Missing Super Bowl ring continues to haunt Brodie
A month from now we’ll see seven more Pro Football Hall-of-Fame inductees break down and describe how they got hooked on the game while throwing the ball in the backyard with their dads.
Unfortunately, John Brodie won’t be one of them.
Twenty-seven Hall of-Fame gatherings have come and gone since Brodie retired with the San Francisco 49ers in 1973 and not once did the 1970 MVP get invited.
Poring over Brodie’s career numbers it’s hard to understand why he hasn’t made it.
But if you look at his ring fingers you’ll probably have your answer. Brodie never won a Super Bowl. That’s four less than the 49ers’ all-time best passer Joe Montana, only the second quarterback inducted in the past eight years.
“Anybody would say if maybe he had gotten one ring he’d probably be in there without a doubt,” said Denver Broncos backup quarterback Steve Beuerlein. “There aren’t a lot of guys over the years that are in the Hall of Fame who didn’t win the Super Bowl, at least the top quarterbacks.”
Beuerlein’s theory seems to hit the mark when you consider that Bob Griese, Bart Starr, Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw and Y.A. Tittle are all in the Hall. Their numbers didn’t drive them in the Hall, but their teams’ success did.
His stats aren’t far off Montana’s. He threw for 31,548 yards (about 9,000 less than Joe) and 214 TDs (59 fewer than Montana). The 1956 Stanford All-American led the league in completion percentage three times and was the first Niner to have his number (12) retired.
“I know I was as good as anybody, but that’s for other people to say or not to say,” said a healthier Brodie five years ago during his first celebrity golf championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. “It’s embarrassing to me that a lot of people think I’m in there.”
Brodie’s other roadblock to the Hall may be his cantankerous history with the media, says his son-in-law Chris Chandler, the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.
“He’s one of the guys who didn’t get along with the media and it’s coming back to haunt him,” Chandler said. “You look at Dave Wilcox (a 2000 inductee) who was a really good player and here ‘Brode’s’ played for 17 years in San Francisco, was player of the year, led the league and was the third or four-rated passer in history. For whatever reason they haven’t deemed him good enough to be in the Hall of Fame, which is a joke and a shame.”
Given that Brodie nearly died last October because of a massive stroke, there might be a push to induct Brodie in the next few years. But ESPN’s NFL analyst Joe Theismann isn’t so sure.
“I think he’s the type of guy who certainly could be considered a Hall-of-Fame quarterback,” Theismann said. “If John ever gets in, I think he’d like to get in alive. You hate to go in when you’re in the ground.
“I don’t necessarily think those people look at a sympathy factor for consideration. The thing about the Hall of Fame is that I have no earthly idea what the criteria is for someone to get in.”
If Brodie doesn’t make the Hall, he should be remembered as one of the greatest athletes of his era. While getting his feet wet with the Niners in 1959-60 he also made 11 of 25 cuts on the PGA Tour. After rededicating himself to golf following a 12-year broadcast career with NBC, Brodie won a Senior PGA event in 1991.
“A lot of times he could come across as a little bit arrogant, cocky and brash and he probably is,” Beuerlein said. “He has a lot of confidence in himself, that’s what made him a great football player and what made him a great golfer.”
Nick Buoniconti, Marv Levy, Mike Munchak, Jackie Slater, Lynn Swann, Ron Yary and Jack Youngblood are the next crop of Hall of Fame inductees. They should be thankful that they didn’t play quarterback.
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