(EDITOR’S NOTE: To hear the John Turney interview, click on the following link: HERE)
The Pro Football Hall of Fame reveals its 15 modern-era finalists for the Class of 2023 Tuesday night, and few surprises are expected. However, there’s one longshot that historian John Turney of Pro Football Journal believes will make that list.
Albert Lewis, come on down.
The former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback is one of 28 semifinalists up for election and is in his 20th … and last … year of modern-era eligibility. But he’s never been a finalist and, until a month ago, had never been a Hall-of-Fame semifinalist, either.
Now he is, and Turney hopes he’s discussed by the Hall’s board of 49 selectors.
“I’m rooting for (him),” Turney said on the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast. “It’s kind of an emotional choice because he got forgotten, in my opinion. I think he’s somebody who … if you followed football in the ‘80s … he always got mentioned when the telecasts came on (with) how good people thought he was. They would single him out.
“He also was a dominant special-teams player. He won games by blocking punts. And he was always someone who was always thought of as (being) in the class of Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes at the time. He’s somebody that I hope gets a fair hearing.”
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He’s not alone. Hall-of-Fame coach Tony Dungy called Lewis “one of the top five” cornerbacks of all time when he joined “The Eye Test for Two” podcast in October.
“If I’m starting a secondary,” Dungy said, “and don’t have anybody on my team …and I can pick anybody … I’m picking him as my left corner first. There are some great ones – (Darrelle) Revis and Deion (Sanders) … guys who can do some things. But I know what I’m getting with Albert Lewis, and I’m going to build around that.”
Dungy serves as an expert witness on this subject. He coached Lewis for three years (1989-91) when he was an assistant with Kansas City and said that Lewis “graded out higher than every single player that I ever coached.” Now, keep in mind, that as a head coach, Dungy was with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and Derrick Brooks in Tampa Bay. Yet, he stuck by his statement.
“He was just a great player,” he said of Lewis.
Turney agreed. Moreover, he said he believes Lewis could … and should … make the cut to 15 when the Hall reveals its list Tuesday. If so, it would mark the second time in three years that a finalist made his first appearance before voters in his last year of modern-era eligibility.
The same thing happened to Clay Matthews in 2021, and he made the first cut from 15 to 10. He was not, however, elected on the final vote.
“I expect (Lewis) to be on the final 15,” he said. “I don’t know that he will be. But I think he’ll get his chance to get discussed.”