Gorman: Conflict for WPIAL hall
Western Pennsylvania built its reputation as the cradle of quarterbacks upon Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana and Dan Marino.
All four are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame yet none of them belongs to the WPIAL Hall of Fame, if you can believe that.
Unitas played in the Catholic League at St. Justin, so his exclusion is because he’s not eligible.
If having a WPIAL hall without Beaver Falls’ Namath, Ringgold’s Montana and Central Catholic’s Marino undermines the league’s credibility, there’s an explanation for their absence.
“They won’t come,” WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said. “We’d love to have them back. They have not expressed interest in being part of it. We’ve reached out countless times.”
The introduction of the WPIAL Hall of Fame coincided with the celebration of its 100th anniversary. The banquet is a profitable annual enterprise.
Look, the WPIAL blew it by not celebrating those first 100 years by honoring its top 100 athletes. It would have prevented WPIAL alums who became pro superstars — add Aliquippa’s Mike Ditka and Hopewell’s Tony Dorsett to the list — from feeling insulted by not being first-ballot picks by the WPIAL.
Instead, the league inducts athletes, coaches, contributors and teams who appreciate the honor by attending its banquet.
“On an annual basis, the class that goes in is exemplary,” O’Malley said. “There are accomplishments continuously that will be honored down the road.”
Don’t expect Namath, Montana or Marino to be among them. Just because they are from the cradle of quarterbacks, the WPIAL shouldn’t have to beg them to come back to their crib.