I am really hoping that this weekend we hear Andre Reed’s name called as a member of the hall of fame class of 2014. As we anticpate the announcement there is one last guy I’d like to make a case for and that is one Steve Tasker.
First of all, I get sick of hearing that he was a part-time player. Listen; if you fundamentally change your sport, then you are a Hall of Famer. Tasker changed the sport. Before Tasker nobody game planned against a special teamer. Listen to all the coaches of that era – Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, Sam Wyche and they all said the same thing…we had to devote significant practice time to how we would try and handle Steve Tasker. That’s right folks, how are we going to stop Steve Tasker. He was right there with Bruce, Thurman Andre and Jim as a guy who kept opposing coaches awake at night.
Plus he played every single aspect of special teams. He was unblockable on kick and punt coverage. He blocked field goals, punts, and extra points with regularity including a punt in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXVII. He returned kicks and punts. Everyone is fond of saying that special teams are 1/3 or the game. OK, then the best player in the history of the NFL who specialized in 1/3 of the game belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Here are a couple facts about Tasker. He was a 7xPro Bowler and a 7xAll-pro. He was the MVP of the ’92 Pro Bowl. The NFL Network put him in the top 10 players not in the HOF.
And there is this: The Bills in the early 90s paid Tasker over $1 million dollars per season. Back then that was real money. Bill Polian and Marv Levy didn’t go to Ralph and say “pay this guy” if he wasn’t, 1-great, 2- critical to their success and 3 – not in demand by other teams. They didn’t pay Tasker out of the goodness of their heart. No! They paid him so they wouldn’t lose him. Tasker changed almost as many games as Thurman, Bruce and Jim. Many of you are old enough to remember Tasker, is there anybody who’s played in the NFL the past 15 years who has come close to doing the things Steve Tasker did on the field? Your right…the answer is NO!
Think about it. How many times did he pin the opposing team inside the 10? How many Tasker-blocked kicks swung the momentum of a game? We were losing (losing!) the Raider ’93 playoff game until he returned the kickoff to the 3 yard line. The game completely changed on that one play. Put Tasker in the HOF! Hey NFL while you’re at it, put Ray Guy in as well. These are probably the only two special teams players who belong. But…these two guys do belong. However, put Tasker is first.