No Hall calls in 2021

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

Wednesday is Veterans Day in the United States, including the north country that’s home to Fort Drum, which houses Army soldiers ready for their call of duty to protect individuals of this nation.

In honor of NFL military veterans, I’m recognizing the more significant past players who have served this country and became great heroes. Here are the most prominent players:

n Chuck Bednarik — Hall of Famer was two-way player for Eagles from 1949-62 and had long Army career; delivered crunching hit on the Giants’ Frank Gifford in 1960.

n Sid Luckman — One of 19 players who left Bears’ 1943 championship team for World War II in ’44 and fought at Normandy, France.

n Rocky Bleier — Entered Army and shipped to Vietnam before rejoining Steelers as a blocking running back and won four Super Bowl titles.

n Roger Staubach — Naval Academy QB later had tour of duty in Vietnam, waiting five years before joining Cowboys with whom he won two Super Bowls en route to Hall of Fame career.

n Alejandro Villanueva — Played variety of positions at West Point; four-year Army active member and later stationed at Fort Drum; served three tours in Afghanistan before becoming anchor as Steelers’ offensive left tackle for almost five seasons.

n Pat Tillman — Gave up multi-million-dollar contract to serve after enlisting in Army Rangers in 2002. Cardinals All-Pro safety was tragically killed during friendly fire in Afghanistan in ’04.

n Eddie LeBaron — “Littlest General” of Marine Corps Reserves fought in Korean War, was wounded twice in nine months and later decorated with Purple Heart medal. QB played 11 seasons between Redskins and Cowboys during ’50s and ’60s.

n Paul Hornung — Packers RB/PK great got called into Army active duty in 1961 but earned weekend passes so he could play on Sundays.

n Chad Hennings — Cowboys DT didn’t begin pro career until ’92 after leaving U.S. Air Force, and won three championships.

n George McAfee — Hall of Famer was versatile player for Bears in the ’40s and enlisted in Navy during WWII.

n Others included former Bills owner Ralph Wilson (enlisted in Navy during WWII); Bears Hall of Fame OC/LB Clyde Turner (drafted into Army near the end of WWII); 2000 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Broncos RB Mike Anderson (Marines); Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona (U.S. Naval Reserve); and Seahawks long snapper Nate Boyer (U.S. Army Green Beret).

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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