Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo and Raiders renegade quarterback Ken Stabler were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend, but you knew about them already.
It was the local guy who few outsiders ever heard of whose induction was every bit as worthy if far more overdue. Six decades after his retirement as a player and three Hall of Fame bids later, fans got to know who Dick Stanfel was at last.
Stanfel was San Francisco’s own. He was born here. He grew up here. He played for the legendary Dons here. In the 1950s, Stanfel went on to become one of the most dominant and respected of all NFL linemen.
Few if any Hall of Famers accomplished more than Stanfel in such a short time. In seven seasons, he was All-Pro five times. His Detroit Lions teams captured two league titles. He was an All-Decade Team member. In an era of maulers and brawlers, his smarts and athleticism helped transform the guard position.
So what the heck took the selection committee so long to recognize the guy? If Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy hadn’t lobbied long and hard on his behalf, Stanfel still might not be there.
“It is unfortunate [enshrinement] didn’t happen earlier,” his son Richard Jr. admitted the other day. “He should have been in a long time ago.”
Stanfel retired at 31 to join former USF mentor Joe Kuharich at Notre Dame, or else his resume would have been even more impressive. Later he earned a Super Bowl ring as the o-line coach for the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears team.
If Stanfel had talked as good as he played, he would have been alive for his big day. But like almost every pro athlete in his era, he was a lousy self-promoter.
When Balls asked him about the slight a few years ago, Stanfel was humble and gracious as ever. “Oh, I don’t know about that,” he said. “I was fortunate to have been in the NFL for as long as I was and around so many great players and coaches. I have no regrets.”
Stanfel passed away at 87 last year. At least people will know him now.
THIS JUST IN: Hey, look, new Hall of Famer Brett Favre just threw another touchdown pass against the Raiders at Coliseum!
CALL WAITING: As we know, Warriors meanie Kevin Durant is to blame for everything from tooth decay to the presidential candidates. Now K.D. has taken some heat because he didn’t share his career plans with Russell Westbrook, his longtime Oklahoma City Thunder teammate.
Well, has it occurred to the critics that Durant and Westbrook aren’t the best of buds?
Except for their obvious talents, Durant and Westbrook couldn’t be much more unlike one another on the court. Durant is about team. He plays to win. He makes a point to play the game the right way. Westbrook? He’s about him. He rarely does anything that can’t pad his statistics or resume.
So don’t believe for a nanosecond that Westbrook re-signed with the Thunder out of loyalty. He did it for two reasons: 1) As a 10-year veteran, he’ll be eligible for a larger max contract; and 2) now that Durant no longer is around, he can become the first NBA player to average a quadruple-double — points, assists, rebounds and really dumb shots. How much you wanna bet that he leaves The Other City as soon as possible?
Besides, courtesy calls aren’t how it’s done in the NBA anymore. LeBron James spent four seasons in Miami, where Pat Riley assembled two league championship teams, but he ignored the team president on his way out the door. James didn’t say a word to close friend Dwayne Wade, either.
Call Durant what you want, but bad guy shouldn’t be on the list.
ANOTHER GIANT LETDOWN: Madison Bumgarner should be StarkRavingMadBum right now.
Bumgarner painted another masterpiece on Sunday, this one against the Washington Nationals, only to have the offense paint a mustache on it in a 1-0 loss. In his last half-dozen starts, the Giants’ ace has a 2.20 earned run average but only one victory to show for it.
So what happened to one of the best offenses in the National League, as many called it at the start of the season, Balls included?
Joe Panik and Hunter Pence have been back for a while, so manager Bruce Bochy can’t play the poor health card any more. Closer to the truth, Denard Span has been a disappointment. Brandon Crawford and Angel Pagan have been just all right. Brandon Belt and Buster Posey have been good, but nobody has been great.
So the next time Bochy considers a replacement for one of his best hitters, he should think hard about it. That would be Bumgarner, who had one of his team’s five measly hits before he was lifted in the ninth inning. If MadBum is gonna go down, may as well let him go down swingin’.
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: So how was your weekend, Athletics fans?
As if a sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs wasn’t bad enough — hey, the homies did score three runs in three games — the fact that All-Stars Addison Russell, Jon Lester and Ben Zobrist played lead roles made it that much worse.
For those of you snoring at home, Russell was traded to the Cubs for Lester, who bolted Oakland as a free agent after one crummy postseason start, while Zobrist was dealt to the Kansas City Royals, who became World Series champions shortly thereafter.
Already the 22-year-old Russell has drawn comparisons to a young Derek Jeter. While Balls won’t go there yet, the kid shortstop certainly could been have A’s cornerstone for years to come.
Kinda makes you wonder how much more cruel and unusual punishment A’s fans take. You know, all six of them.
JUST SAYIN’: Special thanks to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the incompetence on Sunday that forced the cancellation of its annual game because of unsafe field conditions. It gave us one fewer night of Chris Berman on television.
— The New York Yankees finally told Alex Rodriguez to take a hike even if they did owe him nearly 27-million bucks. His final game in pinstripes will be against the last-place Tampa Bay Rays, and there can be no more fitting way for him to go out . . .
But don’t think A-Fraud will be gone for long. He’s four home runs short of the 700 mark, and some desperate team may want him because even washed-up liars and cheaters can sell tickets, too.
— Blow a lead against Poland in the Olympics? That’s it — Balls is done with Team USA women’s beach volleyball. Never again.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE . . .: Carl Lewis?
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