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Lunch Break, 3/20: The Case for Foreman

It took an extensive waiting period, but Vikings center Mick Tinglehoff will be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer.

Tinglehoff's amazing durability, in which he started all 240 games he played from 1962-78 for the Vikings, and high level of play will receive the sport's pinnacle recognition in less than five months.

Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News and a Hall of Fame voter recently examined the case of another former Viking who would like to make it to Canton. Gosselin compared running back Chuck Foreman, a teammate of Tinglehoff's from 1973-78, with former Broncos running back Terrell Davis, who was one of 15 modern-day finalists for the "Talk of Fame Sports Network."

Davis rushed for 1,117 yards as a rookie in 1995, followed by 1,538 and 1,750 the next two seasons before winning the rushing title with a whopping 2,008 yards in 1998. He was a key element to Denver winning Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII before suffering a knee injury early in 1999. This past year was the first time Davis had been a finalist in nine years of eligibility.

Gosselin wrote:

There was a strong public push for Davis to be recognized by Canton. He deserved to be discussed as a Hall-of-Fame finalist before his brilliance was lost in the pages of history. There was no such push for Chuck Foreman because, sadly, his brilliance has been lost in the pages of history.

Like Davis, Foreman had a three-year window in the 1970s when he was the game's best back. He was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for the Minnesota Vikings in 1973 when he rushed for 801 yards and caught 37 passes. That was back in the days of 14-game seasons when 1,000 yards by a back were rare. There were only five of them that year.

Foreman then led the NFL in touchdowns with 15 in 1974, led the league in receiving with 73 catches and also finished second in TDs with 22 in 1975, then led the NFL in touchdowns again with 14 in 1976. He went to the Pro Bowl each of his first five seasons and during one stretch rushed for 1,000 yards for three consecutive years (1975-77).

Foreman's hands and legs helped Minnesota reach three Super Bowls in his first four seasons. Had the Vikings won just one of those Super Bowls, Foreman likely would already have been a finalist and in the discussion of the game's all-time great backs.

Foreman suffered a knee injury in 1979, played with New England in 1980 and retired at age 30. He has been eligible for consideration for 30 years, but now must rely on the senior committee, which voted in Tinglehoff in January after he had waited 32 years.

Gosselin said Foreman was "as complete a back as there was in the NFL," noting that Minnesota won 69 percent of its games and six division titles in Foreman's seven seasons, his nine touchdown catches in 1975 and nearly grabbing the sport's triple crown that season.

Foreman entered the season finale at Buffalo with a chance to lead the NFC in rushing, receiving and scoring. He rushed for 85 yards and four touchdowns into the third quarter but was struck in the eye with a snowball thrown from the stands. Foreman suffered blurry vision, which knocked him out of the game for the final 20 minutes. He wound up falling one touchdown short of the NFL scoring record and six yards short of an NFC rushing crown but did hold on to that NFL receiving title.

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