Steve Hutchinson well deserving of Pro Football Hall of Fame nod

(Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images) Steve Hutchinson
(Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images) Steve Hutchinson /

Former Minnesota Vikings offensive guard Steve Hutchinson’s place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame has been a long time coming, but that makes him no less deserving.

Perennial All-Pro and former Minnesota Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson was finally elected to Canton on his third year of eligibility over Super Bowl weekend, culminating an outstanding career that spanned 12 years and saw him emerge as one of the best players to ever play at the position.

His ferociousness on almost every play was a sight to behold and there were few, if any, defensive ends or tackles that got the better of Hutchinson on a consistent basis throughout his glittering career.

Hutchinson’s resume speaks for itself, with five All-Pro selections and seven Pro Bowl appearances, but it was his influence in and around the locker room that was equally impressive and earned the respects of teammates and coaching staff alike.

He came to prominence as a member of the Seattle Seahawks and played a leading role blocking for Shaun Alexander on his way to the Most Valuable Player title in 2005 before making the move to the Vikings in a seven-year, $49 million deal that was the largest contract of his kind for an offensive guard at that time.

This proved an astute mood from the Vikings front office, with Hutchinson instantly improving a shaky offensive line and turning the organization from also-rans into a leading contender in the NFC.

Sadly, this did not transition to an elusive Super Bowl win for the Vikings, who endured two near misses during Hutchinson’s time with the franchise, but that does not take away from a standout career from a player that has still not been fully replaced.

Minnesota could use someone of Hutchinson’s caliber at the present time. Their inefficiency on the interior proved to be one of the catalysts behind another season that promised much and failed to deliver.

Pat Elflein’s poor play during their divisional-round defeat at losing Super Bowl finalists the San Francisco 49ers has been heavily criticized and this has been a constant theme since Hutchinson left the fold for the Tennessee Titans, which also speaks volumes about his impact and lasting legacy with the franchise.

It is clear just how much being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame means to Hutchinson, who spoke with Mark Craig of the Star Tribune about the fear of getting a third consecutive rejection and the emotions that followed.

"“I’m thinking, ‘I’m getting another late [rejection] call. As soon as the knock happens, it’s hard to explain. It’s like a weighted vest is taken immediately off your shoulders. That last 10 minutes, it seemed like it was seven hours. It was crazy. I was getting all tight. Then you get the knock and … you start floating. And it’s like, ‘Is this real?’ We all just kind of broke down at once. It’s great. It’s indescribable.”"

There would be few that could deny Hutchinson’s place in the Hall of Fame is a welcome one. He was an exceptional presence on the line of scrimmage, had a nous of keenly motivating others around him and he was undoubtedly one of the first names on the list when picking the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.

High character guys that can produce so well and so efficiently are extremely hard to find, and you have to wonder just how much money Hutchinson would command in today’s market given the increasing importance of the guard position due to the rising trend of mobile quarterbacks that require additional blocking at the second level.

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Hutchinson was a real master of his craft, an exceptional leader and individual and the heart and soul of the Minnesota Vikings during a hugely successful period.

In a centennial class full of incredible players, Hutchinson may be the most underrated star of them all.