Ten Worthy Hall of Fame Receivers (Not Named Julian Edelman)

Our own Mike Tanier wades into the Hall of Fame debate with this list of wide receivers he believes deserve consideration for the Hall of Fame. It's actually a list of 15, since he starts with five shoo-ins before getting to his 10 personal choices which range from current stars (Tyreek Hill, DeAndre Hopkins) to older legends (Stanley Morgan, Sterling Sharpe). Come join the debate. What do you think of these picks?

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38 comments, Last at 21 Apr 2021, 11:53pm

#1 by theslothook // Apr 15, 2021 - 11:28am

Unless Tanier is predicting a career rennaisance for AB, I would be flat out stunned if he made it. He has TO level drama + Greg Hardy level reputation but without the overwhelming career numbers of TO. Lets be honest, replace TO's career production with Reggie Wayne's and TO is not getting into the hall of fame


I am not a fan of Hines Ward or Boldin making it. Boldin's accomplishments are nice, but that screams ring of honor guy; not hall of famer. 

And Hines Ward, if he plays for another team besides the Steelers, is not going to get the reputation or cache he has today. He was a damn good receiver, no question but a questionable hall of fame candidate.

Which brings me to...


How did Tanier not even mention Welker???? I mean...what the hell. Ok maybe he's worthy and maybe not, but he'd certainly deserve debate right???

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#2 by MilkmanDanimal // Apr 15, 2021 - 11:38am

And Hines Ward, if he plays for another team besides the Steelers, is not going to get the reputation or cache he has today.


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#9 by herewegobrowni… // Apr 16, 2021 - 7:44am

In reply to by barf

Didja know he was from....Detroit? :)

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#6 by Pat // Apr 15, 2021 - 3:05pm

And Hines Ward, if he plays for another team besides the Steelers, is not going to get the reputation or cache he has today.

If Hines Ward plays for a team other than the Steelers, his stats are likely at least 25% higher. At least. The Cowher Steelers barely passed, and the early Tomlin Steelers weren't much better. The fact that you even know he's a "damn good receiver" means he's a lot better than you think he is. I mean, you're talking about a receiver that was top-5 in DYAR with Tommy Maddox. 

The worst part is that right when the Steelers started leaning on Ward is when Roethlisberger took over, and Cowher didn't trust Roethlisberger at all, plunging the Steelers down to dead last in the league in number of passing attempts. Ward could've led the league in passing yardage in 2004 with a reasonable number of attempts. TO finished with 20% more catches on 25% less time.   

So while I do agree that it's fine to think Ward shouldn't be in, thinking that Ward's only getting consideration because he's a Steeler misses the fact that his stats were seriously limited because he was a Steeler. 

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#8 by turbohappy // Apr 16, 2021 - 2:44am

Yeah the fact that Edelman is being talked about for HOF without any mention of Welker is really confusing to me as well. (many places, not just here)

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#11 by herewegobrowni… // Apr 16, 2021 - 7:51am

Well, there's the Super Bowl MVP thing, but that's literally like arguing that Andre Iguodala is better than Steph Curry.

After that, you're down to "kount da rangz."


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#12 by Pat // Apr 16, 2021 - 10:24am

Jeez, if we're giving out jackets to mediocre New England receivers with Super Bowl MVPs, someone give Deion Branch a call, he's getting screwed.

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#13 by PatsFan // Apr 16, 2021 - 12:56pm

Yeah.  No way Edelman should make the HoF.

But you can't blame people for thinking maybe he should be in when they see people like Lynn Swann in there.


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#36 by Steve B // Apr 21, 2021 - 1:32am

I would think any sighted person could see the difference between Swann and Edleman

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#10 by herewegobrowni… // Apr 16, 2021 - 7:47am

Obligatory "Ray Lewis made it" ... under recent cancel culture rules.

Yes, I know the missing white suit was basically a one-time thing, 18 years before his induction. 

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#3 by ImNewAroundThe… // Apr 15, 2021 - 12:03pm

Replace better production with worse, brilliant analysis. Same amount of AP all pros as Moss and more PBs than him. Then he just a got a SB (and not just for riding the bench, actually scored a TD). He literally doesn't have to do anymore lol. But, off field grudges>>>>>>>>

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#14 by BJR // Apr 16, 2021 - 1:19pm

A couple of years ago, Antonio Brown could literally have retired and made the HOF. Now it feels impossible (rightly or wrongly), barring a late career redemption story. Incredible.

Coincidentally, Earl Thomas was from the same draft class as AB and is a similar, although not quite as extreme case. I guess he will still make it, but he's not quite the first ballot lock it looked like a couple of years ago. 

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#15 by ImNewAroundThe… // Apr 16, 2021 - 2:39pm

They've accomplished as much production as TO and could retire today and be in decades before Edelman. And rightfully they should. Wrongly the panel will hold grudges and nitpick their careers like they did TO, forgetting how dominate they were. 

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#18 by Hoodie_Sleeves // Apr 17, 2021 - 12:07pm

This comes back to it being the hall of 'Fame' and not the hall of performance. There's nothing wrong with the NFL saying "we don't want to honor this guy because he's a terrible human being and we don't want to endorse that". 



And no, the fact that Rae Carruth is in the hall doesn't mean thr NFL has to forever ignore conduct. 


TO was a pest - AB is a totally different story. 


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#19 by Vincent Verhei // Apr 17, 2021 - 2:37pm

What? Rae Carruth is most definitely not in the Hall of Fame. Not close.

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#22 by herewegobrowni… // Apr 18, 2021 - 11:45am

OP may have been thinking Ray Lewis? Or OJ.

Most charitable explanation. 

I thought that the committee, technically, forbade using off-field issues as a factor. (Technically...)

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#24 by theslothook // Apr 18, 2021 - 5:28pm

Yes technically though they blur the lines when convenient.

I personally think the Hall of Fame should be independent of whether you are a reprobate or mother Theresa. 

Presuming OJ is in fact a double murderer does not change the fact that he is an absolute Hall of Fame running back. And I don't think celebrating him as a Hall of famer means celebrating him as a good guy. 

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#37 by Spanosian Magn… // Apr 21, 2021 - 10:55pm

Or Marvin Harrison. I don't think any charges ever actually stuck, but the allegations and a lot of the public evidence were horrifying.

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#20 by ImNewAroundThe… // Apr 18, 2021 - 10:56am

The guy that created the most famous TD celebration would be in (and should, it wasn't just the leap). 

But are we really gonna sit here and argue character on a guy that didn't go to jail? And get that Rae, in his 3 years in the league, is not a HOFr? 

Man yall twist. Not hall of production yet every guy that is in has produced. But nitpick volume #s, except ignore the volue #s for awards. Yall are are too transparent lol

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#17 by theslothook // Apr 17, 2021 - 11:28am

Idk  if he had retired let's say right after he left the Steelers that he'd be such a shoo in. I think AB is a hall of famer, but the hall has a weird mix of requiring statistical peaks matched with cumulative records.

TO for instance had both, finishing third all time in yards and Tds. AB at this point is around 30th for both and only 20th in receptions, the primary stats people care about with receivers.

That to me is why the Hall ultimately acqueised to To despite, I suspect, a large contingent vociferously against him no matter what. 

Thats why I don't think ABs case is overwhelming enough at this point to overcome his vociferous detractors the way TOs was able to. Plus AB has the me too movement against him as well. 


Should have clarified with first ballot


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#21 by ImNewAroundThe… // Apr 18, 2021 - 11:00am

Out here championing for Wes Welker (less yards AND TDs despite MORE receptions) but end up siding with grudge holders. Typical

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#28 by BJR // Apr 19, 2021 - 12:03pm

AB was indisputably one of the top 2-3 receivers in the league for a period of 5 or so seasons. He was a first team all pro 4 times, and made 7 pro bowls. He led the league in yards and receptions twice. He was on the 2010s all-decade team.

His career 2010-2018 looks a lot like Calvin Johnson. But now with a heap of off field drama on top. 

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#29 by theslothook // Apr 19, 2021 - 12:24pm

I agree and for me, AB is a hall of famer before the incidents and after. 

However, the crux of my arguments are really two fold.

1) The hall is particularly hard on receivers, often requiring a sustained peak with extended longevity. I was honestly surprised Calvin made it as a first ballot guy, but I'll also argue Calvin is viewed as an all time great receiver and a tragic figure given the team he went to vs the Steelers where AB carried on a tradition of productive wide receivers. I think in this alternate universe, AB gets in but not as a first ballot guy. Something btw that isn't so shocking when you realize neither Marvin Harrison, nor Cris Carter,  nor Michael Irvin were first ballot guys.

2) ABs at present career totals don't give his hall of fame credentials quite the bullet proof sheen that TOs had. And AB is dealing with two off the field reputations to TOs one. 

Rolling both arguments together and it's why I don't think AB will get in, his merits notwithstanding.

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#30 by Pat // Apr 20, 2021 - 12:03pm

Let's just assume AB's career is over. Obviously, it doesn't have to be, but if he comes back and plays for another 5-6 years at anywhere near a solid level that changes things. Time heals all wounds and all.

AB would have the fewest seasons as a near-full seasons starter (say 10-ish games) for a Hall of Fame WR ever. It would be literally insane that AB would get in, and, say, Sterling Sharpe would not. Sharpe was well on his way to a Hall of Fame career (70% Pro Bowl, 40% All Pro) when it was cut short by an injury, but somehow we let AB in for being on his way to a Hall of Fame career before it was cut down by being scum?

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#31 by theslothook // Apr 20, 2021 - 12:24pm

I don't think Antonio Brown is going to be a hall of fame wide receiver at this point in his career. Which is why I thought Tanier was flat out wrong to proclaim that he was.

But I do think if we take away all of his off-field shenanigans, he gets in albeit not as a first ballot guy. 

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#33 by Pat // Apr 20, 2021 - 12:53pm

Not sure what you mean by "take away off-field shenanigans" - do you mean A: "in a world where Brown was a decent person and didn't get suspended and played those years" or B: "in a world where Brown has exactly the same career in terms of games played but misses them for different reasons"?

If A, yeah, of course he'd be a Hall of Fame receiver. He's definitely at that talent level (but this is the same argument for Josh Gordon, for instance).

If B... I mean... maybe? Just too short a career. Again, he's not that far off from Sterling Sharpe and Sharpe never even got nominated. I mean, I think the only reason he'd be in discussion at that point would be because of the 2020 championship, but he didn't exactly stand out. It might be enough to get him nominated, probably, but I think he'd likely be left out.

That being said I'm probably not giving enough credit to the Calvin Johnson precedent, as you noted, but I mean at least there were precedents for HOF WRs with careers that short, even if they were historical.

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#34 by theslothook // Apr 20, 2021 - 1:57pm

Yeah world B in which he just misses those games due to injury or retirement and isnt known for being both a selfish diva and a scumbag(this isn't necessarily my opinion by the way just what I think perception of him is)

I think the meat of his career is sterling enough that he'd get in eventually

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#35 by Pat // Apr 20, 2021 - 3:47pm

"I think the meat of his career is sterling enough"

Haven't you harmed Sterling Sharpe enough already?

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#38 by Spanosian Magn… // Apr 21, 2021 - 11:53pm

Calvin Johnson set a major record in his short career - arguably the major record for peak production for a receiver. Brown came awfully close to the old record once, but this is neither horseshoes nor handgrenades. It's not unthinkable that the Johnson precedent lets him in, but I suspect that voters will take the Johnson precedent to be "record-setting short career," not just "excellent short career".

(The term "short career" here obviously being relative to Hall inductees.)

Different position, but Terrell Davis might be relevant as well - not quite record-setting but close, then career cut short prematurely. Voters certainly view "tragic injury" much differently than they do "was a total jackass and alleged violent criminal" as to the reason the career was short, but I think in theory they're not supposed to.

You know, also a different position and a loooong time ago, but the most comparable career I can think of is actually Jim Brown. He too artificially shortened his career for essentially selfish reasons (to start a movie career), although I believe all his violent criminality and general jackassery all came after he retired. And he was contemporaneously acclaimed "the best ever", not just "very good", and wanting to make movies is rather different than throwing a fit about a helmet then beating up your GM.

Brown's candidacy really is a weird, unprecedented situation.

I don't know. My gut says Brown gets in eventually, but after a very long wait, like Art Monk (not to compare them as human beings).

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#4 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Apr 15, 2021 - 12:24pm

Good list. I'd throw in Henry Ellard, Billy Howton, and Harold Jackson. There's a lot of deserving WRs who are not yet in the hall, and they didn't all play in the last 20-30 years.

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#7 by Shattenjager // Apr 15, 2021 - 11:58pm

I still find it shocking every time I read again that Henry Ellard is not in the Hall of Fame. How??!!

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#26 by Duff Soviet Union // Apr 19, 2021 - 8:25am

Don't know much about Howton, but agreed on Ellard in particular.

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#27 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Apr 19, 2021 - 10:15am

The elevator pitch on Howton is that he had 2 absolutely monster seasons, and several more very good seasons (in an era when peaks and careers were much shorter than they are now), briefly was the all-time leader in catches and receiving yards, and 5 years after he retired he was still 3rd in catches and 2nd in receiving yards. I'll leave the specifics to football historians, with the note that Bryan Frye believes he is deserving on enshrinement (see http://www.footballperspective.com/the-grand-list-part-16/ where he ranks Howton just ahead of Reggie Wayne and Fred Biletnikoff, just behind Charlie Joiner and Anquan Boldin.)

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#32 by Richie // Apr 20, 2021 - 12:29pm

Also, here's Brad Oremland's thoughts on Howton:



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#16 by TreyKelso // Apr 17, 2021 - 6:41am

is that they were both known as "The Dirtiest Player(s) in the League" during their respective careers.  You wonder if that makes into the room during discussions.

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#23 by Bowl Game Anomaly // Apr 18, 2021 - 2:42pm

I'm guessing no. Ward's reputation as dirty is countered by his reputation as the best blocking WR in the league (deserved or not). As for Edelman, no one cares if he was dirty or not, because no one cares about him at all.

(Not that being known as a great blocker is all that helpful for a WR in getting into the Hall. It took Monk 8 tries to get in, and Boldin will probably never get in.)

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#25 by Duff Soviet Union // Apr 19, 2021 - 8:24am

I'm not sure he belongs in, but Herman Moore was better than at least a few guys on this list and I'd say he had the worst caliber of QB play of any receiver I'd even call "good" (maybe Joey Galloway. Maybe.) The weird thing is, Moore wasn't actually underrated when he played, he just seems to have been forgotten in retirement due to the need to pretend that Barry Sanders dragged the Lions to decency all by himself.

Also, if we're going to bring up oldies, how about Otis Taylor?

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