A graduate of Portsmouth High School now living outside of Akron and serving as a volunteer for the National Football League Hall of Fame, Mike McConnell told the Daily Times every bit of publicity or support is bound to help sell the case for enshrining Portsmouth Spartan great Glenn Presnell in the NFL Hall of Fame.
McConnell was reacting to the news that on Monday, Portsmouth City Council passed a resolution supporting Presnell’s selection to the NFL Hall. McConnell is actively promoting Presnell himself and stated Portsmouth is doing a worthy job of pushing for the local hero.
“I believe he (Presnell) certainly has the qualifications to be in the Hall of Fame,” Saleem Choudhry, Hall of Fame vice president for exhibits and museum services, said last month.
Most importantly in this context, Choudhry is in charge of putting together a blue-ribbon panel that will pick an oversized class of Hall of Famer’s to mark the NFL’s 100th anniversary in 2020.
That class of 2020 is to include 10 senior players, that is players who retired more than 25 years ago. Choudhry noted Presnell already is nominated to be enshrined as one of the 10 senior players. In August, Choudhry said he expected an initial list of senior candidates to appear sometime in September. McConnell said that has not yet occurred, and though he said he continually asks when the panel might act, it is unclear when the selection process might move forward.
Choudhry could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Following selection of the initial nominees, panelists will reduce the list over time with finalists announced in the fall. All of which means now is almost certainly Presnell’s best chance for enshrinement into the Hall of Fame, a fact certainly not lost on McConnell and other local supporters pushing as hard as practical to gain Presnell a bust up the road in Akron.
On Tuesday, McConnell told the Daily Times now might be Presnell’s only chance to gain the Hall of Fame.
“We are gaining momentum,” said another Presnell supporter, Randy Nickels, the recently retired head of Portsmouth’s water treatment plant.
Via text message, Nickels reported a copy of an August Daily Times article on Presnell was sent to various Hall of Fame administrators as part of an in-house email.
For his part, McConnell stated he’s been talking to anyone at the Hall of Fame who will listen.
“I think people want to listen,” McConnell said previously. “There’s been nobody who’s said, ‘No.’”
McConnell said he even was able to grab the ear of Hall of Fame President and CEO Dave Baker.
Beginning his pro football career playing for the semi pro Ironton Tanks, while still teaching science at a local high school, in 1930 Presnell led the Tanks to victories over the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears, even though the Ironton team wasn’t even a part of the then fledgling NFL.
Of course, locally Presnell is best known as a star with the Spartans, one of the NFL’s earliest teams whom Presnell joined when the Tanks folded after the 1930 season.
In 1933 while playing for the Spartans, Presnell led the NFL in total offense with just shy of 1,300 yards. He broke the single-season NFL scoring record with 64 points. Presnell led the NFL that year in rushing touchdowns and kicked five field goals and 13 extra points.
After the Spartans were sold and became the Detroit Lions, Presnell was part of a core group of former Spartan players who led the Lions to their first NFL championship in 1935. The year previously, Presnell set an NFL record with a 54 yard field goal, a feat not surpassed until 1953.
The Daily Times will continue to follow Presnell’s story.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.