You’ll have to take my word for this, but exactly a week ago on Thursday evening as I was walking home from the subway, I’d thought about Rod Woodson’s upcoming induction into the Hall of Fame, and pondered who he might select to induct him into Canton.
Low and behold, the announcement came last Friday morning.
There is every reason to cheer Woodson’s choice, but I had been holding out hope for a few other presenters.
Dark Horse Dreams
The first name that had popped into my head was Rod Rust.
Rod Rust served as the Steelers defensive coordinator in 1989. OK, why would Woodson select him? Well, Woodson has stated on a number of occasions, that Rust was the man who taught him to breakdown film and the man who taught him how to read offenses.
In his only season as defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, Rust improved the Steelers defense from 28th to 19th. That might not sound impressive, but that same defense, with Dave Brazil at the helm, finished as the number one overall defense in 1990.
Although Rust was one of the game’s best defensive minds (he coached Joe Greene in college) and he certainly would have been a dark horse candidate. But it would have given Rust a chance to be remembered for something else than being the man who led the New England Patriots to a 1-15 season in 1990.
A far less obscure and arguably more worthy candidate would have been Dick LeBeau, who coached Woodson as a DB’s coach, then as a defensive coordinator, from 1992 to 1996.
LeBeau’s record speaks for itself, and had Woodson chosen him, it may have given LeBeau’s own Canton candidacy a push. LeBeau has been in the league since the 1950’s, as a player and then as a coach, and is the father of the zone blitz. The Steelers made it to the Super Bowl three times with LeBeau as defensive coordinator, one of those with Woodson on the field.
Alas, it wasn’t LeBeau. Tony Dungy also would have been an interesting choice and, while its got to burn Steelers fans’ eyes to read this, Marv Lewis or [OUCH] Brian Billick also would have been valid choices.
Every Reason to Applaud No. 26’s Choice
Induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a hallowed honor, and the choice of presenter is a highly personal one. The player has every right to name the presenter they want to name.
Walter Payton chose his son. Chuck Noll chose Dan Rooney. Dan Rooney chose Joe Greene.
Woodson has selected Tracy Foster his current business associate and long time friend. In fact, they’ve been friends since high school.
Those kinds of lifelong friendships are golden. It speaks volumes about Woodson’s character that he chose his lifelong friend, and from that perspective, we applaud him.