Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Oct 2005

White, Aikman Among Hall Nominees

Reggie White and Troy Aikman are among the preliminary nominees for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. From this list, Hall of Fame selectors will choose 25 candidates who will advance as semifinalists. That list will be trimmed to 13 candidates, who will join veterans committee nominees John Madden and Rayfield Wright as finalists. On the day before the Super Bowl, the voters will select between four and six enshrinees from that group of 15.

White and Aikman are sure things, although I'm not as enamored of Aikman as most people are. I'd love to see Pittsburgh center Dermontti Dawson make it, but I'm not sure he's got enough name recognition. I've always found it a bit odd that contributors are on the same ballot as players. How is a voter supposed to make a determination between Ed Sabol and Art Monk? I love NFL Films, and the Sabols definitely deserve recognition for what they've done for the league, but I don't know that a bust in Canton is the right recognition.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 28 Oct 2005

34 comments, Last at 01 Nov 2005, 3:48pm by Michael David Smith


by Pat on the Back (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:49pm

That link provides a fantastic picture of Tags, by the way. I can't tell whether he is trying to smile, just waking up, or about to dither an infant. Regardless, it makes him look like he is ready to be the guy wandering around a supermarket in his bathrobe (and I don't mean Jeff Bridges).

by wrmjr (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 5:52pm

I'd rather see Moon than Aikman, but then I'm a 'Skins fan. So I'd also like to see last year's finalist, Monk and Grimm, make it. I think all 4 I've mentioned probably belong in the hall.

by Adam (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:10pm


by Tyler (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:14pm

I really hope that Dirt makes it in. I don't think he's a first ballot guy, but after a few years of being eligible, I'd love to see him make it.

by andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:16pm

Chris Doleman I'd like to see in there.

Aikman over Danny White. Its not his fault, but nothing Danny White ever did seemed to make anyone forget Staubach.

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:18pm

They also have the seniors now in the main list and I think there has to be 2 of those, leaving only 4 spots for the people on the list linked to here. Besides the two in your headline, I think Thurman Thomas should be in on his first ballot this year. That only leaves one spot at most for the other people. Could have been even tighter if Deion Sanders didn't go back into the NFL. Here are some of the ones I think could be considered:

Warren Moon: I think there are too many QBs recently to put him in this year - starting with Jim Kelly, there's been Kelly, Elway, Marino, Young, and now probably Aikman. That's a lot at one time, but it looks like the next one on the list would be Favre, so I think Moon eventually gets in. The fact that he didn't make any Super Bowls will go against him. OTOH, he has good stats and 9 Pro Bowl appearances (compare this to Kelly's 4).

Michael Irvin - well we saw last year that he almost made it, but I think the strength of this year's class will keep him out, but he will make it.

Art Monk - He's been discussed a bunch of times, and I tend to think Irvin is a little more deserving, but if you look at the history, it's almost like his eligibility helped bump in Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Will receivers of the vintage of Andre Reed being eligible, mean that it's time for Monk?

I thought Dawson had good name recognition, but that could just be the 7 NFL seasons I spent in Pennsylvania.

Richard Dent - I've read some of the arguments against him (including, I think, Dr. Z's), but I think he eventually makes it. Not this year.

Derrick Thomas - I would like to see him make it, but I don't think it's going to happen.

Cortez Kennedy - see Derrick Thomas.

Gary Zimmerman - I might have mentioned elsewhere on this site that I'd like to see him in.

Not too many others I see with a good chance this year. I'm excluding my thoughts on contributors.

by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:43pm

Why the restriction to 6 enshrinees per year? If a player/coach is good enough why impose a limit, particulary when comparing different eras and positions.

How can you honestly decide if, for example, Jimmy Jones was a better coach than Thurman Thomas was a running back?

by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:45pm

Jimmy Johnson not 'Jimmy Jones'. Brain fart. Sorry.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 6:48pm

I'd really like to see Moon make it. As mentioned above, he was a Pro Bowler 9 times, and that was for three different teams (Oilers, Vikings, Seahawks)

Also, I think it's clear what a big difference he made to his team. From 1987 to 1993, the Oilers made 7 straight playoff trips. In 1994, when they lost Moon to the Vikings, the Oilers went 2-14. Now that's quite a step back! (The Vikings went 10-6 and won the NFC Central in a year when the Central was good enough to send 4 teams to the playoffs)

Finally, after listening to people repeat that Dan Marino never had the luxury of a great defense last year, I think very few QBs were ever let down more often and more dramatically than Moon (at least in the playoffs):

1991: Oilers allow Denver to drive from the 2 yard line into field goal range in the closing minutes, including allowing two 4th down conversions to lose on a late FG

1992: Oilers blow a 35-3 lead against Buffalo (I've heard people try to blame this on the run-and-shoot offense not being able to hold a lead, but this is not fair. The Oilers hardly had the ball in the 3rd quarter, and when they had it in the 4th, they mounted a drive of over 7 minutes from inside their own ten, which, unfortunately, ended in a botched FG attempt)

1993: Buddy Ryan's defense gives up 4 TDs to Kansas City in the second half, the last drive being kept alive on a big 40+ yard 3rd down conversion after Houston had pulled to within a point.

I know that QBs probably get more attention than they deserve and there has been a recent wave of QB inductees, but I'd still like to see Moon honoured for a long and productive career.

by Jason (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 7:55pm

Going over that list I was amazed how many great candidates there are just among the players. That is not even mentioning worthy non players Like Ron Wolf and Paul Tagliabue. Players who should be 1st ballot HOFers (like Derrick Thomas) might end up waiting a bit

by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 10/28/2005 - 9:44pm

Personally, I think NFL Films is hugely responsible for my addiction to the NFL.

As a kid, I used to always watch the NFL films shows on ESPN in the afternoons. I loved those shows. Loved watching Hank Stram scream about "matriculating the ball". Loved Art Donovan stories.

I never would have learned the history of the game without NFL Films.

No other sport has this kind of vehicle to share the history, and show awesome footage that you don't normally see on game broadcasts.

Ed Sabol belongs in the Hall.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 8:01am

No debate about the greatness of NFL Films, it's just that it's hard to decide between Ed Sabol and a player. Who's better, Steven Spielberg or Barry Bonds?

by dedkrikit (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 12:14pm

That depends, does Spielberg use illegal performance enhancing drugs?

by Carl (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 1:02pm

As many of you know, I don't vote in this selection. But I have been asked, again, to do a statistical, comparative markup for a player to be championed by a voter.

I will not comment on that work but to say that I never take on one of these assignments unless I really believe he deserves to be in.

Warren Moon, to me, is the best of the bunch. He would have had even gaudier numbers had he not been the victim of palpable racism, a racism that shunted his career to the CFL for his early years.

My second strongest candidate is Herschel Walker. Count the USFL stats, voters, and put him in the Hall.

MDS will disagree with me, and I might be biased by my association with these men as sources, but I cannot imagine Canton without Ed and Steve Sabol inside those hallowed halls.

There is room for the men who made the game so beautiful to watch. Their contributions to the game of professional football color every sportscast, no matter the athletic enterprise, because the grammar they developed for the pro game has been stolen by the best everywhere else.

For all that is wrong with the game, NFL Films is not, and has never been, one of them. The Sabols are outstanding men who merit this honor as much as any commissioner, coach or reporter.

I think one could make a good statistical argument for Ottis Anderson, although no one likes him because he didn't play for "winners."

I'd like to see Don Coryell get in as a coach.

Dawson was the best center I ever saw, and I've seen some very good ones. I'd like to see Zimmerman and Lawrence in there, too, but everybody hates linemen.

Carson should be in the Hall for his play alone, but his post-career efforts to help athletes less fortunate, especially those stricken by cumulative head trauma, makes him a special man. He does this work quietly and without reward. He is a professional player in all the best senses of the title, and continues to serve the game of football silently and with great dignity.

Put him in the HOF, please.

Duper and Clayton will split votes, but it's a shame to see Marino mentioned without considering his wideouts. Bob Kuechenberg deserves some recognition for his excellent service in Miami.

I believe Russ Grimm deserves to be in the HOF and I could make a good argument for Ray Guy, too.

It's time to put a punter in the HOF, and Guy was an excellent punter, although I've seen the stats cut both ways. I've seen a work up done on Roby that suggests he was the better punter, but he came after Guy, and in part patterned his career on Guy's.

I like punters and would like to see both in, but I understand that it's likely neither will ever enter Canton.

Aikman and Irvin should go in together.

Reggie White is a lock, and would have been even without his tragic death.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 1:34pm

For all that is wrong with the game, NFL Films is not, and has never been, one of them. The Sabols are outstanding men who merit this honor as much as any commissioner, coach or reporter.

well, then John Facenda should be in also

I'm sure you know that he got the NFL films gig because he happened to be a local broadcaster down in Philly when NFL films was still in Bala Cynwyd, and he continued newscasting after he began narrating NFL films

after his voice got so associated with football, it was funny listening to him report a traffic jam on the Schuylkill expressway

oh, and Gene Hickerson should be in, also

by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 1:56pm

I'm wondering if Dawson won't have to wait because this is the last year of eligibility for LC Greenwood. LC is deserving, but the "too many 70's Steelers" crowd will keep him out - yet again. That said, his diehard supporters may not vote for him and Dawson both (two Steelers, both OLs), so Dirt might suffer until LC is ineligible.

by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 2:00pm

Re my 16 - Sorry about that. I know perfectly well that LC is a DL. But the basic point is the same.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 3:00pm

I think one could make a good statistical argument for Ottis Anderson, although no one likes him because he didn’t play for “winners.�

I haven't heard anyone make that argument against Anderson. It would certainly be an odd argument to make about a Super Bowl MVP.

by Carl (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 3:27pm

I've heard many, many reporters denigrate his years with the NY Giants by pointing to his relatively lower productivity, MDS.

Actually, that's a fair criticism. By the time he arrived with the Giants, he had eight years with St. Louis, and was injured.

I mean, you lose out to Stump Mitchell and everyone starts to really discount your previous accomplishments (which were impressive) for a very bad team.

The only reason they made the 1982 playoffs was because of the expanded field in a shortened season. And I can't imagine the Cards would have managed that without Anderson.

In my mind, Ottis had five outstanding seasons in St. Louis (1979-1982), seasons that marked him as one of the very best RBs in the NFL, seasons certainly aided by his great hands in the receiving game.

If I recall, Green Bay tore them a new one in the playoffs, but I don't recall if it was at Lambeau or the score.

GB wasn't all that great either.

I concede he fumbled. A lot.

What makes the stat work that's been done on him so pernicious is that he declined a lot in NY, so his time on a "winning" team (including his great performance in the 1991 Super Bowl) become discounted.

He really had his best year for the NYG in 1989, especially with the TD runs he got, although his actual ypc declined.

What reporters always say when I bring it up is that Ottis couldn't "carry" the Cards, and was only a small cog in the Giants' machine that actually won games.

They say had he put up the numbers he did while on the Cards for a better team, he would be a shoo-in for the HOF.

I think that's grossly unfair on all counts, but he won't get beyond it.

by Richie (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 6:10pm

I agree that you shouldn't have to choose between Ed Sabol and a player. I also think it's weird that the NFL chooses to induct exactly 6 HOFers each year. If 10 truly deserve it in a given year, then induct 10.

by Richie (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 6:14pm

well, then John Facenda should be in also

I’m sure you know that he got the NFL films gig because he happened to be a local broadcaster down in Philly when NFL films was still in Bala Cynwyd,

I could be wrong, but I think I heard before that Facenda really didn't even know much about football before getting the NFL Films gig.

by Richie (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 6:16pm

1982 St. Louis Cardinals NFC Wildcard Game: lost 16 - 41 at Green Bay Packers

by Richie (not verified) :: Sat, 10/29/2005 - 6:30pm

If Scott Norwood's kick goes through, the Giants lose the Super Bowl, and Thurman Thomas is MVP instead of Ottis Anderson.

(I always loved that. Whether a kicker makes the kick or not determines which team's RB is MVP.)

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Sun, 10/30/2005 - 12:49am

Re #23:

Well, I'm sure the losing RB wouldn't be able to say "I'm going to Disnew World very convincingly"

Being a Steeler fan, I'm kinda biased, but Dawson was freaking amazing. A center that pulled as well as he did and also didn't give up sacks deserves a spot in the HOF at some point.

Also, I'd probably consider myself part of the 'too many 70s Steelers' crowd. I thought Swann, although having some amazing catches, was marginal at best.

Finally, can't they have 2 separate wings of the HOF, one for players and one for owners/contributors? Comparing players with off-field personnel is ridiculous...

by TacoSwell (not verified) :: Sun, 10/30/2005 - 6:22am

"Finally, can’t they have 2 separate wings of the HOF, one for players and one for owners/contributors? Comparing players with off-field personnel is ridiculous…"

You could say when the selectors are discussing candidates they are comparing the Sabols and Ron Wolfs of the world to the players, but you'd have to be kind of slow if you were walking around the HoF and didn't realize that Al Davis got enshrined for different reasons than Jim Thorpe.

Personally I want to see Art Modell enshrined mostly because it would result in a lot of Ohioans getting arrested and/or not living up to the ridiculous threats they spew.

by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 10/30/2005 - 4:13pm

Shouldn't Tagliabue have to be retired for 5 years before he's eligible for the Hall?

by Mshray (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 2:59pm

Seeing John Facenda's name mentioned reminds me of Dennis Miller's tenure on MNF, the best part of which was reading "The Annotated Dennis Miller" column the next day. Some guy from Brittanica would break down all of Miller's obscure references, and when once at a game at Lambeau Miller mentioned 'The Voice Of God', the next day he had a discussion of John Facenda, which concluded with the following line: "Although many think that John Facenda sounds like God, God himself wishes he sounded more like Gregory Peck." Cracked me up.

by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:01pm

I always have wondered why Richard Dent doesn't get much love. Can anyone let me in on it?

by Daniel (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 4:12pm

I think Dawson will get in eventually. It seems that offensive and defensive linemen usually have to wait a few years. I believe that Warren Moon is one of the most gifted QBs of all time and deserves to be placed among Elway, Marino, and Kelly as one of the best of that generation. It is too bad that most fans remember him as the guy who lost the 30+ point lead to Frank Riech and the Bills.

by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 10/31/2005 - 10:32pm

Aikman and Moon leads to a great debate: Stats or Championships.

I'm a fan of both players. What's your thoughts?

by ziminy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 12:56pm

"In my mind, Ottis had five outstanding seasons in St. Louis (1979-1982)".

Good luck with that statistical work. Scott Norwood makes that FG, and your pimping of Anderson never occurs. It's not even worth conducting the argument on that one.

Warren Moon? Had one of the most talented teams in the league around him in the late 80's and early 90's and never got it done, especially in the playoffs. Lack of leadership was always the bugaboo there. Regarding the racism and the general tenor of your post that he had to fight against all odds when he entered the league, you've omitted the fact he was made the NFL's highest paid player before he ever played a down, and had interest from multiple teams round the league prior to signing with the Oilers. And by the way, he absolutely flat out sucked his first three years in the league, and did nothing to elevate the Oilers from the bottom (they went 3-13, 5-11, 5-11). Yeah he's a HOFer, but its nowhere near as clear-cut a case as you are making out.

Equally as amusing is your cast-iron certainty regarding Herschel, the guy that singlehandedly ended the Vikes' run as a late 80's contender. Great size/speed package, shame he was one of the league's worst outside runners. After a time of dominance, teams figured him out and neutralized his straight line speed by stringing him out. Not physical. A very, very limited runner. But I imagine you're going only off the stats and some childhood memories.

If your recommendations were acted upon (and thank god they aren't), it would have to be renamed the Hall of Very Good. Anderson wouldn't even make it into that. Do us all a favour and stop acting like the one true voice on players you watched only when you were a kid. We know you're just a beat-hack wannabe.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 1:15pm

RE #24: Those commercials are filmed ahead of time, so it's always the winning teams QB who says it. (See Ray Lewis getting snubbed for Trent Dilfer in 2000).

by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 3:33pm

RE #24: Those commercials are filmed ahead of time, so it’s always the winning teams QB who says it. (See Ray Lewis getting snubbed for Trent Dilfer in 2000).

They are?

Usually they are done as the player is running off the field at the end of the game.

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 11/01/2005 - 3:48pm

It's not always the QB (in 1997 it was Desmond Howard), it's not always the MVP (Emmitt Smith did it in 1996), and it's not filmed in advance.