On Thursday morning, the NFL announced 20 senior finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s special 2020 centennial class. Former San Francisco 49ers star running back Roger Craig was among the finalist. Craig isn’t eligible as a modern-era candidate anymore, as players whose career ended over 25 years ago now can be inducted into the Hall of Fame as senior candidates. The 20 candidates will eventually be narrowed down to ten. Those ten, along with three contributors and two coaches, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The announcement will come the night before Super Bowl 54 in Miami.
Craig was before his time, and it feels like he’s being penalized for that and the talent he played with. The four-time Pro Bowler was selected as both a tailback and a fullback. He was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1988 when he ran for over 1500 yards and had 76 receptions for 534 yards. To me, you should be rewarded for success, not penalized by it. Craig won the Super Bowl three times. He played 11 seasons in the NFL, and his team made the playoffs each time. That’s longevity at its finest.
This is Roger’s competition, per Matt Maiocco:
Cliff Branch, WR – 1972-1985 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Harold Carmichael, WR – 1971-1983 Philadelphia Eagles, 1984 Dallas Cowboys
Jim Covert, T – 1983-1990 Chicago Bears
Bobby Dillon, S – 1952-59 Green Bay Packers
LaVern Dilweg, E – 1926 Milwaukee Badgers, 1927-1934 Green Bay Packers
Ox Emerson, G/LB/C – 1931-37 Portsmouth Spartans/Detroit Lions, 1938 Brooklyn Dodgers
Randy Gradishar, LB – 1974-1983 Denver Broncos
Cliff Harris, S – 1970-79 Dallas Cowboys
Winston Hill, T – 1963-1976 New York Jets, 1977 Los Angeles Rams
Cecil Isbell TB/DB/HB – 1938-1942 Green Bay Packers
Alex Karras, DT – 1958-1962, 1964-1970 Detroit Lions
Verne Lewellen, HB – 1924-27, 1928-1932 Green Bay Packers, 1927 New York Yankees
Tommy Nobis, LB – 1966-1976 Atlanta Falcons
Drew Pearson, WR – 1973-1983 Dallas Cowboys
Donnie Shell, S – 1974-1987 Pittsburgh Steelers
Duke Slater, T – 1922 Milwaukee Badgers, 1922-25 Rock Island Independents, 1926-1931 Chicago Cardinals
Mac Speedie, E – 1946-1952 Cleveland Browns [AAFC/NFL]
Ed Sprinkle, DE/LB/E – 1944-1955 Chicago Bears
Al Wistert, OT/DT/G – 1943 Phil-Pitt, 1944-1951 Philadelphia Eagles
I like to think I know enough about the NFL, but only Carmichael’s name rings a bell. That’s good news for Craig, right?
This means a little more to me than it may to most 49ers fans. There’s a history here:
Growing up my grandma used to babysit Roger Craig, his brother, and my pops. Been a lot of highs this season but this takes the cake.— KP (@KP_Show) November 12, 2019
He saw my last name and said, “we’re fam.” pic.twitter.com/TTIJkT2gh9
Rooting for you, Uncle Rog.