View Full Version : Miklasz (Post-Dispatch) on Wehrli's chances prior to vote

02-03-2007, 03:21 PM
Let's hope for a nice surprise when voters decide on Wehrli
By Bernie Miklasz

MIAMI It's election day for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and another opportunity for the voters to honor Roger Wehrli.

Wehrli, a superb and technically pure cornerback for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1969 through 1982, is a finalist for the Hall of Fame for the second time. There are 17 finalists on this year's ballot, but there's a cap on the number of new inductees each year, so no more than six of the 17 will be voted in Saturday.

A 40-member committee will determine Wehrli's fate. And he's running out of time; after next year, Wehrli will be moved to the jurisdiction of the Seniors Committee. But that talent pool already is overstocked with NFL players who didn't get the call to the hall in Canton, Ohio.

I'm one of the 40 committee members. I will make the official presentation on Wehrli's behalf. I am told he's a long shot to win the vote. Perhaps we can spring an upset. Advertisement

Wehrli certainly meets Hall of Fame standards. Here's a partial preview of the case I have prepared for No. 22:

There are only seven pure cornerbacks in the Hall. Of the seven, Wehrli was named to as many or more Pro Bowls (seven) than five of the CBs already in Canton. Wehrli was named first-team All-Pro as many or more times (five) than five of the seven CBs already in the Hall.

Wehrli was voted to the 1970s All-Decade team. And all seven current Hall of Fame cornerbacks were named to All-Decade teams. So why is Wehrli different?

During the 1970s, no NFL cornerback was named to more Pro Bowls, or bestowed with more All-Pro honors, than Wehrli. And at no point did Wehrli benefit from a Pro Bowl, or All-Pro, teammate on the defensive line who could rush the passer and cause interceptions. He didn't have the benefit of getting Hall-of-Fame caliber pressure up front from a teammate such as Howie Long, Joe Greene, Willie Davis, Alex Karras.

Wehrli made 40 interceptions in his career; some critics believe that's a low number. Actually this is a compliment to Wehrli, because it shows how quarterbacks avoided throwing to his side of the field. Hard to make picks when QBs are avoiding you. And when they challenged him? During Wehrli's peak decade, the 1970s, 13 of his 32 interceptions occurred in the end zone, or inside the St. Louis 20-yard line. And 15 of the 32 interceptions either prevented an opponent's go-ahead scoring drive, or set up a St. Louis possession that tied the game or gave his team the lead.

Testimonials? Roger Staubach told me Wehrli was the best CB he ever faced. Sonny Jurgensen said he gave up on the idea of beating Wehrli and attacked the corner on the opposite side. Respected NFL personnel expert Ron Wolf, who built champions in Oakland and Green Bay, said Wehrli is one of the six or seven best CBs in NFL history. John Madden told me that Raiders owner Al Davis was so obsessed with Wehrli's excellence, that he tried to trade for Wehrli every offseason. In terms of technique, Madden said Wehrli was among the three or four best corners who ever played.

Why wouldn't Wehrli make it? I can only guess. But I know this: It isn't Wehrli's fault that he didn't play in New York, or on the East Coast, or for a Super Bowl champion. So why punish him because it was his fate to spend his career with an unsuccessful team in the Midwest?

02-03-2007, 03:24 PM
I want Miklasz to present DT next year; he covered the Chiefs as St. Louis' "home" team during the years STL had no team and he has spoke glowingly of Derrick on his blog.

Rain Man
02-03-2007, 03:29 PM
I've got no problem with Wehrli making it. He was a very good cornerback.

However, Ken Riley and Emmitt Thomas might be more deserving from that era.

02-03-2007, 04:02 PM
Wehrli's numbers finally got him in. Eligible since 1987-8.

Hope it doesn't take DT that long......