They've done it to Roger Craig one more time.
Every year, the former Davenport Central High School star, who was a vital cog in the San Francisco 49ers powerhouse teams on the 1980s, is included among the semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And almost every year he does not get to take the next step of being included among the 15 finalists. Only in 2010 did Craig make the finals and of course, he didn’t get into the Hall of Fame that year.
He was denied a place among the finalists again last week in what will be his final year on the regular ballot.
Admittedly, there is a bit of hometown bias here, but this seems like a travesty, especially when you look at some of the players who were named as finalists ahead of him.
Craig was the first running back (and one of only two in history) to accumulate 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.
He helped transform his position. Backs weren’t often employed as receivers before he caught 60 or more passes five straight years from 1984-88. Now, pass-catching is a standard part of the job description.
He was the first back ever to lead the league in receiving when he caught 92 passes in 1985. The previous year he became the first player ever to score three touchdowns in the Super Bowl. He was the NFL's offensive player of the year in 1988.
As Michael Silver of NFL Media pointed out upon learning that Roger had been snubbed again, Craig was one of the key components in the 49ers dynasty of the 1980s.
"If Ronnie Lott was the heart of those teams, Roger Craig was the soul," Silver said. "Those teams just fed off his energy."
But Lott, quarterback Joe Montana and wide receiver Jerry Rice were the most famous stars of the 1980s Niners. Although all of those players have voiced their opinion that Craig should join them in the Hall of Fame, there seemingly is a feeling that you can only have so many Hall of Famers from one team.
So Roger has been left out. Again.
Since he now has been out of football for 25 years, this was his last year of eligibility. Although he has been a semifinalist 10 years in a row, he no longer will even be under consideration by the regular voting panel.
However, he now can be voted in by the Hall of Fame’s nine-man Seniors Committee. He might actually have a better shot that way. We’ll find out when the voting cycle rolls around next year.
By the way, there was only one running back among the 15 Hall of Fame finalists this time.
That was Edgerrin James, who had a very nice career with Indianapolis. He was a versatile back who was adept at catching the ball out of the backfield but often toiled in the shadow of a Hall of Fame quarterback and a superstar receiver on Super Bowl-winning teams.
On James’ page at pro-football-reference.com, it lists players who had similar careers.
One of them is Roger Craig.