Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Jan 2018

2018 Hall of Fame Finalists Announced

On Tuesday night, the 15 modern-era finalists for the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class were announced. I was able to predict 13 of the 15 finalists back in August, only missing on Everson Walls and Issac Bruce. Walls is in his final year of eligibility.

The five inductees will be announced on the day before the Super Bowl in February. My picks were John Lynch, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Kevin Mawae, and Terrell Owens.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 02 Jan 2018

98 comments, Last at 07 Jan 2018, 7:08pm by amin purshottam


by MC2 :: Tue, 01/02/2018 - 10:04pm

My original choices for induction were Atwater, Lewis, Moss, Owens, and Urlacher.

Since Atwater didn't make the cut, I'll go with Dawkins.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 01/02/2018 - 10:25pm

notp making predecitions beucuase I don't understand these voter people.

so will instead just list the five of this group who woul;d be joiiningg pro football halld of fame if I was guy in charge-


by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 8:16pm

I might go Hutchinson over Mawae, but no strong feelings either way. Lewis and Moss should be easy, Owens should have been easy a few years ago, and Dawkins was great. Also, even though I'm a Bucs fan, the only way John Lynch gets into the Hall of Fame is by buying a ticket.

by andrew :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:36am

Does his role in the poison pill contract help or hurt his case? It was kind of a dick move, but it was also part of history, before the NFL shut it down and made it a footnote. It also resulted in the revenge signing of Nate Burleson.

by ZDNeal :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:49am

The self inflicted salt in the wound Nate Burleson signing.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/02/2018 - 10:43pm

What, they aren't going to induct Dan Snyder this year? Jim Irsay? Robert Irsay?

by Scott P. :: Tue, 01/02/2018 - 11:11pm

Supposedly they are, but that's just Irsay.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 01/02/2018 - 11:26pm

Holy crap that was amazing... and terrible... all at the same time.

by RobotBoy :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 12:14am

A pun worthy of Deadspin.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 2:18am

No way in hell would I go Lynch before Dawkins. Just no way.

Glad there are no QB's so other positions can get a fair go.

I'd go Lewis, Urlacher, Moss, Dawkins and Owens.

by deflated :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 2:34am

Lynch and Dawkins and no Atwater. Sorry, wrong order - Atwater then Dawkins with Lynch a distant third.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:34am

Wait Don Coryell isn't in the HOF or even a finalist?

by apk3000 :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 8:31am

I assume its all about the ringz argument, because there can't be another reason he isn't in already.

by RickD :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 11:52am

Only 3 playoff wins in his career. Consider that Tom Flores has 2 rings and is on the outside looking in.

by Steve B :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:51pm

From a 'bottom line' perspective, there's a number of HC's with cases as good or better than Coryell. Just looking at one who was also a peer of his, what about Chuck Knox?

by theslothook :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:37am

I'd would be a travesty if Lewis' induction means Urlacher has to wait. Both were special players. Urlacher the better coverage lb in a coverage based era.

Also, if they are going to play the lockeroom is fair game card with To, then Moss deserves to wait too

by Pat :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 1:30pm

Making Moss wait a year to get an additional safety in (e.g. Lynch and Dawkins) makes a ton of sense. Moss isn't a first-ballot Hall of Famer by the weird HOF WR standards - he wasn't Rice, and even Largent doesn't have the equivalent of the Oakland years against him.

And the argument that you put Moss in because you're trying to fix the HOF WR problem doesn't stack up when you've got a *bigger* problem at safety.

by andrew :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 2:02pm

I would be stunned if Moss is not in first ballot. My only question is does he get more votes than Lewis.

Then again, they let Jerry Jones and Eddie deBartolo in, so what do I know?

by Steve B :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:59pm

I wouldn't. They could easily use him quitting on the Raiders + T.O. waiting longer as justification. I don't think both get in on the same ballot.

by amin purshottam :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 7:46pm

Seriously? Moss is a hundred times better (so is TO) than Marvin Harrison could ever be. Even in his dreams.

by jgibson_hmc95 :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:43am

Owens should have been in, and they made him wait when Harrison got in. I suspect that Moss will have to wait for Owens. So Owens this year, Moss next year.

by RickD :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 3:47pm

And Harrison has much, much worse character issues than either TO or Moss. But they didn't happen on TV, so the fans don't care.

by jtr :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 3:56pm

Same with Ray Lewis. Both were implicated, but not convicted, in incidents that left people dead. But it doesn't count as a "character concern" in the NFL as long as you aren't disruptive in practice.

by amin purshottam :: Sun, 01/07/2018 - 6:55pm

Agreed. Lewis had his buds take the fall. Someone was murdered there and he gets away Scott free. As to TO and Moss, imagine TO’s stats if he was catching passes from Young for 10 minutes plus years. Same with Moss and Brady. Harrison was pretty much invisible in every play off game. No way should have gotten in before Moss or TO.

by Steve B :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:46pm

Considering that one of the Senior noms (Brazile) is also a LBer, there's a very good chance that Urlacher has to wait. I don't think that would be a travesty. He was great in coverage, but so so at times vs. the run and pretty much everybody considers Lewis to be the better of the two overall.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 8:11pm

Ray Lewis was an utterly great player in all phases and had a great, very long career, and is as deserving of HOF first ballot induction as anyone. Brian Urlacher was a really good linebacker who deserves to get into the HOF at some point. I don't think Urlacher is in the same category as Lewis, but very few people are.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:55am

I think the gap between Lewis and Urlacher was smaller than most people think and they should both be first ballot guys. The Bears defence in Urlacher's time was always very good - great and Urlacher was always the guy. They haven't been any good since, and I don't think that's a coincidence. In fact, their decline towards the end of 2012 was pretty much due to Urlacher hitting the wall.

I don't know why people don't recognise his greatness more. He's had a couple of memorable "bad" moments (getting trucked by Bettis, juked by Brady) but that happens to everyone from time to time.

I think the main reason is that he was more of a coverage guy than a great tackler, so he gets the "soft" label a bit. I remember Doctor Z naming him to his All-Pro team one year.... while spending the entire blurb criticising him. That pretty much sums up the expectations people had for the guy.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 5:01am

Yeah I think his weaknesses are being way oversold and he's gotten a reputation as some kind of third down specialist. It's like people forget that the bears had a terrific run defense or how Lewis wasn't playing behind some terrific defensive linemen. I think the difference in legacy seems to be more based on effective marketing and personality than anything substantive.

He was also a terrific Blitzer and the Tampa 2 rested on his prodigious deep coverage skills. There are only a few lbs you could ask to do that.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 5:15am

I'd say the main difference is the Super Bowl wins for Lewis, in addition to the marketing. He also was a better player with a higher peak, but not by much. Lewis is a real candidate for best inside / middle linebacker ever and Urlacher's almost certainly in the top 10.

Another reason is probably the Bears amazing history of great players who played Urlacher's position. Singletary, Butkus and Bill George are all probably in the top 10 middle linebackers ever.

by jtr :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:03am

In terms of awards, Lewis has got Urlacher almost doubled:
13 Pro Bowls compared to 8
7 first-team All Pro compared to 4
2 DPOY compared to 1
1 Super Bowl MVP compared to 0

I had honestly thought it was going to be much closer than that before I looked it up. Lewis' peak wasn't just high, it was remarkably long at a very violent position.

If we look at team performance, Lewis has 2 Super Bowl wins in two appearances while Urlacher lost in his only Super Bowl appearance. Urlacher only played 7 playoff games while Lewis played in 21; that says more about their teams than the players, but it also means Lewis had triple the opportunity to earn himself some postseason glory.

by RickD :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 3:50pm

Maybe it's because I live in Maryland, but I don't see Urlacher anywhere near Lewis's level. Also, I think I saw Lewis on a flight once. The guy still looks like Mr. Universe. Biggest guy with extremely low body fat I've ever seen.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:36pm

Again, Lewis was clearly better, but he's probably the best middle linebacker of all time. Urlacher's one of the top 10, which is more than enough to be a first ballot guy.

I'd say the gap between Lewis and Urlacher was noticeable, but much, much smaller than the gap between Urlacher and the next best inside linebacker of that era.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:39pm

I think Pro Bowls are pretty meaningless, especially for a spotlight strumpet like Lewis who kept getting nods well after he was past his prime.

by jtr :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 7:53pm

Sure, then throw out the Pro Bowls. I think All Pro voting is more objective, and Lewis has 7 first teams and 3 second teams, to Urlacher's 4 first and 1 second. That's 10 to 5 on appearances and 7 to 4 on first team. I find Ray Lewis to be incredibly pompous and annoying personally, but the more I research it the more I see that his resume blows Urlacher's out of the water. It's the difference between a top 3 and a top 15 linebacker. Urlacher certainly belongs in the hall, but he's not nearly the slam dunk first ballot that Lewis is.

by coremill :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:12am

I think the Bears MLB tradition also worked against Urlacher. He was always being compared to Butkus and Singletary, or more accurately, to people's inflated recollections of how good Butkus and Singletary were. So people were disappointed when he failed to destroy opponents' souls or singlehandedly recreate the 85 Bears defense. 49er QBs have a similar problem (one reason Jeff Garcia was so underrated for so long).

by andrew :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 8:32am

Had a discussion on #fo slack about Boselli, he only played seven years (one additional year he was injured then retired). Officially the NFL lists his career as being '95 - '02, all with the Jags except 2002 when he didn't play a game.

Most offensive linemen in the hall tended to stick around forever. Players who played less than a decade tend to be of the highlight reel variety like Gale Sayers or Terrell Davis. Both of whom (injuries aside) had a career the officially one year shorter than Boselli, 7 seasons. The shortest modern HOF career was Doak Walker, who lasted 6 seasons with the Lions. He is probably better known for his college exploits, did score a lot of TDs running and receiving but never had even 400 yards rushing. He was a seniors candidate in 1986, at the time Dr. Z wrote that he was the least deserving member in the hall.

Sticking with what the hall calls the modern era (1950 onwards, before that you start getting two way players), only two offensive linemen in the hall played less than a decade:

Billy Shaw (Bills, '61-69), known for being a prototypical pulling guard. Also answer to trivia question: Who is the only player in the Pro Football hall of fame who never played in the NFL? He spent his entire career in the AFL.

Dick Stanfel (Lions '52-'55, Redskins '56-'58).

Boseli's career featured a stretch of 5 straight pro bowls of which the middle 3 he was first team all pro. He was on the all 90s team, and was the first Jaguar. He was also the first expansion pick of the Texans when he wasn't protected which wasn't long after his last pro bowl, but he never played for the Texans and retired due to injuries.

He was obviously really really good at his peak, and clearly he has some advocates in the room, but based on all this I don't think he makes it. Will be an interesting test case at any rate...

by brecherdc :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 9:25am

Terrell Davis proved that you can get a HOF induction with a short career, but was Boselli really TD-level dominant? I looked at the FO OL numbers for 1997-1999, and Jacksonville didn't seem especially strong on runs to the left side. If he were really that good, wouldn't we see it in the stats somewhere?

by Steve B :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:48pm

In terms of how he was viewed, he was arguably considered MORE dominant. Outside of '98 was Davis ever considered the consensus best RB?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 5:32pm

1996. He edged Sanders for number of 1st-team spots, and was the AP offensive player of the year. Sanders edged him back in 1997, with his MVP. Davis and Anderson are neck-and-neck in 1998, but Davis gets his MVP.

The late 90s had an embarrassment of great RBs. There's no shame in being neck-and-neck with someone else in one of those years. Sanders, Faulk, and Smith were around and you get here-and-there years from Martin, James, and Anderson.

by coremill :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:32am

People who know a lot more about line play than me gush over Boselli. Check out the Boselli quotes here: http://www.footballoutsiders.com/ramblings/2016/book-excerpt-iview-o-lin...

As pointed out below, Boselli is basically the tackle version of Dwight Stephenson. Boselli started 90 games, Stephenson 87. Stephenson had an additional first-team all-pro, but during an era with less competition. Boselli's prime years overlapped with HOFers Ogden, Roaf, Allen, and Pace (LT was a loaded position in the late 90s), and Boselli might have been the best of them.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:50pm

You also forgot Walter Jones from that era. Even the next tier guys like Tarik Glenn and Derrick Deese were stars (I'd say Deese is the best player in NFL history to never make a Pro Bowl). This was the era where "the safest draft pick is a highly rated left tackle" became a thing. People didn't realise at the time it was just the golden age of left tackle play.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:56am

Taking positional value into account, I'd take Boselli over TD, but I wouldn't have voted for Davis either. Stop putting running backs in the hall, it is by far the most over-represented position.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:10am

For 70 years, running back was a valuable and often essential position.

The state of the modern NFL, where teams are a QB and 52 wasted roster spots, is an aberration. Don't let it color your thinking regarding who deserves a hall spot.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:26am

I'm not sure you'll see many RBs go in over the next couple of decades.

Peterson's the only lock to my mind.

Marshawn Lynch or LeSean McCoy are possibles but not outstanding candidates.

But does anyone see Frank Gore (5th all-time rushing) getting in?

by jgibson_hmc95 :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:48am

I suspect Gore might get in as we see RBs start to dwindle. In fact, I think the lack of rushing records being broken and not that many RBs lately helped Terrell Davis's case. Bettis basically got in on longevity and Gore has more yards than him playing in an era where RBs pick up fewer yards. Peterson is the only lock but as there aren't that many RBs, I suspect Gore and maybe even James work their way in.

by bachslunch :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:04am

Yes, I think Gore gets in. If you’re a compiler and compile enough, you’ll make it.

by RickD :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 3:51pm

Gore certainly ought to get it.

by MC2 :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:23pm

I wouldn't be surprised if Gore gets in, but I certainly wouldn't vote for him. He has never led the league in either rushing yards or yards per carry, and he has only had one year (2006) where he even finished in the Top 5 in either of those categories (he finished 3rd in both). Aside from that year, he only has 5 other seasons in the Top 10 in rushing yards, and only 2 other seasons in the Top 10 in yards per carry. And of course, he's never been much of a receiving threat, either (less than 20 yards per game for his career). He made only 5 Pro Bowls, and was never 1st team All-Pro.

If they're determined to put more RBs in the Hall (besides Peterson), I'd rather see someone like Priest Holmes, or even Jamaal Charles. At least they were legitimately dominant, and gave opposing DCs nightmares. I sincerely doubt anyone ever laid awake at night, thinking, "Oh no! How are we going to stop Frank Gore from getting 80 yards on 20 carries?" If you want to put Gore in the Hall of Good, OK. But Hall of Fame? No way.

by bachslunch :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 9:25am

This is the classic peak vs. longevity argument. If Jerome Bettis is in the HoF, Gore deserves induction as well given that he accumulated more rushing yards. And if he plays another season, he'll pass Curtis Martin to reach 4th place all time as well (he's only 75 yards behind).

Holmes and Charles are short and high peak guys with short careers. A few such folks have gotten in, but it's not a routine thing historically.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 10:12am

Bettis finished in the top-3 in rushing three times (behind Sanders and Davis twice) and had 2 All-Pro seasons.

by bachslunch :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 2:23pm

Gore was also a decent receiver out of the backfield, which Bettis was not -- Gore in fact has over twice as many career receiving yards as Bettis. Besides, I think the only thing that will matter is his ending up with 14,000+ career rushing yards. Historically, if you compile this much, you'll get in no matter what. Gore won't be first ballot, but he'll get elected sooner or later.

by MC2 :: Sat, 01/06/2018 - 7:17am

I think this is a big part of what's wrong with the HOF. When the voters make one mistake, by electing an unworthy candidate, they then use that as a rationalization for making more mistakes, by electing similarly bad candidates at the same position.

And of course, when they put in lots of bad candidates at one position (like RB), not only does that position become over-represented, it also keeps out good candidates at other positions (like WR), leading to logjams and under-representation at that spot.

by bachslunch :: Sat, 01/06/2018 - 3:20pm

“Lots of bad candidates” at RB suggests a small hall vs. big hall argument. The only truly bad RB choices (at least post 50s) to me are Paul Hornung and Floyd Little, with Terrell Davis an on-the-fence guy. It’s true that RB is probably the most over-represented position in the HoF, but for me that just means there aren’t any good Senior candidates left.

And logjam problems from what I’ve seen happen when there are two or three players at the same position of approximate equal worth splitting the vote. Happened with Cris Carter, Tim Brown, and Andre Reed a few years ago. I don’t think RBs had much of anything to do with it.

by MC2 :: Sun, 01/07/2018 - 1:31am

I think our disagreement isn't so much about how many players should be inducted, but about which players should be. I don't think they are putting too many guys in. On the contrary, I think they should be putting in more guys (I'd like to see the "cap" increased from 5 to 10, and I'd like to see coaches moved to a different category, so they don't take spots away from the players).

But more importantly, I'd like to see the emphasis shifted towards honoring guys who were truly dominant, even if it was for a shorter period of time, as opposed to guys (like Gore) who were only slightly better than a league average starter for most of their careers. I just don't see how "10th best at your position every year for 15 years" constitutes greatness.

by jtr :: Sun, 01/07/2018 - 11:51am

I think Gore also benefits a lot from the five-year waiting period for eligibility. At that point, a lot of the memories about how the player was perceived have faded a little bit and the stats take more of a front seat in evaluating the player. And in that respect, Gore is going to make it in.

If he plays at all next year, he'll move up to 4th all time in rushing yards (only needs 75 yards to pass Curtis Martin), and he can pass Barry Sanders for third if he manages to stick around for two 600 yard seasons--not totally insane considering he's been over 900 each of the last three seasons and over 800 every year since he was a rookie.Every other player in the top 11 all time is in the hall. In fact, if Edge gets in and after the inevitable Peterson induction, Gore would be the only in the top 16 not to make it. So far, making it to the top 10 in all time rushing yards has been a 100% effective strategy to make it into the hall, and I really doubt there will be an exception for a guy in the top 5. Gore doesn't feel like a hall of famer to me personally, but I think he's a pretty inevitable selection eventually.

by theslothook :: Sun, 01/07/2018 - 2:15pm

His career is marked by consistency, not really excellence. In fact, looking it over, he's only had one season that was truly special. The rest have been solid strings of 1000 yards. Solid and great in terms of year to year delivery, but hardly spectacular and I doubt he makes anyones top 20 list of all time running backs.

To me, hes a classic hall of the very good, ring of honor type guy, but not a hall of famer.

by jtr :: Sun, 01/07/2018 - 2:37pm

I don't really disagree with any of that. I'm just saying he almost certainly gets in anyway, just because every single player who has rushed for anywhere near as many yards as him has gotten in.

by coremill :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 11:41am

I probably wouldn't vote for him either, but there are some counterarguments in his favor. Gore's prime got wasted on some truly dreadful offensive teams, with bad QB play and terrible coaching, until Harbaugh showed up. From 2006-10 (Gore's age 23-27 seasons, so prime RB years), the 49ers finished 26, 32, 26, 22, and 24 in passing DVOA. This was the Nolan/Singletary era, and the QBs were an injured Alex Smith, Troy Smith, JT O'Sullivan, a washed-up Trent Dilfer, and Shaun Hill. They did not have a single 1000-yard WR season until Crabtree did it in 2012.

Gore was also a capable receiver in his prime: he lead the team in receptions in 2006 and 2007 and averaged 51 catches/year from 2006-10. In a different situation, with more talent around him and better offensive coaching, could he have had some Priest Holmes-like years? Stick him in his prime on the GSOT Rams, with an MVP QB and all those receivers and a strong line anchored by a HOF LT, and how much worse than Faulk would he have been? If you compare Gore's numbers to Faulk's pre-99 numbers, they are very similar.

Gore also had the misfortune to have his best year in 2006, which was a crazy RB year all around. LDT scored 31 TDs and won MVP, while five RBs had >1500 rushing yards and >2000 yards from scrimmage (there have been five RB >2000 YFS seasons combined the last five years). Gore, LDT, Tiki Barber, Steven Jackson, and Larry Johnson all had their career years at the same time. If Gore had had his 2006 in 2007, he would have won the rushing and YFS titles and probably been first-team all-pro.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 3:11pm

Bettis's response is that his peak coincided with the Smith-Sanders-Davis peaks.

2006 is Gore's only season better than Sanders' average season.

by MC2 :: Sat, 01/06/2018 - 7:39am

Well, first of all, I don't think it's a good idea to play the "what if" game, by speculating that if a player had wound up in a different situation, their numbers would have been better. I mean, I'm quite sure that if Randall Cunningham had been coached by someone with a creative mind for offense (instead of Buddy Ryan, who was completely uninterested in that side of the ball), he would have been much better off. Same for Michael Vick. Imagine if he had been drafted by Andy Reid, instead of Dan Reeves. But I don't think that means that Cunningham or Vick belong in the HOF, even though they might've had Hall-worthy careers in some alternate universe.

However, even if we are going to go that route, I still don't think it really helps Gore's case. For example, you point out that early in Gore's career, he had better receiving numbers. But, as you also point out, the 49ers, during those same years, had no real receiving threats to speak of. I don't think that's a coincidence. It seems very likely that the lack of legit talent at WR led to the 49ers QBs checking down to Gore much more than they probably would have if they had still had great receivers like Rice or Owens. Furthermore, if the 49ers had an explosive passing game, they likely wouldn't have run the ball as much, which means Gore wouldn't have piled up as many rushing yards. So, those arguments are, at best, a wash.

Finally, I'll concede your point about Gore being unlucky with the timing of his career year in '06. But even if we "imagine" that he actually won the rushing title and was named All-Pro that year, that's still not nearly enough to make him Hall-worthy in my eyes. All those other years of being somewhere between the 10th and 15th best RB in the league just don't carry much weight for me.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sat, 01/06/2018 - 1:35pm

It's unlikely I'll ever visit the HoF but it seems to me that the running game has existed long enough that if a guy can finish his career 5th on the all-time list there is something special about him in some way even if it's only because he had a lot of durability. That would seem like something the HoF ought to be informing visitors about.

Probably the same can be said about QBs and receivers.

I'd be wary of going any deeper than finishing 5th for the latter group but probably comfortable with going top 10 for RBs given that rushing yards are now harder to come by.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:44pm

It wasn't really. The *running game* was valuable and essential, but running backs themselves have always been highly fungible and easily replaceable.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:21pm

That's overblown for most HOF backs. The Lions entire rushing offense cratered once Sanders retired. Their adjusted line yards were pretty horrific even with him. It's just that his open field yards lapped the field. In 1997, he was first by so much that #3 was closer to #30 than to Sanders at #1.

by serutan :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:39pm

Or to put it another way, running back has *always* has the shortest
average career of any NFL position if memory serves.

Was wr

by Travis :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 10:19am

Dwight Stephenson (Dolphins 1980-87) played only 8 years and was elected to the Hall in 1998.

by andrew :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 1:59pm

Good catch. However, Boseli would still have the shortest career of any offensive lineman in the hall if he made it in.

by Steve B :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:57pm

Will we now have a logjam at o-line, too? Five are finalists this time, though I believe this is it for Jacoby before he falls into the Seniors pool.

Speaking of that, Everson Walls is in his last year of eligibility and I would say a surprise finalist. Big selling point for him is ints (3 single season titles and a career total of 57). Knock on him is that many say he got beat deep more than a top flight CB should've.

by bachslunch :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 8:48am

Re Walls, my understanding is that he got a lot of INTs because he got thrown on a lot. I don’t think he’s HoF worthy, myself.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 6:53pm

Ludicrous if they don't go in right now


Definitely belong, but it doesn't necessarily have to be this year


Perfectly happy to see them get in at some point,
but not fussed if they don't


Should not get in, now or ever


No opinion


by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 8:15pm

Randy Moss is the singly-most terrifying offensive player I have ever watched, and he did it for a comparably very long time. Jerry Rice was a better WR than anyone, but Moss was scary. His rookie season is an all-time phenomenon, he was dominant for a number of years in Minnesota (seriously, making Daunte Culpepper into a three-time Pro Bowler is an accomplishment), and had that later greatness in New England. I'm not sure how I'd do my WR rankings of all-time, but it'd obviously be Jerry Rice #1, and Randy Moss has a very strong case for #2. Utterly phenomenal player.

Randy Moss and Ray Lewis are as close to the definition of absolute HOF locks as anyone could be. I can't imagine a sane reason either shouldn't waltz in easily.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 4:39am

Gronk is the only other player in the same stratosphere of terrifying as Moss.

My argument was- if the Hof is going to play this locker room distraction game, Moss' antics deserve the same treatment. For whatever reason, people pretend like it was just some occasional laziness on his part and conveniently forget his tirades in Minnesota, Oakland, and even his last days in NE

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 5:09am

I think it's fair to point out that Moss was a massive front runner who was amazing in good situations and destructive in bad ones. It doesn't stop him from being a HOFer but it does stop him from being a best receiver ever candidate.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:15am

We only know Moss was a front-runner because he also played on bad teams.

I wonder how many other guys were front-runners, but we never knew, because they were always in a good situation.

Guys like Graham, Brown, Starr, Montana, Brady, or Rodgers essentially never played for a bad team.

by ZDNeal :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:58am

I don't concede he was a front runner. I think his game required a certain level of surrounding competence. Without that his talents couldn't be exploited. But, if he would have been on the same team as vintage Vick some coach still would have tried to stick them in the Walsh side-to-side west coast offense.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:53pm

Looking at how the Packers have done without him over the years, I'd say Rodgers has played on a few bad teams. They just don't have bad records because of...Aaron Rodgers.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:45am

There's a huge difference between the attitudes of TO and Moss.

TO's outbursts actively tore down other people (see his comments on McNabb, Jeff Garcia, Romo-Witten) to try and make himself feel good about himself. Andy Reid actually suspended him midseason because he'd had enough of him. Bill Parcells would only refer to him as "the player" because he was so difficult to get along with.

Moss had strops and took plays off which is not good for the rest of the team to see from a star player but everybody else could just get on with their jobs.

The two things are just not comparable.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 9:29am

He was a massive distraction for the Vikings in 06 and with NE in 2010. Both places he was traded. He specifically called out both organizations in press conferences. He was TO without the sit ups and pomp poms.

In Oakland he basically became a mercenary. I find that behavior far more objectionable than TOs me first egotism. Why is it acceptable for Moss to do that but TOs behavior repulsive?

Btw, I say this acknowledging Moss was probably the greatest non qb in NFL history. No seriously.

by andrew :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 9:39am

The perception of Moss is that when he realized the Raiders were not interested in doing what it took to win, he lost interest in trying to help them win. But he was always about trying to win... the Patriots used him as a massive decoy while Welker got a ton of targets. His last year in new england there was a bit of contract squabbling, and then later the blow up with Childress, but Childress and Owens also had a toxic relationship. Moss did have off field incidents (the caterer, the traffic bump (which gave us "Straight Cash Homey"), etc. I can't recall anything malicious towards his teammate, at worst it was apathetic towards the organization. He also took flack in minnesota for walking off the field in a loss to the Redskins with 3 seconds left and an onside kick pending. That game was over, but people were doing the "so you're saying there's a chance" odds.

Owens had teammates who liked him but he always seemed to divide a locker room. His relationship with his teams always seemed good at first then turned toxic. It was so bad his second year in Philly the team suspended him 4 games (the max allowed) then deactivated him the remaining 5 games, sending him home with pay. No matter what Moss did, no team ever felt they were better off with him collecting a check at home, not even the Titans.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:17pm

I genuinely think anyone who was actually invested in trying to win on those mid-00s Oakland teams probably belonged in some kind of concussion protocol, because those were a series of awful/incompetent/patently insane teams. That was the high point of zombie Al Davis drafting anybody fast, the coaching history of Norv/potentially dead Art Shell/Cable/Kiffin/loads of others, and one crazy decision after another. Moss' first season in Oakland was 1000+ yards, and, yeah, in his second, he basically gave up. On a 2-14 team that scored 168 points, and gave up 332 points. That's a point differential of -164, so just shy of literally giving up twice as many points as you scored. So, you know, I don't really hold it against him that he wasn't exactly giving it his all.

T.O. I absolutely believe belongs in the HOF, but he was actively detrimental to the team in all sorts of way off the field. The thing is, the HOF is supposed to be about on-the-field contributions, and, in that regard, T.O. was greate. He consistently feuded with teammates, talked smack in the media, and it was more important to him to be the center of attention once the cameras were on than anything else. Moss would get pissy and petulant, but lots of people get that way and, just like Moss, it doesn't tear apart a locker room.

by amin purshottam :: Sun, 01/07/2018 - 7:08pm

One thing that is not talked about which I think affected him is that TO, in my opinion, had some serious mental health issues. I don’t know if the league or teams have staff to handle players with these types of problems.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:57pm

As a Raiders fan, I think your read on Moss' time in Oakland is correct. His first few games were really good, then he basically gave up. I'm sad we never got to see the best of him, but I don't hold it against him too much. I mean, he was stuck with Art Shell and the bed and breakfast co-ordinator for a year.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:20am

The Eagles have had a ton of prima donna fly route guys who took plays off when they weren't going their way. Both good (Desean Jackson) and bad (Freddie Mitchell). They were perfectly functional and occasionally excellent with those guys. Moss is one of those guys. Moss was a headache.

Terrell Owens tore the team apart in less than a year. This is a franchise who weathered Van Brocklin, Cunningham, and Buddy Ryan. It's asshole-tolerant. Owens was a-whole-nother beast. Owens was a cancer.

Cancer, like Owens, is big, it's fast, it's healthy, it's immortal. It's amazing. It also kills its host by strangling it for resources and grows itself at the expense of everything around it. Owens was cancer.

by coremill :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:19am

if we're going to tear down Owens for 05, we have to give him credit for 04 as well. It's not a coincidence that 04 was by far McNabb's best season, and Owens was Philly's best player in the Super Bowl while playing with a broken leg.

by andrew :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:34am

Not sure if it plays a factor, but the HOF committee prunes the list to 10 and then 5 in a meeting right before the superbowl.... which means this year it will be in Minneapolis. Moss doesn't need any extra edge, but that may provide a slight extra incentive...

by bachslunch :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 8:46am

Walls (3/4/none, reportedly not that hot in film study) is the main surprise here. He probably got through because it’s his last eligible year and he has a fair number of INTs. But I don’t think he belongs in. He might sneak through, but not sure.

My guess for those who are elected: Lewis, Jacoby, Mawae, Law, Dawkins. Wouldn’t be surprised if Lynch or Owens replace one of them, though.

Moss has a first ballot career, but will probably wait because of attitude issues. Urlacher will probably get crowded out. But they’ll both get in pretty soon, am thinking.

by jgibson_hmc95 :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:58am

I'm not sure why so many people are convinced that Moss is that much more deserving than Owens.

Moss - 15,292 career receiving yards
Owens - 15,934 career receiving yards

Moss - 982 career receptions
Owens - 1,078 career receptions

Moss - 156 career receiving TDs
Owens - 153 career receiving TDs

Moss - 70.1 yards/game
Owens - 72.8 yards/game

Moss - 161 career AV (pro-football-reference)
Owens - 165 career AV

by ZDNeal :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 11:01am

Moss's peaks were far above TO's peaks. He had like 3 seasons with more TDs than games played. That's insane.

by jgibson_hmc95 :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:03pm

Yes, Moss had seasons with 17, 17, and 23 TDs. Owens never cracked 16 but had one 16 TD season, 2 15 TD seasons, 2 14 TD seasons, and 2 13 TD seasons. That's 7 seasons with 15+ TDs. In addition to Moss's 17, 17, and 23 TD seasons, he had another with 15 for a total of 5 seasons with 15+ TDs. Change the cutoff to 10, and Moss and Owens both have 8.

It does appear that Moss has higher peaks but that means Owens played at a consistently elite level for longer. They are clearly both HOFers but I am not convinced that Moss will leapfrog Owens for the HOF.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:33pm

It's not just that Randy Moss had higher peaks; it's that his peaks were about as high as we've ever seen. T.O. was absolutely one of the best WRs in the league for a very long time, but Randy Moss has a solid argument for several best WR seasons of all time.

It's like Kevin Greene vs. Lawrence Taylor. Kevin Greene was a very good defensive player for a really long time and managed to consistently beat offensive lines and sack QBs. He had double-digit sacks ten times, which is pretty amazing in terms of consistency. His 160 career sacks is clearly higher than Lawrence Taylor's 132.5, who had a shorter career and only had double-digit sacks in seven seasons. Kevin Greene is in the Hall of Fame. Lawrence Taylor is arguably the greatest defensive player of all time (he's at least in that conversation).

T.O. is Kevin Greene. Randy Moss is Lawrence Taylor.

by coremill :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 7:12pm

This is too hard on Owens. His peak was lower than Moss's, but Moss's peak is probably the second highest ever at his position (nobody will ever top Rice). Owens was a better WR than Greene was an OLB (leaving aside the off-field stuff). Greene is one of the weaker recent HOF picks, Owens should be a no-doubt choice (again, apart from the off-field issues).

by ZDNeal :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:54pm

But that's just it Moss had 3 seasons with more TDs than the best season of the other great WR of his time. TO is great. I'm 100% behind him being in the HoF and would've had him as a 1st ballot. But Moss was transcendent. Red McCombs sending him to NFL purgatory was one of the greatest crimes ever committed against NFL fans.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 2:27pm

Moss was still happy to cash a paycheck. He still was paid to perform. We don't laud Joe Thomas's career purely for martydom.

by ZDNeal :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 3:18pm

Which goes back to my comment about what was required for Moss to be effective. He wasn't a player who could take an awful team and make them good. He was a player who could take a good team and make them all-time great. Saying he was paid to perform is silly. His abilities were lost on that team because they were a terrible match, not because of some lack of will.

by theslothook :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:43pm

I'm pretty sure he mailed it in with Oakland. You can blame the circumstances all you want, but it still shows a lack of professionalism. If Joe Thomas can play at an elite level for the moribund browns, then so to could Moss.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 4:56am

That really highlights the huge difference between Moss and TO.

If TO had been on the 2006 Raiders he would have been sniping at his QB, complaining to his coaches that he didn't get the ball thrown in his direction enough; throwing teammates under the bus in press conferences.

Moss just went into his shell. Probably did a bit of low key whingeing and tried to convince them to throw him the ball more but when that didn't happen mailed it in.

From a coaching perspective neither is great.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 2:28pm

He had two seasons in Oakland; in the first, he had 1000+ yards with a sub-50% catch rate, presumably because he was catching balls from Kerry Collins, who barely completed 50% of his passes. That's a career year for all sorts of WRs, and the simple fact we're talking about Randy Moss means it seems like a crappy year. Furthermore, his catch rate is basically standard on that team; Jerry Porter caught a bit over half the balls thrown him, so everyone was consistently bad. 60 receptions for 1005 yards and 8 TDs is only a bad year because it's Randy Moss, and you expect better.

The next year? Yeah, Moss was pretty awful. Catching passes from Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks, who each started half the games that year. Their combined TD/INT ratio? 6 to 21. Which one was better? Walter with his 4.41 yards/attempt and 14.3% sack rate (FOURTEEN POINT THREE) or Brooks with 4.27 and 11.9% respectively. In FO's stats for that year, 46 QBs are ranked. Brooks and Walter are #44 and #46 in DVOA and #45 and #46 in DYAR.

Are you honestly telling me you blame Randy Moss for not giving a crap about trying on that team? If there is ever a time it is OK to not give your 100%, that is completely the time.

The 00s Raiders are Browns-esque in their incompetence, and that's the worst year in that godawful stretch. The Raiders as an organization weren't trying, so I don't blame Moss at all for giving up as much as that entire team did.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 6:55pm

I always thought the statement that summed up Moss best was when Shanahan said, about one the Culpepper teams in 2003 or 2004, that it was the only NFL offense he'd ever seen where the strategy was just to heave it in the general direction of a particular receiver. They did that while being one of the highest scoring offenses in the league.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 7:01pm

Moss' 2003 season was his career year and probably one of the best 5 or so seasons in NFL history by a wide receiver.