Who warrants consideration for the Ring of Fame and Ring of Honor?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 14: Santana Moss #89 of the Washington Redskins signals during warm-ups prior to their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 14, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 14: Santana Moss #89 of the Washington Redskins signals during warm-ups prior to their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 14, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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The Washington sports community has found a number of ways to honor its heroes over the decades. My favorite was the old Hall of Stars in RFK stadium, which the Washington Football Team called home during its glory days. The beauty of the Hall of Stars was its eclecticism. 82 names from local football, baseball, basketball and beyond. Everyone from Baugh and Sonny to Melissa Belote and Pauline Betz Addie. Shirley Povich, Lee Elder, Red Auerbach, Josh Gibson.

The list is most impressive.

The Washington Football Team has two primary lists of its own honorees, and that can be a little confusing. (And you can find our own Riggo’s Rag’s lists here.) There is the Ring of Fame, which bestows its honor on those who have contributed to the local Washington football team at the highest levels, both on and off the field. Then there is the Ring of Honor – begun in 2002 to celebrate the franchise’s 70th anniversary by picking the 70 greatest players in team history. That list was updated in 2012, adding another ten names to coincide with the 80th anniversary. I believe another ten names will added in 2022, when the franchise turns 90.

Many of the names on both lists overlap, and many are no-brainers. We can quibble around the fringes, but it is safe to say that no one is being honored who is not deserving.

As a point of reference, 38 Ring of Honor (ROH) members are also included in the Ring of Fame (ROF), as are two coaches. Another man, Richie Petitbon, was both a player and a coach, though he is primarily recognized in Washington for his contributions as a coach. That leaves nine men who are in the ROF but not in the ROH. Three are recent players – Sean Taylor, Chris Samuels, and London Fletcher – who I assume will be inducted into the ROH when it is next updated. The six others include a coach, a GM, an owner, a local politician, and two long-time staff members.

Since no one asked, I would like to make a few humble suggestions for other men and women who should be included on both lists. We’ll begin with the ROF.


Turk Edwards and Hugh “Bones” Taylor

Edwards and Taylor are both in the ROH, but they should also be recognized in the ROF. The Washington Football Team has boasted some of the greatest left tackles in the history of the NFL, and it all began with Edwards. The Hall of Famer was there at the beginning when the team was called the Boston Braves, and he played his entire career for the franchise. He was a dominant lineman – a 3-time first-team All Pro and member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team from the 1930s. After retiring in 1940, Edwards served as both assistant and head coach in Washington throughout the 1940s. His omission from the ROF list is egregious.

Taylor played his entire 8-year career in Washington, and in an era when the forward pass was still a secondary option, he scored 58 touchdowns and averaged 19.2 yards per catch. That number not only remains a franchise record – it is top-ten in NFL history. Taylor is the only player in the top-50 who played prior to 1950.


Ray Flaherty and Joe Bugel

If Turk Edwards’ omission is egregious, you have to invent a new word to describe why Flaherty is not in the ROF. He took over a young franchise that had never had a winning record. In his seven seasons, he never had a losing record. He guided the team to two championships and was runner-up two other times. His career winning percentage is the best in franchise history for anyone who coached more than two seasons. Gibbs, Allen and Lombardi are in the ROF. Flaherty – absolutely, positively – deserves to join them.

And if Richie Petitbon is in, I don’t see how you keep Bugel out. Petitbon was both a player and a head coach for the franchise, and Bugel was neither, but let’s be real. Petitbon would not merit inclusion based on his playing or head coaching for the Washington Football Team . He is there because he was a dominant defensive coordinator. Well, the beloved Buges invented the Hogs, and the Hogs defined the greatest era in Washington football history.


Terri Crane-Lamb and Zema Williams

The Washington Football team has had cheerleaders since 1962 and Crane-Lamb has been one of the squad’s most important leaders. After performing as a cheerleader in the early ‘80s, she founded an alumni association for the squad. Then, in 2009, she was one of the founders of the National Football Cheerleaders Alumni Association. In addition to leading the local team chapter, she also serves as the national organization’s president.

Williams, on the other hand, is emblematic of the team’s troubled history when it comes to identifiers. As the iconic Chief Zee, Williams represented the ultimate fan. His passion was undeniable and infectious. But his persona and costume are elements the franchise has been erasing from its history. This is an argument for another day. I just wish there was some reasonable way to recognize a man who was the team’s ultimate fan through thick and thin.

Now onto the ROH. The distinction I would make here is that players in the ROH are there because of how good they were on the field. Their stature off the field does not enter into this conversation, as it does when evaluating the ROF. These are simply the greatest players in Washington Football Team history.