It is always difficult to make a case for offensive linemen to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, especially when they play at an unheralded position such as offensive guard. Voters love to see inflated statistics when casting their votes, but unfortunately lineman just don’t get any. Therefore, taking on the task of explaining why Mark Schlereth deserves the Hall of Fame gold jacket isn’t easy, but I will argue it can be simplistic. It is as simple as pointing out that Schlereth was an integral cog in two of the most dominating and iconic offensive lines in recent history, the Hogs in Washington and that unnamed introverted bunch in Denver.
Schlereth played an equal amount of time on both lines, six seasons each. During that twelve year career he was the winner of three Super Bowl titles, one with the Redskins and back to back victories with the Broncos. His blocking powered Terrell Davis to an MVP performance in Super Bowl XXXII.
The man affectionately known as Stink, endured 29 surgeries during his career, but still managed to play in more than 80% of his possible games sometimes the same week as the surgery. That, dear readers, is the epitome of toughness.
He powered running games that logged a 1,000 yard rusher five times and a 2,000 yard rusher once. Some of those running backs were very forgettable, such as Reggie Brooks and Olandis Gary. He accomplished this while playing at the relatively light weight of 287 pounds, meaning he did it with great technique, intelligence and grit rather than brute strength. Schlereth appeared in two Pro Bowls and played in the post season seven of his twelve seasons.
Again, it is hard to make a case for why an offensive guard deserves induction into Canton even those who have been to many Pro Bowls. Some wait quite awhile to give their speech at the podium. This makes Schlereth a bit of a tough sell, but his career accomplishments are worthy of enshrinement.
Part 7 of 8 part series: