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Pro Football Hall of Fame needs to take a good look at former Oklahoma State star Leslie O'Neal

The former Oklahoma State and NFL star will be added to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame later this year. The Pro Football Hall of Fame needs to follow its lead.
by Jenni Carlson Published: January 16, 2014

Heck, they weren't sure he'd even be able to walk normally.

He missed all of the 1987 season and a good chunk of the 1988 season, but over the next nine seasons, he had had least 10 sacks seven times.

Making O'Neal's numbers all the more impressive are the teams on which he played. In nine seasons in San Diego, two in St. Louis and two in Kansas City, he enjoyed only five winning seasons. That means O'Neal wasn't lining up with the Monsters of the Midway or the Purple People Eaters. He was often the best player on the defensive side of the ball, and that brought double teams and extra attention.

He still wreaked havoc, squaring off against the likes of Willie Roaf and Jonathan Ogden and Anthony Munoz, hall of famers all.

O'Neal deserves to join them in Canton.

You would think hall of fame voters would look at those career stats and realize that at the very least, O'Neal needs to be on the initial ballot. But clearly, that isn't happening.

So, does someone need to lobby?

It seems that O'Neal would go into the hall as a Charger. That's where he spent the bulk of his career and the team with which we identify him. But if the Charger organization needs to make a push for O'Neal to get in the hall, he might be in for a long wait.

O'Neal isn't even in the team's hall of fame.

Only six other Chargers played in as many Pro Bowls as O'Neal, and with the exception of Antonio Gates, who is still playing, all of them are in the team's hall.

Has that SoCal sun baked some brains out there?

This guy belongs among the NFL greats the same way he belongs among the sports greats that have come through Oklahoma. He will officially join the state's hall later this year. Here's hoping pro football's hall will one day follow suit.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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