Ex-Hog Grimm Is More Worried About Steelers Than Hall of Fame

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 31, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. -- It's not possible to have a much bigger weekend in pro football than the one that Russ Grimm is about to have. On Saturday, he's up for election to the Hall of Fame. If that doesn't work out for him, he has a quiet, little fallback plan called the Super Bowl, in which he'll participate Sunday as the offensive line coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

Yet the Washington Redskins' former guard was keeping things relatively low-key this week. He chooses not to fret about the Hall of Fame vote and to play down his curious role in this Super Bowl matchup as the man who just missed out on being the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and instead went to Arizona and helped Coach Ken Whisenhunt transform the Cardinals.

"Russ is always very level emotionally," Whisenhunt said. "You don't always know what's going to affect him."

Whisenhunt, a former Redskins tight end, endorsed Grimm's Hall of Fame candidacy, calling Grimm "very deserving of it" as "one of the best players ever at his position." Whisenhunt also said, "I know what it would mean to him."

If Grimm gets in, he would be the first member of the Redskins' famed Hogs offensive lines to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Those groups helped bring attention to offensive line play among NFL followers. They showed that blockers can be mini-celebrities, at least under the proper circumstances.

"I told him, 'Russ, you should have been in first. You should have been in before me, if in fact I should be in,' " John Riggins, the Redskins' Hall of Fame running back, said at midweek. "I told him in the worst-case scenario, he can have my locker. . . . I hope for Russ's sake that he gets in."

But others had to do Grimm's campaigning this week because he wasn't doing his own, at least not publicly.

"Those are things when I say I don't have a decision in that, so I'm not gonna worry about it," Grimm said. "If it happens, I will be elated. If it doesn't happen, you know, we've still got a game on Sunday. I don't worry about things like that."

But when he was asked whether he thinks the offensive lines on which he played with the Redskins deserve a representative in the Hall of Fame, Grimm said: "I mean, I thought so. But that's me. I'm a little bit biased."

In the year after former Redskins greats Darrell Green and Art Monk were elected, Grimm's candidacy could be a long shot when the media members who serve as Hall of Fame selectors meet Saturday to elect four to seven candidates.

Defensive end Bruce Smith, who finished his career with four seasons with the Redskins after 15 seasons with the Buffalo Bills, is regarded by many observers as a virtual lock to be elected in his first year of eligibility. Fellow first-timers Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson also are strong candidates.

Grimm has competition among offensive linemen from fellow candidates Randall McDaniel, Bob Kuechenberg and Dermontti Dawson. The other modern-era finalists are former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Bills owner Ralph Wilson and former players Cris Carter, Richard Dent, Cortez Kennedy, John Randle, Andre Reed and Derrick Thomas. Seniors committee nominees Bob Hayes and Claude Humphrey also are up for consideration.

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