uphold the law when those within your own ranks don’t abide by it?

“You need to hold your own accountable! Each of you are as guilty as the men who stood beside Derek Chauvin if you do not stand up against the systemic racism plaguing our police forces nationwide. TAKE ACTION!”

“As our communities take action, protesting and fighting for the justice of George Floyd and every black life, I am with you!”

Prescott’s NFL side the Cowboys have yet to comment formally on the death of Floyd in Minneapolis.

Several high-profile NFL current and former players and coaches have made donations and have spoken out about Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests in the United States.

Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has pledged $1m for social justice reform.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement on May 30 calling for a “urgent need for action” and stressed the League was committed to addressing “systemic issues”.

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Brees: Will never agree with disrespecting flag

  • Covered Saints for eight years at New Orleans Times-Picayune
  • Previously covered LSU football, San Francisco 49ers
  • Iowa native and University of Iowa graduate

METAIRIE, La. — After earlier sharing a message of unity on social media, Drew Brees attracted backlash later Wednesday when he reiterated his stance on how he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America” during an interview with Yahoo Finance.

They were his first comments in the wake of George Floyd’s killing last week.

The star New Orleans Saints quarterback gave a lengthy response to ESPN when asked about the perceived conflict between those two stances — including the potential divide in his own locker room, where players like Malcolm Jenkins and Demario Davis are among the leaders of the Players Coalition seeking social justice and racial equality.

“I love and respect my teammates and I stand right there with them in regards to fighting for racial equality and justice,” Brees said. “I also stand with my grandfathers who risked their lives for this country and countless other military men and women who do it on a daily basis.”

Brees was outspoken in 2016 when he said he supported Colin Kaepernick’s desire to speak out against racial injustice, but he disagreed with Kaepernick’s method of protest during the national anthem.

He has not wavered from that stance — though he insisted Wednesday that his actions should represent what kind of a person he is.

“I believe we should all stand for the national anthem and respect our country and all those who sacrificed so much for our freedoms,” Brees said via text message. “That includes all those who marched for women’s suffrage in the 1920s and all those who marched in the civil rights movements and continue to march for racial equality. All of us … EVERYONE … represent that flag. Same way I respect all the citizens of our country … no matter their race, color, religion.

“And I would ask anyone who has a problem with what I said to look at the way I live my life. Do I come across as someone who is not doing my absolute best to make this world a better place, to bring justice and equality to others, and hope & opportunity to those who don’t have it? That’s what I meant by actions speak louder than words. … My ACTIONS speak for themselves.”

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Words to unite.. A mentor of mine once told me that if you listen closely, the sound of children playing is the same no matter where you are in the world. The laughing, shouting, screaming, giggling… No matter what language you speak, no matter what your race, color, religion… the exact same. At some point we all change… The reasons… Our environment, experiences, education…The voices and influences around us. If you are reading this, you are probably one of those whose voice and influence is very powerful in the life of a young person. So when you ask what difference you can make in this world… It’s exactly that. Raise, teach, but most importantly model to young people what it is to love all and respect all. There is a saying in every locker room I have been in… Don’t just talk about it, be about it. Acknowledge the problem, and accept the fact that we all have a responsibility to make it better. “Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying”

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on

Brees was referencing his social media post from Wednesday morning, which began with the header, “Words to unite” and talked about the importance of teaching and modeling to children “what it is to love all and respect all.”

“There is a saying in every locker room I have been in,” Brees wrote. “‘Don’t just talk about it, be about it.’ Acknowledge the problem, and accept the fact that we all have a responsibility to make it better. ‘Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.'”

Brees and his wife Brittany have been heavily involved in charitable efforts throughout his 19-year NFL career, including a recent donation of $5 million to help Louisiana during the coronavirus pandemic.

Brees’ comments were not specifically addressed by teammates immediately on Wednesday, though receiver Michael Thomas replied with an emoji to a reporter’s comment that read, “How can anyone watch George Floyd get murdered and their first response when asked about it is ResPEcC tHe fLAg.”

Thomas also retweeted other comments directed toward Brees’ statements.

Saints coach Sean Payton offered a passionate stance Tuesday, saying on social media that Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery were “murdered not killed” and calling for change in the November elections.

Saints and New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson released a lengthy statement Monday, decrying police brutality and announcing the creation of a Social Justice Leadership Coalition within both organizations involving Davis, Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick.

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Jags’ Khan has battled racism, asks for change

  • Covered University of Florida for 13 seasons for ESPN.com and Florida Times-Union
  • Graduate of Jacksonville University
  • Multiple APSE award winner

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, a Pakistani American businessman and the NFL’s first minority owner, released an essay on Wednesday denouncing the systemic inequity for people of color that exists in the country and writing that if the issue is not addressed, we risk failing the next generation.

Khan said he has battled racism and prejudice since coming to the United States in 1967, both as a student and while he was building his automobile bumper business. He joined an increasing list of professional sports franchise owners, celebrities, and politicians demanding change.

“I came to the United States from Pakistan in 1967 with $500 in my pocket and faith in the American Dream. Opportunities to learn and succeed were abundant, and more than 50 years later I am forever grateful and proud to be a citizen of the United States,” Khan wrote. “Nonetheless, while I pursued my goals as a student and later in the workforce, being a Muslim-American made me a frequent target of prejudice, discrimination and hatred. I won’t claim to know what it means to be a young African American today, but I can speak honestly and painfully to my own experiences as a person of color for the past 53 years in this country.

“Even recently, I have had people spew racist language in my presence when talking about other people of color — apparently ignorant of my ethnicity. Change for all people of color in the United States is long overdue, and it must happen now.”

Khan called the video of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis the latest horrific evidence of injustice that is all too prevalent in the country today and said that families should never have to worry that their child could lose their life because of the color of their skin.

Khan wrote that his goal is to try to ensure that everyone has the same access and opportunity to achieve the American dream and that he takes that responsibility seriously. Khan said that he benefited from the help of people of other races and religions during his journey from student to billionaire and that he wants others to experience that as well.

Khan, who became the NFL’s first minority owner when he purchased the Jaguars in November 2011, pledged to work with the Jaguars players and staff to come up with a response because indifference and periodic attention is no way to combat what he called the virus of racism.

“Most of all, we cannot fail our children — children who deserve to know they have the same opportunity to earn a living, have a family and live safely — no matter the color of their skin,” Khan wrote. “Racism, in all its forms, will kill. It kills people, it kills communities, it kills dreams, it kills hope.

“For many Americans, now is the moment. Never has that been clearer.”

Other players and teams spoke out Wednesday as well.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees took to Instagram to post this message:

“Words to unite.. A mentor of mine once told me that if you listen closely, the sound of children playing is the same no matter where you are in the world. The laughing, shouting, screaming, giggling… No matter what language you speak, no matter what your race, color, religion… the exact same. At some point we all change… The reasons… Our environment, experiences, education…The voices and influences around us. If you are reading this, you are probably one of those whose voice and influence is very powerful in the life of a young person. So when you ask what difference you can make in this world… It’s exactly that. Raise, teach, but most importantly model to young people what it is to love all and respect all.

“There is a saying in every locker room I have been in… Don’t just talk about it, be about it. Acknowledge the problem, and accept the fact that we all have a responsibility to make it better. “Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying”

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OSU LB tests positive for virus after Tulsa protest

  • Covers Texas A&M and the SEC.
  • Joined ESPN in 2012.
  • Graduate of the University of Houston.

Oklahoma State Cowboys linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga said Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a protest in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Ogbongbemiga, who was a second-team All-Big 12 selection last year, made the announcement on Twitter.

Ogbongbemiga was one of 30 players to return to campus on Monday, the first phase of Oklahoma State athletes returning to campus in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. All of those players, as well as coaches and other staff members, were tested for the coronavirus, a source told ESPN.

Per university protocol, which was developed by a school task force headed by OSU Center for Health Sciences president Dr. Kayse Shrum, Ogbongbemiga will be quarantined in separate on-campus housing. Ogbongbemiga will be retested Friday, a source said, and retested again at a later date.

According to the school protocol, Ogbongbemiga’s quarantine will follow local and state health department and university guidelines and he will be monitored by the team physician, athletic training staff and any other medical consultants. The protocol also says the school will begin contact tracing, starting with Ogbongbemiga’s “cohort/workout group.”

Players are returning to campus in preparation for a June 15 return to activities; the Big 12 announced recently that football teams can began voluntary workouts on that date. The conference had instituted a moratorium on all athletic activities in the midst of the pandemic.

Ogbongbemiga, who will be a senior this fall, was voted the team’s defensive MVP last year and ranked sixth in the Big 12 with 100 tackles. He led the team and was fifth in the conference in tackles for loss, with 15.5.

In April, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy drew criticism for a teleconference in which he said he hoped to have his players back on May 1. He also said, at the time, that if somebody were to test positive after returning to work, that person would be “quarantined just like we do people that get the flu.”

The Cowboys are ranked No. 12 in ESPN’s latest Way-Too-Early Top 25.

ESPN reporter Mark Schlabach contributed to this report

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Raiders’ top draft pick, Henry Ruggs III, injures thigh during move

Las Vegas Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs III, one of the team's first-round picks, recently cut his thigh while moving items into a trailer "but is pretty much OK," his father told AL.com on Monday.

"He was trying to move a trailer or something — move furniture or something — and the trailer just kind of pinned him against a car or a wall or something," Henry Ruggs Jr. said. "It was just like a little open wound on his leg, a little incision. Like something had stuck him right there on his thigh a little bit.”

Due to precautions in place related to the coronavirus, Ruggs Jr. has been unable to speak with his son's doctor. But he said that Ruggs III is on crutches and "not putting as much pressure on it."

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"The Raiders are aware of a report regarding an off-field injury to Henry Ruggs III," the team said in a statement. "Respecting Henry's right to medical privacy, the team will not be commenting on the report."

The Raiders took Henry Ruggs III with the 12th pick in the 2020 NFL draft. (Photo: John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports)

Ruggs III was taken with the 12th pick of this year's draft after three years at the University of Alabama, where he made 40 receptions on a team-best 18.7 yards per catch as a junior. He was the first receiver taken in a deep class at the position due in large part to his speed: Ruggs III ran the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds at the NFL combine, the fastest time of any player at the event.

"The distinguishing factor really was his speed, his explosion and his work ethic," Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said after drafting Ruggs in April. “When you look at the division we’re in, and you look at Kansas City, and you look at what they have on offense and what they’re explosion looks like, we needed to get faster. We think his addition opens up our entire offense."

The injury comes at a time when NFL players are scattered due to COVID-19. While the summer months would normally find teams gathering for organized activities and minicamps, the coronavirus has shuttered the league's traditional offseason program.

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Sources: MLB mulls shorter season, prorated pay

    ESPN MLB insider
    Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”

Unable to yet reach a return-to-play agreement, Major League Baseball has discussed playing a shorter schedule in which it would pay members of the MLB Players Association their full prorated salaries, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

Though MLB does not intend to propose this to the players, the possibility of implementing a schedule of around 50 games that would start in July has been considered by the league as a last resort in the event the parties can’t come to a deal, sources said.

Players have held out for a full prorated portion of their salaries based on a March 26 agreement with the league, and in an offer Sunday proposed a 114-game schedule that would cover 70.3% of their original salaries. A 50-game schedule with full pro rata would pay the players 30.8% of that number.

Language in the the March agreement appears to give commissioner Rob Manfred the right to deliver a season schedule after “good faith” discussions between the league and the union.

“Based on that feedback received from the Players Association,” the agreement reads, “the Office of the Commissioner will construct and provide to the Players Association, as promptly as possible, a proposed 2020 championship season and postseason schedule (or multiple schedule options) using best efforts to play as many games as possible, while taking into account player safety and health, rescheduling needs, competitive considerations, stadium availability, and the economic feasibility of various alternatives.”

In the first section of the agreement, under the “Resumption of Play” heading, it reads: “By entering into this agreement, the Office of the Commissioner, the Players Association, the Clubs, and Players recognize that each of the parties shall work in good faith to as soon as is practicable commence, play, and complete the fullest 2020 championship season and post-season that is economically feasible.”

A shortened schedule would run in contrast with what the players sought in a proposal sent to the league Sunday. The league’s first proposal to the union offered an 82-game schedule with significant salary cuts. Multiple players told ESPN they would not abide a shorter schedule, with one saying, “We want to play more games and they want to play less. We want more baseball.”

The league, which has contended it will lose money each game it plays without fans and with players making their full pro rata, has pushed for a shorter season due to fears of a second wave of the coronavirus potentially wiping out its postseason and the revenue that comes with it. The economic feasibility language in the scheduling section also could serve as a rationale from the teams for a shorter season.

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Clemson WR Ross out for ’20 with spinal issue

  • ACC reporter.
  • Joined ESPN in 2012.
  • Graduate of the University of Delaware.

Clemson receiver Justyn Ross will miss the entirety of the 2020 season and his career could be in jeopardy after he was diagnosed with what coach Dabo Swinney called a “congenital fusion” in his spine.

Ross, who blossomed as a freshman during Clemson’s run to a national championship, was expected to be the focal point of the Tigers’ passing game in 2020. Ross suffered what the team thought was a stinger during a scrimmage on the final practice session before the coronavirus shutdown ended spring workouts. The next day, team doctors said X-rays showed the issue, which Swinney said Ross has had since birth without being aware of it.

Ross will fly to Pittsburgh on Thursday and undergo surgery on Friday with Dr. David Okonkwo, a leading neuroscientist, according to Swinney.

Swinney said Ross is in good spirits and physically fine, but that the injury is a significant concern if he were to play football.

“He feels perfectly fine,” Swinney said, “but doctors know he’s at risk.”

Swinney said Okonkwo is “optimistic” that Ross will be able to get back to football at some point, but Swinney said he is unaware of any player who’s undergone surgery for this issue and returned previously.

“In January, Justyn will have a decision to make,” Swinney said, noting Ross could either return to Clemson for a fourth season or test the NFL combine, should the injury appear healed.

Ross finished last season with 66 catches for 865 yards and eight touchdowns.

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Late Auburn coach Pat Dye brought balance to Iron Bowl that still remains

Pat Dye’s legacy as Auburn’s football coach is often tied to a one-liner at his introductory press conference in 1981 when a reporter asked him how long it would take to beat Alabama.  

“60 minutes,” Dye answered.  

Dye, 80, died Monday. He had been dealing with kidney-related issues and tested positive for COVID-19 in the last few months, his family said. The affable coach was a regular on radio stations in Alabama in recent years and still lived the Iron Bowl 24/7 like everyone else in the state.  

It was always about the anticipation for the next 60 minutes. Dye deserves credit for breathing life into a rivalry that was dormant before his arrival in 1981. Alabama coach Bear Bryant had an 18-5 record against the Tigers, and the Crimson Tide owned an eight-game win streak in the Iron Bowl before Dye’s arrival.  

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Auburn was more than 60 minutes away from beating Alabama at that point. That changed on Nov. 27, 1982, in Dye’s second season. That’s when the Tigers marched on a game-winning drive that ended with a TD run that is known by four words.  

“Bo over the top.”  

Jackson’s TD broke a nine-game losing streak to Alabama and sent Bryant out with a loss in his final game against the Tigers. That’s a moment that launched the rivalry into its current state.  

Since 1980, one year before Dye’s arrival at Auburn, the Tigers and Crimson Tide’s series is knotted at 20 games apiece. Dye finished 6-6 against Alabama, and the best rivalries require more than just in-state heat. It requires a competitive balance. Dye achieved that up until his departure in 1992, and it might be hard to believe that the Tigers have an 11-9 advantage since 2000 against the Crimson Tide.  

Alabama vs. Auburn by decade since 1960

Even in the midst of Nick Saban’s dynasty, the Tigers beat their biggest rival four times in the last decade — often in spectacular fashion with even more legendary names.  

“Cam-back.” 

“Kick Six.”  

Perhaps none of that is possible without the impact of Dye, the coach who helped turn a one-sided regional rivalry into the most anticipated rivalry game on the schedule. You can argue it’s still Ohio State-Michigan because of the national brand and its history, but the Buckeyes have a 17-3 advantage against the Wolverines since 2000 and are on their own-game win streak.  

In the present tense, The Game is in the same spot the Iron Bowl was before Dye arrived. Auburn-Alabama has grown with intensity ever since.  Dye lived that one-liner for the next 40 years, and Auburn fans will do the same for the next 40 years looking for the next spectacular victory against the Crimson Tide.  

That, more than anything, is the coach’s legacy. 

Those “60 minutes” will last forever.

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Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson after death of George Floyd: ‘We’re not valued equally’

Patrick Peterson said he needed time to control his anger.

But the eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback of the Arizona Cardinals felt compelled to speak out one week after a white police officer killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis.

“I have a responsibility to share my thoughts as an influential black man in America,” Peterson tweeted along with a statement. “WE NEED & DEMAND CHANGE!!”

The NFL released its own statement Saturday night reiterating an “urgent need for action” with the “pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.”

Dozens of players, coaches and teams across the league have expressed words and feelings of solidarity as well. Peterson has played for Arizona since the franchise drafted him fifth overall in 2011.

Here’s the full text of his statement:

This was not easy for me. I had to take some time to make sure my anger from the tragic #GeorgeFloyd situation was under control before speaking out. I have a responsibility to share my thoughts as an influential black man in America. This is how I feel. WE NEED & DEMAND CHANGE!! pic.twitter.com/KWJo6VOBd5

"I have spent a lot of time thinking through how to responsibly describe my anger and disappointment resulting from the MURDER of George Floyd and the chaos that has followed. It is clear as day that minorities’ lives, especially those of my black brothers and sisters, continue to be of lesser value in America. This broken record of systemic racism is disturbing and our leadership is failing our communities. How many times do we have to see those who supposedly swore to “protect and serve” our communities murder us until our public leaders step in and demand change? How many times will leaders stand by and watch as our anger spills over into the streets to cause unnecessary havoc in our communities? Not for publicity, not for politics, not for personal interest. BUT FOR THE LIVES OF AMERICANS!???!! How can you expect us to come to any other conclusion than that we ARE NOT VALUED EQUALLY because of the color of our skin?? WE DEMAND CHANGE! ALSO, for those choosing to express their justified anger in ways that only make the situation worse, shame on you! Dr. King showed us how powerful a peaceful unified front can be! We should take this opportunity to start conversations and actions for change. IT IS NOT the time to provide more ammunition for those who see us as “thugs” by these acts of vandalism and theft. Burning down our own communities will only delay the progress and CHANGE that we desperately need! WE ARE ALL ANGRY AND HURT! But this is not the way! I don’t proclaim to have the perfect solution, but I can personally choose to use my platform to spread love not hate. Enough lives have been lost!"

***

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein

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Bengals legend Ken Anderson’s arrival on Twitter scene reminds us Hall of Fame needs him to be complete

It took less than a month after Ken Anderson joined the Twitter universe for him to demonstrate he had mastered the art form, if we can call it that.

A four-time NFL passing champion, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, the winner of the 1981 league MVP trophy and the 1975 recipient of what is now known as the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, Anderson posted a tweet in May wondering why his account had yet to be verified.

“Starting to feel like something else I’ve been waiting for … is this about not having a Super Bowl win?”

Eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 1991, Anderson has been snubbed 30 times, and still he has maintained his sense of humor and perspective. He does not need the Hall to validate him, but the Hall needs Anderson in order to justify itself as complete.

“I don’t think twice about it, to be honest with you, except those times of year when it comes time for the election and somebody will call and say, ‘What do you think?’” Anderson told Sporting News. “Other than that, it doesn’t cross my mind.

“I guess the only time I was disappointed was the first time I was eligible, and I got into the final 15 and didn’t make it, and then it was disappointing. After that, I guess when you come from my background and grow up in a small town and go to a small high school and then go to a small college, you never dream about those things. My dream was fulfilled when I got a chance to play professional football for 16 years.”

Anderson told SN he joined Twitter not to revive interest in his Hall candidacy but rather to help promote his foundation, the Ken Anderson Alliance, which is involved in helping adults with developmental disabilities. He is scheduled to conduct a fundraising golf tournament Oct. 12 in conjunction with Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham at Maketewah Country Club in Cincinnati. Several planned spring events to benefit the foundation had to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anderson’s arrival onto the social media scene did serve as a reminder, though, of what a tremendous vacancy exists among the Hall’s populace with Anderson absent. The Pro Football Hall of Fame website states its selection committee “is charged with the vital task of continuing to be sure that new enshrines are the finest the game has produced.” In Anderson’s case, those in charge of ensuring this mission statement be fulfilled failed at the task.

As happens periodically with all sports halls of fame, the committee blew every chance it had to present Anderson with the honor his career achievements warranted. Now out of the game more than 25 years, he is eligible to be selected by the “seniors” committee. That crew had 10 chances this past year alone – for the special “Centennial Class” the Hall chose to honor – and botched that one, too.

Lance McAlister is host of the nightly Sports Talk program on Cincinnati radio station WLW, whose powerful signal can be heard at night in much of the continental U.S. The 50,000 watts powering his voice, however, have not been successful moving the needle toward Anderson’s election.

“I’ve been back in town since 1997, and I’d say it’s been one of those staples of what I do,” McAlister told SN. “There’s always been talk of Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame, but close behind that has always been why, how, how can you explain Ken Anderson not being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? To me, it’s just always been frustrating. I find it hard to take the process seriously if you consider the process that has led to him not being in at this point. It pulls back the curtain on the politics of the process, the lack of context being offered in the process and, I think, the lack of awareness in the process.

“I don’t know why it doesn’t bother more voters or leave them feeling embarrassed that, as a whole, they’ve missed on this.”

Now 71 and retired after nearly two decades as an NFL assistant coach, Anderson joined the Bengals in 1971 as a third-round pick out of Augustana College in Illinois, no more a big-time football power then than it is now. The school has produced only two NFL players in its history.  Anderson was able to make four starts as a rookie, then take over the quarterback job for good and hold it for the next 13 years.

He led the Bengals to double-digit victories in three of his first four seasons, a period that happened to coincide with the ascent of the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl dynasty. The Bengals were in the same division as the Steelers, then called the AFC Central, and finished second behind them for three of those four years despite an average record of roughly 10-4.

In 1981, though, Anderson’s Bengals broke through to a 12-4 season in which he led the league in passing for a third time and reached the Super Bowl with a 27-7 destruction of the Chargers in what is known as the “Freezer Bowl,” played in temperatures of minus-9 degrees that didn’t stop Anderson from throwing for two touchdowns on 64 percent completions. The Bengals lost there to Joe Montana and the 49ers’ nascent dynasty by a narrow decision, 26-21.

Five points, not even a single touchdown, separated Anderson from a Super Bowl ring. That’s fair. That’s how the game works. But the Hall of Fame, too?

“I was the Cincinnati selector on the 44-person Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee for 10 years,” former Dayton Daily News sportswriter Chick Ludwig told SN. “I wrote several letters on behalf of Ken to fellow selectors, but I couldn’t convince them to have Ken be a modern day finalist. Now that he’s in the morass of senior candidates – with a fate in the hands of the seniors committee – I pray he’s not forgotten.”

It is curious the absence of a championship weighs so heavily on quarterback candidates. Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Kevin Mawae all made it in the past two years without league titles. But there are six quarterbacks from the Super Bowl era who made it without a ring, and Anderson measures up well enough to merit a place.

Dan Fouts made it easily, though he never even played in a Super Bowl – he quarterbacked San Diego in the Freezer Bowl — was barely above .500 as a starter and made only two more Pro Bowls than Anderson. He was a statistical marvel, leading the league in passing yards four times and touchdowns twice, but Anderson has numbers that flatter him, as well.

In addition to leading the league in passer rating four times, his career mark in that category is better than three of the six non-Super Bowl winning QBs who are in the Hall. His passes were intercepted less often than four of the six. He led the league twice in passing yards and three times in completion percentage, including a 70.6 mark in 1982 that stood as an NFL record for 27 years, until Drew Brees surpassed it in 2009.

This fact alone should have gotten him into the Hall years ago: There are seven quarterbacks in NFL history who have led the league in passer rating three times or more; their names are Steve Young (six times), Bart Starr (five), Roger Staubach (four) and Sid Luckman, Sammy Baugh and Peyton Manning (three each). Oh, and Ken Anderson, who did it four times.

Seriously? Think somebody flukes his way into a list of legends like that?

“Most quarterbacks of my era would love to play in this time,” Anderson told SN. “If you go back to the 70s, if you lead the league in passing it was probably around 2,200 yards you threw for. If you had 18 touchdown passes, that probably led the league. If you completed 50 percent of your passes, that was about the norm. Now it’s 5,000 yards, it’s 40 touchdowns, it’s a 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, it’s 65 percent.

“But it was kind of fun coming up through then. My first five years were with Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense, and we were hitting a lot of those 60 percent-plus seasons. Bill had a unique offense, and it was fun being a part of that.”

Bengals history, and NFL history, was dramatically altered when the great Paul Brown retired and installed Bill Johnson as his successor rather than Walsh. When the Bengals reached the Super Bowl in 1981 and 1988, it was Walsh’s 49ers who beat them.

Now more than 50 years after they entered the league, the Bengals have had only one player who played a significant portion of his career in Cincinnati honored by the Hall of Fame: tackle Anthony Munoz. Of the other 15 teams that launched in the 60s and 70s, no one else has fewer than three, and the average is eight.

The Bengals had some dreadful teams between 1992-2002, after Mike Brown took control of the team following his father’s death and gambled on young Dave Shula as head coach. But the team has won nine division championships, made 14 playoff appearances and twice reached the Super Bowl.

“Maybe it’s because of what happened lately with the franchise. It doesn’t get a lot of respect,” Anderson said. “But you go back to the 70s and 80s, and I think we were as good as anybody in the league. Unfortunately, the Steelers with one of the great teams of all time happened to be in our division. And we ran into the San Francisco 49ers a couple times in the Super Bowl, with one of the great dynasties of all time.

“I look at some of the players on our team. Kenny Riley, a great defensive back on our team, is very deserving. You look at a guy like Isaac Curtis, I’ll take him over any other receiver you can name … It’s just the numbers were different. I think we’ve had a lot of very, very good players on our teams.”

You’ve got to be great to make the Hall of Fame, of course. Ken Anderson was all of that. The numbers are there. The results were there. The votes have not been. We have seen that voters sometimes make mistakes, sometimes huge. This is one that should be rectified.

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