Roger Craig pursues Hall of Fame dream

February 1, 2010 10:15:55 PM PST
Former San Francisco 49er running back Roger Craig is one of 15 finalist for this year's NFL Hall of Fame. Craig retired in 1993 with a resume as one of the most versatile backs in history.

"It's so surreal. I can't really describe the feeling," Craig said.

It has been a 17-year wait for Craig to receive a letter from the NFL Hall of Fame. Two days before Bill Walsh passed away, he gave Craig this advice: Just be patient and your time will come.

Craig has tried to remain patient and humble, but everywhere he goes he gets the same response.

"Hey we're pulling for you, we want you to get in," he said.

Craig's versatility may hurt his chances for induction. He went to the Pro Bowl as a fullback and halfback, and once led the league in receptions. But he never led the NFL in rushing, and old school voters seem to hold that against him.

"I was definitely the prototype back for the West Coast offense, the all-purpose running back," he said. "I redefined running backs coming out of the backfield."

Craig was the first player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same year. He was also the first to score three touchdowns in a Super Bowl and went to the playoffs in each of his 11 seasons.

"I'm the only guy who is not in the Hall of Fame that is on the all-decade team," he said. "So I think like Bill said, just be patient."

Craig admits he has thought about his reaction if his name is called.

"I'll be thankful. If they do announce my name, I'll probably start crying, who knows?" he said.

It is the ultimate team to become a part of and no matter what happens Saturday, Craig feels the respect for what he did on and off the field.

"I ran a lot of mountains before, but this is one that probably I want to just stay on top of and enjoy the moment," he said.

This could be a tough year to make the Hall of Fame. Jerry Rice is a lock and you have Emmitt Smith, Tim Brown, and Andre Reed among those up for induction. Finalists will be announced on Saturday.