Dick Stanfel has been on the Hall of Fame ballot, one way or another, for 54 years. He’s been a candidate in the regular nomination process and a three-time finalist from the Senior Committee.
There won’t be a need for Year No. 55 -- Stanfel was elected to the Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Stanfel’s case has always been a difficult one to break down because most of the voters over the past decade did not see him play, and as a right guard, he played a position with few statistics on which to judge him. Born on July 20, 1927, Stanfel played seven NFL seasons and was dominant through most of them with the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins.
Taken in the second round at pick No. 19 in the 1951 draft by Detroit, he made the All-Pro team five times in seven seasons. He was named to the All-NFL team of the 1950s and won two NFL championships, both with the Lions in 1952 and 1953.
He was even named the Lions' MVP in 1953 -- a tough feat to accomplish for an offensive lineman.
The 6-foot-3, 236-pound offensive lineman -- for comparison’s sake, that’s smaller than current Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson -- went to the University of San Francisco, when it had a football program.
Johnson had been considered to be Detroit’s next Hall of Fame player, and he and Stanfel will have something in common if Johnson goes through with potential retirement plans. Both will have hung it up in their prime -- or close to it.
Stanfel retired following three seasons with Washington, where he was named one of the original 70 greatest Redskins players, and he then went into coaching. And for as much success as he had as a player, he might have been more successful as a coach.
He built the Chicago Bears' offensive line that blocked for Walter Payton during the team’s Super Bowl-winning season in 1985. He coached Hall of Famer Bob Brown in Philadelphia and multiple All-Pros during a coaching career that spanned from 1964 to 1992 with the Eagles, 49ers, Saints and Bears.
Stanfel stayed in the Chicago area following his retirement. He died on June 22, 2015, at age 87.