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2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

On Tuesday evening the Pro Football Hall of Fame released its list of 26 semifinalists for the Class of 2015. The list includes eight first-ballot candidates (marked with an asterisk) and two candidates making their first appearance as semifinalists.

  • Morten Andersen
  • Steve Atwater
  • Jerome Bettis
  • Tim Brown
  • Isaac Bruce*
  • Don Coryell
  • Roger Craig
  • Terrell Davis
  • Tony Dungy
  • Kevin Greene
  • Charles Haley
  • Marvin Harrison
  • Torry Holt*
  • Joe Jacoby
  • Edgerrin James*
  • Jimmy Johnson
  • Mike Kenn (first-time semifinalist)
  • Ty Law*
  • John Lynch
  • Kevin Mawae*
  • Karl Mecklenburg
  • Orlando Pace*
  • Junior Seau*
  • Will Shields
  • Kurt Warner*
  • Darren Woodson (first-time semifinalist)

I made my Hall of Fame predictions in August and my 15 finalists are all on this list. The cutdown to 15 finalists will take place in January.

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49 comments, Last at 23 Jan 2015, 8:02pm

4 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

1)Jerome Bettis
2)Jimmy Johnson
3)Orlando Pace
4)Junior Seau
5)Will Shields
6)Bill Polian
7)Ron Wolf

About time GMs started getting consideration (as much as I dislike him, have to thank Peter King for that). Speaking of GMs, not sure how a guy who won 2 Super Bowls as a coach & 3 as a GM isn't in the Hall (Jimmy Johnson), but the guy he beat for 2 of those Super Bowls is in the Hall no questions asked (Marv Levy).

BTW, I think Marvin Harrison will eventually get in, but I suspect because of his "car wash/gun" incident, the Hall voters will try to delay induction as long as possible.

Here's something to think about, only because he was my favourite player after Walter Payton---you know Fred Taylor is 15th in all-time rushing yards? Heck, O.J.'s 18th.

7 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Well, I'm not going to try to predict who will actually get in, since past experience has proven that to be an exercise in futility. But if I were voting, I'd give the nod to the following 5 guys (although I still think they ought to allow more guys in each year, or at least have a separate wing for coaches and other non-players/contributors):

Orlando Pace (no-brainer)
Junior Seau (another no-brainer)
Marvin Harrison (should have been in already in my opinion)
Will Shields (another guy who should have been in already)
Steve Atwater (dark horse, but I think safeties are currently underrepresented, and I think he's more deserving than Lynch).

8 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Am I crazy for thinking there's no way Dungy should even be considered until Bill Cowher is given a serious look? Unless the selectors are waiting to see if Cowher coaches again. Which could also apply to Dungy.

Would like to see some defensive & offensive line players considered before the offense skill guys (QB,WR, RB).

11 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Cowher, Holmgren, Shanahan and Dungy are all really tied together in my book.

There aren't many HOF coaches, and out of their contemporaries, only Belichick is a lock.

All have some edges. Cowher had the worst QB situations, but the best organization to work with during that time.

Shanahan has the multiple rings, but will get put down for his bad tenure in Washington and not winning without Elway (despite never really being bad either - which isn't terrible since most HOF coaches that had great QBs generally didn't do much without their top QB).

Holmgren took two different franchises to a Super Bowl, made consistent winners in two different places (took two different teams to the playoffs 5 straight years). One of the strongest branches of Walsh's coaching tree.

Then Dungy has the least postseason success, but best winning percentage (winning 2/3rds of your games is pretty great all time). He did have the benefit of Peyton Manning, but he took a team that had roughly 15-straight 10+ loss seasons and made them into a winning franchise.

20 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

I don't think Jimmy gets in just because he didn't coach long enough in Dallas.

The issue with Holmgren and Shanahan is who knows when they'll be considered because people may think they could come back.

At this point I would be surprised to see Holmgren ever coach again, adn since his work as a GM shouldn't really impact his coachign candidacy (I don't put down Holmgren the coach in GB/SEA for what he did as GM in Cleveland).

As for Shanahan, he's not even eligible until I imagine the 2018 season.

29 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Headcoaches always used to need to be retired for one year to make them eligible. Although that timeframe is a bit of a mockery given that the electors won't consider anyone they think might make a comeback.

To be honest, I wouldn't put Mike Shanahan in there. He has 8 seasons with double-digit wins in twenty years. With two Super Bowl wins he's alongside Tom Flores and George Seifert as coaches I wouldn't put in there.

I'd consider putting Marty Schottenheimer in there ahead of Shanahan even without any playoff success ...

10 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

How many are allowed again?

For this year, I would go with:

Pace (1st ballot)
Will Shields
Marvin Harrison
Kevin Greene
Junior Seau (1st ballot)

Not sure if you can have six modern era, but I would give 6th to Tim Brown, though I can't imagine 2 WRs in same year.

As coaches, Dungy probably will get in, but will have to wait.

Bill Polian should get in one of these years as well.

19 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

An acquaintance recently met Bryant Young. When they told me the first thing I thought of was his leg injury. I forgot how good he was until I went and looked him up.

This may sound weird, but I wonder how many people forget his play and just remember his injury.

P.S. - Person that met him said he was incredibly nice & friendly.

34 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Bryant Young only has a single All-Pro at a position where All-Pro's (and to a lesser extent Pro Bowls - which, again, he only has 4) are the strongest tangible individual achievement voters have to go on. 89.5 career sacks is comparable to, say, Sapp's 96.5, but nevertheless a lower number over a (slightly) longer career.

He also played on all those super shitty 00's era 49er's teams and I think the "Fame" in Hall of Fame matters - unless he's an otherworldly talent who transcended the crap (and he wasn't) then there's no urgency to memorialize him in the hall. That's what individual teams' rings of honor and retired jersey numbers and whatnot are for.

Not to compare him too much to Sapp, but they were DT whose careers ran almost perfectly concurrently, but Young was never a key member of a SB-winning team (unless you want to argue his 6-sack rookie year on a team loaded with rings before he got there counts as "key") while Sapp was one of the best players on a team that dominated for years and won a ring on the back of its defense. He's decisively below Sapp by just about every measure and there are definitely people who are dubious about Sapp's inclusion.

Young, meanwhile, spends a third of his career on awful teams putting up journeyman numbers. I just don't see it with him for the Hall. Great player, fan favorite, a classic 49er - and that's about his ceiling. It's not an insult by any means...

(Now when the time comes and Justin Smith isn't even in the discussion because he's not a sack artist, that will rankle me a touch more... And keep in mind Smith already has more Pro Bowls on his resume than Young...)

37 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

All-pros and Pro-Bowls are pretty worthless for DLs, especially back then when very few people had the chance to watch every game or look at a player in detail. It used to be the guys with the most sacks, even if they were poor against the run (see Sapp, Warren or Glover, Leroy), even though playing the run was much more important in that era than it is today. He made the 90s team of the decade, where the other three players are already in the Hall.

He might have only won one championship but he was at the heart of some really, really good defenses in the late 90s. He was much more scheme versatile than Sapp, who had the luxury of playing 3-technique in the Tampa-2, which is probably the most sack friendly system for DTs. Once you take account of the time lost to that injury the sacks per game rate of the two is very close and there is one measure where Young is way ahead of Sapp as BY was a tremendous run defender.

I think Smith is borderline for the Hall but Young should have been a first ballot. I can't find the article but I'm sure I recall Paul Zimmerman trying to predict who would make the cut sometime in the 90s and he said Young should be straight in.

Of the great pass rushing DTs of the 90s he was by far the best run defender and out of the great run defenders he was by far the best pass rusher.

40 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Yeah, but that time lost to injury exists. With the HOF, theoreticals don't count. In the 90's, Young did look like a first ballot player. He didn't sustain it, which you yourself point out. He's great, but he's not a HOFer... (Pro Bowl are indeed dubious, but All-Pro's are important with interior linemen, even on the defensive side of the ball where the best payers don't accrue as many sacks...) And look, Sapp is the friendliest comparison, whom Bryant falls short of in every category but run defense (including important, non-statiscal categories like where he fits into the story of the history of the NFL.). If you're going to compare him to John Randle or Cortez Kennedy, there's no comparison. He's not on their level. The 90's second team has a lot of great players who don't deserve to go into the Hall - like Levon Kirkland or Neil Smith. Bryant has higher peaks than them (maybe), but ultimately is on that level and really it's no insult, but the soggy final third of his career is a knock against him. It happened. It's a fact of his career.

And the 1997 defense was very good, but the 1998-2000 defenses were either awful or below average, so I'm not sure what that's in reference to. They were good but not great in 1996, if that's what you mean by "late 90's." I mean, again, he was one of the best players on some bad defenses and truly awful teams - his resume just ain't that impressive. It's not Cortez Kennedy, being otherworldly in a bad circumstance. Also, on that 1997 team he was hardly a "key piece" - Dana Stubblefield was the monster that year with a bunch of HOFer's and borderline HOFer's having late career successes.

Smith, on the other hand, is the piece around which the 49er's recent defensive excellence is built. There's an argument to be made that if he's not as good as he is, their LB corps can't function. And there is no way to satisfactorily prove it with stats. Anyway, I think Young is exactly the kind of borderline candidate from a well-represented team that it certainly doesn't hurt to leave out... I mean, they already got Fred Dean in there...

41 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

I think he was on the same level as Randle and Kennedy, he is the most disruptive interior lineman I've ever seen.

Also, on that 1997 team he was hardly a "key piece" - Dana Stubblefield was the monster that year" - I have to call hogwash on this, Stubblefield won the DMVP because he racked up a ton of sacks but the guy every team was double teaming was BY, you had to or he'd wreck every play. The niners had a choice between paying one or the other and it was Young that was made the highest paid defender in the league, for good reason. Again, the guys that really knew what they were talking about think he was awesome, if he'd had more players around him his numbers would have been much improved (which would have lead to more probowl appearances) but he was on some truly awful teams at the end.

I dug out some old VCR tapes from that era a few months ago because I was bored. There was one play against the Steelers where he was blocked by Jeff Hartings and Alan Faneca, a pair of pro bowlers, he knocked the pair of them on their backsides and was bearing down on Tommy Maddox (which should date the game) forcing him to throw a high ball that was picked off. He did that kind of stuff all the time. Every good thing that mediocre D did back then was forced either by BY or to a lesser extent by Andre Carter.

He didn't showboat, so was less hyped but his sacks per game played numbers are only slightly below Sapp's and he was so much better against the run the two are incomparable. The only metrics that Sapp is ahead on are probowl selections (close to meaningless) and All-pros, which are picked by the same gang of slappies that select for the Hall.

I wish there was readily available footage that I could point to but this really isn't me being a 'rabid' 49er homer (I wouldn't put Justin Smith in, or Roger Craig and I'd rather burn down my flat that advocate for DeBartolo) he deserves to be in the Hall.

44 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

I don't understand why all pro and pro bowl numbers are "meaningless" for d-linemen (or other non-skill positions) when it comes to the HoF. And yes, I read what was said above. I'm no fan of limited observation, passionate assertion, or partisan homer-ism as a substitute in particular. That being said, I can see some sort of HoF argument for Bryant Young.

46 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Not necessarily. Of the top 30 all-time sack leaders, one third (all d-linemen) went to 4 or fewer pro bowls in their career: John Abraham, William Fuller,and Richard Dent (4), Simeon Rice (3), Greg Townsend, Kevin Carter, and Clyde Simmons (2), Sean Jones and Trace Armstrong (1), and Jim Jeffcoat (0).

35 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Really, you think so? I loved his grandfathered in single-bar helmet as much as anyone, but what did he do to deserve induction? I know he has a few kicking records, but is that it? Did he ever kick in games that mattered or for important teams where he was somehow a factor? I'm not sure being the Curtis Martin of kicking warrants inclusion...

42 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

He's among the five best in career FG pct adjusted for era. There's a pretty big gulf after the top five. The others are Lou Groza, Jan Stenerud, Gary Anderson, and Nick Lowrey. Two are already in and I think the other three should be. Andersen is also the all-time scoring leader by a considerable margin. That's plenty enough to elect him.

30 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Yep - Tampa Bay was a laughing stock before Dungy arrived there (and pretty much since he left). Perhaps Dungy just lucked into going there at the right time but I'm inclined to believe it was his leadership, rather than the Glazer's ownership, that turned the franchise around.

Add to that I think he was a huge part of legitimising African-Americans as headcoaches. Not saying he did it alone but a big part of it.

36 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Yeah, Dungy was definitely one of those "deserves induction for merits beyond what happened on Sundays" candidates. I personally dislike him a huge amount as a person, but he turned the Buccaneers into a real franchise and broke down a lot of color barriers and changed some important racial perceptions in the NFL - I agree he didn't do it alone, but he was definitely the biggest symbol of it and a huge media presence in that regard.

21 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Wow. I'm happy to see Woodson on the list, though I realize that he's a longshot. Of course, Haley gets in among Cowboys before Woodson, but the latter was the core of dominant ("Dynasty") team with a very underrated defense (in terms of focus), and who had his HoF share of accolades, I believe.

23 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Orlando Pace is an interesting case in that his peak is about as good as any one, but his peak was very short lived for a lineman. In fact, his whole career was short for a lineman. With many more missed games due to injury than most lineman have.

I support his candidacy, but it might make his case trickier for voters. On the other hand, Greatest Show on Turf should make it easier.

24 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Greatest Show on Turf has a bunch of candidates like that where I'm not sure how the voters will handle it. Lots of very high peaks with otherwise strange careers like Pace and Warner as well as guys whose success is getting the Art Monk treatment ("But he wasn't the best on his team - mitigating factors!") in Holt and Bruce. I personally think are too many linemen just as worthy as Pace who aren't in to feel bad if he has to wait a while - and I just have no idea how they should handle the up-coming WR glut that was the result in part the changes in the game and the recent explosion in passing numbers.

25 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Also, if John Lynch ever is inducted, it will be a joke - but I have this terrible feeling Lynch, Reed and Polamalu will all go in and Dawkins will be left looking watching from the outside (and that all of those excellent Eagles teams will therefore have produced no Hall of Famers...)

28 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Dawkins was 1st team All-Decade for the 2000s. Those guys pretty much all get in.

Not sure why you would be lumping Lynch in with Reed and Polamalu, who were every bit Dawkin's equal (or Reed, probably better), but I do agree if Lynch gets in before Dawkins it would be a crime.

Also I don't think the voters are going to put a 4th guy from that Bucs era in (Barber probably has as good of a case).

31 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

John Lynch made 9 Pro Bowls. Now, the way I remember it most people seemed to think he didn't really deserve the last 4 or so and got in mainly by reputation, but will the HOF voters see it that way? Personally I would rank those guys thusly:

Polamalu and Dawkins tied

33 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

The main reason I think Dawkins needs to be above Polamalu is career length - Dawkins at his best was just as good as Polamalu at his best and their peaks lasted just about the same length. Dawkins then has another 4-5 more productive years on Polamalu depending on how cooked you think he is now and has been for the past few years.

Anyway, so long as the public perception is that Dawkins is right up there, I'm cool with. I just worry a "beloved" figure with a ring who is media friendly is going to cut in line and I just can't see them putting in 4 safeties from the same era. I even worry that it is going to be Reed and Polamalu and that's it... (And personally, I rate Dawkins above Reed because he was inarguably a more versatile defender and his team's leader in a way Reed never was.)

38 Re: 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

Dawkins vs. Troy is close. I too think Dawkins was the better player. I think Troy Polamalu was closer to Dawkins than he was to Lynch. I don't think 4 is too many, especially since all four wouldn't really be up together (unless Lynch drags).

I think Lynch's issue is that Sapp/Brooks are already in, and Barber is there as well (and Dungy). I don't think they'll have so many guys from the same team.