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Old 07-31-2004   #18
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Originally Posted by Mistril48
"Decades of work" = Peter Principle (rise of our level of incompetence);
"Well respected around the leagues" = When Houston lost it's team, which major markets were fighting over him for their coverage?
"key reasons why ex-Oiler Elvin Bethea is now in the Hall of Fame" -link?
I don't know how old you are mistril but I have followed the NFL for parts of 4 decades. All I can tell you is what I perceive over three decades of being a fan of the NFL. McClain was OUTSTANDING covering the Oilers. He hasn't been the same since we lost our team. Some say he has been a bit lazy and self absorbed. All I know is he was a fantastic beat writer back in the Oilers salad days. If McClain was so bad (I think you termed it the "Peter Principle"), how is he one of the 39 select people on the NFL Hall of Fame selection committee? If he wasn't widely respected he would not be on the NFL HOF selection committee.

Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

NOTE: With the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl out of the way, I'm ready to start churning out these e-mail columns regularly. Thanks for being so patient.

I've received so many e-mails about former Oilers' defensive end Elvin Bethea being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I'm including a few of them in this column. As one of 39 on the selection committee, it was an honor to present Elvin to the voters at our annual meeting the day before the Super Bowl. No player in franchise history is more deserving than Elvin. He and his wife, Pat, were on Cloud 9 at the Pro Bowl, where the newest members get together for the first time.

One more thing: I know you guys are fired up about the draft, as I always am. I'm sorry I can't run every e-mail about the Texans and other teams, too, but I'll include as many as I can in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading, listening, watching and writing. Keep 'em coming.

Q. I want to than you for your work that enabled Elvin Bethea to make it into the Hall of Fame. He obviously deserves it, but without your lobbying, he never would have made it. Thanks again for all of the work that you do for the former Oilers' causes. We're fortunate to have you as a member of our local media.

Jeff in Kingwood

A. Thank you, Jeff. You'd be amazed at how many e-mails I get ripping me for writing about the Oilers. But I can take it. As far as Elvin, let me point out a few others who helped his cause immensely. Titans VP of community affairs Bob Hyde, who was the Oilers' media relations director for the last seven years of Elvin's career, did more work than anyone in helping me prepare my presentation. Hal Lundgren, who covered the Oilers for the Chronicle for 11 years before I inherited the beat, sent me some convincing statistics I used in my speech to the selection committee. Texans VP of community relations Tony Wyllie, who grew up in Houston as an Oilers' fan, encouraged every committee member to vote for Elvin. They played instrumental roles in Elvin making the Hall of Fame.

Q. Thanks for helping Elvin Bethea get into the Hall Of Fame. I guess only long-time Oilers' watchers like you and I can really appreciate how good he was. I'll tell anyone who'll listen that back when I was 10 years old in 1973, Bethea was dominating despite playing on another 1-13 team. Anyway, as an old, ex-Oiler fan, his election to the Hall somehow makes my memories of the many bad Oiler seasons and playoff losses a little easier to take. I'm glad he's finally getting the recognition he deserves.

Joe in Galveston

A. Here are some statistics I used before the selection committee, Joe: Only one defensive end in the Hall of Fame went to more Pro Bowls than Bethea (Gino Marchetti). Only three defensive players made more Pro Bowls than Bethea in the 1970s (Joe Greene, Alan Page, Ken Houston). No defensive end in the Hall of Fame played in more games or played more seasons than Bethea. I also used statistics comparing Bethea's statistics to other defensive ends in the Hall. I also provided testimonials from Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, Chuck Noll and Ron Wolf, among others. Upshaw and Shell, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame, said the only defensive end they had to consistently double team was Bethea.

Q. As a 40-something lifetime Houston football fan, I was really pleased to see that Elvin Bethea was given his due respect and elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I remember opponents double- and triple-teaming Bethea because he was such a dominant force. I recall most teams designing their game plans to stay away from him, and he still managed to make outstanding play after outstanding play. I recall many who now happen to be in the Hall of Fame who held him in the highest respect as a great player.

Lonnie in Copperfield

A. Elvin was, without question, the greatest defensive player in Oilers/Titans history. By the way, Lonnie, Hall of Fame selection committee members who spoke up for Elvin before we voted _ some giving their opinions and others informing the voters of testimonials they had compiled on Bethea _ were Paul Zimmerman, Sports Illustrated; Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Don Pierson, Chicago Tribune; John Clayton, ESPN; Cliff Christl, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Q. Is Elvin Bethea really going into the Hall of Fame as a Titan? He didn't even play a down for them. By the way, I'm from Houston but moved to Fort Worth, and I miss your opinions.

Eric in Fort Worth

A. Unlike the baseball Hall of Fame, Eric, NFL players aren't inducted as a member of a certain team. For instance, Marcus Allen can't demand to be inducted as a Chief rather than a Raider because he and Al Davis hate each other. Now, here's the rub for many who loved the Oilers: There are 32 teams. The Oilers aren't one of them. But anyone who played for the Oilers is listed as played for the Oilers even though there's a team display for them, and it's the Titans. The busts stand alone in a different room.

Q. As a kid growing up during Elvin Bethea's career, I always admired the way he played. Like the fans, he suffered through those 1-13 years, but he gave everything he had on every play. I'm sure it would have been easy for him to dog it like some of his teammates, but I can honestly say I never saw him take a play off. Congratulations, Elvin _ you deserve it.

Robert in League City

A. It's been amazing to me, Robert, before and after the vote, how many people were following Elvin's possible induction. Once he made the list of finalists for the first time, I couldn't believe how much interest there was in the Houston area from fans, media and former Oilers. It was much more than Mike Munchak received two years ago. Even though Munch played his entire career with the Oilers, I guess there wasn't as much interest in Houston because he'd been in Nashville since the team moved in 1997. After Elvin made it, I received calls from a lot of people. Two of the best were from Dan Pastorini and Carl Mauck.

Q. Since you're a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, I have a question for you: Has Billy Cannon ever been considered for membership. If not, do you think he ever will be considered?
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle went before the Hall of Fame and told them why I should be in. I owe them and all of the fans and supporters of the Hosuton Oilers and me. I can't thank them enough."
Bethea thanked longtime Houston sportswriter John McClain for helping get him voted into the Hall. When the Class of 2003 was announced back in January, Bethea was probably the biggest surprise among the five enshrines.
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