The 15 finalist for this year’s hall of fame class were announced and I am glad that Andre Reed is once again a finalist and he should get in, and get in this year! That said, if Reed does not make this year’s cut, I am confident he will someday. What disturbs me is Andre is probably the last of the players on those great Bills teams who will be enshrined in Canton, and that’s wrong. Over the next couple days I will make a case for a couple more players but, I have to start with my favorite all-time Bill – Center Kent Hull. I wrote this before and I will keep writing it until the hall of fame takes notice.
First… I sometimes really wonder what is going on inside the Hall of Fame selection committee. Two years ago Dermontti Dawson and Cortez Kennedy were inducted into the HOF. Don’t get me wrong, both were great players. But if winning, and winning a lot are part of the equation then why is Kent Hull on the outside looking in? How does Dermontii Dawson who anchored a number of mediocre offensive lines on a number of just OK teams, get in the HOF and not Kent Hull? I know that centers are few and far between in the HOF (there only have been six inducted since 1980). But the six inducted don’t have any better credentials than Kent Hull. He was a 3xpro bowler. He played in 170 regular season games and more importantly 19 post-season games. The Bills, with Hull at center, lead the NFL in scoring in 1990 and rushing in ’91 and ’92, and finished in the top 10 in rushing yards from ’88-96 (the year he retired).
Those stats aside – Hull was the center for the most demanding, complicated offense the NFL has ever seen. The Bills ran the no huddle ALL-GAME-LONG. Hull was the guy putting everyone into position, making all the calls and then blocking most nose-tackles one on one. It was never done before or since.
Hull was also the leader of the Bills and one of their toughest players. I remember when the Buffalo/Miami game was the game of the week and sometimes the game of the season. Kelly vs. Marino, both teams battling for first place and home field for the playoffs. Buffalo was playing the Dolphins in Miami and Bryan Cox tackled Thurman Thomas a tad out of bounds. Remember Bryan Cox? Probably the most hated player in Bills history. Thurman got up and pushed Cox and Cox started yelling at Thomas. The next play they ran Thurman up the middle and Cox cheap shots Thurman in the pile. Predictably, Thurman gets up and pushes Cox and tough-guy Cox starts swinging and a scrum breaks out. As players are pushing and shoving, Hull walks calmly into the middle of it, grabs Cox by the face mask sticks his finger in his face and says something along the lines of get your “blank” back in the huddle. Everybody stopped fighting, Cox shut up and the refs didn’t even throw a flag. That’s tough!
Plus, Hull is my all-time favorite player. I met him twice and he was gracious, down to earth, nice and had a guy-next door demeanor about him. All of which was perfect for Buffalo. More than anybody on those great teams Kent Hull was Buffalo’s kind of guy. Everyone I talked to who met him said the same thing. That all aside…Kent Hull embodied everything that was right about the NFL on and off the field. Today’s NFL would represent itself really well by putting one of its best players and even better people into the Hall of Fame. It’s shame he died at the young age of 50 and in his memory he should be the seventh center with a bust in Canton.