Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Nov 2012

Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced the modern-era semifinalists for the 2013 class. This list of 27 will be reduced to the 15 finalists whose candidacy will be discussed Super Bowl weekend in early January alongside with senior candidate Curley Culp and Dave Robinson. First-year eligibles who made the first cut include Larry Allen, Morten Andersen, John Lynch, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, and Michael Strahan. No Ray Guy this time around, sorry (but not sorry) punters.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 30 Nov 2012

58 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2012, 4:10am by Will Allen


by Malene, copenhagen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 5:29pm

Yay first Danish finalist! And last!

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 6:40pm

Yay! I'm going to irrationally cherry pick every single stat i can possibly find in Mortens advantage!

by Dan :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 9:37pm

Career FG value: #3 all-time. #1 is in the Hall.

And he was elite at kickoffs; he was top 3 in the NFL in touchback rate for 5 straight years at ages 31-35 (the NFL website didn't have data up before then).

by Duke :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 5:51pm

I'm not a big stumper for punters, but I could see complaining about Morten Andersen making the list over Guy.

by BywaterBrat :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 6:27pm

Were Sapp and Strahan really all that great during their peaks? I know they had long, productive careers but neither one was really transcendant if I remember correctly.

If you discount John Lynch by the standard Caucasian coefficient, I'm pretty sure he doesn't belong in the HoF.

Really, only Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden have that mythical status in my memories of those years.

by andrew :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 9:22pm

Sapp definitely was.

From memory it seems like it was he that heralded the beginning of fortunes finally turning Tampa from the laughingstock of the 80s and early 90s to a perrenial contender.

by tuluse :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 10:08pm

Sapp created the 1 gap penetration based DT model of the Tampa-2 clones took over the league from ~2002-2008.

Strahan has the single season sack record*

John Lynch deserves the HoF but the Hall hates safeties. So based on the safeties who are in already? No he doesn't belong. Personally I don't think he was quite as good as Dawkins, but he was the 2nd or 3rd best safety in the league for a number of years.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 1:47pm

Well Sapp created that model if you discount John Randle and long before him Joe Greene.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 3:50pm

There was a state supreme court justice who was pretty fair at the task, too, prior to donning judicial robes.

by tuluse :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 12:29am

Well Greene actually played run, or so I hear. Created is the wrong word though, you're right.

He was the prototype for a pass rushing 3 technique tackle for a number of years. Probably a dozen teams were looking for the next Warren Sapp at one time.

by Jon Doe (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 4:58pm

Strahan is one of the greatest defensive ends to ever play the game. Year in, year out he was a force against the run and the pass.

He ended his 15 year career (14 as a starter) with 141.5 sacks. This sack total includes years with 22.5 (NFL record), 18, 15, and 14.

Did I mention he could play the run? 854 combined tackles during his career.

Intangibles? Team captain, leader of some great defenses, SuperBowl ring.

Strahan is not only HOF worthy, he's first ballot HOF worthy.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 10:50pm

Agreed. I can't even understand how there could be debate about this.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/04/2012 - 4:10am

It's insane, isn't it? It's like a point of honor with some fans to deny that obviously great, great, players are worthy of recognition of that status.

by Craig in NS (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 6:37pm

I'd complain about Modell before Mortensen, in terms of "you excluded a player (even a punter) for *that* guy?"

by MatMan :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 6:45pm


by Lance :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 7:17pm

The full list is:

Larry Allen, guard/tackle: 1994-2005 Dallas Cowboys, 2006-07 San Francisco 49ers

Morten Andersen, kicker: 1982-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000, 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings

Steve Atwater, safety: 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets

Jerome Bettis, running back: 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers

Tim Brown, wide receiver/kick returner: 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cris Carter, wide receiver: 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins

Don Coryell, coach: 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers

Roger Craig, running back: 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings

Terrell Davis, running back: 1995-2001 Denver Broncos

Edward DeBartolo, Jr., owner: 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers

Kevin Greene, linebacker/defensive end: 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers

Charles Haley, defensive end/linebacker: 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys

Joe Jacoby, offensive tackle: 1981-1993 Washington Redskins

Albert Lewis, cornerback: 1983-1993 Kansas City Chiefs, 1994-98 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders

John Lynch, free safety: 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos

Karl Mecklenburg, linebacker: 1983-1994 Denver Broncos

Art Modell, owner: 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2011 Baltimore Ravens

Jonathan Ogden, offensive tackle: 1996-2007 Baltimore Ravens

Bill Parcells, coach: 1983-1990 New York Giants, 1993-96 New England Patriots, 1997-99 New York Jets, 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys

Andre Reed, wide receiver: 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins

Warren Sapp, defensive tackle: 1995-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Oakland Raiders

Will Shields, guard: 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs

Michael Strahan, defensive end: 1993-2007 New York Giants

Paul Tagliabue, commissioner: 1989-2006 National Football League

Steve Tasker, special teams/wide receiver: 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills

Aeneas Williams, cornerback/safety: 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams

George Young, contributor: 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League

by BigCheese :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 2:20pm

While they really need to expand the number of people that go in each year, the five I'd put in fom that list are Carter, Ogden, Shields, Brown and Atwater. Which of course means, there's a better chance of the Vikings winning the Superbowl this year....

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 7:50am

I'd have no problem with any of those guys getting in, and Ogden would probably be the first name on my list, but I find it hard to put any of Brown, Carter and Atwater ahead of Allen, Strahan, Parcells, Sapp or Williams.

by Bobman :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 7:47pm

Cue my annual gripe about them expanding the HOF roster to match the expanded NFL. 5 guys might have made sense in 1970, but not in 2012. Then again, 5 might not have been enough annually in 1970 either. With so many positiona under-represented and RBs/QBs over-represented, linemen are just screwed. Add in the fact that the expanded offenses and extra games mean offensive records are broken all the time, so the next generation will look more and more sensational, how can you keep them out? You can't, so you vote them in and keep the deserving OGs and OTs out.

And then you take up valuable player space by voting on coaches, coordinators (Tom Moore better make it some day) and owners/GMs. They should have their own process for inclusion, without sucking up valuable player space on a ballot. /rant

by RickD :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 1:29pm


by Dean :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:20pm


by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 8:08pm

A tisker a tasker, what the hell is s. Tasker doing on lust? Guy too crapppy to play from scrimmage for any serious length of time. So he made some special teams tackles. K Osgood, B. Bates also great but you don't see anyone crying for them. Of course Osgood still in league. So pretend Osgood not mebtioned. Let's say instead of him earlier sentence had E. Shelley in it. Shelley superb special teams demon. Where is his support for hall of game?

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 8:15pm

T. Brown, Strahan, Culp and three or four othrrsn

by Insancipitory :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 8:34pm

C'mon man, even you gotta give it to Chris Carter over Tim Brown.

Strahan will go in on the basis of the sack record and New York. My gut tells me Sapp was more dominant at his peak. Larry Allen has his strongest player to ever play in the NFL rep. Shields was superdurable and an integral part of one of the most absurdly potent run games in my lifetime.

by Craig in NS (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 10:29pm

DYAR seems to like Tim Brown a bit more than Carter in the years I checked (and both of them a bit more than Andre Reed).

Also of note, I think, is the quality of other receivers on the team. The differential between Tim Brown and the next best WR on the Raiders (Jett, Ismail, Hobbs) for most of his seasons is pretty high compared to most of Carter's teams.

(As an aside, has there been a study of the most dominant DYAR years relative to the rest of the team's WRs?).

by Will Allen :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 11:43pm

DYAR underrates the value of dominating the red zone, and scoring touchdowns.

Brown and Carter both belong, and it isn't even debatable, unless you are one of the halfwits running or voting for the Ugly Yellow Blazer Sweepstakes.

by DragonPie (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 1:12am

I think both belong, but I do wish more defensive players made it.

by Arnie Herber (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:12am

I think Reed, Brown and Carter have a strong case to be in the Hall. As do Harrison, Owens, Moss, Wayne (assuming he hasn't already hit the 'cliff'); and perhaps Holt, Bruce and Jimmy Smith... which makes things tricky, particularly since lineman and defensive players are underrepresented, and I'm not sure the Hall can let in one or more WRs each year for the next decade.

In this case, I think it makes some sense to slow down a little, and wait until we get a sense of what numbers the current offensive explosion is going to lead to. 5 years from now, what will Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson's numbers look like? (And possibly Wayne's, Calvin Johnson's, Steve Smith's, Brandon Marshall's, Welker's.) Sure, many young players don't continue at the paces they start out with. But is there any real harm in, say, waiting for the end of the careers of people whose careers overlap with these candidates to give the HOF's voters some perspective? (The big decision to make is - let them in or not; whether thats in year 2 or year 10 of eligibility doesn't matter much in the end).

I was satisfied that Dawson, Roaf and Kennedy, all deserving candidates from less glamorous positions, were inducted in 2012. And I admit that want to hold some spots open for DB's, because it would be fun for me if Sharper and Woodson make it...

by Marko :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 12:16am

Chris Carter doesn't deserve to make it. He was a one hit wonder (The X-Files). Just like Cris Carter. All he did was catch touchdowns.

by abc123 (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 11:40am

I actually think Strahan is underrated, in part because of all the post playing career antics, many think of him as a funny talking head. But he got all those sacks prior to the Gints having a dominant line, he was absolutely the focus of the pass blocking. Underappreciated is that he set those records from the strong side, much more difficult as 1) it means you have to actually play the run on first and possibly second down and 2) the QB can see you coming (we know Bret Favre could!) . Strong side DE's with that type of production are the truly transcendent ones Reggie, Gino and really that's it most of the others were weak side guys. Finally, Strahan was actually excellent against the run and excellent at anchoring, he lost some weight later in his career to maintain his speed but continued to anchor well up until his second to last season. Finally, he only had 1 year at the end where he took plays off and paced himself, many HOF defenders have 2-3 of those seasons, you could certainly say that of Sapp - though the Raider scheme clearly didn't fit him.

by LionInAZ :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 3:02pm

Co-hosting a daytime talk show with Kelly Ripa lessens his acheivements in my mind.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 8:37pm

Also like L Allen, C Cater, Ogden, Sapp, Shields, and some others

by BlueStarDude :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 8:36pm

Allen, Ogden, and Sapp should be slam dunks (Sapp made 1st team AP all-pro 4x and was Defensive Player of the Year in 99). All DL with at least 4 1st all-pro to their credit are in the HoF, so Strahan will make it too though maybe not this year.

And Morten Andersen should get in! Well, he is my all-time favorite kicker (yes, I have one), so I'm way biased here.

And just for the annual fun of it:
Tim Brown (1) and Chris Carter (2) before talk of Andre Reed can really begin.

by andrew :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 9:24pm

I think Coryell definitely deserves in as an innovator.

I think Tags does as well but will not make it.

by Thok :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 9:29pm

Frankly, anybody who supports anything less than 20 of the semifinalists getting into the Hall of Fame is doing something wrong. I'd love to see the Hall of Fame just get over there dawdling and induct all 27 semifinalists (even though there are a couple people on the list who are merely Hall of Very Good.)

by Lance :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 11:56pm

I think the same thing. The NFL should just have some sort of Hall of Fame Jubilee and let all the qualified people in to undo the logjam and then go back to the HoF limits.

by Arnie Herber (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:36am

I also think some sort of jubilee idea - perhaps for the 100th anniversary - is a good idea. How can we start lobbying for this?

On a smaller note, I think the Pro Football Hall of Fame should do this, not the NFL - and letting in some deserving players who spent part of their careers in the NFL, like Herschel Walker and Sam Mills, could be part of this.

by RickD :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 1:32pm

I would like to see them take everybody on the list other than Tagliabue.

Seriously, what did he do?

OK, that's a bit much. But they should double the admission rate for a few years until they process the backlog. Fifty people per decade just isn't enough, esp. when some of the slots are being taken by old rich guys instead of actual players.

by JohnD (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 9:56pm

Any chance Clifton counts against Sapp?

by The Hypno-Toad :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 10:16pm

Man... I would absolutely love to see Karl Mecklenburg go in. The fact that he started (at least occasionally) at every position in the front seven seems special to me. It may not be, it might have been common once upon a time, but it seems like it would be hard to find another 13th round pick that did it in any era.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 11:50pm

These dummies could induct 10 guys a year for five years, and there would still be obviously deserving players left out. Hell, a great tackle, like Mike Kenn, can't even make the semis. What a complete joke.

by theslothook :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 1:26am

This year is highlighting a growing problem: There are just too many great candidates and too few slots. At first I thought Cris Carter would get in eventually, but now it doesn't seem likely. THere are going to be a few that don't make the cut this year and will be joining next years class which will possess its own near misses. This will compound over time with an entire generation of football legends sitting out in the cold.

For my mind though- The obvious slam dunks - Ogden, Allen, Sapp, shields, and strahan. I really feel like people are underrating just how awesome strahan was. Remember, this was back before the giants had amazing defensive line depth. It was essentially strahan in the role of jared allen and he was amazing. Also note, his sacks were largely build before the era of passing really took off and I suspect his adjusted sack rate would be even better than people realize.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 10:03am

I agree - those would be my 5 as well. And how cool would it be to have a class consisting entirely of linemen (at least as far as the modern era guys go)?

Oh, wait, bloody hell, forgot about Parcells. No, Shields, much as I love him and think he should be a slam dunk, should just have to wait a year.

by Karl Cuba :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 1:54pm

Where the F&*K is Bryant Young?

Sapp had about seven more sacks in one fewer year, however, Young had about a year wiped out due to injury. There is no question who was the better run defender.

But Sapp is going to get in because he made more probowls, which are entirely based on stats and hype. I hate the Hall, I hate its voters, I hate the probowl and I hate the probowl voters.

by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 2:23pm

B. Young greta player. Should be hall of famenr. As good or maybe better than Sapp.

by theslothook :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 4:17pm

Young will be the cris carter of this class- grossly under-appreciated who should be in but because of the recurring log jam, won't get in at least until the class as a few openings. Really a shame.

While we are at it, why the hell are sportswriters the one's that elect the hall of famers in the first place? Is it at all clear that sportswriters watch the proper detail and knowledge of the game? I suspect most do not. My all time favorite quote, from mike wilbon no less.

Question: does matt flynn's performance against the lions hurt Aaron Rodgers' chances for MVP?

Wilbon(And i'm giving you my best rendition of his quote) "Absolutely Tony, if I were an MVP voter and I use to be, he would fall to third behind Drew Brees and Maurice Jones Drew."

by Jerry :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 8:09pm

Who should select Hall of Famers?

When the football Hall started in the early '60s, writers were the group who had seen a lot of pro football, and the committee was probably full of guys who'd been watching since the end of WWII. (In that context, a Veterans Committee made sense for players from the early days. Now it's just another bite at the apple for guys who couldn't get enough votes, rightly or wrongly, the first time around.)

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 11:07pm

"Who should select Hall of Famers?"

On balance, I would be entirely happy to see a Hall of Fame selection process based on the principle of one man, one vote. Specifically, Jason Lisk should be the man; he should have the vote.

by vcs (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 1:21am

> why the hell are sportswriters the one's that elect the hall of famers in the first place?

In the first place, prior to Sunday Ticket, it was nearly impossible for anyone to watch most games. (Although some would mail each other VHS tapes.) Sportswriters were the only ones with a platform where they could argue that someone was dominating in their position in games nobody else reported on.

Furthermore, it was assumed that sportswriters had some 'inside' connection to a team, and could get the 'real' football knowledge. I'm thinking of Sid Hartman of Minneapolis ... half journalist ... half PR man. Or Peter King, who takes his licks around here, but he can certainly get Parcells' opinion on a player.

Certainly this Old Media bias is rather obsolete now, but that's not just an issue with the Football HOF, but society in general.

by masoch (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 9:14pm

Okay, I know I'm in the SUPER minority here, but:

The PFHoF is doing this EXACTLY right. By snubbing guys that deserve to get in, they are creating a LOT of discussion over players that generally just wouldn't get talked about that much. Compare it to Baseball... who *really* talks about how great Bruce Sutter, Gaylord Perry, or Billy Williams are? Sure, Mecklenburg, Craig, T. Brown, C. Carter, *insert favorite snub here*, et al. should probably be in, but then... WHO WOULD TALK ABOUT THEM?

Then, in 10 years or so, the PFHoF can create a Veteran's Committee, and start electing in some of the backlog, once furor over the snubs dies down. Everybody wins. Except the 95% of snubs that will die or suffer from mental illness before they're 60. But that's another argument ;).

by LionInAZ :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 3:12pm

You mean Gaylord Perry, the master of applying foreign substances to the ball?

by Arnie Herber (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:18am

But since baseball inducts fewer players, aren't they producing a larger pool of 'deserving candidates left out'? Jack Morris and Tim Raines sure have produced a lot of recent discussion, for instance.

So count me among the people who would like to see some sort of special election system - lets say from 2018-2020, to connect it to the centennial of the league - to allow some deserving candidates from throughout the last century be inducted.

Hopefully that special election could focus special attention on underrepresented positions, so we get a better sense of, for instance, what standards a safety is supposed to meet to reach the Hall.

(And also, Jerry Kramer, Jim Marshall and Ken Anderson could make it ;)

by An Onymous (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 1:14pm

Anyone who has ever voted for Steve Tasker based on the "he was the best at his position and every position deserves recognition" garbage should get immediately clubbed in the face with a golf club if they cannot provide proof that they have, at one point in their life, supported a long snapper for the Hall of Fame.

by BigCheese :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 3:18pm

I solemny swear i will support Patrick Mannely for the Hall the second he's ellegible.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Karl Cuba :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 8:18pm

No, Brian Jennings!

by An Onymous (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2012 - 1:15pm

Also, can someone please tell me what DeBartolo ever did besides be rich and hire Bill Walsh?

by vcs (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 2:13am

Paid players under the table to avoid the salary cap? Bribed public officials to further his gambling endeavors?

Considering he was essentially banned from the league, it's ridiculous this guy was even nominated.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/03/2012 - 11:18am

"Paid players under the table to avoid the salary cap?"

Really, when? I must have missed that one.