Steve Tasker sat an empty table in the middle of the NFL media room at One Bills Drive. The lights were dim. The room was quiet. For a moment, he glanced up at the podium where Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan would be making his weekly appearance in front of a crowd of reporters less than an hour later.
“I don’t deserve to be in the Hall of Michael Burton Authentic Womens Jersey Fame,” he said, shifting in his chair. “That’s for other guys, not me. I mean, I appreciate the conversation. But I’m uncomfortable talking about it.”
For Tasker, 54, making it to the NFL Hall of Fame is as farfetched an idea as making it on to a NFL roster had been decades ago, when he was playing football and running track at Leoti High School in Kansas. At five-foot-nine and 180 pounds, Tasker was a small fry by football standards. But he was smart and he was fast. He figured a couple of years at Dodge City Community College might help him catch the eye of a Division I program. He was right. Northwestern University scooped him up as a wide receiver and kick returner. By his senior year, Tasker was not only stronger, he had grown even quicker, and NFL teams took notice.
Tasker, Darryl Talley, and Andre Reed during halftime of a Bills game this season.
Reed, who experienced his own Hall of Fame limbo before being elected in 2014, knows firsthand how emotional and frustrating the process can be and has tried to pass on some of that knowledge to Tasker.
“I talk about it with him sometimes,” he said. “And he’s like, Forget about it. You know, he doesn’t think about it. It’s really up to the writers and the committee. But everybody knows the kind of player he was, and deep down inside he knows what kind of player he was.”
“It’s hard to get in the Hall of Fame and it should be hard,” Gaughan said. “But we may never see someone like Tasker again. There is less opportunity to be as dominant as he was in both punt and kickoff coverage, with the way the NFL is changing. Even since he’s retired, there hasn’t been a special teams player of his caliber or that has had a career in special teams like his. That could help him down the road as a senior candidate.”
There are currently 94 Modern Era candidates for the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame Mikel Leshoure Authentic Womens Jersey class. Yet again, Tasker is one of them. And he’s OK with that. In the end, it doesn’t matter. To Tasker, if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It won’t define his career. Sitting in that empty media room, where the lights and cameras had once been focused on him, Tasker can only look back at his NFL career and smile.
“I’m grateful to the game for what it gave me,” he said. “When the Bills picked me up, it was like striking it rich. I won the lottery. And I’m still cashing in on it.”