Bacon, Presnell would trade places with Owens

Published 11:06 pm Friday, August 3, 2018

Everyone grab a handkerchief as we shed our tears for that criminal act of failing to elect Terrell Owens to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
It was so heinous to make Owens wait until his third year of eligibility to be inducted. He was so upset with this so-called snub that he decided not to attend this weekend’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and instead hold his own celebration at his University of Chattanooga alma mater.
Yeah. I’m going to cry myself a river over this injustice.
Let’s talk about a couple a former NFL players who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame but are still waiting. And if they are enshrined, they won’t even have the option to decide if they would attend the ceremonies although I know they would.
They told me they would.
The two men are Glenn Presnell and Coy Bacon. Presnell died in 2004 at the age of 99, the oldest living NFL player at the time. Bacon died in 2008 at the age of 66.
When I asked Presnell if he would welcome the call from the hall after so many years of being overlooked, he said yes.
“I certainly would. It would be an honor,” Presnell told me in his trademark relaxed, matter-of-fact voice.
But Presnell was at peace with the snub. Glenn told me that, “It doesn’t mean that much to me anymore (to be overlooked by the Hall of Fame). I know what I did in my own mind.”
And he’s absolutely right.
Presnell played at Nebraska and then the semi-pro Ironton Tanks. In an era when many semi-pro teams were on an equal basis with NFL teams because of the low salaries of NFL players at that time, Presnell was among the elite playing any professional football. He earned All-Pro honors twice in an era when players went both on offense and defense.
Presnell played for the Tanks from 1928-30 and was the main reason the Tanks stunned the NFL’s Chicago Bears 26-13 and New York Giants 13-12 in a three-week span. The Bears finished third in the league that season and the Giants second.
Chicago Bears’ coach and founder George Halas and the Giants’ owner Wellington Mara virtually ran the NFL and when they said someone belonged in the Hall of Fame, they were enshrined.
There has been a story circulated that Halas never got over losing to the Tanks and he held a grudge against Presnell and did not want him inducted. It’s just a rumor, but having seen how Presnell was never inducted into the Hall of Fame, the story seems to have legs.
Presnell is a member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame. He was a first team All-American in 1927 when he led the nation in rushing.
Playing with the Portsmouth Spartans in 1933, Presnell led the league in total offense with 1,296 yards. He also broke the single-season scoring record with 64 points.
When Portsmouth was sold and then moved to Detroit, Presnell earned All-Pro honors as he led the team to its first NFL championship.
Two people from the Lions’ NFL title team inducted into the Hall of Fame were running back Dutch Clark and coach Potsy Clark.
Coach Clark said Presnell not only belonged in the Hall of Fame, but “he was my best player.”
Bacon played at Ironton High School along with close friend and teammate Danny Pride who went on to play with the Chicago Bears.
Pride was starting at linebacker alongside legendary Dick Butkus before a knee injury ended his career prematurely.
Bacon avoided any major injuries and played 14 seasons in the NFL and recorded an unofficial 130 career quarterback sacks.
Bacon was on the Dallas Cowboys taxi squad in 1967 and played for the Washington Federals of the now-defunct USFL in 1983.
He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was a three-time second All-Pro selection and inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. He was inducted into the American Football Association Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
Bacon had 21 and a half sacks in 1976 with the Cincinnati Bengals and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player.
He was originally credited with what would be an NFL record 26 sacks, but the league later reduced the total.
There have been some reasons — okay, let’s call them what they really are, lame excuses – as to why Bacon hasn’t been elected to the Hall of Fame. But Bacon made an excellent point about the “he was only a pass rusher” argument.
“You don’t play for 16 years if you can’t do more than one thing,” said Bacon.
I also posed the question to Coy if he would attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies if elected after so many years of neglect and he flashed that famous big grin across his face.
“Heck yeah. I have one of the biggest parties you’ve ever seen. I’d invite the whole town of Ironton,” Coy told me.
I’m hoping that we can have that city-wide party one day for both Bacon and Presnell. You can bet they’d be there in spirit.
Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.

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