On the first day of training camp, Falcons coach Dan Quinn gave me a homework assignment.
He heard somewhere about the number of undrafted players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Led you’ll have to tell me if this is correct or not, there are more undrafted free agents in the Hall of Fame than there are first-rounders,” Quinn said. “If that’s true, that was something I wanted to share (with the rookies).”
That’s not true, but there are 17 undrafted players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, with quarterback Kurt Warner being the last one to be enshrined.
Back during my days on the Packers beat with Bob McGinn for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Warner was in camp in 1994 playing behind Brett Favre, Mark Brunell and Ty Detmer. He was cut and went to work in a grocery store before resurfacing in the Arena Football League with the Iowa Barnstormers.
When he got his shot with the Rams, he made the most of it.
The group of undrafted players — which includes former Falcons assistant coach and interim head coach Emmitt Thomas — in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is pretty impressive.
Quinn should share the list with the undrafted Falcons who will play a lot when they face the Broncos at 8 p.m. Thursday in Canton, Ohio.
Here’s the list of 17 members (and year they were signed) of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who began their careers as undrafted free agents:
Frank Gatski – C, Cleveland Browns (AAFC)
Lou Groza – T/K, Cleveland Browns (AAFC)
Marion Motley – FB, Cleveland Browns (AAFC)
Bill Willis – MG, Cleveland Browns (AAFC)
Joe Perry – FB, San Francisco 49ers (AAFC)
Emlen Tunnell – S, New York Giants
Jack Butler – CB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Dick “Night Train” Lane – CB, Los Angeles Rams
Willie Wood – S, Green Bay Packers
Mick Tingelhoff – C, Minnesota Vikings
Willie Brown – CB, Houston Oilers*
Emmitt Thomas – CB, Kansas City Chiefs
Larry Little – G, San Diego Chargers
Jim Langer – C, Cleveland Browns**
Warren Moon – QB, Houston Oilers
John Randle – DT, Minnesota Vikings
Kurt Warner – QB, St. Louis Rams (Was in camp with the Green Bay Packers)
* Cut during training camp by Oilers and then signed by Denver Broncos.
** Cut by Browns during training camp and then signed by Miami Dolphins.
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