On Saturday, legendary Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch passed away. It reminded me of a family saying that rattles through the ears of my relatives.
“Give my flowers to me while I can smell them”
In essence, praise someone while they are around to hear it. If you wait until they pass away, the kind words and gestures do not resonate the same way. For Cliff Branch, this axiom rings truer than most. With that said, in all bluntness, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee failed him. This group deprived this man the honor and privilege of wearing the gold jacket in front of his fans and teammates. Once again, a legend must keep waiting.
If you look at the criteria for selection, there is not one. With candor, a group of media types lock themselves in a room and debates the worthiness of these players. To be frank, why isn’t this process televised? If fans held voters to the light and received a coherent expression in front of a camera, that could clear matters up. Ironically, many of these media types started out in print, but quickly jumped in front of the camera. However, the willingness to publicize their votes falls on deaf ears. Below, writer John Feinstein’s take.
“The argument made by my colleagues against this is that people might not be totally honest—especially when arguing AGAINST a candidacy—if there’s a TV camera in the room. Why? Everyone with a vote has covered the league for many years; written or talked about it and is presumably on the committee because he or she knows the league, its players, coaches and owners intimately. If someone doesn’t feel confident in his or her views, they shouldn’t be voting.”
Granted, none of the following receivers deserve deletion from the Hall of Fame. My preise remains that Cliff Branch, during his life needed induction.
While Stallworth boasted 36 more catches, Branch eclipsed him in yards, yards per catch, and touchdowns. Additionally, Branch logged 14 more catches in the playoffs
While it may appear like the Steelers get singled out, the stats do not lie. First. Branch tallied 165 more catches. Next, Swann trailed by 3223 yards. On top of that, Swann never recorded a thousand-yard season.
On a personal note, my mother died on July 19th. For the entirety of her life, the phrase regarding flowers echoed. For Cliff Branch, the Hall of Fame never gave him his flowers, which remains an injustice.