At the least, it makes for some interesting discussion. If NDSU football had a Ring of Honor or something like it at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome, who would get their jerseys hanging from the rafters? Or hanging on the west wall above the top row of seats? I threw the line out there in the last MediaZone post and a couple of readers weren’t too thrilled about it. NDSU would most likely never do it because it’s always preaching the name on the front is more important than the name on the back. I get that and it certainly has merit.
Another valid argument: there are just too many great players. Or are there?
The Ring of Honor is the top of the top, so, yes, there are plenty of candidates over the years but you can always separate the really great from the great. So I would establish two criteria: winner of the top honor in the country in their division and/or a standout college career plus some sort of supreme accomplishment in the NFL. So on that basis, there are three automatic qualifiers in Harlon Hill winners Jeff Bentrim and Chris Simdorn and Buck Buchanan winner Kyle Emanuel. Bentrim in 1986 and Simdorn in 1990 were honored with the Harlon Hill that goes to the best player in Division II. Emanuel won the ’14 Buchanan award that goes to the best defensive player in the FCS.
After that, it gets a bit subjective. Carson Wentz is an obvious pick simply based on the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Steve Nelson is also rather obvious based on the fact New England retired his No. 57 jersey. If your jersey is retired in the NFL, you have a spot waiting for you in the Fargodome. Rather obvious Part II is Phil Hansen, based on the same theory. Hansen was inducted into the Buffalo Bills’ Wall of Fame and if your number is hanging in New Era Field (the Bills’ stadium), it also needs to hang in the dome. And Tyrone Braxton won two Super Bowls, was a Pro Bowl player and finished his NFL career with 36 career interceptions. Pretty good stuff there.
That’s it. I count seven.
- 1 Jeff Bentrim
- 10 Chris Simdorn
- 11 Carson Wentz
- 22 Tyrone Braxton
- 53 Kyle Emanuel
- 90 Phil Hansen
- 97 Steve Nelson
Interesting that Nelson, a linebacker, wore No. 97 at NDSU. He started as a defensive end after transferring from Augsburg College before switching positions, but not numbers.
Certainly there are several players on the doorstep. Lamar Gordon is the program’s all-time leading rusher, but finished second in the Harlon Hill balloting. Gus Bradley was a solid college player and went on to an NFL head coach, but that stop didn’t turn out so great. Ramon Humber has been in the NFL since 2009, but he’s on his fourth team, albeit he had a great year this season. If Joe Haeg finds the next level of success in the NFL, he could get in line someday. Marcus Williams has the FCS record for most interceptions returned for touchdowns, but that’s not the top FCS honor. Brock Jensen is the winningest quarterback in FCS history, but again, it’s not the Walter Payton Award (Big E is pushing me hard on this one, led program to first three FCS titles). Stacy Robinson played in two Super Bowls, but career numbers were 48 receptions for 749 yards. So, rip away if you feel the need.