Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Dec 2012

Canton Races: How the Hall of Fame Gets it Wrong

Hey folks! Here is my take on the Hall of Fame semifinalists, from over on Sports on Earth. There are a few things in there which we have talked about in the past around here, like the Broncos shortage, and the fact that the selection committee gets all weird every time they see a wide receiver who actually caught passes regularly. Plus, new complaints and grievances. Argue and enjoy! I will try to pop back in the comment board in a day or so.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 04 Dec 2012

215 comments, Last at 10 Dec 2012, 11:33am by bachslunch


by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 1:48pm

I stopped reading at "Jerome Bettis should be in the Hall of Fame".

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:06pm

Care to elaborate? I don't think Bettis should be a slam dunk, but an opinion that he should be in the HOF is hardly so ridiculous that it invalidates the rest of the author's opinions.

by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:41pm

Bettis an average-to-good back for a long time, but he was never a great back.

I strongly prefer my Hall to be the Hall of Great, not the Hall of Narrative; I'd rather have Craig, let alone Davis.

I did eventually go back and read the article; Tanier is right about the process being flawed, but his player assessments just make me angry.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:08pm

But Bettis was elite at certain things, if not generally being a running back.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:26pm

Bettis had a great rookie season with the Rams and his first two years with Pittsburgh were also excellent. But he made the mistake of carrying the ball 375 times in 1997, and worse, underperformed after that, helping to give birth to the fairly ludicrous statistical argument about 370 carries being some kind of magical threshold.

The fan ELO rating at Football-reference rates Craig right behind Freeman McNeil and Drew Bledsoe. Wow. Freeman McNeil! So much for fan voting.

I'm a bit underwhelmed by the stats for both Bettis and Craig. In both cases, I thought there would be more there. I still remember the rookie season Bettis had. He was supposed to be the next Earl Campbell. It didn't happen.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:32pm

The argument for Bettis is primarily that he hung around for a long time, long enough to end up 4th all time in rushing yards. Arguments against him are several:

-he had only three seasons where he had any claim to being anywhere near the league's best RBs (1993, 1996, 1997 when he was 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd in the league in rushing yards).
-he fumbled at a rate worse than a top-flight RB should.
-his yards per rush is not good.
-his lifetime TD numbers are not at the level of an elite back.
-he was pretty much worthless as a receiver.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:31am

Agree with all that. The funny thing about Bettis is that if you take out the seasons where he was below replacement level (not below average, below replacement level) he (a) would have had a better career yet (b) would have absolutely no chance of making the Hall of Fame because instead of being 6th in all time rushing yardage he would be 19th below (approximate) contemporaries Curtis Martin (he's below him anyway), Edgerrin James, Fred Taylor and Corey Dillon and just ahead of Warwick Dunn. It's an indictment on his case that removing his worst seasons would actually make him a worse candidate.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:14pm

I'd put him in but only if you take Curtis Martin out to make room.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:19pm

Why? Martin beyte r than Bettis across the board.

Better runner.
Better receiver.
Better blocker.
Better football player.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:31pm

But not as heavy.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:43pm

Yeah, nobody gets inducted to the HOF for being nicknamed "the sedan", even if it is really a great sedan. And not from Detroit.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:18pm

Well there was BMW... oh.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:44pm

Coaches tend to appreciate a guy like Curtis Martin more than we fans do.

by Dean :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:16pm

If Bettis played for any team other than Pittsburgh (or dallass), he would never get past the preliminary nominee phase. Martin, Craig, and Davis are all MUCH better candidates. Bettis is probably a worse choice than Corey Dillon - who has no shot. Even Rickey Watters probably has a better claim. If not for media hype, Bettis would have about the same chance as Eddie George.

by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 4:34pm

I realize that this a site for statistically-based arguments, and the stats are not in Bettis' favor. But, he was the entire offensive identity of the late 90s/early 00s Steelers, a team that went to 2 AFC Championships with Kordell Stewart at quaterback. The he hung around as an important contributor on the next-wave Steelers team and won a Super Bowl as the unquestioned leader of a memorable team. He wasn't an all-around back, but there were few better at what he did. He could run the ball over and over and over again so that whatever crappy quarterback was out there didn't have to lose the game. Then when he had to have his workload reduced, he excelled in short yardage and closing out games.

by rk (not verified) :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 4:35pm

Also, he ran for more yards than just about everyone who ever played. Even if it took a lot of short carries, that's impressive.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:09pm

The Hall of Fame is about importance to the NFL, not importance to the Steelers.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 9:21am

If you had picked any other team, I'd agree, but with the Steelers I'm not so sure.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:15pm

The very concept of a Hall of Fame is anachronistic. Even 15 years ago, if you wanted to learn about a player from ages past, you either had to buy some books about football history or you had to make a trip to Canton. Now if I want to see what a player such as Lenny Moore was like, I can see his career statistics, view a video of his highlights, and read articles written about him in contemporaneous newspapers and magazines without leaving my chair.

Now that this information is easily stored and freely accessible, there's no reason for a panel of professional writers - who, thanks to the accessibility of information, may not be any more informed about a given player than you or I - to decide who is worthy of preserving in the historical record and who isn't. The mere fact that I can hold an intelligent opinion on the HOF candidacy of Roger Craig, who last rushed for a thousand yards when I was seven years old, is an indication that a curated HOF is now irrelevant.

by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:45pm


I promise that if the HOF selections were made by the FO Commentariat rather than sportswriters the selections would be much stronger.

Even if mis-spelled Raiders wind up overrepresented.

by DGL :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:23pm

I would submit that giving the total control over HOF selection to RJ would result in a better result than the current process.

As long as he doesn't write out the plaques.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:37pm

I think you meant especially if he writes out the plaques.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:35am

I'm fairly certain they'd be plagues, not plaques.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:49am

Which makes the point that much funnier.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 10:16am

Only a couple of days ago he wrote a comment with no spelling mistakes. He's washed up. He did have a long peak, though.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:18pm

That's a really good point about the HoF being anachronistic. I mean it is probably nice for people to be able to go and visit it as a tourist attraction and see the actual football that Jerry Rice scored his 200 millionth TD with, and the pair of socks that Brett Favre wore when throwing his 6,000th interception (on MNF) but, otherwise the whole concept is a bit forgettable now.

Interesting that soccerball has never been able to achieve a HoF to the same level of success although I am reading (in wikipedia) that it is being relocated from Preston to Manchester where the National Football Museum is located. This latter idea sounds a better updated version of the HoF - no selection just picks moments that defined the sport, the artifacts and then talk about the players involved as necessary.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:21pm

Canton is definitely worth the trip. Lots of neat stuff there. The USFL exhibit was particularly nice. Still planning my trip to Cooperstown.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:28pm

There's something to be said for exhibits. I still remember the family trip to Cooperstown we took as a kid.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:35pm

Football and baseball hall of fame museums both nice. Likee baseball one more. More artifacts and stuff. Also town gerat. Cooperstown nice play to spend summer day. Canton crap town.

by Dennis :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:35am

I was a bit disappointed when I went this summer. There are definitely some cool and interesting things, but I felt like they could do a lot more with it. The history section is much too brief, for one example.

by NG5 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:08pm

Claiming a Hall of Fame exists solely for informational purposes neglects the whole symbolic aspect of being inducted. No player has woken up one morning and thought, "Man, that guy was so great, somebody looked him up on pro football reference yesterday. I want my achievements to be in a table on Wikipedia."

The process may be flawed, but it is not simply a celebration of statistical greatness, which may as well by determined by a selection algorithm. It celebrates the narrative of the game, and as such, relies on people who peddle narratives (even stupid ones) to make the selections. I think that there are ways that certain things are really overrepresented, given the team nature of the sport and the individual reward of a HoF induction, but I still think it is important to recognize in the not purely statistical way. I think it's also important to note that the way statistical evaluations are influencing narratives and the interpretation of a career, increasingly atomizing players from their teams and the particular situations of their greatest achievements by isolating them as statistical individuals.

by vcs (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:20pm

Well said.

This is especially true when a player gets much older, or passes away, and very fewer people even remember his name. "Hall of Famer" quite succinctly sums up their credentials versus "really good player, go look up his (now unimpressive) stats".

Also, while this may change in the post-MSM future, as of right now the Hall is still primarily considering players that played in mostly local market-only games and were defined by the media as was, not how it is now.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:18pm

Let us not forget guys who might very well deserve enshrinement, but can't even make the semifinalists. It is starting to bug me more each year how a guy like Mike Kenn gets overlooked. He was a great tackle, playing for a team which was much more frequently bad than not bad, in the era before cable t.v. prominence, when playing for a perennially bad team usually REALLY meant getting a lot less time in the media spotlight.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:24pm

M. Kenn very nice. Would vote for gim for PFHOF induciton

by bachslunch :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:39pm

It's interesting to compare Kenn to semi-finalist Joe Jacoby as well as Marvin Powell and Leon Gray. They have almost identical postseason honors profiles, respectively 3(2AP)/5/none, 3(2AP)/4/80s, 3(3AP)/5/none, 3(3AP)/4/none. The only thing differentiating Jacoby is an all-decade team berth and membership on an o-line with a catchy nickname. I don't see why Jacoby should get priority at all.

by Thok :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:35pm

Richmond Webb would also be a good candidate for a Hall of Fame linemen. I don't think I've ever heard about him getting a semifinal berth.

I'm pretty sure that one could induct 50 people into the Hall of Fame without significantly lowering the quality of the Hall of Fame. Sadly, only 27 we semifinalists.

by Dean :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:54pm

Well, given that there are several names on the list of 27 that don't belong, I for one damn sure wouldn't want to try to induct 50. Even if you COULD scrounge up 50 people - and I don't think you could - you'd have nothing left to induct next year.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 10:21am

Nah, Webb was a great pass blocker, but only an average run blocker.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 10:40am

What hurts Webb in that regard, fairly or not, is the question of, "How hard was it to pass block for Dan Marino?". I remember games against great pass rushing teams where the pass rushers were doing what they normally did, but Marino never got touched, because he jut got the ball out so fast.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 7:29pm

On the flip side, defenses knew what was coming. They could never run the ball well enough to keep them honest.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:17pm

Bryant Young... BRYANT YOUNG!!!

Just compare him to Sapp and Randle, both of whom played in much more helpful schemes.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:25pm

Actually think Toung better than randle. Young vs Sapp close call

by Independent George :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:47pm

Young seems to have spent his entire career getting overlooked by his peers. He was a complete DT - not as good a pass rusher as Sapp or Randle, but far, far superior against the run. He also gets bonus points from me for recovering from that grisly leg injury on MNF.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:41pm

Sapp's period of dominance was pretty amazing. He was all but unblockable.

Randle is also helped by his notorious shit-talking, and in the words of Jules Winfield, "Personality counts for a lot." Then we get to 2x as many forced fumbles and half again as many sacks.

Don't feel bad though, Kenny Easley isn't getting in either.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:02pm

Maybe I'm reading you wrong, but Randle had about 50% more forced fumbles and sacks than Sapp, and I write that as a guy who was not among Randle's biggest supporters.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:14pm

Bryant was the point of comparison. For reference this is what I was looking at, and then of course how I remember them.

Young 208 games 89.5 sacks 0 Ints 11 FF 7 FR 512 Tkl

Sapp 198 games 96.5 sacks 4 ints 19 FF 12 FR 438 Tkl +1 TD
Randle 219 games 137.5 sacks 1 int 29 FF 11 FR 471 Tkl +1 TD

Bryant had a long, consistant, very good career. 49ers fans should long remember him for that.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:46pm

However, if you were to pit together a list of the great run defending linemen of that era then Young would be on that list too.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:36pm

I get what you're saying, I don't disagree in principle. But it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Efficient.

Sapp, in particular, has more than a couple garbage years mixed over a shorter career. But those seasons where he was dominant, there's no comparing.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:43pm

As a fan, I’ve never gotten much enjoyment from hating on certain players, but I have no problem hating Sapp. For what he did to Rice and Clifton, and for being the biggest, most loud-mouthed phony in the league for years. Nevertheless if I had a HOF vote I would vote for him. Very productive, if sometimes inconsistent, and one of those players that instilled real fear in opponents.

I didn't watch Randle enough to form an opinion, so I can only go by his stats and all-pro selections, which are very good. DVOA likes Minnesota's defense in Randle's prime, too. Dr. Z railed against him for being unsound versus the run, but that may just have been in his last few seasons.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:23pm

No, he was always unsound against the run, which is why I was not his biggest booster. The best defense of this element of his game I heard was that he was playing precisely as Dungy wanted him to.

Like I said, I wasn't his biggest booster, but 138 sacks from the tackle position is hard to overlook. If Millard (who had 18 sacks from the inside one year) hadn't blown out his knee, and they hadn't been too cheap to retain Doleman, the Vikings of the early 90s may put together a historically great pass rush rotation.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:27pm

Henry Thomas has some pretty good stats too, there can't be many guys with 1000 tackles and 100 sacks.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:40pm

Henry was very underrated. As as has been the norm since Tarkenton, the downfall of the team in that era was qb. A team with linemen like Randall McDaniel, Gary Zimmerman, Chris Doleman, Keith Millard, John Randle, and Henry Thomas, running backs like Terry Allen and Robert Smith, receivers like Anthony and Cris Carter, but qbed by Wade Wilson, is kinda' frustrating. It's been good training, though.

by Independent George :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:20pm

I'm kind of curious - how did you feel about Rich Gannon when he played there? Was his potential evident, or was he written off? With the right coaching, could he have produced like he did in Oakland?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:26pm

He was obviously a fabulous athlete, but inaccurate and prone to errors. He may the ultimate late bloomer, however, and I can't hold that too much against Denny Green. The guy didn't become above average until his fourth team, after all.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:42pm

Bryant Young's postseason honors profile of 2(1AP)/4/90s is meager compared to those of Warren Sapp at 4(4AP)/7/90s00s and John Randle at 6(6AP)/7/90s.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:50pm

That's because post season awards are a load of crap formulated from stats, reputation and hype. Young wasn't much for the hype and played in schemes that didn't boost his stats. Also consider that when Dana Stubblefield won DMVP it was the man stood next to him that was drawing the double teams.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:17pm

Disagree, and strongly. These numbers tell what contemporaries thought of the player in question. Don't let your Niner homer-ism get in the way, please. And before you deny any such bias, I've seen your posts here on several occasions pushing for Tom Rathman for the HoF.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:18pm

I pushed for Rathman as the best modern era fullback, a position that nearly every team used for about twenty years that is totally unrecognised in the Hall. I can't think of anyone better other than Lorenzo Neal if he is more to your preference. You can disagree with either the premise of recognising the modern blocking/receiving fullback or that Rathman should be the choice but that doesn't make me a homer, if its the choice of player then who have I overlooked?

Every year the probowl list comes out and the internet floods with justifiable complaints, I personally think the probowl has become almost irrelevant even before you consider the pointless game itself. I've read numerous example of players saying that they put almost no consideration into their nominations, just going off the stats sheet. Look at the journalists who make up the AP panel, I don't find it impressive.

You are entitled to disagree with me but if you feel the need to reply to me in future then play the ball not the man.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:34pm

I think there are at the very least three FBs (post-Csonka/Riggins) with better HoF arguments than Tom Rathman, depending on what you're looking for:

-if you value a pass catching specialist, Larry Centers is the choice you want.

-if you value a blocking specialist, Lorenzo Neal is the choice you want.

-if you value a more all-around type, Mike Alstott would be the choice you want.

Do any of them belong in at all? That's another question, of course. I'm not so sure.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:41pm

I would put Mack Strong up there with Neal. He was a punishing blocker, who lead the way for 1000 yard seasons by Chris Warren, Ricky Watters, Sean Alexander. He might have lead the way for something like 15k yards of rushing. But as with Karl above, it's the hall of fame, not the hall of value. Flash is the primary consideration.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:24pm

I had forgotten Strong, an excellent player for a long time.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:59pm

Vonta Leach is playing himself into that category, though he'll have to keep going for a while. But good God, that man can block, and Arian Foster and Ray Rice have racked up some impressive yardage behind him.

by dryheat :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:51am

And also without him.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 11:04am

I don't know about Rice, but I'd be pretty confident Foster's rate stats with Leach would be a damn site more impressive than without.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:29pm

However, Centers couldn't block (an interesting player though, he is so far from the pack of pass catching fullbacks), Neal wasn't much of a runner or receiver and Alstott couldn't block at all, he was more of a tailback than a fullback. Whereas Rathman was a punishing blocker, a very effective short yardage runner and had wonderful hands, for me the quintessential modern fullback.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:35am

Sorry, but in Rathman I see a short career player who was not as good a receiver as Centers, as good a blocker as Neal, or as accomplished a rusher or TD scorer as Alstott. That doesn't say HoF to me. And again, I'm not necessarily sold on any of these players for the Hall.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:25am

I agree that he doesn't qualify as a HOFer, but the way you phrase that is rather ridiculous. He was easily the best all-around FB of all of those guys, and yet you're treating it as a negative.

The short career (6 full seasons) is what settles it for me, and not a lack of productivity during those six seasons.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:06pm

The short career is a huge problem for me as far as Rathman goes, but I don't think it's "ridiculous" to prefer someone who was better at their particular specialty. That's a YMMV thing.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:15pm

Is eight years really that short? I know some guys have played more but it isn't that bad for a guy who ran into people for a living and had a really high peak.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:32pm

8 seasons in the league, but he didn't get as much time as rookie, and was injured for most of 1993 - so really, six full seasons. I agree that he was great, but that's just not enough for me - especially for a fullback.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:25pm

It is when the difference between the specialist and the generalist is marginal in the specialty, but vast in the other fields. Rathman wasn't the absolute best blocker, runner, or receiver, but he was in the Top-3. Neal couldn't catch, Centers couldn't block, and Alstott couldn't block or hold on to the ball.

Put it another way - LaDanian Tomlinson wasn't as powerful as Earl Campbell, as elusive as Barry Sanders, as fast as Gale Sayers, as good a receiver as Marshall Faulk, or as good a blocker as Walter Payton. He was still pretty damned amazing.

by bachslunch :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:43pm

If the floor Rathman had established were equivalent to that of Tomlinson, you might have a point. Do you really think that's the case? And there are no shortage of players in the HoF (like Shannon Sharpe) who as far as I can see only did one thing well -- in his case catch the ball. Or Derrick Thomas -- in his case ring up sacks. I'm sure there were more complete TEs and LBs around at the time, but that doesn't necessarily make them HoF-ers.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 1:14am

Noone is saying that Rathman produced as a running back like Tomlinson. If you have access to game rewind then you should be able to find the 1989 superbowl against Denver, please watch that and then come back and slag off Rathman if you still feel the need.

by bachslunch :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:33am

If a good postseason game and solid (and in Rathman's case, brief) career were enough to get someone in the HoF, Phil Simms and Harvey Martin would already be there. And Santonio Holmes and Deion Branch would be awaiting their call to Canton. But none of it is (or will be) the case.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:36am

Mike Alstott wasn't a great runner, blocker or receiver. Apart from that he's absolutely a potential Hall of Famer.

In seriousness, I'll always remember Alstott as the guy who compiled more highlight-reel 1-yard runs than anyone in history. But that's all. He was never more than a curiosity.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:27am

Alstott is essentially a very good runner "for a fullback" -- which is like saying Jason Kendall was a very good base stealer for a catcher. But he looks to be the best there is in this category after Csonka/Riggins. Plus Alstott put up strong receiving numbers in his rookie season. Tom Rathman was a better receiver, but even if one does some kind of era adjustment, it's impossible to ignore the fact that Alstott ended up with 5088 career rushing yards to Rathman's 2020 -- the gulf is huge. And the gulf in lifetime TD numbers between them is huge, too -- Alstott has 58 rushing and 13 receiving, Rathman has 26 rushing and 8 receiving. Sorry, but if I'm choosing between the two for the HoF, I'm picking Alstott. YMMV.

by DGL :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:04am

Jason Kendall was actually a very good base stealer period until he destroyed his ankle in 1999 - in his first four seasons, he had 71 steals in 87 attempts.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:53pm

Yes, but Kendall wasn't a premiere base stealer like Rickey Henderson or Tim Raines or Vince Coleman, either. That's why I said he was good for a catcher.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:22pm

The vast majority of Alstott's yards came from playing tailback, not fullback. It's like slapping a number 71 on Cecil Shorts, having him report as eligible on every play, then claiming that he's an unbelievably good receiver "for a left tackle."

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:50pm

Pro Football Reference lists him as playing at fullback his entire career with one exception. Only in 2003, in a season in which he played only 4 games, is he listed as "rb."

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:36pm

It doesn't matter if the Bucs listed him as a fullback, quarterback, or punter. Roster sheets don't change that for the vast majority of Alstott's carries he lined up at tailback, often with a fullback blocking for him.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:19pm

Yes, it does matter. Otherwise, we'd just call Shannon Sharpe a big wide receiver (which is pretty much what he was in practice -- good at catching the ball, terrible blocker) rather than a tight end. We don't do that. Why should there be a double standard?

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:38pm

If Sharpe lined up as a receiver for most of his plays then yes, we should count him as a receiver. FO did this with Dallas Clark one year.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:49pm

This should make for some interesting arguments when Antonio Gates's candidacy comes up.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:20am

He was great at fumbling, however; sort of the anti-Curtis Martin. It used to drive me nuts how that guy would get mega-attention for not much, while getting no attention for how frequently he put the damned ball on the ground. One of the most overrated ball handlers of the modern era.

by Lance :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:29pm

Does Daryl Johnston not get any consideration?

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:15pm

For me, he's below the level of Rathman, Neal and Strong but is considerably more likely to get in.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:29pm

I think Rathman has a more compelling case than Moose, so no.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:50am

Re "Look at the journalists who make up the AP panel, I don't find it impressive." First, until a couple years ago, there were several 1st team all pro squads picked by various organizations -- AP wasn't the only game in town until very recently. Second, my understanding is that the folks who pick such teams put a good bit of thought into their thinking and take their jobs seriously. I look at pro bowls at about the same level of meaning as, say, 2nd team all pro selections -- but criticizing pro bowl choices because a bunch of online know-nothings and homers whine about them makes no sense to me. Most importantly, pooh-poohing postseason honors in favor of "I say so" makes any such discussion totally meaningless -- unless the person is a film-study expert, I simply don't see how anyone can take them remotely seriously. And I'm not convinced too many (if any) people here have based their "observation only" criteria on any knowledge of film study.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:11pm

Do you really think that the selection panel are film study experts? For one, during the era we're discussing, none of them had access to the all-22. Look I get it, boosting Alstott, defending Sapp, you might just be a Tampa fan.

As for the probowl, perhaps I am indeed a know-nothing but I think it's usually pretty poor, I don't need the internet to tell me that.

If it helps, I'd put Sapp in but I am furious that Young didn't even make the final 25. Not that overgrown, fumbling tailback though.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:17pm

Not a Bucs fan, sorry, and I've backed players from plenty of other teams here and elsewhere. And I haven't necessarily said Alstott belongs, though I'd choose him over Rathman. And anyway, how do we know the selection panel doesn't have film study experts?

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:32pm

The NFL has only released the all-22 film this year, that's how we know.

by bachslunch :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 10:59am

So how did journalist and film-study expert Dr. Z pick his teams every year? And why wouldn't other journalists have access to the same resources he had?

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:20pm

Z was the only guy I know of who wrote of the extensive time he spent watching film. Given that journalists write for a living, it is reasonable to conclude that Z was very likely an extreme outlier in this regard.

by bachslunch :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 1:20pm

We don't know that for sure. Dr. Z was a prolific journalist, and yet he found time to do extensive film study. If he could, why couldn't anyone else have? Or why couldn't others have done sufficient film study to intelligently pick a team -- they wouldn't necessarily had to do as much as Z to be reasonably informed, would they? They could also have talked at length with others who did a lot of good film study, such as scouts and personnel people -- and my understanding is that at least some of these voters did so -- to usefully deepen their own observations.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 2:34pm

Yes, which is why I wrote the words I did. Look, if you have any evidence that any other sporstwriters went to the lengths that Z did, go ahead and supply it, otherwise I'll go with my personal observations of sportswriters, which, due to personal circumstances, was a pretty good sample size, for a good many years, and fairly up-close. These guys, a very large majority of the time, are not intense students of the game they get paid to cover. They cover personalities.

by bachslunch :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 2:34pm

But unless I'm mistaken, this assumes you have to do Dr. Z level study to pick these teams well. Are you saying that a lesser level of observation bolstered by discussions with, say, experts like Ron Wolf wouldn't provide sufficient information to intelligently pick an all-pro team?

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 2:49pm

Yes, because the level of candidness a sportswriter will get from a professional talents evaluator varies greatly, and cannot be counted on. If you haven't done the trenchwork, especially for the positions that do not lend themselves to useful metrics, which means pretty much every position other than qb, receiver, running back, and perhaps edge pass rusher, you don't really know anything, and damned few have done the trenchwork. I usually avoid debates about who should be All Pro or a Pro Bowler for this reason. If you aren't watching a minimum of 10-12 games a week, with close attention, you have only a somewhat vague clue as to who has performed the best at such positions.

by bachslunch :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 1:53pm

What's the alternative in discussions on sites like this? Accepting the word of a bunch of anonymous people saying "so and so was a great all around DT?" Are any of the people here film study experts, and how would they even establish their cred, if so? And another question -- do film study experts even agree among themselves? Is it safe to assume that Dr. Z qualifies as such? If so, does everyone at this level agree with his assessments?

by tuluse :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 2:13pm

Will has already put forth an alternative, have each director of pro personnel vote for the HoF.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 2:34pm

I think former directors would be even better. Eliminate any political interests.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by bachslunch :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 3:24pm

Sounds great, but that'll happen when pigs fly. Until a better way to figure this out actually happens, I don't see an alternative to the all-pro/pro-bowl numbers we currently have.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 3:33pm

And I don't see an alternative to stating what is plainly and obviously true; that these numbers are compiled via the votes of people who don't know their rear end from a hole in the ground, because for most positions, if you haven't done the time consuming work of detailed evaluation, you are just making a wild-assed guess.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 12/08/2012 - 1:12am

I'm getting pretty perplexed by having to summon some arbiter to find that Bryant Young was a better run defender than Warren Sapp. This would be making my blood boil if it wasn't so surreal. How can anyone have seen the two and still think that there is a comparison? Fast, strong hands, impeccable reading of the blocking scheme, knee bend, speed, power, wrap up technique, swim, rip etc. I have never seen another DT with that package and some can't even accept he was a better run defender than f***ing Sapp! I'm not saying that Sapp didn't have some remarkable traits but %&£$%!

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 3:28pm

If a large percentage of 32 of Directors of Pro Personnel agree, after spending hundreds of hours watching film, that a guy is one of the two best centers in the league, by secret ballot, or just forwarding their seasonal grade out sheets, then I'm pretty satisfied that the player is just that. Then, when a guy's career is over, we can say that their post season honors were awarded based on intensive film study, by guys who knew what they were talking about. Then, have a committee of retired film study gurus make the HOF selections, taking into account the post season honors that were awarded on such a basis.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 12/07/2012 - 8:41pm

Failing that, surely to goodness we can at least round up 32 journalists who actually can break down film? I nominate Lance Zierlein for Houston.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sun, 12/09/2012 - 11:34am

Failing that members of the committee should pass a test, as simple as that. Go through a screening process. Weed out the Kings and Florios, leave only people who have a deeper understanding of the game. That should be enough.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 2:00pm

The question isn't what voters can do, it's what they actually do.

When's the last time you've heard Peter King talk about his film study? Or have an intelligent opinion on how good a player is?

by bachslunch :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 2:41pm

I'd like to know what they do, too -- and it could be anything from Dr. Z level of study to throwing darts at a board. The former is ideal, the latter ridiculously bad. But various levels of middle ground exist, too. Are you saying nothing but Dr. Z level of study is acceptable here?

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 2:54pm

I'm saying I don't think most voters meet an acceptable level of study. I know PK doesn't, and he is arguably the most influential of them.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:57pm

Alstott doesn't belong. If it hadn't been for Chris Berman's obnoxious "BOOM! CRASH!" noises during highlights, people wouldn't even know who Alstott is.

by dryheat :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 9:53am

I would also credit fantasy football for the misplaced belief that Alstott was anything other than ordinary.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:32pm

The "online know-nothings" you speak of includes a lot of fans who watch a lot more players, more closely, than very many, perhaps even a majority of, HOF voters. HOF voters include a large number of guys who are in a stadium every Sunday afternoon, watching one game, and then in a locker room collecting quotes. "Online know-nothings" includes a bunch of guys who closely watch two games every Sunday afternoon, and one game Sunday night, with the benefit of a DVR which allows replays on demand. Many members of the media who vote on the HOF and post season honors actually see far fewer players, in less detail, than many of the online know-nothings you deride.

The ideal solution for voting for post season honors would be to have the Directors of Pro Personnel for all 32 teams, guys who simply live in the film room, grading out players throughout the league on a weekly basis, vote for these squads. Then we would have some confidence that the people making these selections had some inkling of what they were talking about. As it is now, it is just nuts to think that some guy who spends 4 hours in a stadium press box, and then two hours in a locker room, and then an hour or two typing one his notebook every Sunday, has any better idea of which players have actually performed best, compared to "online know-nothings".

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:44pm

The directors of pro personnel are probably too busy.

Just to make things really complicated, how about we copy the senate? Each team gets to select 2 voters, and the league office gets one guy who breaks any ties. Any player who gets a majority of votes gets in. No stupid limits. If 33 voters selected by NFL teams (and maybe the league office) decide a player should be in the HoF, he is.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:57pm

Well, the Directors of PP already have every player in the league ranked. All they have to do is go down the list and pick the top couple guys at each position from each conference, excluding their employer's players, of course, and e-mail it to the league office. Shouldn't take much more than an hour. Abracadabra, we would suddenly have meaningful post season honors, and thus a very meaningful metric for the HOF.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:02pm

Not everyone who posts online is a know-nothing. But if I had a dollar for every doofus who squawks about "Charles Haley and fiveRINGZZ" and Ray Guy being snubbed in threads dealing with modern-era candidates, I'd be very wealthy. And I've seen a lot of the same kind of people shriek about pro bowl snubs. That's who I'm talking about.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:30pm

I guess my point is that there are just as high a percentage, and likely higher, of doofi sitting in press boxes, because it is physically impossible for the press box doofi to see much more than a game and a half every Sunday, no matter how diligent said doofi are, and I'd be surprised if more than half of said doofi are diligent at all. The people making the post season honors and HOF picks are largely comprised of doofi who watch about 3 quarters of football on a Sunday, for two teams, each week, in a league in which there is about 48 quarters of football played, with 12 teams. They don't have the slightest idea of what they are talking about.

by Independent George :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:42pm

I'm with Karl on this one. Stats for linemen are generally lousy, and the overemphasis on sacks led to underrating Bryant Young for pretty much his entire career. From what I saw, Young was slightly worse as a pass rusher, but far better as an overall DT, than either Sapp or Randle.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:48pm

The reply I wrote addresses the idea that somehow Bryant Young is more HoF deserving than Sapp or Randle. It isn't the same as saying Young doesn't belong in at all, and I can see some sort of argument for him. But if we're going there, why are we not also talking about guys like Jerry Ball and Sam Adams and Ted Washington?

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:10pm

Not Ball, maybe Adams, Washington was the best run defender in the game for about 15 years, a dominant, game changing player and should be inaugurated as soon as they can find a stage that can take the weight.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:26pm

Sports on Jupiter or Sports on Pluto woudkd be good name for blog if ever decide to create blog

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:41pm

Would read blog.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:37am

Jupiter yes, Pluto no. I can't be bothered to read blogs from non-planetary objects.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:32pm

Dwarf-planet still has planet in the name.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:05pm

We asteroid aficionados hate bigots like you.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:10pm

I think we can all agree that in the universe of astronomy themed sports blogs OortSport is the superior name.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:07pm

Have you been drinking? I think your judgment is clouded.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:26pm

I decline to comet at this time.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:40pm

This is all very nebulous.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:46pm

Reading the Morten Andersen bit, reminded me of one of my great mysteries or perhaps demonstrated how the HoF selection process has changed ... I mean would anyone elect Jan Stenerud into it now?

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:25pm

Arguably, they would. He ushered in the era of soccer-style kicking and combined remarkable accuracy and range for his era. He was a seven-time All-Pro and was one of the leaders in all-time points scored at the time of his retirement.

At the time of his retirement, he was basically what Morten Andersen is today, except that he also completely changed the way that kickers in the league kick.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:44pm

Agreed, and will say arguably they should -- unless one believes no dedicated PK belongs in the HoF, and I'm not a fan of that thinking. Both Stenerud and Andersen are among the top five all time in FG% adjusted to era (along with Nick Lowery, Gary Anderson, and HoF-er Lou Groza). I think they all belong in.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 2:54pm

The inclusion off "executive" candidates really bothers me, esp. Tagliabue. I can see Rozelle, but none of the other commissioners have been noteworthy.

The Hall really needs to widen its acceptance path. 5 per year just isn't close to enough, not in a league with 32 teams.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:19pm

I'm fine with contributors getting put in the hall, but it should not be at the expense of players. Have a separate category and voting for them.

by RickD :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:29pm

I fear that if the Hall did that we'd get too many "contributors." 1/year would be too many.

by Bobman :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:05pm

YES! Not at the expense of players, of whom there are too many.

by Sophandros :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:39pm

If we evaluate executives based on how much they changed the game, then Goodell should be in the HOF.

And yes, I'm being extremely snarky right now.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:30pm

Personally, I can't wait until next year, when Marvin Harrison becomes eligible.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:12pm

RaiderJoe is going to look disfavourably on me here but ... as a Raider fan for many years I've never actually felt that Tim Brown was HoF worthy. Yes, he ended up with great volume stats that left him in the top 2 or 3 for receiving as he retired but actually he was never that high in the receiving charts and I don't think he even made top 3 in DYAR in any year of his 16 year career.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 3:45pm

One thing that helps Tim Brown's HoF argument is his significant amount of KR credit. Though I think he's got a respectable enough argument just as a WR, myself.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 5:47pm

This is true - remember seeing him take back his first kickoff return for a TD in 1988 ... or at least in his first game ... or possibly 2nd week ... very soon after he was drafted either way :-)

by CoachDave :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:01pm

Tim Brown = Zero First Team All Pro Awards.

I don't believe anyone should get in the HOF if you can't be seen at least ONCE as the best in the league at your position in your career.

It's probably too much of a hard and fast rule...but to me it says a lot about his consistency vs. stellar performance.

Hall of Very Good for a Long Time...sure, no argument...but HOF? I don't see it.

BTW, Cris Carter, X2 First Team All Pro

Andre Reed, zero.

Which lines up with my vote Brown and Reed: No Carter: Yes

But hell...if you put Art Monk in there...the proverbial floodgates have been opened.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:06am

Wrong about Tim Brown. He was named a 1st team all pro as a WR in 1997 by Sporting News, and was named a 1st team all pro as a KR in 1988 by Pro Football Weekly and Sporting News. Except for the last couple years, AP is not the only game in town here.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:10am

Yes this correct. One time Associated Press tema not most prestigious All pro awardss

by CoachDave :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:41pm

PFW and Sporting News are magazines, that's an opinion of maybe 2-3 people. SI is massively larger than both magazines and it's picked by one guy...PK. Only because pro-football-reference covers them does anyone actually know they actually exist.

AP is the collection of sports writers that cover pro football from across the Nation...it is by a large margin the only All Pro team that matters, that is consistently referenced.

Look at the HOF web site...you will find no mention of anything beyond the AP All Pro team.

by bachslunch :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 10:46am

I looked at Harry Carson's HoF bio at their site, and it says he was "all pro (first-team) 1981, 1984." Neither time was he named such by AP. So your last assertion is flat-out wrong. Note also that the NEA team was for many years considered the most prestigious of these teams because it received a lot of player input. I have yet to see a good argument against any such team other than SN's up to ca. 1980, and that's because that one named so may people per year that it was in practice at the level of an all-conference team. And beware citing pro-football-reference's endorsement of AP -- the site has come under significant fire over the years for ignoring other such teams, and their reluctance to change reportedly stems from laziness rather than anything else.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:11am

Sigh... Art Monk was once a 1st team all pro. I guess he was clearly better than Brown and Reed, by your logic. (Personally I think he was definitely better than Reed and more or less indistinguishable from Brown and Carter but should get the benefit of the doubt for playing in a less passing friendly environment.)

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:12pm

"Strum and drang?" You're looking for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is about an hour north.

by Bobman :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:16pm

Or the German Romanticism Hall Of Fame, which is, inexplicably, located in Scotland. First inductee: Goethe.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:40pm

Well, ol' Goethe somewhat pointedly distanced himself from others considered German Romanticists, so I feel a hellacious Teutonic Hegel vs. Goethe irrational thread coming down the pike!

by Bobman :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:13pm

Nice work, Mike, in pointing out the logistical, process flaws in HOF voting. But you overlooked a big structural flaw--the annual alottment is too small, as to make it almost meaningless.

If they reduced it to one entry a year, to take things to their absurd extreme, would people even give a shit about Canton? Yeah, it would guarantee a super-great player got in each time with no real debate on his merits, but Unitas (or his corpse) or Franco Harris would still be waiting for their calls, and Lawrence Taylor would be about 30 years away from getting to the head of the list, meaning that in effect he's enshrined AFTER anybody who remembers watching in him is still sentient. That would be so wrong.

The NFL is a lot bigger (in team numbers, player numbers, fan base money, TV sets, dollars, etc) than it was when the HOF rules were established. Open the gates a little wider. 10 a year is probably too much (but might serve as a correction period, then get reduced to 7 or 8. The HOF risks alienating its audience, pissing off more people than it satisfies, becoming irrelevant, etc.

by Dean :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:21pm

I suspect we disagree on what constitues a Hall of Famer. I have no issue whatsoever with keeping the number at 5. I would much rather have a small backlog (and it is small) than have a succession of mediocre candidates.

Adding number just means guys like Phil Simms, Rickey Waters, and Henry Ellard get in - and I don't want to see the place get watered down.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:32pm

You're offering a false dichotomy here. Letting in a few more players per year doesn't mean Phil Simms gets in.

by DGL :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:35pm

When the Pro Football HoF opened (1963), the NFL had 14 teams and the AFL 8, making a total of 22 pro football teams to draw from. There are now 32. In 1963, each team had 37 players on the roster; each team now has 45.

So while the total number of pro football players in any year has gone from 814 to 1440 (a 75% increase), the number of possible HoF inductees has stayed constant. Basically, the bar for induction has gotten higher.

by Jerry :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:36pm

When the Hall opened, I doubt that the AFL was a consideration. The NFL, whose hall it was and is, was still looking down its nose at an upstart league.

by DGL :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:55pm

Which just makes the point even stronger - 14 teams with 518 players to 32 teams with 1440 players, and still only 5 per year being inducted.

by jds :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:48am

Not necessarily. The HoF guys are only likely the top 1 - 5 guys off a team (at best). Expanding the roster doesn't get you more HoF caliber guys. Now expanding the league, that may get you something. More games, more opportunities, probably gives you more HoF candidates as you expand the number of teams. So, yeah, league expansion probably means more HoF positions should be opened up. Which is why you have the recognized backlog now (which may only get worse).

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:39pm

The population of the US is also almost twice what it was in the 60s. Do you think that produces more HoF players?

by Lance :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:08pm

Do you really think it's small? I look at the list of 27 finalists and see about 11 guys that should be in, not counting contributors and coaches. Then I look ahead to the coming years and see a number of new players coming down the pike who will merit serious consideration: Harrison, Seau, Pace, Warner, Tomlinson, Favre, Owens, plus coaches, and it seems like that backlog is only going to grow. And of course, I can look at the league right now and see dozens more who will make it-- Manning, Brady, Brees, Lewis, Moss, Urlacher, Gonzalez, Woodson, and the list goes on and on.

Yes, we can imagine that eventually all (or most) of these guys get in. But it seems a bit unfair-- both to the players and to their fans-- to make them wait 10+ years after eligibility to enshrine them.

As has been noted, the original system was put in place for a much smaller league. It has many more teams and much larger rosters now. (Someone argued that the larger rosters argument doesn't matter since guys who are at #44 on the depth chart aren't HoF material. And while that's true, having larger rosters means that you have more guys in position to go from anonymous late-round draft pick to Tom Brady or Shannon Sharpe.) This all means that there are more players who fit the HoF profile than there were in, for example, 1970.

I think two solutions are in order: one is to split off coaches/contributors into its own category and make it non-mandatory. That is, you don't HAVE to put someone in for a given class if there just doesn't seem to be anyone qualified. The advantage of this is that you free up a spot or two each year for actual players (which is generally what fans care about). The other solution is to have a sort of jubilee and lift the 5 player limit for one year. You let in a slew of guys who should be in but aren't because everyone thinks "he should be in, but not yet" and just be done with it. Once the backlog is cleared, going back to 5 should make sense.

Indeed, given that in any given year it is unlikely that there are 5 future HoFers drafted, the Pro Football HoF may finally come to the point where a given class might not even have 5 inductees!

by Mello :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 9:27pm

Depends on how you look at it. The other way would be to say that half the players now wouldn't have been in the league when it was smaller. A larger league just adds worse players. It doesn't mean more players are great.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:48am

That isn't true at all.

A larger league means more exposure, more local teams, etc, which means more talented athletes going into the sport.

Also, the talent baseline is much higher now than it was at the start of the NFL, because there's so much money.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:19pm

I agree with three of Tanier's six(!) picks for this year - Parcells, Strahan and Allen, and think Williams and Carter both deserve to get in at some point, while I'm not fussed one way or the other on Bettis. But there's no way in hell any of those last three should get in ahead of Ogden, and probably not Sapp either.

Edit: Shields too, come to that.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:26pm

I agree with most of the arguments you've made. I think I'd be a bit kinder to Coryell than you. Also Woodson was better than either Sanders or Williams.

by An Onymous (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:50pm

Of the NFL's top 50 career rushing yardage leaders, only 4 have a ypc below 4.0- Eddie George, Earnest Byner, John Riggins, and Jerome Bettis.

Bettis had one of the best rookie years by a RB in history. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to that promise. At his best (and "his best" really boils down to just 4 seasons), he was nowhere near the Faulks, Davises, Tomlinsons, Holmeses, etc. And for the rest of his career, he was either a below-average lead back or a competent CoP back. I'd sooner see Shaun Alexander in the hall than Jerome Bettis.

by ZQ (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:24pm

It is pretty amazing to me how quickly LeRoy Butler has been forgotten. He made the All Decade Team and along with Dawkins was the Best safety of his era (superior to Lynch). He was disruptive both at the Line and playing centerfield and was the 2nd Best Defensive Player on those Packers teams (as almost anybody would have been with White on the field)

I undertand that he is a Safety and that the position has been underrepresented but that doesn't mean it should.

by ammek :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 6:39pm

Why is Jimmy Johnson (the coach) never up for selection? He's not coming back to the NFL, that's for sure.

by Independent George :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:55pm

He only coached in Dallas for 5 years, and his Miami tenure was largely unremarkable. He took over a 9-7 squad, and proceeded to go 36-28 over the next four years.

by Mello :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:18pm

I just had to stop when he said Brown and Reed were better receivers than Irvin. I thought it was so ludicrous that I looked up the FO stats for their careers.

Make your own conclusions, but I would definitely take Irvin's career over Brown's. I don't think Reed should even be in the comparison. For many of these years I had to be careful because Jake Reed with the Vikings was higher than him.

1985 - 1990 Not covered by FO stats yet. Irvin's stats were poor 1988-1990. Brown has good 1988 (especially if you count his returns), out in 1989. 1990 was poor. Reed has good seasons 1985 - 1988, and 1990. His 1989 season was great and likely in the top 5 of the league.

1991 - 1st by 104 DYAR Reed is 3rd. Tim Brown has 77 DYAR total.

1992 - 1st by 80 DYAR Reed is 13th. Tim Brown has 59 DYAR total.

1993 - 1st by 29 DYAR. Brown is 4th. Reed is 13th.

1994 - 2nd in DYAR, 87 behind Rice. Brown is 4th, 84 behind Irvin. Reed is 5th, 6 behind Brown.

1995 - 1st by 87 DYAR. Brown is 5th. Reed has negative DYAR and DVOA over only 6 games.

1996 - Reed is 6th. Brown is 11th in DYAR, 17 ahead of Irvin at 13th.

1997 - Brown is 4th, 99 ahead of Irvin at 16th. Reed's down around 40th.

1998 - Reed is 14th. Both others are far down. Irvin had 101 DYAR, Brown 76.

1999 - Brown is 5th, Irvin has 56 DYAR and a respectible 21.1% DVOA, but doesn't qualify due to his career ending injury. Reed is way down with 13 DYAR over a full season.

2000 - Brown is 12th in DYAR Reed spends his last year on the bench in Washington and gets 12 DYAR.

2001 - Brown is 9th in DYAR
2002 - Brown is 30th in DYAR
2003 - Brown is 45th in DYAR
2004 - Brown gets cut and signs with TB. Has a negative DYAR year and retires.

by JIPanick :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:33pm

Agree 100%

by Independent George :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:50pm

Yeah, I was shocked by that, too; Tanier is usually better at seeing through his green-and-white tinted lenses, but I suppose even he can stumble every now and then.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 7:56pm

DYAR is truly awful at evaluating receivers and punishes them for the QB forcing them the ball because either the QB or secondary targets suck.

by Independent George :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 11:26pm

Neither of which applies to Irvin, Reed, or brown; it physically pains me to admit it, but he really was that good.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:17am

Totally agree, that shocked me. I'm a Skins fan and I hated Irvin when he played, but the only way you can argue that Brown was better than Irvin is to make a teammate adjustment. There is no possible way to argue that Reed was better than Irvin. Tanier, I love ya but you blew that one.

by D :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 8:05pm

Bettis and Carter over Ogden?!

Not only was Ogden better than either of them, he also played a more position Bettis.

My players:

Allen, Ogden, Sapp, Shields and Strahan.

I feel Carter, Brown, Redd and Bettis are all deserving, but none more than the first 5.

by DEW (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:39am

I seriously disagree with the rant against Tasker. It reminds me all too much about the debate over punters. There are three phases of the game, and all of those phases are important. If we're going to put kick and punt returners into the HOF--if we say that the act of being able to run back kicks is, in essence, HOF worthy--then it follows logically that someone who is equally exceptional at *stopping* opponents from running back kicks is likewise worthy. I have no idea if Tasker actually was sufficiently better than the average NFL punt gunner to justify his inclusion--heck, I don't even know how to *quantify* punt gunners for what they do (and maybe that's the biggest problem with letting them in, if we have to rely on the eyeball test for their effect on the game).

Can't argue with Tanier's comments about WRs, though. Seriously, sometimes the selection committee's choices make me think they believe the forward pass is some kind of dangerous trick play to be looked at with grave suspicion and used only on 3rd-and-27 when the punter's hurt.

Also, green-blue was the best color in the Crayola box. Curse the bastards for retiring it!

by Jerry :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:21am

I suspect that while on the beat, every selector saw at least one player who was a great special teams cover guy, but who was a good enough player to eventually move off special teams and into the offensive or defensive starting lineup. Tasker's problem is that as good as he was in the kicking game, he was never good enough to move beyond it.

by DGL :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:01am

If a team's punter is injured in the first quarter of a game and can't return, the team's chance of winning could be in serious jeopardy.

If a team's best special teams cover man is injured in the first quarter of a game and can't return, the team's chance of winning is almost certainly not in serious jeopardy.

There is thus a qualitative difference between the debate about punters and the debate about Tasker; punters are significantly more important to a team than are other "special teams specialists".

Of course, taking this argument to its logical conclusion could lead one to arguing that long-snappers should be considered for the HoF.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:41pm

A well prepared team can definitely finish one game where their long snapper gets hurt. The Bears have under Toub.

by DEW (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:24pm

The same argument could be had about any position, though. It's just that teams rarely carry multiple punters or kickers because the risk of injury is relatively slight. You can't say that John Elway, Jerry Rice, and Dick Butkus don't belong in the Hall of Fame just because teams try to carry serviceable backups at their positions due to the potential for injury.

Again, I'm not necessarily saying Tasker is HoF-worthy, but if he truly was the best at his position for nearly a decade--and if the Bills thought that was important enough to keep him on the team even though he was completely inadequate as a WR--then I think he deserves a look, or at the least a more in-depth analysis of why he *doesn't* belong beyond merely, "He's just a punt gunner. QED."

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:44pm

I think you have to consider how rare Tasker's abilities were(n't). There just isn't anything special about him. There are guys on every team in the league that can do what Tasker did, but they don't because they're good enough to start at various offensive and defensive positions. If Tasker had had the ability to be mediocre starting wide receiver then he would have been that, because a mediocre starting wide receiver is more valuable than a fantastic gunner.

Maybe you'd say "that's a fancy way of saying 'he's just a punt gunner,'" and maybe you'd be right. I think saying "he's just a punt gunner" is basically correct.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:09pm

The dropoff from the best long snapper in the league to a TE or FB who does some long snapping part time is almost unnoticeable.

The drop off from John Elway to a WR* who does some passing part time is?

*I just chose WR because at one time Marty Booker was the Bears emergency QB. It didn't go as well as Desmond Clark long snapping.

Edit: the Bears went out and paid Eric Weems more than any other team because they valued his special teams contributions. He can return as well as gun. He must be a HoF player if Tasker is.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:20am

The best argument against Tasker is that even if he was the greatest gunner in history, he simply could not have had as big an impact on his team's success as any old regular starter on offense or defense. This has been proven statistically (I think it was on P-F-R blog).

by DGL :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:26pm

Oh, great, make me resent the James Harrison Long Snapping Experience even more. Why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice in it while you're at it?

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:12pm

Hey there is a reason why the Bears special teams are good year in and year out. So don't feel too bad.

Still, it does strike me as odd that many teams seem to have not thought out plan B for certain situations.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:42pm

How many players are in the HoF primarily because of their return abilities? I don't see any clamoring for Eric Metcalf or Dante Hall.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 9:46am

Is it trivial that Ogden and Pace are better than Walter Jones? I didn't watch them play until at the very end of their career, so I'm asking of curiosity.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:21am

I've always had them ranked Jones-Ogden-Pace, but I think any of them would be the best OT in the league at the moment by a pretty massive margin. Their HoF candidacy seems to be about equal - Jones was the best of the lot, but didn't win a Super Bowl, Ogden was next best but only won a Super Bowl due to the defence, and Pace was the third best but won a Super Bowl due mainly to the offence.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:24am

I think they were better, but not by much. The turn of the century really was a golden era for left tackles. There were maybe a dozen then that are better than anybody in the game today. Once you get past those 3, maybe you're not talking about Hall of Fame guys, but you're still talking about some REALLY good football players - Tarik Glenn, Tre Thomas, Tony Boselli before he got hurt. Leon Searcy and Willie Roaf are a little older but were still going strong. Willie Anderson and Kyle Turley were both really good but get lost in the shuffle. The list goes on.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:06am

That's an interesting point. Wonder why that is? My theory (just pulled out of nowhere right now) is that there are more speed rushers in the game now, but power rushers still exist. So tackles need to be faster than they used to need to be, but also still need to be equally strong as they used to be, and the number of people capable of being both just approaches zero.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:05pm

I'm guessing (and like you, it's just a guess), that it's a convergence of need and statistical oddity. Likewise, in the mid 80s, you had a golden era of centers. Dwight Stephenson was the standard bearer, but you also had Mike Webster/Dermontti Dawson, you had the tail end of Dave Dalby in Oakland, Blair Bush was still going strong. Jim Richter, The Hilgenbergs, Kirk Lowdermilk, etc. Plus whichever Hog was playing center (Grimm?).

At the time, this was the premier position on the OL. The philosophy of the day was that the center was the apex of the pocket, and the shortest distance to the QB went through him, so he'd better be good. Likewise, the 4-3 had practically gone extinct (at one point only 3 teams still used it) and a center had to be good to snap the ball backward and simultaneously handle the likes of Fred Smerlas crashing into him.

by Jeremy Billones :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:23pm

Jeff Bostic was the Hog center. 13 yr career, only Pro Bowl/All Pro year was 1983.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:30am

Man, I get sad thinking about Boselli. When he was healthy, he was an absolute beast.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:36am

Phenomenal footwork, by a guy who was also immensely strong. He would just stonewall a bull rush, hardly yielding a foot of ground, and he woud just calmly guide speed rushers, like a grown man toying with a five year old, 8 yards wide of the qb in the pocket.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:53pm

There was a Boselli 'pancake' block against Dallas on a passing play where he compressed his stance and exploded out, sending the d-lineman flying backwards what seemed about fifteen feet. Obviously the incident's magnified in my memory and no doubt there was some stumbling involved in the "flying backwards," but it was one of the most impressive feats of raw strength I've seen on a football field.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:43pm

Do we think these players were better than Joe Thomas because they were actually better or because they were on teams that won occasionally?

by Dean :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 12:55pm

Fair point. Joe Thomas is playing really well. So maybe there weren't a dozen guys better than Joe Thomas.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:21pm

No. There were three guys who were absolutely clearly better than Joe Thomas, and two more (Roaf and healthy Boselli) for whom a decent case could be made. The other guys on that list, fine players though they be, were to my mind clearly not better than Thomas and by no means clearly better than, say, Duane Brown (probably the second best OT in the league this season for my money).

by Dean :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 10:22am

I've already backed off the statement and admitted that I probably got a bit carried away. Let it go.

I should know better than to use hyperbole around here! :)

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 12:22am

Chris Samuels and his 6 Pro Bowls are a little miffed at you right now.

by Dean :: Thu, 12/06/2012 - 10:21am

Which goes back to the essence of my point - it really was a golden era for OTs. For the record, I just threw out some names off the top of my head. If I'd actually done any research, I probably would have found even more. Samuels probably isn't the only one I didn't mention.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 1:54pm

Why is this site capriciously blocking several posts I try to put up on this thread? It's incredibly irritating to spend time on a reply and have it not go through for reasons that seemingly make no sense?

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:01pm

If you haven't already done so, copy the post and send it to the admin with a note saying it got blocked. It's been a recurring problem.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 2:04pm

Thanks. I actually did that on one such post (a long one addressing the Tanier article directly), and it hasn't shown up yet.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:24pm

Also you could try talking up your sports betting site hq'd in dubai and then write about how thankful you are for smart we all are and how incorporating us into your blogroll will improve your content.

Those posts have no trouble getting through.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 3:59pm

The Bucs won a Super Bowl in 2002, and their only serious Hall of Fame candidates from that team are now entering the selection process.

Derrick Brooks won't be a candidate? Seems that he's a strong one, and I think Rhonde Barber is probably a (albeit weaker) candidate also. I think they're both better candidates that Lynch, though.

Actually, I'm shocked by how much my HOF list and Mike's are dissimilar (Both Brown and Reed better wide receivers than Irvin? I thought it was fairly well recognized that Irvin made those SB teams). Guys he calls no-brainer and overqualified I wouldn't let in without a ticket. Funny, this game.

I don't see the need to widen the doors right now. The only players here I would really argue for would be Allen, Andersen, Ogden, and Sapp.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:24pm

Barber's got his Ints + Sacks thing. Beyond that, longevity, consistancy, flash, a period of dominance, and a ring. Isn't that everything the HoF electors love?

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:41pm

Brooks isn't eligible until next year, so Tanier's point is "are now entering". Derrick Brooks seems a pretty sure-fire first-ballot HOFer, and I might be likely to set on fire anyone who disagrees with me. Not that I carry a massive, planet-spanning Derrick Brooks mancrush or anything. That would be . . . let's move on. I think Barber has a very solid resume, but my guess is he's going to be competing for votes with Charles Woodson, another "do-it-all" kind of DB, so he'll have to wait. A solid number of INTs, proverbial master of the corner blitz, a pretty mind-bogglingly long consecutive starts streak, ability to do all sorts of things on the field, plus he has one of those really great memorable moments where he picked off McNabb in the NFCCG to put the Bucs in the Superbowl.

I also think John Lynch belongs in the HOF, if he pays for admission. I have no idea how the guy got to the final 15. None at all.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:03pm

Brooks isn't eligible until next year, so Tanier's point is "are now entering".

No, not at all. Maybe Mike mis-typed, but he didn't say Two of the most-worthy members of that defense are on the ballot this year, or that the first of the HOF candidates from that team are eligible this year (which I think maybe he did mean, upon further reflection), , He said that their only serious Hall of Fame candidates from that team are now entering the selection process. Brooks and Barber were on that team.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:55pm

He did say that. He didn't say "their only serious Hall of Fame candidates that exist are now entering this year and only this year". I read "now entering" as "the first people to start being eligible". Just a semantics thing.

by tuluse :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:17pm

If Derrick Brooks doesn't easily make into the HoF, we might as well just give up on the whole thing right there.

Barber does seem more borderline to me. Personally, I would put him in, but who knows how the voters think.

by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 7:36pm

Barber's not a first-ballot guy, but I expect he'll make it. Besides being a fine player he has all the fill-in-the-bubble attributes voters look for. Was part of memorably great defenses - check; success in the playoffs - check; piled up stats - check; memorable big plays - check (buncha touchdowns); PB/AP selections - check; good citizen/no off-field weirdness - check. It would take a pretty big display of fecklessness to keep him out for long.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:24pm

I wouldn't put Barber in, but I agree that the voters probably will.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:47pm

Agreed, he'll probably make it in the same class as Hines Ward.

by Bill Caldwell (not verified) :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 4:39pm

I'm getting a chuckle about "who's the best runner ever from the FB position"----- easy answer----- JIM BROWN.

In most NFL offenses prior to the late-60's, the FULLBACK was usually the guy who got the most carries in the ground game. Jim Brown was a FULLBACK----- as was Jim Taylor, Marion Motley, John Henry Johnson, Cookie Gilchrist, Keith Lincoln,etc, etc, etc.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:42pm

You might be aware that the position has changed a little since then and that the discussion about fullbacks began with the phrase 'modern era'. John Henry Johnson was more of a blocker, especially with the niners when he cleared the way for McElhenny and Joe Perry.