Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Nov 2017

2018 Hall of Fame Semifinalists Announced

On Tuesday night, the Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed the list of 27 modern-era semifinalists for the class of 2018. First-time eligible players include Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Ronde Barber, Steve Hutchinson, and Richard Seymour. These were the six players I highlighted in August's predictions. Other first-time semifinalists include Leroy Butler, Everson Walls, Leslie O'Neal, and Simeon Rice.

There are a few surprising names there. Safeties have been underrepresented for a long time, and Butler certainly seemed deserving. O'Neal and Rice had the big sack totals, but haven't gained any traction until now. Walls is in his final year of eligibility, so that's probably why he is on the list. Roger Craig is also in his final year of eligibility before he becomes a senior candidate.

I tried predicting the 25 semifinalists -- 27 were chosen due to ties -- for the first time, and ended up getting 23 right. Darren Woodson and Mike Kenn were left out this year, so voters seem to be favoring Butler over Woodson. That feels right when you weigh individual accolades over rings.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 21 Nov 2017

68 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2017, 10:21am by ZDNeal


by PaddyPat :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 1:54am

Who are peoples' picks from this list?

I would favor Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Steve Hutchinson, Kevin Mawae, and probably Brian Dawkins.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 4:20am

Lewis, Moss, Urlacher, Barber, Dawkins.

by David :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 4:34am

Not necessarily this year, but I favour the following as HoF worthy:

Ronde Barber
Steve Hutchinson
Ray Lewis
Randy Moss
Terrell Owens
Brian Urlacher

I know I'm a small hall kinda guy, but that's a short, short list...

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 10:51pm

Add Coryell and T.O. and I'm with you

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 12/04/2017 - 10:21am

Calling him Terrell Owens wasn't sufficient?

by MC2 :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 6:02am

If I had a vote, my picks would be:

Atwater*, Lewis, Moss, Owens**, and Urlacher.

*Dawkins might be a little more deserving, but Atwater has been waiting a lot longer, and is running out of time.

**If the voters don't want to put two WRs in together, I'd make TO wait another year, and go with Faneca instead.

by jtr :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 9:02am

I think Lewis, Moss, and Urlacher pretty much have to be first ballot guys, so that only leaves two spots for everyone else to fight over. I really wish they would expand it beyond five players per year, so that the question would actually be "which of these players belongs in the Hall of Fame?" Right now the question is "which five of these players is even more worthy than the rest?"

by andrew :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 11:09am

Owens shoulda gone last year so we don't have to have the stupid two WR issue. He shouldn't have to wait 3.

But Moss is a first ballot HOF if there ever is such a thing.

Lewis as well.

I think its crazy that Don Coryell isn't in already, he had a huge impact on the evolution of football and passing offenses. Among the coaches that learned from his offense are Bill Walsh, John Madden, Joe Gibbs, Ernie Zampese (who then passed it on to Mike Martz and Norv Turner)..

I think Roger Craig absolutely deserves to be in there. He's the first 1000/1000 back, and was probably the iconic west coast running back. He was the next step after say Chuck Foreman.

for the fifth I'd go either Barber or Dawkins.

by Richie :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 7:05pm

I think Coryell is probably a HOFer, but he would be the first coach to never reach the championship game in his league. He would be just the 4th coach to never win a championship. Bud Grant, Marv Levy and George Allen were the others. And then, John Madden, Tony Dungey and Sid Gillman are the only 3 to win fewer than 2 championships.

So 17 of the 23 (74%) of the HOF coaches have won multiple championships. Of course, it was a little easier for guys like Guy Chamberlin to win championships in 20-team leagues where franchises were folding mid-season.

by andrew :: Fri, 11/24/2017 - 10:39am

Technically Grant did win a championship, albeit it doesn't feel like one.

Technically there is one other one championship coach HOF member, Mike Ditka, but he was elected as a player.

If we use the multiple championships benchmark, of active coaches only one applies (Bill Bellichick). The rest who have won once as a HC have only one once, John Harbaugh, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin and Pete Carroll. Even going back to the start of the century with since retired coaches, Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren, Tony Dungy, John Gruden, Brian Billick, Dick Vermail each have only one as well, though Dungy won as a player.

Last coach other than Bellichick to win two superbowls was Mike Shanahan, and then Jimmy Johnson, George Siefert... and Tom Flores. Which pretty much merges us with the ones who are already in the HOF. I haven't noticed any serious push to get Siefert or Flores in, Siefert gets no credit as they assume he just continued what Bill Walsh bet (never mind the long list of coaches that follow championship coaches who fail miserably), and Flores, dunno, he won two but seems he was still in Madden and Davis' shadows. Actually I cannot find a good reason why Tom Flores is not in the Hall of Fame.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 11/24/2017 - 2:48pm

I'm doubtful Flores ever gets in when you look at his 2-14, 6-10, 6-10 three year stint in Seattle. He took over from Chuck Knox who'd been posting Jeff Fisher-like 7-9, 9-7 records.

George Seifert, on the other hand, had the best career winning percentage until his final 1-15 season. His three years at Carolina were mediocre at best (8-8, 7-9, 1-15) but he also took on GM duties so perhaps that blunted some of his coaching effectiveness. Under Walsh he was the 49ers defensive co-ordinator from 1983-88 and while Walsh was responsible for the WestCoastOffense, those defenses were very good. I think it's just really hard to put in a coach who didn't do well 2nd time around.

Jimmy Johnson obviously had a great tenure in Dallas and then four years that Dolphins fans would probably take today (8-8, 9-7, 10-6, 9-7). I doubt he ever makes the HoF though because his overall career was too short and not dominant enough. Think if he'd coach a 3rd team successfully he might be in with a shout.

by andrew :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 12:12am

Jimmy Johnson was a legend replacer, he followed Tom Landry (and only gained forgiveness for winning superbowls) and then Don Shula. Pretty sure that is the most wins replaced by a coach in two stops. The lingering memory of Johnson's Miami days is of Marino winding down, ending in that 63-7 loss to the Jaguars where the sprinklers drenched the team. The perception in Miami

Not many coaches do great at two stops. Vince Lombardi is lauded as getting the Redskins to a winning record but they were not a playoff team. Don Shula, Bill Billichick etc are all HOF but would have been from their second stop alone.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 9:03pm

If Coryell is elected, he would if memory serves be the first HoF coach who never got to a championship game. And his defenses were usually as bad as his offenses were good. But I think one can make the case that he did really well with what were arguably the two worst run franchises at the time. His best argument is probably as a Contributor, for Air Coryell and such.

I’m okay with him getting in, though I’m not sure it would be a travesty if he never did.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 10:33am

Coryell, Lewis Moss, Atwater, and a lineman

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 11:42am

My yes or no for these guys. if anyobody cares for why I say yes or no on any particular guy,w ill be happy to share my opinion later

Steve Atwater- no
Ronde Barber- yes
Tony Boselli- no
Isaac Bruce- yes
LeRoy Butler- no
Don Coryell- yes
Roger Craig- no
Brian Dawkins- yes
Alan Faneca- yes
Torry Holt- yes
Steve Hutchinson- no
Joe Jacoby- yes
Edgerrin James- yes
Jimmy Johnson- no
Ty Law- yes
Ray Lewis- yhes
John Lynch- no
Kevin Mawae- yes
Karl Mecklenburg- no
Randy Moss- yes
Leslie O’Neal- no
Terrell Owens- yes
Simeon Rice- no
Richard Seymour- no
Brian Urlacher- yes
Everson Walls- no
Hines Ward- no

with soemm of these guys can be willing toc hange vote based on good argum,ent. ward and Hutchinson are two such gusy. some tohers are oppiosite of this such as bruce and jacoby and james.
others I am a hard no or yes on

by Guest789 :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 12:29pm

I'd be curious to hear why you're a hard no on Butler. I'm a biased Packers fan, but I'm open to being convinced.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 2:06pm

am not a hard no on l. butler. did nto do great job of explaning earlier. was trying to say am hard no on some of the guys and wishy washy no on others. Butler is in latter group. I can be argued in to saying Yes to L. Butler. will comment on butler tonight. pressed for time right now

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 2:11pm

my error=-
"with soemm of these guys can be willing toc hange vote based on good argum,ent. ward and Hutchinson are two such gusy. some tohers are oppiosite of this such as bruce and jacoby and james.
others I am a hard no or yes on"

should havbe read "some others I am a hard no or yes on"

was trying to indicate-
ward and Hutchinson are 2 guys in non-hard no category along with some others which would include Butler

bruce, jacoby, james- not solid yes on them. can be influence d by a strong argum,ent against them along with some others

should have done from start four categories-
no (E. walls definitely here)

no but could chan ge to yes based on good argument (H. ward)

yes buyt copuld change to no based on good argument (Bruce)

yes (Ray Lewis)

will do my original lsit later this afternoon in this way and then tongith will comment on indivisual players if any interest. will certainly share opinion on Leroy butler tonight

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 4:36pm

my list fixed to show guys who are "definite no" and "clear yes" in ym book-

if guy is simply "no" or "yes" it means I could swing other way base d on good arguments.

Note: noen of these players are junk. so even a "definite no" should nto mean I am slighting the player. not everybody can be in the Pro FGootball Hall of Fame.

Steve Atwater- no
Ronde Barber- yes
Tony Boselli- no
Isaac Bruce- yes
LeRoy Butler- no
Don Coryell- yes
Roger Craig- definite no
Brian Dawkins- clear yes
Alan Faneca- clear yes
Torry Holt- yes
Steve Hutchinson- no
Joe Jacoby- yes
Edgerrin James- yes
Jimmy Johnson- no
Ty Law- yes
Ray Lewis- clear yes
John Lynch- no
Kevin Mawae- clear yes
Karl Mecklenburg- no
Randy Moss- clear yes
Leslie O’Neal- definite no
Terrell Owens- clear yes
Simeon Rice- definite no
Richard Seymour- no
Brian Urlacher- yes
Everson Walls- definite no
Hines Ward- no

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 12:57pm

OK Why Dawkins in but Butler out? Dawkins had a longer career (no career ending injury with good years ahead) but Butler still played in 181 games, Dawkins 224 so 2.5 seasons of games, though it was 12 seasons vs 16 seasons. Butler also started all 16 games in 8 seasons (and played in all in another) vs 6 seasons for Dawkins. Despite that they both had 4 all pro's. They both were on an all decade teams (90's for Butler 00's for Dawkins). Dawkins did have more pro bowls but I think Butler was perpetually underrated and the Pro Bowl has that flaw. Dawkins has more career AV, but never had a single season in the top 10, Butler has two. With the flaws that AV has. PFR doesn't have pass defensed stats prior to 2001 so I don't really know where Butler is with that. But he was a game changing safety and the Packers struggled until they got Collins in 2005 after Butler went down.

I just don't see why Dawkins is a hard yes and Butler a hard no when they have very similar profiles. Maybe my longevity standard is different. For me it's a floor and 12 years with very few games missed (4 games in 2 seasons prior to missing 7 after the career ender) meets that floor. After that longevity points don't count as much. Is it that Dawkins had a higher floor of play, when healthy, than Butler? I'd buy that, but I'd also argue his ceiling was lower. So I guess less variance, but I also don't think their floors and ceilings were that different.

I could also add that he invented the Lambeau Leap and while people may hate it, that's a pretty famous thing. Not that it really should be considered.

I've always enjoyed your insight so I went a little more in depth since I figured you'd rate them pretty similarly for hall worthiness.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 1:40pm

Much like being a Laker or a Celtic or a Steeler, I mentally deduct a few HOF points from Packers players. The Lambeau narrative has polished too many turds.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 2:24pm

I do not disagree with this, they have several underwhelming members. Though I'm not sure it's had as much effect in the last couple of decades. Favre, Rodgers, White, Butler, and Woodson are the only players in the recent run of sustained success that come to mind as Hall worthy. I'll entertain the peak argument for Sharpe, I've even put it forward, but I'm ok with him not being in. Ron Wolf is deserving as a non player, but that's about it. People bring up Holmgren at times, but I don't agree there either.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 11/23/2017 - 12:51am

Holmgren has a good case.

Two SB wins, one as OC and one as HC. Took two teams to Super Bowls.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 11/23/2017 - 5:18am

I personally think the bar should be pretty high for coaches, and feel pretty comfortable saying it's over Holmgren's head.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 10:58pm

That's okay, at least he has the walrus hall of fame to fall back on

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 11/23/2017 - 1:24am

Butler did have over 30 interctrpions and 20 sacks (only a handful of guys to accomplish that), has a super bowl championship and four seasons with some sort of all-nfl selection. I thought his play had dropped after 1998. He was really good first year b. Favre started whole season which was 1993. Then Butler was okay in 1994. then seemed to get back to 1993 level in 1995 and then became a real name in league and also upped level of play in super bowl cjampionship season. so I have 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 being hall fo fame type seasons. rest of career- rookie year whe n he was a backup, 1991 and 1992, 1994, 1999, 2000. and 2001 where he played half season before injury. He has enough "hall of fame" seasons but do not feell he is obvious Hall of Famer. a lot of this is believ e Johnny Robinson, eddie meador, deron cherry, maybe Dave Grayson (although bulk of career was at cornerback), are older safeties with compelling Hall cases and they are still not in. would prefer to see at least robinson and cherry in first and then wodul be more open to Butler.

Dawkins was more impactful from the start and maybe his peaks were as high as Butler's btu did feel Dawkins was good at getting the ball anmd blitzing too and playing the run just like Butler. but overall I just feel dawkins was a tick better.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 1:41pm

Agree almost entirely on this list; only exceptions is I'm not sold on Edgerrin James (can be one of the starting backs in the Hall of Very Good along with Fred Taylor), and I'm essentially equivalently ambivalent on Isaac Bruce and Hines Ward; don't really care either way on either.

I'd also lean towards Hutchinson as a yes, as he was really good for a long time.

by Megamanic :: Thu, 11/23/2017 - 1:02am

Surprised you're not giving a yes for Leslie O'Neil. He's #13 all-time in sacks - tied with Lawrence Taylor, the only people with more sacks than him NOT in the HOF aren't eligible yet. Also he missed one and a half seasons in his first three years, without that knee injury heaven knows how many sacks he'd have racked up.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 11/23/2017 - 1:31am

found O'Neal to be a little too one-dimensional. would say yes to him if could find some data or other info on him that might show he was high quality vs the run .

by NYChem :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 12:21pm

Moss and Lewis - no doubt.
Urlacher - well, they may not want 3 first ballotters and he would be in third. make him wait.
i think 3 of these 6 rounds it out this year - Mawae, Faneca, Jacoby, Barber, Owens, Dawkins. Owens would make it 2 receivers, but no reason not to clear him out now when there are a slew coming on board soon enough.
Personally as a Steelers fan I would love to see Ward make it in some day, one of my all time fave guys for hustle, blocking, tough and timely catches (but not announcing/commentating...), but I don't see him worthy over the 9 guys i mentioned above, and Holt, if not Bruce, makes it in before him as well.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 1:41pm

Urlacher and Owens have similar problems.

Each were the second best at their position in their career. But the guys who were first are on the ballot this year.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 11:04pm

I'm sorry Brian, you can't get in this year because it would offend some old people's sense of control and proprietary in the world. You understand that right? You're a football player, not a person. And don't you forget it or you get the Kaepernick treatment

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 1:46pm

If Randy Moss and Ray Lewis aren't first-ballot HOF players, who the hell is? Those two should be the simplest non-QB locks there are.

I would hope this is the year T.O. being an asshat stops keeping T.O. the great WR out of the hall. I would hate having dinner with T.O. but anybody who says they wouldn't have wanted peak T.O. on their team is either lying or bad enough at their job they should be working for the Browns.

Seeing all the love for Ronde Barber warms my blackened heart; the whole "CBs only exist to play single man coverage" crap annoys me, and Barber's got a solid argument as the best zone corner ever, the best blitzing corner ever, and one of the best all-around corners ever. Ronde in the Hall has been one of my football binkies for years, and, while I don't expect it to happen this year, I'm looking forward to it when it finally does happen.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 8:35pm

I think Ray Lewis will be first ballot. But my guess is that despite his first ballot level talent, they’ll make Moss wait a year because of his quitting on the Raiders and not always giving his best effort.

by RickD :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 3:46pm

I'm really looking forward to writers explain why the favor Ray Lewis over TO for "character issues".

TO should be in already.
Lewis and Moss should be in ASAP.

Lots of other good players should be inducted. The HoF induction rate is too small for a 32-team NFL. It hasn't changed since the 1960s.

by Richie :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 7:16pm

Refresh my memory: does Lewis have any character issues aside from the manslaughter accusation that I think he was acquitted of? Other than that, I think he's a guy who is famous for leading post-game prayers and visiting sick kids, etc.

I don't think TO has ever done anything actually bad to other humans, but he was a me-first guy who may have had issues with teammates. But it was a career-long thing, not just a "bad night" thing, like Lewis. And I don't think Owens did much "good" stuff to change the perception.

Anyway, I think Owens and Lewis should be first-ballot HOFers. Ridiculous they didn't put Owens in last year. I'm not convinced that Moss was better than Owens. But I am pretty sure they are both behind Rice and ahead of everybody else.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 8:34pm

"Refresh my memory: does Lewis have any character issues aside from the manslaughter accusation that I think he was acquitted of? Other than that,"

"Other than that, how was the play Mrs Lincoln?"

Frankly, his "leadership" seemed to be more about grandstanding and ensuring he was always front and centre on TV than anything else.

by jtr :: Thu, 11/23/2017 - 9:16am

Joe Flacco once said that he didn't understand what Ray was talking about half the time. Totally agree that he's all grandstanding and no substance.

by jonnyblazin :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 11:15am

"Joe Flacco once said that he didn't understand what Ray was talking about half the time. Totally agree that he's all grandstanding and no substance."

Well since Lewis retired the Ravens barely made the playoffs once vs. 5 years in a row. I know FO does not like to talk about leadership, but comments like this just demonstrate sheer ignorance.

Ray Lewis in many ways functioned as a coach on the team. Why did the Ravens have such good defense against no-huddle offenses? He a DC on the field. Late game defense has completely collapsed for the Ravens since 2012.

Anyone who commented that Ray Lewis is a "selfish" player is completely wrong, perhaps you haven't watched football since 2003. Ray Lewis was always an incredibly galvanizing force, even if you don't buy the rah rah stuff, the time he spent studying, training, and communicating what he learned to his teammates was invaluable.

by jtr :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 1:10pm


That's straight from Flacco's mouth. Perhaps Joe needs to follow the Ravens more closely before he opens his mouth next time.

by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 2:47pm

I took that Flacoo comment to be joke thing as in "Ray's lou d and outrageous anmd I can't figure what he is saying sometimes" rather than "he is like some rambling drunk smelly homeless guy and I can't wait till he rteries"

by Duff Soviet Union :: Sun, 11/26/2017 - 3:03am

"Well since Lewis retired the Ravens barely made the playoffs once vs. 5 years in a row. I know FO does not like to talk about leadership, but comments like this just demonstrate sheer ignorance."

The Ravens have had a top 10 defense every year since Lewis retired. Meanwhile, here are their offensive DVOA rankings by year from 2013 - 2017: 30, 9, 20, 24, 29.

Yeah, I think there are other causes besides the missing leadership of the spotlight strumpet.

by jonnyblazin :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 11:17am

"Frankly, his "leadership" seemed to be more about grandstanding and ensuring he was always front and centre on TV than anything else."

Utter ignorance. How closely did you follow the Ravens? I can't imagine very closely.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 11:15pm

"Yeah but Ray was only a defender. Everyone knows the QB is the most important and smartest--that's me, the quarterback. The middle linebacker is the one who hands me the ball through the legs I think."

Joe Flacco

by MC2 :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 8:49pm

Lewis may have done more charitable deeds than Owens, but if I had to be stuck in an elevator with one of them, I think I'd take TO. Lewis is just insufferably pompous. I bet if you asked him what the weather was like outside, he'd respond with a twenty minute sermon with, at best, a tangential connection to the weather -- something like the importance of persevering under adverse conditions, complete with multiple self-aggrandizing anecdotes. Owens and Lewis are both braggarts, but at least TO doesn't pretend to be anything else, while Lewis masquerades as some sort of benevolent sage.

by JMM :: Fri, 11/24/2017 - 12:15pm

I recall an NFL films program that compared 3 teams as candidates for the "best defense ever." It had interviews with (I think) Mel Blount representing the 1978 Steelers, Mike Singletary representing the 1986 Bears and Ray Lewis representing the 2000 Ravens. The most remarkable part of the show was the different and consistent choice of pronoun used by the three interviewees. The Steeler ALWAYS said "they" when he talked about the success of the defense. Mike Singletary ALWAYS said "we" when talking about the success of the defense. Ray Lewis ALWAYS said "I" when talking about the success of the defense. No recognition at all of the importance of the other players on the field.

That is the only argument I have against Lewis. I understand it is not a disqualifier for induction to the HOF.

by jtr :: Fri, 11/24/2017 - 12:24pm

Lewis is both totally insufferable and one of the best linebackers in history. The second point is obviously going to prevail here.

by RickD :: Sun, 11/26/2017 - 1:27am

"Refresh my memory: does Lewis have any character issues aside from the manslaughter accusation that I think he was acquitted of?"


He wasn't acquitted of manslaughter. He made a plea bargain whereby he pled guilty to obstruction of justice. He also testified against his two co-defendants (Oakley and Sweeting), who ended up getting acquitted, based on a defense 'self-defense'.

IMO, TO has never done anything close to the level of obstructing justice in a murder investigation.

Of course, Marvin Harrison was inducted, and history is even more dubious.

Look, I'm fine with the instruction that only on-field actions should be considered. But clearly that's not what went on with TO last year.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 8:38pm

In theory, there is no character clause for PFHoF consideration, or so say the Hall’s bylaws. In practice, it does seem to be a factor for players who are deserving but not top level talents (Jim Tyler, Alex Karras, Darren Sharper). It’s not supposed to, though.

by MC2 :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 8:52pm

I've always wondered what they would have done about OJ Simpson if the murder trial had taken place before he was eligible for induction.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 11/23/2017 - 12:54am

I guess we'll find out when Hernandez becomes eligible.

by Cythammer :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 2:46am

Aaron Hernandez isn't anything close to being a HOFer though, so I don't see how it would really be an issue.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 9:07pm

Sorry, that should be “Jim Tyrer.” Damn autocorrect.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 11/22/2017 - 8:56pm

A few surprises here, mostly all at the bottom end of the group. I’d sooner see Sterling Sharpe, Mike Kenn, Darren Woodson, and Zach Thomas here rather than Everson Walls, Leslie O’Neal, Simeon Rice, and Hines Ward.

Walls likely got this far because it’s his last eligible year and he has a fair number of lifetime INTs. His honors are kind of meager at 3/4/none, though, and he reportedly doesn’t look too hot in film study. My understanding is that he got a decent number of INTs because he was thrown on a lot.

O’Neal and Rice are the two eligible players with the most number of career sacks, which is why they likely got this far.

Besides Walls, it’s also the last shot for Jacoby and Craig. The only one who probably has a chance of being elected is Jacoby, though he took a step back last year when he was among the first five cuts while Boselli and Mawae leapfrogged him.

I’m actually fine with most of these folks getting in sooner or later. Not especially taken with Walls, O’Neal, Rice, Ward and am lukewarm on Craig, Jacoby, and Johnson.

Kenn was always a long shot, but his not making the semis in his next to last year likely means the end of his regular candidacy. Sharpe is also running out of time as well. Woodson and Thomas fortunately have several eligible years left. They’ll likely need them.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 11/23/2017 - 5:26am

Rice is a pretty interesting one.

Chase Stuart has made a pretty good that his sack numbers are actually even better than they look as he didn't have many "hang around" seasons and he played on teams that, for various reasons, faced very few pass attempts while playing in an era where sack rates were decreasing.

by BywaterBrat :: Fri, 11/24/2017 - 10:58am

Here is my take, I am only 35 so although I watched football throughout the 90s I can't say I was the most sophisticated viewer and like all of us then just had to watch what was on TV and feel like Madden may have had as much of an influence on my lasting impressions as real life:

Ronde Barber
Tony Boselli
Brian Dawkins
Steve Hutchinson
Alan Faneca
Ty Law
Kevin Mawae

Isaac Bruce
LeRoy Butler
Steve Atwater
Torry Holt
Joe Jacoby
Edgerrin James
Jimmy Johnson
John Lynch
Simeon Rice

Don Coryell
Roger Craig
Richard Seymour
Hines Ward

Ray Lewis
Randy Moss
Terrell Owens
Brian Urlacher

Karl Mecklenburg
Leslie O’Neal
Everson Walls

by big10freak :: Fri, 11/24/2017 - 3:20pm

Obviously biased but I think Butler is a very underrated player. He was easily the best overall defensive player on the Packers of the 90's. (Butler wasn't taking plays off like Reggie in 97/98)

He retired early because his shoulder injury wasn't healing properly, and per his own words he didn't want to take up space waiting on the shoulder to get better. Butler had been his usual reliable self prior to the injury so if he had not retired most likely could have played 3-4 more productive seasons especially alongside a developing Darren Sharper.

Packers DC Fritz Shurmur talked about how Butler made it possible for Shurmur employ all kinds of odd combinations as Butler could cover as a cornerback (he had played his rookie season at corner) but could run defend with anyone. His speed was something often overlooked but every Packer fan remembers Butler running down Viking rb Robert Smith from behind in an early season game in 1997. As a quick refresher Smith was a speed back. He broke free and looked GONE. Butler came out of nowhere to trip up Smith after 50 yards and that tackle was huge as the Packers held MN to a 22 yard field goal try which was missed. GB won the game 38-32.

And it was Butler in the latter part of 1999 talking about disorganized GB was on the field with the nadir being the Carolina game GB lost 33-31 with Patrick Jeffers (??) catching 8 passes for 147 yards. Ray Rhodes was replaced after the season.

As the 1996 GB defense is considered one of the best defenses of the past several decades I think it's best player merits serious consideration for HOF induction given the breadth of his career

//biased Packer fan

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 11/25/2017 - 11:21pm

Can a HoF finalist really be underrated?

by Duff Soviet Union :: Sun, 11/26/2017 - 4:48am

It's definitely possible. Hell, I'd say Simeon Rice qualifies as such. Whether Butler does, I couldn't really say as I didn't see too much of him during his time.

by big10freak :: Sun, 11/26/2017 - 6:13pm

Butler certainly is never mentioned by announcers as a reference point on great safety play. Now maybe that's a point against him. But given his body of work one would think he would merit at least a sentence. When the Packers of the 90's are discussed the players mentioned are Favre, Reggie and the smattering of Desmond Howard, Mark Chmura, Dorsey Levens and Antonio Freeman. Nary a whisper of Butler. I got into it via email with 'Dr Z' who acknowledged that yes Butler was likely the best safety for a while, was the best overall defensive player on the good Packer teams, was a leader of the team but no not a HOF. His rationale was straight out of the sportswriters he would mock, Butler didn't feel like a Hall of Fame player.

Anyway, you asked so I worked to explain

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 11/27/2017 - 8:13am

Looking at the 1996 Packers is quite interesting. They're widely regarded as one of the best teams of all time, but outside of Favre and Reggie, their roster really doesn't look *that* impressive. They only had four Pro Bowlers (Favre, Reggie, Butler and Frank Winters) and three guys who merit any sort of HOF consideration. Maybe their an example of how absence of weakness is just as important as the presence of strength.

by BJR :: Tue, 11/28/2017 - 3:24pm

People will look back at recent Patriots squads similarly. Brady, Gronk and who?? Nobody else is sniffing the HOF

by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Mon, 11/27/2017 - 1:48pm

There are just so many players more deserving of the semifinalist list than Hines Ward. He just doesn't belong anywhere near this thing.

by Richie :: Mon, 11/27/2017 - 3:38pm

But he's a great blocker!

I don't even know who the second-best blocking WR is.

by MC2 :: Mon, 11/27/2017 - 8:49pm

I don't know about 2nd-best, but I remember Keyshawn Johnson was always regarded as a great blocking WR.

In any case, I don't really have a problem with Ward being a semifinalist, but I will have a problem if/when he's actually inducted, especially with so many other WRs that probably won't get in, despite having much better credentials.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 11/28/2017 - 5:04am

Ward wouldn't even be the worst Steelers wideout in the Hall if he ever makes it.

by BJR :: Tue, 11/28/2017 - 1:42pm

And Antonio Brown would retire tomorrow as comfortably the best Steelers receiver of all time

by jgibson_hmc95 :: Tue, 11/28/2017 - 4:55pm

Come on, Atwater! 8 time Pro Bowler, 2 time All Pro, a member of the 1990s All Decade Team.