Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Nov 2005

Dr. Z's Hall of Fame Ballot

Paul Zimmerman outlines the process of narrowing down the preliminary list of 112 Hall of Fame nominees to 25 who will move on to the next round. I don't find much to disagree with, and he pretty well captures my opinion of Michael Irvin: "Michael annoys the hell out of me with all that nonsense he comes up with on ESPN, but we're not supposed to let that influence our ballots."

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 03 Nov 2005

39 comments, Last at 05 Nov 2005, 2:22pm by Harris


by B (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:15pm

You gotta love a guy who votes for 5 Offensive lineman and only two receivers, you know, just like how NFL teams have 5 starting offensive lineman and two starting receivers.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:21pm

Well, you and Z are better men than I, then, MDS. I'd probably take the an ethics cop-out to keep Irvin out. I've never liked him.

Then again, there's a reason I'm not a selector....

by Brad (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:23pm

Phil Simms only won two superbowls, turned in the best superbowl performance ever, and played consistently at a high level. I can see why Dr. Z wouldn't vote for him.

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:33pm

Yeah, Simms was crucial in that Super Bowl win over Buffalo.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:37pm

Yeah, Simms was crucial in that Super Bowl win over Buffalo

well, he was pulling REALLY hard for the other guy

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:39pm

Simms was a winner for the Giants. And one year when the Giants didn't have much of a running game, 1984, Simms threw for 4,000 yards, more than Montana or Elway ever did. You can take the paragraph Z wrote on Aikman and apply it to Simms. He'd get my vote every time.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:41pm

I don't think Phil Simms has the regular season numbers, even though he was a good QB and had great Super Bowls.

The one disagreement with Dr. Z that I have is that he originally decided to go with Henry Ellard and not Art Monk before crossing Ellard off. Now, I've spent my time arguing against Monk before (primarily in the case of Irvin vs. Monk which came up in the Road from Bristol commnets), but when it comes up to Ellard vs. Monk, I think Monk should be a step ahead.

I seriously hope Dr. Z. does not end up bitter about Thurman Thomas in the HOF ballot this year. I'll be pretty disappointed if he isn't a first balloter, but I'm starting to think there's more question about that than I used to. Personally, I think he's the second most deserving after White this year.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:45pm

Is Hostetler eligible? The second best stache in football history should count for something.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:48pm

All these guys are glad Deion decided to play again, because that's one more available spot this year.

I was happy to see Clay Matthews on his next-to-final ballot (he was one of the final 5 cut, for anyone who didn't make it to the last paragraph). I always thought he was an incredible player, but never thought he'd have a dream of making the Hall. He still probably doesn't, but it's good to know a columnist I respect would rank him so highly. Maybe if we could combine him with his brother and put them in jointly...

by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:54pm

"...even though he was a good QB and had great Super Bowls."

Yeah, Simms was crucial in that Super Bowl win over Buffalo.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:05pm

I wish the Rams would go back to the uniform that Henry Ellard is wearing in the picture in this article.

Nice that Dr. Z agrees with me on Thurman Thomas for Super Bowl XXV MVP.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:07pm

Ok. Great Super Bowl. I was going off the other comment without looking up the historical data.

I still don't think he belongs in. He was only named to 2 Pro Bowls (compared to 6 for Aikman, 9 for Moon, and 4 for Anderson). His overall passing stats, put him around Aikman in terms of total yards, ahead of Aikman in TDs, but significantly behind Aikman in completions, with a similar number of attempts (to be exact: 68 fewer attempts and 322 fewer completions). In my estimation, it's the Pro Bowls, better passing % and more SB titles that give Aikman the nod while holding out Simms.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:08pm

I don't get this comment:

"I'd say he's a 50-50 shot to make it into Cooperstown ...uh, make that Canton."

by jim\'s apple pie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:16pm

Cooperstown is the more famous location of the baseball Hall of Fame.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:24pm

I understand that. But why would he "mistakenly" say Cooperstown?

by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:37pm

Trogdor, I definitely think the Hall of Fame should have some kind of exhibit that includes the Matthews brothers. I don't know if there's anything there that shows all the brothers who have played in the NFL, but those guys deserve recognition of some kind.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:48pm

re #16: I think the Mathews brothers' exhibit should be two HOF busts. Bruce must surely be a first-ballot guy next year, and I'd vote for Clay based on 19 seasons worth of consistent work at linebacker and four Pro Bowl appearances. (but then I've always been a big fan of considering length of service when voting for the Hall)

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:53pm

While we're at it, Dr Z agrees with pretty much all of us that comparing players to contributors is silly and nigh impossible. I'm guessing a lot of the other selectors would feel this way as well. So why do they have to do it? Isn't there some better way? I know the Sabols have been mentioned specifically - there is already an "NFL Films Theater" in the Hall, they should 'induct' the Sabols and make that their exhibit. It really needs a good renovation anyway, so make it a freaking IMAX or something showing NFL Films footage, and dedicate it to Ed and/or Steve. Or name the Super Bowl theater after them or something.

And I'd lobby for an Amazing Matthews Brothers exhibit. There could be all kinds of carnival games, where you take a sledgehammer and try to injure "Bruce" (a 6'4" chunk of granite), or try to block the 60-year-old linebacker. Or someone with actual creativity could help out here.

by Dman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 6:29pm

Anyone else here think that if not for the whole murder thing OJ would be a slam dunk? He says in his defense of Irvin that what happens off the field shouldn't count, but I think thats a load of BS since there is no way in hell OJ is gonna be in the hall despite the fact that he did more to change the way the game is played than either thomas or irvin.

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 6:33pm

1990 Simms had a great year for the Giants. He certainly was part of the reason his team made the playoffs and was in position to win the super bowl. I can never understand why people pretend that players injured for the playoffs are some how not allowed to celebrate the championship too. Last time I check the regular season was kinda important to the playoffs.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 6:38pm

Dman - O.J already is in the Hall. Class of 1985.

by Dman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 6:54pm

Derf, I thought Z had listed him in his running backs section. Thanks.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 6:57pm

I have to second Z on the Thurman Thomas as Super Bowl XXV MVP. Watching this game as a Giants fan I was terrified of him. He looked like Tecmo Bo running through our defense.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:17pm

Dman - He had O.J. Anderson listed. I really knew him as Ottis Anderson, but I don't think I was following the NFL that carefully during his heyday (following, yes, following carefully, no)

by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:53pm

The Dolphins could not stop Thurman Thomas in the Bills super bowl years. He was the x-factor in them owning Miami during those years. I'm not sure on Troy. I'd like to see how Aaron's system would have rated him.

by NFL Adam (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 8:32pm

To Richie (#11). The Rams folded some time ago. Sure there is a team in St. Louis that uses that name. But they are not the Rams.

by Richie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 8:51pm

Fair enough Adam. I guess the new uniforms are one way to help me separate the LA Rams from the St. Louis NFL team.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 11:51pm

#9: Am I really the only person on Earth that doesn't think Sanders deserves the HOF treatment? I don't think he played anywhere near a complete game at CB, and people ignored his failings because he was flashy, played baseball, and we like interceptions.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:30am

Yes, Fnor, I think you might be. I don't think he was just a Hall of Famer, I think he was the best cornerback I've ever seen, by a good margin over Rod Woodson. I think complaining about his poor tackling/run support is only slightly more significant than knocking Marino because of his poor running. If he does the most important part of his job (coverage) significantly better than anyone else, does it matter that his game isn't complete?

by Fnor (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:40am

I would say it would be more close to saying something like Marino was great on long passes but not short. Tackling is an important part of any defensive player's game, and it caused him to get burned a lot when he'd break on the ball instead of the player. I'll have to look at numbers. Maybe I'm wrong. But I remember him being the hit-or-miss cornerback I despise.

by lafcadio (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 9:56am

I also added checkmarks to a pair of really fine and underrated (that always scores heavily with me) Bengal corners, the Rattler, Ken Riley, and Lemar Parrish.

How can players selected for the HOF be underrated ?

by Adam H (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 11:06am

I was hoping he would vote for Otis Elevator, but I guess his career had too many ups and downs.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:12pm

Deion Sanders, much like Michael Irvin, always annoyed me with their off the field demeanor. But they were both great players and both deserve eventual enshrinement. I wouldn't say that Sanders was significantly better than Rod Woodson or Aeneas Williams. Faster, maybe better hands, but he didn't have their mind for the game. That is why they both have had Pro Bowl years as safeties after their careers as corners, and Deion is a marginal third corner for the Ravens.

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:18pm

When Deion was at his best (his last year in Atlanta, his one year in San Francisco, and a couple years in Dallas), quarterbacks just ignored the guy he covered. It's really hard to compare cornerbacks across eras, but in the era of the stricter pass interference rules, he's definitely the best coverage corner.

Also, I don't think he was as bad a tackler as some people claimed. He once made a joke about it, saying, "I won't go out of my way to make a tackle," but the truth is, he could help out in run support when his teams needed him to. But they didn't often need him to, because when Deion is taking away the other team's best receiver, it's a lot easier for the safeties to be there in run support.

by jimmo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:29pm

I find myself getting irked about the limits set for the HOF; in this case, I particularly don't like the argument for/against LC Greenwood.If the guy is a HOF'er one year, he's one every year. To take him off the list becasue there are more "deserving" candidates isn't right.
Now, I don't care a bit about LC in the Hall; he was an excellent cog in a great defensive machine, won a few Super Bowls and wore orange shoes. But if he's Hall-worthy once in his life, isn't he worthy again?
I suppose unlimited lists would make the process too unwieldy, but then maybe someone shouldn't put a guy on his list if he's only going to take him off again.

by Vince (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 2:58pm

#28: #9: Am I really the only person on Earth that doesn’t think Sanders deserves the HOF treatment?


by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:20pm

I'm an Eagles fan.

That said, despite being a total ass, Neon Deion should be a first ballot HOFer.

Not only was he an awesome Cornerback, but he was a great kick and punt returner (in 8 years 89-92 and 97-00 he took 9 in for a TD), and he could play wide receiver, as he did extensively in 1996.

by Daniel (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 7:18pm

Some kid in my third grade class used to say Clay Matthews was his uncle. (I'm pretty sure he wasn't.)

Either way, I'd vote for him.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 2:22pm

I have said it before and I will continue saying it with my dying breath: If referees had the stones to call offensive pass interference Michael Irvin would today be sweeping the floor of a Miami-area Safeway and regularly calling his parole officer.