Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features


» 2018 Free Agency Cost-Benefit Analysis

Is Kirk Cousins the best free-agent quarterback in recent memory? Should Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler have gotten the larger contract? And what makes a free-agent contract good or bad, anyway?

02 Aug 2006

The Great Hall of Fame Debate

by Michael David Smith and Mike Tanier

Tanier: Another year, another great Hall of Fame class. If I wasn't feeding a two-week old baby right now, I would be in Canton honoring Reggie White's memory.

Smith: I was in Canton a few months ago and had a great time. I think all football fans revere the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is why we take it so seriously when we disagree with the decisions of the selection committee.

Tanier: Enough small talk. Let's start arguing.

Terrell Davis

Tanier: In an Extra Points blog a few weeks ago, you expressed doubts about Terrell Davis' HoF qualifications. Let me see if I can change your mind.

Years ago, in a Baseball Abstract, Bill James outlined a series of standards to determine the legitimacy of a HoF bid. Three of the most important standards were: "Was he ever the best player in the league?" "Was he ever the best player in the league at his position?" "Did he contribute to championships?"
Davis was MVP in 1998 and was a top-5 candidate for MVP in 1997. He and Barry Sanders were clearly the two best running backs in football from 1996 thru 1998. That wouldn't make him a HoFer, but then we have the Super Bowl resume: two rings, an MVP award in one game, a 100-yard rushing effort in the other game.

Smith: I've got three other Bill James standards that explain why I'm leaning toward "no" on Davis:

"Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?" I think the answer to that is "yes." Mike Shanahan's system and the Broncos' offensive line made Davis look better.

In his last four healthy games, the first games of the 1999 season, Davis had 67 carries for 211 yards (a 3.1 average), and 2 touchdowns. Then an unheralded rookie named Olandis Gary stepped in and played the final 12 games, going for 276 carries, 1159 yards (a 4.2 average), and 7 touchdowns. If Davis is a Hall of Famer, shouldn't he have been significantly better, not significantly worse, than an unheralded rookie?

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the other Denver backs have been as productive as Davis. Certainly, none of them have matched Davis's 1998 season. But they've been close enough that it indicates to me that Davis was not as good a player as his statistics suggest.

Tanier: Maybe part of Shanahan's "system" is his ability to recognize exceptional talents in late rounds and develop them into great players. Clinton Portis and Reuben Droughns have done pretty well in other systems. Gary didn't, but are we really turned on by his 1,100 yard season? And like you said, nobody in the system has come close to Davis in his two best seasons.

Smith: "How many All-Star type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most other players at his position who made the Hall of Fame play in a comparable amount of games or have a comparable amount of All-Star seasons?" He made the Pro Bowl three times. That's awfully low for a Hall of Famer.

Tanier: Canton is full of Joe Namath/Lynn Swann/Dan Hampton type players who were outstanding for a few seasons, won a Super Bowl or two, and then got hurt of faded. Frankly, I'd rather see players like that inducted than "gold watch guys" who played for 14 years and some statistical plateau. Davis fits in perfectly with players like Swann, who only reached three Pro Bowls.

And those who say Davis' career is too short are forgetting about his 240-carry, 1,140-yard, 12-touchdown season. You know when that occurred? In the playoffs. Davis played in eight playoff games, gaining over 100 yards from scrimmage in all of them. The only one he didn't score in was Super Bowl XXXIII.

Smith: "Was he the best player in [foot]ball at his position?" This might seem like sacrilege, but I don't think I can honestly say he was the best running back in any season. In 1997, I think most people would agree that Barry Sanders was the best running back in football. In 1998, when Davis was widely acclaimed as the best running back in the NFL, my vote would have been cast for Marshall Faulk. Faulk actually had more total scrimmage yards in 1998 than Davis despite playing in a much, much worse offense than Davis.

(If you want more advanced statistics, I'll quote our good friend Aaron Schatz: "The Rams running backs in 1998 combined for -5.0 DPAR and -17.7% DVOA. Playing for the Colts, Marshall Faulk was sixth in the league with 22.5 DPAR and tenth in the league with 1.0% DVOA. Faulk was better than his conventional stats looked — he had twice as many DPAR as PAR because the Colts played a schedule of very difficult run defenses. This is nothing compared to the way Faulk blew away the other NFL running backs in the receiving game. Faulk had 34.7 DPAR as a receiver. The second-ranked RB in receiving was Amp Lee of — oddly enough — the Rams, but he had just 15.1 DPAR.")

In 1996, the one other year in which you can make the case that Davis was the best player in football at his position, my vote goes to Ricky Watters. He led the league in scrimmage yards despite being saddled with Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete as quarterbacks.

Tanier: It's the Hall of Fame, not the "Hall of Guys Who Could Have Done Well in Ideal Circumstances" or the "Hall of Guys Who Come Out Slightly Better Using Advanced Metrics." I'm not interested in what Watters or Faulk or Rodney Hampton or whoever "could've" done with the 1998 Broncos. I'm concerned about what Davis did: he gained 2,000 yards and won a Super Bowl. Those accomplishments made him famous for all the right reasons. He belongs in Canton.

The 80s-90s Receivers: (Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Michael Irvin, Art Monk, Andre Reed)

Tanier: These five players fall neatly along a numbers/rings continuum. Start with Carter, who scored 130 touchdowns but has no Super Bowl pedigree. Then you have Brown, Reed, Monk, and finally Irvin at the other extreme: three rings, low career totals.

A fan's opinion on these players usually reveals his concept of what the HoF is all about. Fans who like stats want to see Carter and Brown in. Fans who like Super Bowl rings want to see Irvin and Monk in. Reed gets a smattering of support from both sides. I could advocate for any of these players. But if they all join Jerry Rice in Canton, that's six wide receivers from one era, and fans of Henry Ellard and Sterling Sharpe still wouldn't be satisfied. So who belongs?

Smith: I would probably rank those five like this: 1) Tim Brown, 2) Cris Carter, 3) Art Monk, 4) Michael Irvin, and 5) Andre Reed

Brown clearly ranks first because of the teams he was on. He rarely had a good quarterback throwing him the ball or a good receiver on the other side of the field. For the majority of his career he was going up against the No. 1 CB and doing it with a mediocre QB. Also keep in mind that if the Raiders had chosen to use him that way, he would have been one of the all-time great kickoff and punt returners.

Carter had great hands, probably the best of those five. He was also very impressive in the red zone. And although his quarterbacks were a bit better than Brown's, they weren't as good as Troy Aikman or Jim Kelly, and probably not as good as Monk's.

At this point, if Art Monk gets in I think it sets an awfully bad message, implying that Hall of Fame voters are subject to lobbying.

Tanier: Voters subject to lobbying? Two words: Elvin Bethea.

Smith: Nothing about Monk's career has changed, and if he didn't belong before, he doesn't belong now. I just can't get over the fact that through most of his career, Monk wasn't even the first option in his team's passing game.

Irvin was an important component in a great team, but do you honestly think he'd be a Hall of Fame candidate if he had been drafted by any team other than the Cowboys or 49ers? With Emmitt Smith and that offensive line, opposing teams often had to stack eight in the box. That meant Irvin could go over the middle with a lot more room than most receivers could. And, of course, he created a whole lot of room for himself with a whole lot of offensive pass interference. I don't hold that against him -- he could do it without getting called. But I do doubt that he would have been the same player on just about any other team.

And I feel even more that way about Andre Reed. I think there were three players on that Buffalo offense who belong in the Hall – Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Kent Hull.

Tanier: I rank Carter, then Irvin, then Monk, then Brown, then Reed. I don't like the "if he played for some other team, he wouldn't be a candidate" argument very much. You can use it against just about any player who isn't in the Jerry Rice class. And circumstantial arguments work both ways. Brown faced a lot of double coverage, but thanks to a mediocre supporting cast he had dozens of extra passes thrown his way over the course of his career. Emmitt Smith and the offensive line made life easy for Irvin, but the Cowboys ran so well that his receiving stats are low. As an Eagles fan, I don't like Irvin much, but the Triplets belong in the Hall of Fame; they were the NFL's biggest story for over five years.

Ricky Watters

Smith: I'd vote for him. I like the way he did some of everything: running, receiving, going deep at times. I also like the fact that he was productive with three different teams, and even though the Niners, Eagles, and Seahawks ran similar offenses, you can't really call him a product of a system.

Tanier: Yeah, right. Ricky Watters belongs in the Hall of Famd right next to Ryan Leaf. Anyone who says "For who? For what?" after alligator-arming a pass shouldn't be allowed anywhere near Eastern Ohio. Watters was a good player with a me-first attitude who would grouse about his touches every week; he caused one coaching migraine for every two touchdowns.

And I am not impressed by his 10,000 rushing yards. He did it with a bunch of 1,210-yard, 3.7 yards per carry seasons. I don't want Canton to become Cooperstown, where some journeyman reaches some magic milestone and all the voters just shrug their shoulders and select him. Ten thousand yards won't seem like that impressive an accomplishment in a few years if guys like Fred Taylor reach it.

Smith: You don't have to be impressed with 10,000 rushing yards, but you do have to be impressed with 14,891 scrimmage yards. Every player ahead of Watters on the scrimmage yards list is either already in the Hall of Fame or will get in. Watters should, too.

Thurman Thomas

Smith: I find it incredible that the voters consider Thurman Thomas a borderline candidate. He led the league in total yards from scrimmage four years in a row. I think a lot of voters are from the old school and think of running backs as runners only, forgetting the contributions that guys like Thomas (and Ricky Watters) made as receivers. I also think the fact that Thomas peaked relatively early in his career hurts him. The voters remember the so-so player of the mid-90s and later, not the phenomenal player of the late 80s and early 90s.

Tanier: Thomas' biggest problem is that fumble in the Super Bowl. It's not fair to hold one bad play against a great player, but that fumble against the Cowboys branded Thomas as a "not quite good enough" player in many people's eyes.

Smith: I think if Scott Norwood's field goal had been good in Super Bowl XXV, Thomas would be a sure-thing Hall of Famer despite the fumble in Super Bowl XXVIII. He would certainly have won the MVP award; add that and a ring to his already impressive resume, and he's in.

Derrick Thomas

Smith: Thomas gets a thumbs-down from me. Although he had some great games as a pass-rusher, I don't think he did enough as an all-around player. The guys like Lawrence Taylor, Reggie White and Bruce Smith, who could both rush the passer and stop the run, are the ones who merit induction. Derrick Thomas is more in the Kevin Greene class: very good at one aspect of the game, but not worthy of the Hall as an all-around player.

Tanier: I think Thomas falls short, too, though I hesitate to use the "not a complete player" argument. Many people argue against Deion Sanders, saying that he can't tackle. Well, he can't, but he's so good that he didn't have to. If you blow the curve on the things you do well, if they make you a Pro Bowler, then I don't care if you come up short in some other area.

Smith: Well, hang on a second. It's convenient shorthand to say both Deion Sanders and Derrick Thomas were great against the pass but bad against the run. However, Derrick Thomas didn't pressure the quarterback as well as Deion Sanders covered receivers, and playing the run is more important to a linebacker's job than it is to a cornerback's.

Tanier: Either way, Thomas is a pure sack specialist, and his resume consists of one amazing 20-sack season and a bunch of good 13-sack seasons.

Smith: Even that 20-sack season has always carried a bit of an asterisk in my mind. Seven of the 20 came in one game, and in that game the Chiefs lost on a late touchdown pass in which Thomas had a chance to sack Dave Krieg and missed him. In any event, we're in agreement; Thomas is out.

Ray Lewis

Tanier: Is your backlash-o-meter working? Lewis is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. In 2000, he really was the league's MVP. He was probably the best defender in the NFL from 1998-2001. He took the Ravens to the Super Bowl on his shoulders. And that affair in Atlanta was more smoke than fire. I would put him in Canton tomorrow.

Smith: Ray Lewis is an automatic Hall of Famer. Anyone who votes against Lewis isn't fit to be on the selection committee.

Other Current Defenders

Tanier: We both agree on Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders, and Junior Seau, all obvious choices. I also like Michael Strahan. Derrick Brooks has had an outstanding career and helped win a Super Bowl; I think he's Canton worthy. I was high on Ty Law before the Patriots won a Super Bowl without him and he turned into a mercenary. If you look back at him in the years leading up to the Pats first Super Bowl title, his record is pretty impressive.

Smith: Strahan is an absolute lock in my book. I can't really imagine a case against Derrick Brooks making it. He's been the most important player to the Bucs' defense over the last decade. He's also a great guy off the field. That isn't supposed to have any bearing on whether he gets into the Hall, but some voters have acknowledged they consider such things.

I would probably vote no on Ty Law, but he's close. If he makes an instant impact with the Chiefs this year, I might change my mind.

Tanier: All three of the biggest-name safeties of the past few years -- Rodney Harrison, Brian Dawkins, John Lynch -- fall a little short for me, though I wouldn't lobby against Harrison, who had all of those fine years (and a Super Bowl appearance) in San Diego before reaching the Patriots.

Smith: Of the three safeties, I think Dawkins has the best case. I love how aggressive he is. Lynch definitely doesn't belong in the Hall. I'd take Ronde Barber over Lynch. Harrison is a tough call. He's definitely been a solid player for a long time, but I don't know if there's ever been a time that I've considered him truly great. And he dishes out a lot of cheap shots.

Offensive Linemen

Tanier: You and I both love it when the big guys make it to Canton. Who do you like among active offensive linemen? I have a short list: Orlando Pace, Tom Nalen, Will Shields, Larry Allen, maybe Jon Ogden. That's two tackles, two guards, and a center: a great starting line to block for the Hall of Fame passers and runners of the late 90's and today.

Smith: Shields and Allen are the two best linemen of my lifetime (I'm 29), and Nalen is just a step below them. They're definite locks. If any of those three don't make the Hall, I'm going to take a page from Homer Simpson's playbook and throw a pie in the face of every member of the selection committee. Ogden and Pace are good, but I'd have to see who they're up against before I could say if I'd vote for them. I think both players have coasted on their reputations at times. I've seen them both get beaten by quick defensive ends on the outside.

Tanier: I'm guessing Forrest Gregg got beat once or twice, too. Pace went to two Super Bowls and was the top lineman on one of the best offenses ever. He's been to seven Pro Bowls. Left tackles are critical players, but there aren't many in the Hall or in the pipeline right now.

Smith: What about Willie Roaf? He's a slam-dunk for me. I think he's the best tackle of the last decade, a great one with both the Saints and the Chiefs. Every Lions fan cringes at the memory that Detroit traded the pick that became Roaf so they could get Pat Swilling.

Tanier: Roaf is borderline for me, and I place him below Pace and Ogden. Not to contradict my Forrest Gregg remark, but I remember Roaf getting abused by Mike Mamula when Roaf was a Pro Bowler in New Orleans. Hall of Famers just aren't abused by Mike Mamula.

Jimmy Smith

Tanier: When he retired, I heard some serious discussions of Jimmy Smith as a HoF candidate. There was no other football to talk about when Smith called it quits, so I think the HoF talk was an "angle" to juice up the story. Is there anything that differentiates Smith from 25 other receivers who aren't in Canton?

Smith: He did finish in the Top 5 in receiving yards five times, and he did that without the benefit of a great quarterback throwing him the ball. But no, I don't see any way that he should get into the Hall. To me, the really interesting question about Smith is how might his career have turned out if the Cowboys or the Eagles had recognized his promise? Would we think more highly of him because he would have been on higher-profile teams? Or would we think less highly of him because he wouldn't have been the main attraction as he was in Jacksonville?

Tanier: At least in Jacksonville, Smith can get into the Ring of Honor, or whatever.

Recent Coaches

Smith: I think Dick Vermeil should definitely go into the Hall of Fame next year. He had success in three different places and in two different eras. It's hard to argue with that. Some might argue that his tenure in Kansas City was a disappointment, with only one playoff berth in five years, but he did a great job in 2003. I think that's the season that puts him over the top and into the Hall.

Tanier: And Greg Kinnear is playing him in a movie. That did wonders for Bob Crane's legacy. If Vermeil gets in, they'll close Philadelphia for the induction ceremony. That wouldn't happen for Ricky Watters.

Smith: Is there any coach as beloved in his former city than Vermeil? It's been over 25 years since he took the Eagles to the Super Bowl, and he's still a local legend in Philadelphia. Usually, only college coaches get that kind of treatment.

Tanier: What about other current/recent coaches? Let's skip the "duh" candidates like Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. I think Bill Cowher became a HoFer in February. Let me throw some names at you: Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan, Marty Schottenheimer.

Smith: Shanahan and Holmgren all deserve "yes" votes. I'd probably vote "yes" on Cowher, too, although I'd put him a notch below the other two. I'd vote "no" on Schottenheimer; he's an example of a good but not great coach who doesn't quite merit induction. And, although he hasn't earned it yet, I'd be shocked if Jon Gruden doesn't eventually get to the Hall of Fame. He's an excellent coach, already has a Super Bowl ring, and could easily coach 20 more years: He's 42 and hasn't expressed an interest in doing anything but coaching.


Smith: As long as we're talking non-players, I have two more. I think Paul Tagliabue belongs in the Hall. He's done a great job of keeping labor peace, something neither his predecessor nor any of the other major sports commissioners of the last 15 years have been able to do. And I would vote "yes" on Ed Sabol, who founded NFL Films. I think NFL Films is an important reason for the league's popularity, and something every football fan loves.

Tanier: Some people thought of Tagliabue as a custodian commish before this off-season. He blew a hole in that theory with the latest CBA extension. As for Sabol, he belongs in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the American Film Institute Hall of Fame.

Smith: The problem with both of the above is that they compete with the players for a finite number of slots. If you're in that room and it comes down to casting a vote for Thurman Thomas or for Ed Sabol, how do you decide? Paul Zimmerman has suggested separating the players from the non-players, and I think that's a good idea.

Parting Shots

Tanier: The Pro Football Hall of Fame exists partly for the players and for the historians but mostly for the fans. The Hall should reflect our memories of the game. The players we are sick of hearing about right now – Brett Favre, Ray Lewis – are the players we will be telling our grandchildren about.

For me, the Hall of Fame should be reserved for players who captured our imagination and shaped our fan experience. It should be for guys we cheered for or booed against extra hard, guys who shaped the history of the game by dominating opponents or stealing the spotlight in January. That may be why I put the stats aside (a little) when talking about Canton; I want my Hall of Famers to have feats, not numbers.

Smith: With so much of the NFL devoted to the casual fan, I think the Hall of Fame should be devoted to more serious fans -- people who can name dozens of great offensive linemen, who know about the greats of the past, and who appreciate that players who touch the ball aren't the only ones who deserve recognition. I hope the Hall of Fame will always be a place that the most intellectual of football scholars can enjoy.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 02 Aug 2006

261 comments, Last at 22 Sep 2006, 12:37pm by Dan Grum


by Smeghead (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 7:13pm

Since this thread is sure to turn into a homer-fest (M. Furtek, this is your monthly thread to hijack for Art Monk!), I'll go ahead and get it started from the Northwest.

You really think Ogden and Pace's careers are that much more distinguished than the guy your book cover calls "The Real MVP"?

They're all contemporaries (Ogden came in in '96; Pace and Walter Jones in '97).

by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 7:28pm

I'd also include Walter Jones as a deserving HoF OT.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 7:33pm

You guys ranked the WRs, but didn't draw a line for who gets in.

Cris Carter was only the best WR on his team for 4-6 seasons (1991-1997). Yes, I know I'm talking in terms about DPAR, but Jake Reed was no slacker... and once Randy Moss came along he was matched up with the #2 corner.

I seriously need to sit down and organize all the WR data I've looked at (mostly from data you guys compile). Jake Reed put up stats like Reggie Wayne did to Marvin Harrison. Sure, he caught 15 less footballs, but he gained ~3-4 more yards per catch.

On the flip-side... Carter was a TD machine...

I agree with Tanier about the "What if..." scenarios. Every player can use that excuse, they were what their stats say they are.

by thepeepshow (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 7:39pm

I'd put Walter Jones ahead of Pace and Ogden as well. The guy just doesnt get beat, makes the players around him better, and can push the pile like no one can.

How about current RB's? Who do you see going in 5-10 years down the road?

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 7:44pm

MDS, before you suggest that the succession of Denver backs has been close to as productive as Terrell Davis, let me ask you one question. Terrell Davis made 3 straight Pro Bowl and All-Pro squads. How many pro bowls and All-Pros have his replacements been named to in the 7 years since he got hurt?

You really have to remember the context that the numbers were put up in. Rushing as a whole is drastically up this year compared to where it was back then. Last year there were 5 1,500 yard rushers. In 2004, there were 5. In 2003, there were 6. In 1996, there were two (Barry Sanders with 1553 and TD with 1538). In 1997 there were 3. In 1998, there were 3. Remember the DVOA numbers from 1998? Two RBs had over 10% DVOA- Jamal Anderson with just barely over 10%, and Terrell Davis with well over 20%.

Arguing the "Davis was never the best in the league" point. Terrell Davis finished 2nd, 2nd, and 1st in rushing yards. He finished 2nd, 2nd, and 2nd in yards from scrimmage (behind Watters, Sanders, and Faulk, so none of the three can say that they were better over that 3 year span). He finished 3rd, 2nd, and 1st in total TDs over that span. The only player over that entire span to rank ahead of him in two of the three categories was Barry Sanders (rushing yards and yards from scrimmage in the 2,000 yard season). That, to me, says a lot. I wouldn't hesitate to call him the best RB in the NFL in 1996 and 1998 (Sanders wins it in 1997, on the strength of 2,000 yards).

Final arguement. Terrell Davis was offensive player of the year in 1996 and 1998. The only other RBs to win the Offensive PoY award multiple times are Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders, and Marshall Faulk. And Davis actually earned "AFC Offensive PoY" honors in 1997 (making that 3 straight AFC Offensive PoYs). Davis was the consensus MVP in 1998. The only other RBs to win the consensus league MVP (i.e. both MVP awards) in NFL history are Walter Payton, Earl Campbell, Marcus Allen, Thurman Thomas, Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Marshall Faulk, and Shaun Alexander. If you pro-rate his playoff numbers, you get a 2,240 yard rushing, 2,572 total yard, 24 TD season. The rushing yards and yards from scrimmage would both be NFL records, and the TDs would be 4th on the all-time list. Even if you don't give extra weight to playoff performance, you have to account for the fact that you face better defenses in the playoffs. In 1998, according to DVOA, he faced the #1, #3, and #4 ranked defenses in the entire NFL. The result? 537 yards (179 per game) and 3 TDs. And that includes a 206 yard, 2 TD effort against #1 Miami.

Off the topic of Terrell Davis, I love the fact that every time I roll over the phrase "Hall of Fame", it directs me to John Elway memorabilia. It's surreal to finally have someone in.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 7:49pm

Throwing one more defender into the discussion: Darrell Green, whom I (as a Giants fan) feared even more than Deion, and for a much longer period.

Is it me, or does the OL discussion above make it seem like the late 90s/early 00s might be considered the golden age of LTs? If you add Walter Jones and Tony Boselli (I'm not saying Boselli belongs in the hall - he doesn't - but for a stretch, he was just as good as the others), that's 5 dominant players in their primes at the same time. For a non-glam position like LT, 5/32 seems like an awful lot. (or am I getting their playing years mixed up? I'm in the office can't research it right now).

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 7:54pm

Tanier comes off across as awfully ignorant about the Baseball Hall of Fame when he continues to espouse the comment "don’t want Canton to become Cooperstown, where some journeyman reaches some magic milestone and all the voters just shrug their shoulders and select him."

The milestones long considered to be worthy of induction are as follows:

3000 hits
500 home runs
300 wins as a pitcher

I GUARANTEE that if you had one of THOSE guys as your BEST player on a team it could win a championship. Meaning that every single one of these guys post 19th century baseball who has garnered these totals had peak seasons that were MVP or Cy Young worthy seasons.

The PROBLEM with the Baseball Hall of Fame is LOWER tier of individuals who were selected due to cronyism on what is known as the Veterans Committee. That issue has been identified and corrected (at least in the last 10 years or so).

One MIGHT make the statement that guys like McGwire and Sosa have "tainted" totals. And so the 500 homer level may no longer apply.

I think Tanier needs to stick to football instead of making comparisons that are completely without foundation. He's a smart guy. Smart guys should say and write smart things. Not ridiculously dumb things.

And if he reads this and wants to sift through each of the players in question I would be happy to do so.

And calling Robin Yount or Carl Yazstremski "journeyman" (for example) is not only insulting to these athletes accomplishments but ignorant to how these men are perceived by analysts. Analysts of BASEBALL that is.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 7:57pm

[obligatory]Chris Carter? All he ever did was catch touchdowns![/obligatory]

by Vince (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 8:07pm

I’d put Walter Jones ahead of Pace and Ogden as well. The guy just doesnt get beat, makes the players around him better, and can push the pile like no one can.
How about current RB’s? Who do you see going in 5-10 years down the road?

I'd say the guy Jones is blocking for is off to a good start.

On the WR front: Carter, Brown and Irvin are automatics, Reed is a maybe and Monk is a HELL no. Personally, I think Irvin should have gone in before Aikman.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 8:10pm

6) Darrell Green? I figured he was a slam dunk easy choice HoFer, so Mike and I didn't bother.

1 and 4) Jones would be a pretty good candidate. He really helped his profile this year with the deep playoff run.

7) I would never call Yount or Yaz a "journeyman", and journeyman might be too strong a word when I used it in the article. But for the record, I know a thing ot two about baseball history. Anyway, not a discussion for this site :)

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 8:31pm

Chris Carter? All he ever did was catch touchdowns!

And create The X Files.

by BillWallace (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 8:34pm

On the WRs, I agree with MDS order exactly, and that it should be cut off after Carter, and before Monk. And I'm a skins fan.

For my other cent....
Terrell Davis: no (but it's very close)
Ricky Waters: no
Thurman Thomas: yes, easily
Derrick Thomas: no
Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders, and Junior Seau: yes to all, Deion should be 100% yes
Darrell Green: Is this even a debate? obviously yes
Orlando Pace, Tom Nalen, Will Shields, Larry Allen, Jon Ogden: all yes
Roaf: yes
Jimmy Smith: not even close

by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 8:56pm

I'm really surprised that Ricky Watters is getting support for the HOF. I just don't remember him as someone who you worried about on the other team, and it seems like in order for a RB to get in he should be the kind of guy that you include in your game plan. When Watters went to the Eagles, I don't remember it being a huge deal, and it seems to me that if a HOF player switches teams in the prime of his career, it should make some waves. Maybe I just don't remember it that well, I wasn't following football as much then, particularly the NFC.

I dunno, I guess I kind of think of Watters as kind of a mid-90s version of Deuce McAlister, but maybe he was better than I am remembering him. I just don't remember ever thinking that he was working on a HOF career when he was playing.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 9:10pm

You've missed the threads where I've softened my stance on Monk.

The problem with the WRs is that they all have achilles flaws for their brilliance.

Monk had a long consistent career, especailly early on. Early in his career the pass reception leaders were dominated by RB and TEs, not nearly as much as after 1985-1986 when the WRs took over. I'm not sure the Redskins had a clear #1... Clark for sure dominated when he came along... but Monk wasn't too shabby. He was never the speedy type of WR that dominated the era (Henry Ellard).

Cris Carter has the same negatives as Monk. He benefits from playing along-side Anthony Carter and Randy Moss (Jake Reed is kind've like Stokely). Due to personal issues he is a late bloomer. If you penalize Monk for his YPC... what do you say about Carter, who really is the guy who only caught 8 yard hitches. But that is all offset by the TDs.

Brown is similar to Monk, except he was a clear #1 receiver.

Carter, Brown and Monk are all possession WRs... and I think the question should be "Does a possession WR deserve to be in Canton".

I don't know why Reed and Irvin don't get any love, particularly Reed. I think Irvin is in based on his dominance of Darrell Green (as a Redskins fan). I never paid too much attention to Reed but he's got a ton of Pro Bowls.

I don't think any of them should get in... because if you put any of them in, they all have arguments, plus Henry Ellard... and the door is wide open for Marvin Harrison AND Randy Moss (based on supplanting Cris Carter on the depth chart).

by Fnor (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 9:31pm

Personally, I'm a big fan of Jeff Saturday. Perhaps not right now, but giving him a few more years. I believe he's a huge part of what has made Indianapolis's machine tick.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 9:39pm

Dawkins and Roaf are the two that I really don't agree with Mike on.

With Roaf, I can't see how a guy who for essentially his entire career has been considered one of the absolute top linemen can't be a Hall of Fame lock. If Roaf doesn't get in, I don't know what more you have to do. Blow up defensive linemen with your eyes? Anyway, I think the simple question is "what other offensive lineman has been to the Pro Bowl for every season where he played more than half a season?" Any? At all?

With Dawkins, I think it'll become a lot more evident after he retires. If Mike means "if Dawkins retires right now", that I can kinda see. If he plays two more years at the level he's currently playing at, I can't see how he wouldn't be considered one of the best safeties to ever play.

by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 9:40pm

I always ask this in any hall of fame discussion, and thus far haven't gotten an answer for it. Could someone please tell me why Richard Dent is not getting a lot of consideration for the hall?

He is a superbowl MVP and has two rings (although he was injured for much of the year he spent on San Francisco). Is it maybe that he only has 4 Pro-Bowl appearances?

by masocc (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 10:00pm

Derrick Thomas, not in the HOF? Don't get me started. Oops, too late.

Let me begin with a caveat... I was fairly young while Thomas played, and I wasn't as knowledgeable about NFL play back then. I didn't necessarily pay attention to formations, line play, etc.

But as I recall, comparing Thomas with other linebackers isn't quite fair. He played almost like a 3rd DE. He had one heck of a 'motor', and was always around the ball. Most of his game was played BEHIND the LOS. He definitely WAS NOT a conventional LBer, and he was successful. Defenses were forced to account for him on every play, and even then, they often got beat. He had to be gameplanned for, ran away from, trapped, etc.

We shouldn't be comparing Thomas to players like Seau, for instance. Seau is asked to do an entirely different job than Thomas was. In their primes, Seau and Thomas BOTH dominated games. But a more adequate person to compare Thomas' stats to would be Michael Strahan (another general consensus HOF lock). Though I'll throw in Seau's 13 San Diego years as well, just for perspective.

(Incidentally, defensive stats in general, and *especially* sack yardage, stuffs, and retired players' stats; if anyone knows of a good resource for these, please let me know!)

Sacks per game:
Strahan .68 for an avg loss of
Thomas .75
Seau .24

Stuffs per game (since 1994):
Strahan .39 for an avg loss of 2.27 yards
Thomas .52 for an avg loss of 2.77 yards
Seau .54 for an avg loss of 2.21 yards

Tackles per game:
Strahan 3.97 (Solo: 3.11 Solo PCTG: 78%
Thomas 3.8 (Solo: 3.15 Solo PCTG: 83%)
Seau 7.42 (Solo: 6.13 Solo PCTG: 83%)

Forced Fumbles per game:
Strahan .12
Thomas .24
Seau .06

Turnovers caused per game ([FF/2 + INT]/games)
Strahan .08
Thomas .12
Seau .10

Passes Defensed per game:
Strahan .17
Thomas .11 (though it was .2 in the second half of his career (thus .05 in the first half)... it looks like they didn't start dropping him back into coverage until '94)
Seau .43

I leave these stats open to interpretation.

It looks to me like Derrick Thomas should be in. He was an amazing player, who's career was tragically cut short. He had yet to show signs of deterioration from age, and likely would've continued playing at a high level for at least several more years. He had several VERY memorable games (such as the 7 sack game, on Veteran's day, dedicated to his father that died in 'Nam... and he even said the right thing after the loss: "I'd trade them all for a win".) He has the allegedly moot off-field contributions. And he has the stats.

Granted, he's not a first ballot lock like LT, Reggie White, or Bruce Smith. But I also don't remember him as having as fine of a supporting cast as those players.

But Derrick Thomas' main problem is that people continue to think of him as an LBer and/or sack specialist, and expect him to rack up tackles and defend receivers in order to be 'elite'. But he wasn't asked to do that. He was an undersized DE. He helped to change the stereotype of a LBer. Heck, if he played today, under Belichick's system, people would be talking about him as a first ballot lock.

by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 10:09pm

MikeT should have put Rickey Watters in the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame.

by CA (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 10:53pm

Shields and Allen are the two best linemen of my lifetime

First, within your lifetime, MDS, I think Randall McDaniel merits serious consideration as the best guard, but I'm not going to pretend that I paid enough attention to guard play, say, 10 years ago, let alone today, in order to rank him against Shields and Allen.

Second, I still maintain that even the best guards simply aren't as good as the best tackles. Even if Shields and Allen are the two best guards of your lifetime, there are several to perhaps many superior offensive lineman who have played at the tackle position within your lifetime. That said, I know Allen did go to the Pro Bowl as a tackle in 1998, but I don't know if that means he was any good (Pro Bowls selections don't mean much to me).

I'm not set in stone with this argument. I'm certainly willing to listen to a good case for top guards being as good or better than top tackles, if someone is willing to make it.

I'm limiting this critique to offensive linemen. If you were including defensive linemen when you said that Shields and Allen were the two best linemen of your lifetime, I would disagree even more strongly.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 10:55pm

One more thing about the WRs for the night.

As much as it kills me to say, the best WR on that list is Michael Irvin. He's got the stats and rings.

If I were to compare them to WRs today, I'd lump Monk/Brown/Carter into the Derrick Mason/Hines Ward/ type camp. I'd compare Irvin to someone like Terrell Owens or Randy Moss. Sure they might be a little brat, but look at how the Eagles and now Cowboys have sold their soul to get a taste of some of that talent.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 11:05pm

How do the two Mike's feel about Randall Cunningham's chances at entering the HOF?

3 MVP awards, 4 pro-bowls, 7 playoff appearances, revolutionary talent that changed the way QB is played.

by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 11:27pm

Re: 19

So how good does a guard have to be to get in the Hall? Is there no circumstance where a guard would merit enshrinement?

This seems pretty closely related to the question of whether punters should make the Hall - are there some positions on a team that simply do not ever merit enshrinement? Is one of those positions
"possession receiver"?

by thad (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 11:39pm

Carter had great hands, probably the best of those five.

No way.
Great hands?
Better than Monk's?
Monk just never dropped balls.
Monk and Joiner had the best hands I ever saw and it wasn't that close.

Other than that, great article

by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 08/02/2006 - 11:58pm

At 31, Brian Dawkins remains among the best safties in the NFL (rank him below #4 and I smack you). He might still be the best FS in the game and he was the leader of some very, very good Eagle defenses. He's still a feared hitter (ask Vick and Crumpler) and he's can still cover. How many other free safeties can rush the passer, cover the pass, defend the run and knock chumps in the dirt all at the same time?

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:14am

Psst... Dawkins was born in 73. He's 33, not 31.

by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:29am

17 - Dent's career totals aren't all that impressive. He was a guy who could be dominant when he wanted to, but he just didn't want to all that much.
I got another name for you - Simeon Rice
His career sack totals are getting quite impressive, he got robbed from being a Super Bowl MVP, and he's not showing any signs of slowing down. The problems are that he only has three pro bowls, has a reputation of being weak against the run (which I think is somewhat undeserved), and was never really considered the absolute best at his position, though seemingly always in the top 5 or 6.

by Josh (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:01am

Is it just my Jets fan bias that I consider Kevin Mawae an HOF candidate and the best center of this era, ahead of Nalen?
And sticking with my Jets, is there any doubt on Curtis Martin? Some might say he's a compiler, but I think he's a lock (as did PFP 2005).
Regarding coaches, how long do you think it will take for Parcells to get in after he "retires" and leaves the Cowboys? He's come back from retirement a couple times already, and they don't like to induct coaches until their sure they won't come back - and even then you have Joe Gibbs returning as a HOF coach.

by Josh (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:06am

Another point: regarding Art Monk, and not wanting to see someone get in by lobbying/whining by people for him to get in, didn't that just happen with Harry Carson? I'm too young to remember him as a player and if he deserves it, here in NY everyone seems to think he does, but Carson made it only after being rejected many times, criticizing the process, and asking to be removed from the ballot.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 2:02am

Re #21: How do the two Mike’s feel about Randall Cunningham’s chances at entering the HOF?

3 MVP awards, 4 pro-bowls, 7 playoff appearances, revolutionary talent that changed the way QB is played.

I only count half an MVP award (in 1990, he was the PFW MVP and Montana was the AP MVP). I also fail to see how he "changed the way that QB is played". How many times have you EVER heard a team say they want to go out and get a Randall Cunningham-type at QB? A Joe Montana-type, sure. A Dan Marino-type, absolutely. A Steve Young-type, of course. A John Elway-type, yeah. A Randall Cunningham-type? Not so much.

I view Randall Cunningham as Michael Vick before Michael Vick. If you want to see what it takes for a running QB to make the hall, check out Steve Young. Just my humble opinion.

Re #27: Is it just my Jets fan bias that I consider Kevin Mawae an HOF candidate and the best center of this era, ahead of Nalen?
My Broncos fan bias says yes.

by Mike (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 2:03am

Re: #7
I have to agree. I felt like the line about Cooperstown tainted the article a bit (it was otherwise a very enjoyable, thoughtful read). I find it ridiculous that so many on these boards and so many articles rip Cooperstown. Baseball and football are obviously different games. The writing here is good enough that ripping another sport isn't necessary.

by skins fan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 2:48am

we all know football is won and lost in the trenches, by linemen - yet these unfashionable types have an unfairly low representation in the HOF. why? because they make poor highlight reel candidates. the HOF really should be called the Hall of Flash - QB's RB's & WR dominate. don't get me wrong, they all deserve to be there. it's just that the whole selection process is WRONG!! - too many non players (journalists) have too much input. surely there needs to be more input from players - after all they would know (players judge other players by TOUGHNESS as well as skill / journalists forget about toughness) . My point - UNFLASHY or what I prefer to call TOUGH GUYS don't get enough recognition. On the field NFL is about the GO TO GUYS & TOUGH GUYS so here it is - WHY THEN is a possession reciever percieved as BAD? Surely guys like Art Monk who ran shortish routes BUT OVER THE MIDDLE!!! (not the sidelines) and hardly dropped a catch YET consistantly got HAMMERED by linebackers BUT MADE FIRST DOWNS...kept the chains movin!! (yep , that's GOOD in my books Tough, Dependable and Durable over MANY MANY YEARS turns GOOD into GREAT - how many TOUGH YARDS did MONK have - enough to be No1 when he retired - THAT MAKES MONK A SLAM DUNK HOF in my book!). You can't tell me other coaches DIDN'T talk about stopping ART MONK - they ALL knew the ball was coming his way BUT THEY COULDN'T stop it!! isn't that THE SAME as the great QB's, RB's & WR - other teams knew it was coming but couldn't stop it!! but no - the HALL of FLASH will never allow such a thing.

ask those defensive players who played against Art Monk if he deserves to be in the Hall - my money will be on them saying YES!

by Sergio (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:07am

Huh. Hard to say this, but I kinda agree with Josh at 27. Maybe it's all those years of watching Zach Thomas run right at Mawae and get stopped cold...

Though I have to say, I consider him a HOF candidate, not better than Nalen...

by John (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:23am

re: 27

Curtis Martin- absolute lock

Kevin Mawae- maybe

Art Monk- I've been watching football religiously since 1984 and after Rice I might put Monk at #2 on my list of best WRs I've seen (that includes Largent, Carter, Harrison, Moss, etc.). Monk made catches all over the field. So what if he caught a ton of passes off dodge patterns? He'd regularly catch a pass 1 or 2 yards off the line of scrimmage and take it a dozen of so yards for a first down. Seemed like he converted a ton of key first downs in his career.

by Earl Campbell (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:47am

If I'm a Hall-of-Famer, why isn't Terrell Davis?

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 5:33am

I think putting Davis in is OK, but anyone who thinks he was ever the best RB in the game is deluding himself. Sanders in a heartbeat. TD played with an all-time great QB and the great offensive line system that makes Mike Anderson look godly. Barry played for the Lions. No way that TD should get in before Thurman Thomas, too.

I think the standards for current WRs will be defined by what happens with the class discussed above. I wasn't around to see many of those guys play when they were good, so I don't have too many opinions, except that Tim Brown should be in. When we discuss WRs, I think it's fair to just pretend Rice's accomplishments don't exist, because if we say "well he wasn't as good as Rice," we'll never get any Hall of Famers. Excluding Rice, Brown is the NFL's all time leading receiver.

by JeffS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 6:16am

I like the T Davis discussion. I have to think if the guy played in a bigger market team, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. However, I think he gets in after a few years of debates.

As for WRs, the only guy who is HOF level is Brown. Harrison will be a lock. I can't say at this point that Holt, Moss, or Owens have made it already (and probably in that order too). Will be interesting to see how they treat Rod Smith when all is said and done too.

Linemen getting into the HOF has always been strange to me. I like all the guys mentioned. And while Mawae deserves discussion, I don't think he quite makes it.

Of the safeties, I'd only vote for Harrison, and mostly because of what he did in New England (not to say his time in SD was irrelevant, but the rings go a long way). Dawkins has had a great career, but one of the best safeties of all time? C'mon. If he plays his career in San Diego, his name doesn't even come up. And Lynch is a great safety, but if he gets in, it will be more because of his great public image and relationship with the press than it will be because of his solid play on the field.

by masocc (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 7:17am

Have I gone crazy? I *swear* I wrote a rather long case for Derrick Thomas deserving to be in the HOF, posted it, and saw it up here earlier?

Did it disappear, somehow? Or have I gone insane, and started hallucinated FO posts?

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 8:16am

14 -- no, i've seen them. gentle ribbing is all -- and for the record, i've got a lot of respect for the way you've dived into the numbers and your willingness to let your head do such violence to your heart.

Re Roaf and other linemen, the Pro Football Reference blog just posted a topical bit on Pro Bowl retention rates by position, inferring that the heavier retention rates for linemen suggest reputation plays a larger role in their selection since they don't fill up any stats sheets. It's linked on my name, and though I can't argue with Pat (16) that if the guy makes the Pro Bowl every bloody year of his career, he's a HoF'er, it might mean the coinage of lineman Pro Bowls in these conversations needs to be correspondingly revalued.

by James G (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 8:47am

#14 - Matt - I really don't understand your complaints about letting Carter in means we have to let X in, when X is often somebody I think is a HOFer. Putting Carter in the HOF opens the door for Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss? So what? They are likely to be considered for the HOF and are often considered to be the best WRs of the late 90s --> now. I don't quite see how letting Carter in opens the door for Ellard. Ellard's career is more comparable to Monk's - 3 Pro Bowls & a small number of seasons ('88, '89, '90, '94) at the top in at least one of the standard WR stat categories (Receptions/Yards/TDs). Carter has 8 Pro Bowls and 10 seasons in the top 10 in one of those categories. Harrison is at 7 Pro Bowls and 7 seasons at the top 10 in one of those categories, and most analysts consider Harrison the best WR of his time. Moss is at 5 Pro Bowls and 7 seasons in the top 10 in one of those categories in 8 seasons that he played. Last year was the first year he failed in that regard.

by James G (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 8:56am

Re: Watters. Ricky Watters just doesn't quite do it for me. I think he should get more consideration than he has been, but when you look at his #s, they just aren't at the very top often enough. He led the league in yards from scrimmage in '96, but only hit the top 5 two other times (although hit the top 10 a bunch of times). He only hit the top 5 in rushing one time. I guess I just can't buy him over Davis, who was #2 in yards from scrimmage 3 times, had a #1 season for rushing yards and two #2 seasons. I'm thinking I'd hold both out, but I like Davis over Watters. Still, both merit some consideration.

Interesting discussion about Davis's lack of Pro Bowls with 3. When comparing Pro Bowls, I would not compare across positions, so I wouldn't use Swann's 3. OTOH, maybe I would use the fact that Riggins only had 1 Pro Bowl, and he's in the HOF.

by Rob (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 9:04am

How about Steve Tasker?

by James G (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 9:06am

One more comment: I don't think Monk getting in would set any sort of precedent. The precedent's already been set by other players.

by Lou in Cincy (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 9:15am

"Frankly, I’d rather see players like that inducted than “gold watch guys� who played for 14 years and some statistical plateau"

I dunno, if you play NFL Football for 14 years, thats something in and of itself.
For years I was ribbed about my contention that Marcus Allen wasn't a HOFamer. I mean, after his monster career start culminating in his truly awesome 1985, he pretty much fell off a cliff. If Marcus Allen retired after gaining 578 yds from scrimmage in 92' for the raiders, instead of reviving his career with the chiefs, would he have been a HOF? Those extra 5 years put him in Canton.
Now I dunno if that example is enough to put Ricky Watters in the Hall, but I think they're much more similar players than at first glance.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 10:17am

Kibbles #29:

I only count half an MVP award (in 1990, he was the PFW MVP and Montana was the AP MVP).

1988 - Maxwell Club MVP, 1990 - PFW MVP, 1998 - Maxwell Club MVP

I also fail to see how he “changed the way that QB is played�. How many times have you EVER heard a team say they want to go out and get a Randall Cunningham-type at QB? A Joe Montana-type, sure. A Dan Marino-type, absolutely. A Steve Young-type, of course. A John Elway-type, yeah. A Randall Cunningham-type? Not so much.

I view Steve Young, McNair, Stewart, McNabb, Culpepper, Vick, and now Vince Young as all following in Cunningham's footsteps. Certainly teams are out looking for those type of players.

I view Randall Cunningham as Michael Vick before Michael Vick. If you want to see what it takes for a running QB to make the hall, check out Steve Young.

Cunningham was always much better than Vick has ever been. Cunningham essentially was the first or second QB in the league in total value in 1987, 1988, 1990, and 1998. However, this is a good point. Vick is a person who is generally the best athlete on the field on offense when he is in the game, and around whom the opposing team's game plan must center. Cunningham was that type of person long ago, and he had far less talent around him on offense than Vick does (except in Minnesota in 1998), and did far more with it. Vick, for example, has a running game to go with his scrambling. Cunningham was the Eagles running game.

If one of the qualifications for HOF entry is changing the way the game is played, then Cunningham's introduction of extreme QB mobility to the game has to be given consideration, along with the credentials previously listed (and his all-time best QB rushing statistics). Cunningham's chances in my view are of course hurt by his injury history (especially in 1991, when the Eagles had the best defense in football, and possibly one of the top 3 defenses ever), his benching in 1995, and his own immaturity and lack of work ethic to develop his talents, which artificially limited his production to a few good or great years (1987-1990, 1992, 1994, 1998). This leaves him an iffy case.

by MikeT (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 10:42am

44. Randall Cunningham kinda followed in Fran Tarkenton's footsteps. There have always been scramblers. And every great scrambler is said to be the harbinger of a new type of play, which never really happens.

I have images of Randall burned permanently into my brain. He was breathtaking. He was extraordinary. And he won exactly one playoff game with the Eagles. He didn't even throw a TD until his fourth playoff game. Yes, one of those games was the Fog Bowl, when he threw 3 picks, but he had awful playoff games against the Rams and Redskins the following years, and it was clear that if a good defense gameplanned for him (the Rams only rushed 2 or 3 linemen for much of the game) they could make Randall play terribly.

Then, in 1995, he came on in relief of Rodney Peete against the Cowboys in the playoffs and stunk. He later admitted that he hadn't bothered to study the gameplan that week.

Randall earned a rep as a me-first player and a flake in Philly. To put him in the HoF, you have to put a lot of stock in his 1997 and 1998 seasons with the Vikings. Two more great statistical years, two more playoff disappointments (though he played better).

Randall's a guy whose stat line is much better than he was.

by Dan Rooney (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 10:44am

Re: 27
Dermontti Dawson was the best center of his era not Kevin Mawae.

-Pittsburgh Homer

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 10:49am

Discounting Cris Carter's ability to make catches in the end zone against tight red zone coverage, at a rate higher than anybody not named Jerry Rice, indicates that one doesn't really understand what is valuable in a wide receiver. There isn't a single coordinator in the NFL, on offense or defense, who would share that view. Buddy Ryan later said that his famous remark was just his typical wisecrack, and wasn't to be taken seriously.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 10:57am

MDS, don't forget that John Hannah was playing when you were alive.

I can't evaluate Randall Cunningham objectively. I'm still mad at him for grossly underthrowing Randy Moss, when Moss was open by five steps, 60 yards downfield, in overtime, during the infamous Falcons victory over the '98 Vikings in the NFC Championship Game.

by ammek (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 10:59am

Re: coaches.

Do you think Jimmy Johnson will ever get in? Or does he rub too many folk up the wrong way?

Now that Madden's in, the winning coaches of the previous 26 Super Bowls are all in Canton except Don McCafferty, Tom Flores, George Seifert and Parcells (whose bust is sitting in a depot somewhere already). Flores and Seifert have two rings each, but not much love from the electors.

If you're right, then only Switzer and Billick will miss out among the modern-era coaches. It seems that rings impress on a coach more than for any other position.

What about owners? Will there be room for Jimmy Jones or Ralph Wilson? And how about the perennial question of an enshrined general manager: Ron Wolf must be the top candidate, no?

by ammek (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 11:01am

Jerry Jones. Duh.

by wrmjr (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 11:54am

One position you didn't mention is TE. What do you feel about Shannon Sharpe? How about Tony Gonzalez? Are either HOF worthy? Personally, I think it's a hard position to interpret, but I'd probably vote Yes on both of them (assuming Gonzales has a few more good years in him).

by Lou in Cincy (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:13pm

Isn't about time for a Punter to be in the HOF? I mean, every team needs one. It's an important part of the game. There are obvious candidates for the best ever at the position, like Rey Guy or Reggis Roby. Placekickers are in there. How bout some luv for the guys who do the dirty work of controlling field position.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:20pm

Shouldn't the number of probowls start having less affect on players getting into the HOF now that fans get to vote?
I mean, some guys (especially the lineman and defensive players) get lots of votes based on name recognition.

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:21pm

skins fan,

learn to turn off your caps lock. makes you look insane.

earl campbell,

because terrell davis never ran over Isaiah Robertson like a Mack truck over a Tonka. And there was no cool footage of him running out of his shirt.

As a Chiefs fan for 30+ years, I say 'no' to Derrick Thomas in the HoF. He was one-dimensional and once teams went to quick routes and three-step drops, not even that effective against the pass. As far as playing the run goes, well, you're not HoF material when opposing teams realize that you can't handle them running right at you. The Chiefs have a LB legacy that includes Willie Lanier, Jim Lynch, and the great, great Bobby Bell. Thomas isn't a patch on any of them.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:23pm

ROBO-PUNTER would be in already, but as he's unafflicted by the aging of these meatbags, he's never going to retire.

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:24pm


Players got into the Pro Bowl based on rep long before fans were involved. When Mick Tingelhoff was named to his first PB, Fran Tarkenton said, "You're gold now." Tingelhoff proceeded to make 18 straight PBs. That's a big reason I don't consider Pro Bowl status at all.

by Jim C. (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:40pm

Some random thoughts:

What about Russ Grimm and Joe Jacoby? Assuming that Monk gets stiffed, the great Skins teams of 1982-91 are woefully underrepresented in Canton.

Barring injury, Ed Reed is going in.

The continued omission of Mick Tingelhoff is an absolute disgrace.

by tighthead (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 12:50pm

Someone who deserves some consideration, but will get very little, is Darren Woodson. He had a pretty low profile, but was an outstanding SS for many seasons. While not known for "jacking people up", he was strong against the run, good in coverage, and very heady. Also stood out on special teams while starting on D. The Cowboys D of that era had some standouts at times - Haley, Deion, Norton - but Woodson was a rock.

Larry Allen is a no brainer, even if he was predominantly a guard.

I will turn my Cowboys homerism off now.

Watters is an interesting one - he was kind of like Thurman Thomas, but not quite. I think he deserves some consideration, whatever that means, but that is it.

What about Leroy Butler?

by James C (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:17pm

What about Bryant Young?

Before he got his leg broken he was the best lineman I personally have ever watched. He got double teamed just about every play and the only time he didn't see two guys was when he saw three. Yet he still dominated the games he played in. He seemed to live in the opponents backfield. He was never quite the same player after the injury but still remained one of the top tackles in the league for almost his whole career. It was not BY's fault that the niners went to cap purgatory for years upon years. Furthermore I would make the point that if you are going to consider Terrell Davis on just a few years work why not Bryant Young? His contribution to the niners before his injury was as big as TD's was to the Broncos. The defensive MVP that Dana Stubblefield won should have been given to Young as he was the one getting double teamed. If you remember Merton Hanks and Tim McDonald getting loads of picks at safety for the Niners, go back and look at how many of those picks were caused by Bryant Young forcing the quarterback to throw and stopping him stepping up (usually with lineman draped all over him).

On the short career vote that gets TD in BY's first few years were incredible, as I have previously stated the best I have ever seen a lineman play. Does the fact that he was able to rehab his injury and continue to play at a very high level albeit not quite up there with his pre-injury form on an awful team with very little press attention count him out?

Players from bad teams have gotten into the hall before (Manning, Selmon), BY did win a championship and then quietly excelled for a decade. Put him in the Hall.

For the record I am not a Niners fan.

by Jimbo (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:21pm

Rich Kotite

by dan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:24pm

"I’m not interested in what Watters or Faulk or Rodney Hampton or whoever “could’ve� done with the 1998 Broncos. I’m concerned about what Davis did: he gained 2,000 yards and won a Super Bowl. Those accomplishments made him famous for all the right reasons. He belongs in Canton."

You said this in the discussion on RBs at the top of the article. You say you're concerned that Davis gained 2,000 yds and won a Super Bowl. Well, so did Jamal Lewis, does that make him a HOF?

by MikeT (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:27pm

Responding to a couple of these ...

Shannon Sharpe: I think he's in. Gonzo's career is fairly similar to Winslow's and Newsome's, so he's not a bad candidate. He helped his reputation as a blocker and a team player last year. Remember, not too long ago he played summer basketball and threatened to quit the NFL in a contract dispute. He's not the first great player to hold out, but it gave him a little bit of a stats-and-dough image that can hurt a guy who never played in a Super Bowl.

Punters: Mike and I wrote a segment about special teamers, but we cut it because the article was running long. Here's my take: I would like the first pure punter to go in to be clearly head and shoulders above the competition. I want him to average 49 yards per punt, or I want him to have pinned the opponent inside the 20 three times in a Super Bowl, or something. Basically, I'd want to say "that punter really changed his team's fortunes for x-years." or was 10% better than any other punter in the league for 5 years, other than, well, he made several Pro Bowls and led the league in net average 3 times, so he's a HoFer. I wouldn't boycott if Ray Guy or Reggie Roby made it, but I have a feeling they won't.

Tinglehoff: he got destroyed in a Super Bowl, I think by Curley Culp (who would make a pretty good HoFer), and that hurt his reputation with a lot of voters.

Mawae and Woodson: Great players, long careers. But the bar is really high in Canton, and like it or not, it is higher for linemen and defenders. Mawae has always been considered one of the 2 or 3 best centers in the NFL, but always being one of the 2 or 3 best at center doesn't cut it unless a) you do it for 12 years or b) you win jewelry. Tinglehoff is an odd case, so look at Jeff Van Note, who went to 5 Pro Bowls and was one of the best centers in the league for a decade. He probably won't make it in, in part because no one's that jazzed about Falcons football of the 1970s.

Woodson's a different case, because he has hardware, but then the question becomes this: how many of the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys go in? Aikman, Emmitt, Irvin, Larry Allen, then you have all of the guys like Haley, Woodson, Stepnoski, Moose, Norton, Novacek, and a couple of others. Novacek and Haley each have 5 Pro Bowls, like Woodson. Moose has two, but the Pro Bowl added the fullback category in the middle of his career just to accomodate him. A few of those guys are in, but a lot of others are out. I would guess Woodson is among the "outs"

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:40pm

Will (Re 47)
Art Monk and Michael Irvin can't read your post... they are blinded by their Super Bowl rings. (Apologies to Patrick Roy)

For all the TDs Carter caught, his teams still never went to the Super Bowl.. whereas Monk was there in 1983, 1984, 1987, 1991. Doesn't that diminish the value of Carter's TD stats? Looking at the TD leaders of all time, you can see the bias of the current scoring era.

Passing/Receiving TDs are more valuable to QBs than WRs. I don't know what point that proves, but that's not really why I discount Cris Carter. In my mind he is more discounted because of his low YPC. I don't see how the Hall can justify putting Carter in when they've held firm against Monk. Carter has TDs, Monk has rings. Monk has Gary Clark/Charlie Brown, Carter has Randy Moss/Anthony Carter (and Mike Quick?). Monk peaked early in his career, Carter peaked late in his career. Both of them made their teammates better and are great WRs.

I do think in looking at the stats we are forgetting that NFL rules changes drastically impacted passing/receiving stats... which looks better for Monk who caught more passes in the hostile era.

When Monk is compared to his peers (WRs drafted within 4 years of him... an 8 year window)... I see Largent as #1 and Lofton as #2 followed by Monk (then Ellard and Irving Fryar).

The same comparison for Carter yields Rice, Tim Brown, Reed, Ellard, Fryar and Irvin. So Carter could could be #3 when compared to his peers as well (depending on how you rank him vis a Irvin and Brown).

To me, Monk/Carter/Tim Brown is a tie. You can't bring them all in, and if one of those guys is in the others are deserving.

I still think (typingthisisgonnakillme) Michael Irvin is the best receiver of the group. If I were to build a football team and I had to pick one of those WRs, it would be Irvin. Even though he got away with so many pushoffs (all of them did)... teams knew they had to either double him or put 8 men in the box... and couldn't stop Emmitt or Aikman/Irvin.

by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:53pm

57 - Ed Reed? Are you kidding me? That's woefully premature. He's only player four seasons. Might as well say the same about Brian Urlacher and Dwight Freeney then. Heck, throw Polamalu in the Hall as well.

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 2:06pm

The "rings" arguments seems as shaky to me as the Pro Bowl standard. Is Alvin Harper HoF material? He got rings! Bill Bates? Lin Elliott? Rings, baby! Marlin Briscoe? Sam Davis? Bennie Cunningham? Mark Bavaro? Ring-bearers all. In football, more than any other sport, great players can be stuck on horrible teams and look like losers. A great baseball player can be on a team that goes 62-99, yet he will still have an opportunity to go .325/34/125. A great basketball player can lift a bad/mediocre team to the heights. Football? If the pieces aren't there, greatness can not only miss out on championships, it can sometimes not even look very great.

Oh, and Ray Guy should be in the HoF.

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 2:08pm

Oh, and #62,

Last time I checked, Shannon Sharpe played on two Super Bowl teams. Did you mean Sterling Sharpe?

by TheWedge (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 2:30pm

I don't even understand how Carter and Brown are being debated. Carter is number 2 all time in TDs and Brown in yards...NUMBER 2! I realize that stats can be deceiving but...#2 all time! Furthermore, both are in the top 20 all time in yards from scrimmage. Can you really say that the individuals with the second most yards and touchdowns by a WR of all time should be kept out of Canton? Ludicrous.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 2:43pm

For some non-WR topics.

Watters, no. At least not before Roger Craig is in.

Thurman Thomas, heck yes! Before Reed even gets a sniff. The fact he is not in is silly. The fact that people consider Faulk a lock and not Thomas is why people need to look through history.

Cunningham, not before Ken Andersen.

by bmw1 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 2:56pm

Mike & Mike-

I'm not trying to make a case for Derrick Thomas going in the hall, but I don't see how you can hold having 7 sacks in one game against him. The man sets an NFL record and you use it to say that he shouldn't be in the HOF??

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:00pm

RE 57:

Waaaaay too early to be talking about Ed Reed for the hall. He had a couple of pretty good years...but he didnt do much in 10 games last year.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:01pm

Gary Andersen and Morten Anderson should be locks. I've stated my case in other threads but it boils down to if you think kicking is an important facet of the game. If kicking is relevant in football then they should be in.

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:02pm


Can you really say that the individuals with the second most yards and touchdowns by a WR of all time should be kept out of Canton?

Yes, you can. The rules changes that fostered such a difference have made such statistical comparisons very sketchy. Paul Warfield was a HoF WR in an era when catching 40 passes a year was a big number. Watch old footage of Jim Marsalis or Emmit Thomas covering Fred Biletnikoff, or Willie Brown on Otis Taylor. They did everything but break out blackjacks. The game of the late '90s-00s is just that different from the '60s-80s.

by John (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:09pm

re: 56

He only played 17 seasons.

I have him as being a 6-time Pro Bowler.

re: 62

Buck Buchanan was the other tackle who battered Tingelhoff in IV.

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:14pm


17 is correct. Pro Bowl probably should have read All-Pro. And the actual number is more like 14.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:15pm

Wasn't Rod Woodson on the 75th anniversary team? How can you say a guy who is one of top 5 or so at his position isn't HOF worthy?

Who picked the all 75th anniversary team? If it was the HOF voters, or a similar group, you would have to think Woodson is in. I always thought of him as a first balloter.

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:30pm


Rod Woodson isn't Darren Woodson.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:41pm

Rod was one of 4 CBs on the NFL 75th anniversary all-time team. And it says the team was chosen by a selection committee of media and league personnel in 1994. I would assume a lot of the media personnel are HOF voters.

Link to the all-time team.

by S (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:43pm

In the above post, Woodson refers to Darren Woodson. Rod Woodson getting in is a no brainer.

As to the article:

Thurman Thomas: Definately
Ricky Waters: probably not, though the fact that he is even discussed is a credit to you guys. I'm betting most HOF voters will dismiss him off hand.
The WR's: I'm joining those who are surprised that there's even a debate about Carter. Yes, his prime was short and he caught a lot of short passes, but during that time he was one of the most feared receivers in the NFL. Irvin has the next best case, he should have made it in ahead of Aikman. Brown was a better overall player than Jimmy Smith, but to me they're similar cases; both of them have stats that are padded because of their era and the lack of other quality receiving options on their teams during their primes. Reed has a strong case, but I agree with MDS that Thomas and Kent Hull were more important to those Bills teams. Besides, those teams already have Kelly and Marv Leavy in the Hall, with Bruce Smith a lock and Cornelius Bennett also to be considered.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:43pm

Darren Woodson was only in the league for 2 years when the all-time team was selected.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 3:46pm

Oh, sorry guys. I couldn't believe that people were arguing Rod's HOF chances. haha

by Pats on the Potomac (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 4:03pm

Darren Woodson? C'mon, Darren Woodson? Welcome to the Hall of Above Average, Mr. Woodson. You'll be signing autographs today after Craig James and Christian Okoye.
Plus, we should hold off on putting in any more QB's, RB's, and WR's until there are ten more o-linemen, 3 kickers, and a punter in the HOF.
And just because Lynn Swann snuck in with the rest of the Steelers doesn't mean we should water down the Hall for players like Monk and Irvin.
If you have to think about it, they shouldn't get in.

by CA (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 4:43pm

I disagree with those people who claim that there are too many QBs in the Hall of Fame or that it is too easy for QBs to be enshrined. QB inherently is potentially the most valuable position on the field. Consequently, a merely very good QB generally is more important to his team's success than a great guard or safety or, to use a more extreme example, long snapper.

For instance, look at the Steelers. Alan Faneca may well be the best guard in the NFL. Ben Roethlisberger is merely a good, but not great (yet, anyway), QB. Nonetheless, Roethlisberger rightly is viewed as more important to the Steelers' success than Faneca.

I've heard some people say that Troy Aikman shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame but that Larry Allen is a no brainer for enshrinement. Certainly Allen has been a better guard than Aikman was a QB. But as good as Allen is, does anyone honestly believe that he made a greater contribution to the success of the Cowboys than Aikman did? Certainly a very good case can be made for the Cowboys' line as a whole being more important than Aikman, but not for any one individual. I know that Allen was there for only one of the Super Bowl years, so it's a bit of an unfair comparison, but I think you get the point.

Good QBs get more glory than good players at other positions in part because they deserve more glory than good players at other positions.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 4:55pm

Wow a lot of posts here....

I am looking for some media-related help: In the past few weeks I have read a lot about Edgerrin James, whom I assume would be headed to Canton if he has three more decent years. The problem for me is, he's saying things to his new AZ teammates like "Don't mess up my hall of fame career."

Crap, man, you were always a great team player. With quotes like "I'm a baller, I play ball, I do whatever the coach asks me to do," you really won me over. Now asking your new teammates to protect your Canton credentials.... it's just so tacky.

Anybody else care to weigh in on Edge's chances? I think he still has the career highest yards per game in NFL history (of guys with more than 50 gamnes or whatnot), just slightly edging out a guy named Jim Brown, though I suspect LT will challenge him on that before they both retire.

Four 1,500+ yard seasons, two rushing titles, a few 2,000+ yards from scrimmage seasons, four (more?) Pro bowls in 7 years (two of which were diminished by injuries). A very good receiver who adequately replaced HOFer Faulk in Indy, and his most prized attributes in Indy the past few years may have been his blitz pickup and his smarts. How about that? And usually a good interview (which the reporters on the committee appreciate, although he's no Clinton Portis).

by tighthead (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 4:59pm

#80 I never said Woodson deserved to get in, but he was an outstanding defender, leader and special teamer, who flew under the radar. Maybe if he ran his mouth off more you would be more aware of him and not simply consider him "above average" and comparable to Craig James.

by TomG (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 5:05pm

It’s kind of hard to believe, but Rodney Harrison has a pretty impressive resume (99% verbatim from the Patriots’ website…also it’s a tiny bit dated):

Harrison is the NFL's all-time leader in sacks by a defensive back, having recorded 27.5 sacks in his 11 seasons heading into 2005.
Harrison is the only player in NFL history to record at least 25 sacks and at least 30 interceptions in his career. Harrison enters the 2005 season with 27.5 sacks and 31 interceptions in his regular-season career.
Over the last 10 seasons (1995-2004), Harrison has recorded more tackles than any other defensive back in the NFL, according to press box statisticians. His 1,013 tackles over that span are 84 more than the next highest total (Victor Green, 929).
His four picks in the 2004 playoffs tied for the third most in a single postseason since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Additionally, his six career playoff interceptions are tied for the fourth most since the merger.
In his first two seasons in New England, Harrison was not only the Patriots' leading tackler each year, but also led all NFL defensive backs in tackles in both seasons. He set a career high with 140 tackles in 2003, and then followed that with a 138-tackle performance in 2004.
Harrison was the Patriots' leading tackler in both the 2003 and 2004 postseasons while also recording a total of two sacks, six interceptions, seven passes defensed and two forced fumbles in the six games leading to New England's back-to-back world championships.
Harrison has shown a knack for coming up with interceptions at crucial times. In the 2004 regular season and playoffs, five of his six interceptions came inside the opponents' 20-yard line, with four of those picks coming inside the 4-yard line and two of them coming in the end zone. His only 2004 pick that did not come inside the 20-yard line was his interception in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXIX, a pick that ended Philadelphia's lastgasp drive and clinched the Patriots' world title.
Harrison has eclipsed the 100-tackle mark seven times during his career, including a career- high 140 tackles (105 solo) in 2003.
Harrison amassed a career high six sacks during the 2000 season. His six sacks led all NFL defensive backs and ranked second on the team.

It’s kind of sad that more people remember him for being a cheap shot artist (rather n00b question here, but wasn’t Lott also accused of this by opponents?) than for be one of the best safeties in the NFL for the past decade. I have absolutely no reservations about his HoF merit.

by TomG (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 5:07pm

Sorry for the (non-)spacing.

Anyway, re #52: If they don't feel that Reggie Roby is a HoF-worthy player, his watch surely was!

by Marko (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 5:12pm

"Oh, and #62,

Last time I checked, Shannon Sharpe played on two Super Bowl teams. Did you mean Sterling Sharpe?"

MikeT in #62 said he thinks Shannon Sharpe is in. MikeT then went on to talk about Tony Gonzalez (Gonzo) and mentioned that Gonzalez never played in a Super Bowl.

As for Sharpe, he actually played on three Super Bowl teams - don't forget the one with the Ravens.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 5:13pm

Ray Handley

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 5:22pm


Thanks. When I go back and re-read it, the subject is Gonzalez. The meaning got a little blurred on first read.

by Dylan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 5:57pm

Dear God this is a long thread ...

Skimmed it and haven't seen any mention of one of the most interesting cases to me. How about Kurt Warner? Warner:QBs::TD:RBs.

I'm torn on both, but I've never seen a serious discussion of Warner for the Hall.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 6:14pm

This year (and next, probably) in Arizona will pretty much define whether or not Warner gets into the Hall of Fame, in my opinion. If Warner takes Arizona to the playoffs and plays anything like he did for the Rams (remember, a lot of QBs drop off significantly their first season with a new team), I think he'll be a decent candidate. Right now, though, it just still looks like he's a product of Mike Martz.

by michael (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 6:16pm


My .02 on Warner? Great story, will make a fine movie, but HoF? Not even close.

by CA (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 6:19pm

Re: 89

Warner has played long enough and on enough teams to prove that he was just a product of his system when he was with the Rams. Davis never got the chance to demonstrate definitively what many of us suspect, that he was not really as good as his statistics may indicate.

by James G (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 6:20pm

I think Warner's done in by his injury in 2000 as well. It leaves him with 2 stellar seasons - '99 and '01 w/ good efficiencies and totals. T. Davis had 3. Davis also plays at a position with generally shorter careers than Warner, so he can get away with fewer top-notch seasons. Warner just doesn't have enough.

by Dylan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 6:42pm

I stand corrected on Warner. Just took another look at his numbers, and 1999 was really the only HoF caliber year out there. 2000-2001 he's like a mini-Favre with the picks, and 2002 he's like a mega-Billy Joe with ... well, everything really.

Would he have had a better case if he had played before 1999? Maybe. Do we know for sure? No.

And to go way back in this thread, I don't think the Bucs were hoping for a Randall Cunningham-like talent when they got Young, given that Randall was a rookie and Young had torn up the USFL.

by Ned Macey :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 6:49pm

These numbers may not be exact, but on first glance, of the top 11 eligible running backs in terms of rushing yards, all but Thurman Thomas are in Canton.

Among wide receivers, I think it is 5 out of 11. The difference is not just the change in passing yards. All the running backs are post-merger except Jim Brown. Why are running backs and receivers treated so differently?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 7:05pm

Uh, no, Matthew, Carter's lack of a Super Bowl ring does not diminish his t.d. stats. You've yet to explain to me why Art Monk should be credited for the blocking of the Redskins offensive line, and for the fact that he always played with above average defenses, which were the primary factors in the Redskins' Super Bowl victories. With the possible exception of quarterback, Super Bowl championships play entirely too large a role in the evaluation process, or to put it more precisely, the lack of a Super Bowl championship plays too large a role in the evaluation of some players. The game has 22 guys on the field at any given time.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 7:22pm

Warner has played long enough and on enough teams to prove that he was just a product of his system when he was with the Rams.

On "enough teams"? He's played a complete season with one team, and more than one year with only one team. Considering a lot of quarterbacks struggle their first year with a new team, it's not unexpected there either.

Warner's biggest problem is that he won't have enough years before his prime to make now look like the downside of a Hall of Fame QB. He didn't start for the Rams until he was 28.

If he had started when he was oh, say, 24, I doubt people would be arguing at all.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 8:49pm

What if Trent Green didn't get injured in 1999, and he put up numbers comparable to Warner's, followed by his actual performance with the Chiefs.

Does he make the Hall? Is he in the discussion? What if he put up the Warner alien numbers without winning the Super Bowl?

Also, what about Brenda Warner for her historic influence on sports talk radio?

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 9:18pm

What if he put up the Warner alien numbers without winning the Super Bowl?

If you splice Warner's 1999/2000 seasons together with Green's and credit them to Green, I can't see how Green wouldn't look almost exactly like Peyton Manning, if not better. First off, the two of them combined in 2000 for roughly 5500 passing yards and 52 touchdowns.

Do that, and there's no way in hell that Green wouldn't get into the Hall, even if they lost the Super Bowl at the end of the year - especially given the years since then.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 9:24pm

Whoops, strike the 52 touchdowns part. I thought that sounded weird. I added Warner's 2001 with Green's 2000.

Anyway, in terms of total career yardage "Wargreen" would have roughly exactly Manning's yardage (about 33,000) and pretty close to Manning's TD totals too (about 210 compared to 244).

So the question of "would Wargreen be in (without a Super Bowl)?" is really "does Peyton Manning deserve to go in?" because they're basically the same.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 11:09pm

A player scores every TD for a team that goes 0-16 every year. Are those TDs valuable if they don't correlate to rings? This is exactly what Tanier and Smith predicted in the article.

I don't think Carter/Brown/Monk should go into the Hall... so don't think I'm putting Carter behind Monk. They all have flaws in the argument for... and everything Monk gets nailed on you can nail Carter for also (except TDs). Carter probably had a better career... but Monk also gets points for being a trailblazer... is he the first great possession WR? An archtype for Carter and Harrison? (I don't know, I'm just throwing that out there blindly, like Aaron Brooks).

Carter has a bushel-full of TDs... but let's play the "who would you rather have on your team" game, if you could choose WRs from 1994-1998. You've got Jerry Rice as your first WR.

Michael Irvin, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Herman Moore, Irvin Fryar (!).

I would choose at least Irvin and then Tim Brown due to their increased YPC over Carter. I briefly looked at the numbers, but there is ~2 YPC difference in their receiving stats, and I'd rather have that than Carter's extra TDs... because eventually those 2 YPC will correlate into TDs for someone.

How come the Vikings didn't consistently lead the league in scoring while Carter was there? That only occured once Randy Moss was in the fold.

The only TD number that really impresses me is the 17 TD in 1995... that year the Vikings are top 5 in scoring. His next highest non-Moss total is 13 in 1997, and the Vikings ended up at ~11 in total points scored.

It's a team game, and even if you score all your team's TDs, doesn't mean your team is going to lead the league in scoring. That's why I dimish TDs as a stat in general.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 11:35pm

To put things in perspective. Were you impressed by Chris Chambers TDs totals this past year? Not me... but surprisingly he was 2nd in the league in Receiving TDs.

Same thing with Mushin Muhammad in 2004. The Panthers didn't have a points explosion, yet he led the league in receiving TDs.

How come Brad Johnson and Cunningham don't get a lot of credit for throwing a lot of those TD passes to Carter?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 11:50pm

Matthew, by your logic, the greatest wr of all time would not have been an extremely valuable player if he had played for the Cardinals. If we are to adopt your thinking, players should not be inducted into the HOF, only teams. Again, if you choose to believe that the ability to make tough catches in the end zone against tight red zone coverage(you do seem to assume touchdowns when teams get into the red zone, for some reason) is not an extremely valuable asset, and that players who do so with far greater frequency than others are not particularly more valuable, feel free. My point is that your opinion in this matter is likely contradicted by nearly every coordinator in the league, and I will need a very substantial body of evidence to believe that your insights on this matter exceed theirs. Having a guy who can regularly dominate opposing defensive backs in the red zone, at a rate which far exceeds even other pro bowl wide receivers, is a very valuable thing, and no, it is not rendered less valuable if the wide receiver is so unfortunate to play for team with a mediocre (or bad) defense.

To give an example of another position, Leroy Selman was a truly great defensive lineman, even though the teams he played often sucked, and he only played in a few playoff games. Football is the ultimate team game, thus it makes no sense to try to use team performance to evaluate individual performance; with the exception of quarterback, no single player has enough influence make your methodology useful. Unfortunately, however, the HOF electors largely agree with you.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 08/03/2006 - 11:55pm

Matthew, if Chambers repeats this performance over the next decade, then , yes, I'll consider that impressive. Johnson doesn't get enough credit because he hasn't doen it often enough, and given Cunningham's MVP totals, I'd say he does get some credit.

by michael (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 12:38am

I’m just throwing that out there blindly, like Aaron Brooks

That justified the entire post, Matthew.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 1:43am

One way of looking for Hall of Famers is by taking a look at a great team and asking who the best players were. I'm thinking specifically of the 1999-2001 Rams.

Who were their best players? Marshall Faulk obviously is a lock. In 1998-2001 he was just incredible. Four straight years of 2000 yards from scrimmage. And the first of those years was with the abysmal 1998 Colts. In the three years with the Rams, he had 5.4 yards per carry. And he set the yards from scrimmage record and the total touchdown record (in only fourteen games!) in back to back seasons.

Pace merits a lot of consideration, I think, because he kept Warner protected so well. Warner tends to get injured more easily than many quarterbacks, and in that 1999-2001 stretch Warner missed only five games. He also looks like he'll have a pro bowl record similar to Roaf's. Being crucial such an incredible offensive machine should count for something.

I think Bruce and Holt have to go in. Bruce was dominant even before the Rams were great, and Holt was dominant after. Bruce had the most career yards until the end of this year, when Jimmy Smith and Marvin Harrison inched ahead of him. He'll never catch Harrison, but he should pass Smith, and possibly Art Monk and Irving Fryar as well, putting himself in the top 10 at retirement. Bruce had one of the most incredible receiver seasons in history in 1995 (only his second year) catching for 1781 yards. And that was with the unenviable quarterback tandem of Mark Rypien and Chris Miller throwing to him. He was a great WR from 1999 to 2003, although Holt had emerged as the top guy in St Louis by 2001.

Holt got 1300 yards every year since his 2nd. He very well might pass Harrison and Tim Brown and end up second all-time in career receiving yardage. I think he's gonna be first ballot, easily.

So that leaves us with Warner. He had three incredibly prolific seasons, comparable only to those of Fouts, Manning, Marino, and Culpepper's 2005. He threw a fair number of interceptions, and it really became a problem by 2001-2002. He lost his job to Bulger, who filled in for him pretty well, despite the decline of Faulk. He hasn't done anything special since.

Honestly, I just can't call someone who loses his starting job like that a Hall of Famer.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 1:48am

It's funny because I was thinking about Boldin/Fitzgerald of the Cardinals. I recognize they are talented, but stats have to be great if they don't account for wins and playoff appearances (not necessarily rings).

There needs to be some type of statistic to track all of the "garbage stats" racked up by players (not limited to WRs).

Will, still dodged the question in my post. Take 2 guys who gain about the same amount of yardage. One guy averages 12 YPC. Another guy averages 15 YPC. You're telling me you would rather have the guy who averages 12 YPC... because that's basically Irvin vs. Carter in a nut shell. Why do we hate the old "Team X wins 80% of the time when RB Y goes over 100 yards"?

The reason I discount Carter's TDs is because his YPC is pretty low... the Hall has stated that Monk's is too low for their like... and some members (Dr. Z) complained that all he did was catch 8 yard hitches. As much as I don't believe he caught 8 yard hitches... how does that fuel my perception of Carter's catches?

If I were to choose a WR to play beside Rice on a team from that era it would consist of Micheal Irvin, Sterling Sharpe, Tim Brown and then Carter... and I wouldn't be worried at all about finding someone other than Rice open in the end zone.

Look at Steve Largent... 16 YPC is phenomenal over a career (and his TDs are not too shabby).

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 3:05am

Matthew, I don't recall making an argument against Irvin for the HOF, so I saw no need to answer your question. On the other hand, you've yet to tell me why Monk deserves credit for the blocking of his offensive line, or the performance of the Redskin defense.

What is so insignificant about catching ten yard touchdown passes at a significantly greater rate than one's peers? If it is such an insignificant accomplishment, why do teams settle for field goals?

by Marko (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 5:12am

"To give an example of another position, Leroy Selman was a truly great defensive lineman . . . ."

I've never heard of "Leroy Selman." Was he as good as Lee Roy Selmon, Tampa Bay's Hall of Fame defensive end?

by loginimpaired (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 5:39am

Terrell Davis? If a Denver Broncos running back deserves to be in the HoF, it's Floyd Little.

6,323 yards.
54 touchdowns.
7th all time when he retired.
The teams he played on went 47-73-6.
All six ahead of him that year are in.

I would say that if you can argue that Barry Sanders deserves to be in then Little as well deserves to be in for the simple reason that they excelled on teams that did not give them that opportunity.

by giving hIm the business (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 8:14am

NIce to see that everyone's forgotten about Joe Klecko. No love for the only man to make the Pro Bowl at three different positions?

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 8:37am

#108 - Bruce and Holt? You've got to be kidding me. Good players for sure, but just because the Rams were good doesn't make them HOFers. If they are both HOFers because of the good rams stretch, then Art Monk easily makes it, and so does Gary Clark for that matter. The Redskins were one of the dominant teams in the league for a longer time than the Rams. Now, I think Holt is still in the part of his career where the #s he already had are good so that he has a chance if he remains a good receiver. Bruce, OTOH, is not HOF-worthy.

Matthew - I don't think # of rings is a good category for WRs. And even though, Carter has no SB rings, his Vikings teams made the playoffs many times in his career, so it wasn't like they were slouches. I still think Monk probably deserves to be in (my order is exactly like Tanier's in the article, with my cutoff between Brown and Reed), but my arguments against Monk don't apply to Carter - simply not as amny seasons near the top. If we were just judging '84 and '85, Monk's in for sure. If his other seasons were even just comparable to his '89 season, he'd be in. But outside of those three seasons, he barely registers on the WR leader boards in any of the traditional WR categories (tied for 9th in TDs in '91 and tied for 9th in receptions in '88). Carter is all over the leaderboard.

Incidentally, I don't take Irvin because he has 3 rings, I take him because he was #1, #2, and #2 in yards in 1991, 1992, and 1993, while still being in the top 10 in multiple WR categories in 1994, 1995, and 1997. I think I would take players with those stats even without the titles. I have heard people complain that Monk has better stats than Irvin, and that he played before the offensive explosion. It's true that Monk played before the '95 craziness, but Irvin's HOF-formative years are actually in the most depressed offensive culture since the '70s ('91, '92, and '93 were way down in offense).

by steelberger1 (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 8:40am

RE 86:

I dont see Rodney Harrison as a Hall of Famer. Yes he has put up pretty good numbers, but remember...tackles are not an official stat, they are kept by team statisticians (see Ray Lewis' 200 tackles per year).

Stats aside, you have to ask this...was he ever the best safety in the league? I dont think he was.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 8:55am

Matthew - this time I'm responding directly to #109 - first, don't you think a low YPC could actually result from red zone TDs? Second, what's the point of bringing up Steve Largent? At receiver, he's probably the 3rd most obvious HOF choice only behind Rice and Don Hutson. You don't need to have his stats to make the HOF. If that was the cutoff, then we'd have very few WRs indeed.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 10:13am

I think if Kurt Warner can look more like Josh McCown did last year, and less like he did, he has a better chance. If he can get 2 more probowls, and be at least .500 in AZ, and make it to the playoffs, I say he has got a shot. If not, no way.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 10:33am

I actually feel bad for both Warner and Green: the Rams had the rare case of having two extremely good quarterbacks on the roster in the prime of their offensive player's careers, which unfortunately meant that neither of them would ever end up getting the respect that one of them alone probably would have. Injury played a part of that in both cases though, obviously.

by Peter (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 10:38am

OK Matthew:
Cris Carter's career YPC are 12.6 to Tim Brown's 13.7, and a difference of about 3 TDs per year. That really impresses you so much? Yards per catch are an important stat, but there's no way it's the only important one, or is more important than 3 TDs a year. Tim also led the league one time, in one stat: receptions, which Carter also did in addition to leading in TDs several times.

The two are fairly close, but I would say Carter is in and Brown out, and I don't think that's an inconsistent thing to say.

Monk is really a sad sack case, based entirely upon rings and Redskins fans (which I would say WRs might be the most ludicrous case for it... he didn't even catch a TD in any of the Superbowls). I mean really... he had two very good (maybe even "great") years, and then a series of average to below-average. Talk of his "era" is absurd; outside of the two good years, he managed one finish in the top 10 in yards, and one in the top ten in TDs (not in the same year). I can't believe I'm even still adressing him.

Irvin is definitely in. He dominated the league for several years, and throughout the past 15 years it has always been the "Triplets" of Smith/Aikman/Irvin, not just the Twins. His career stats are no slouch either, it's not like he's a TD situation.

(Like that transition?) Davis has no prayer, in my opinion. The discussion of whether he was the best RB in football is in my opinion immaterial; it's clear he was among the best in an unusually strong group (The Faulk and Sanders seasons coming when his best years did was unlucky), and there's no question that TD 1996-8 was one of the best RB runs of all time, and during that time he won two superbowls, which he was great in. But that is the ultimate flash-in-the-pan dominance; he has nothing to stand on in terms of career numbers, and the success of the Denver running game without him DOES bring him down. He needed at least 3 more 1000-yard-rushing seasons to really be a worthwhile hall of famer. I think Kurt Warner is an excellent comparison to make, who I think most people would agree has no place in Canton.

Oh, and Thurman Thomas is a lock.

by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 11:00am

the terrell davis debate has refueled my anti barry sanders fire. especially the mention earlier that sanders was a better rb.

simple question: who do you want running the ball on 3rd or 4th and short? davis or sanders.

next question: who do you trust not to lose yardage, davis or sanders?

last question: which do you prefer? seven 10 yd runs or two 30 yd runs and five 2 yd runs?

and i don't buy into the bad offensive line argument that is often used to propogate sanders' legend. that entire offensive unit was pretty good--herman moore and johnny morton put up good numbers and the line managed to keep scott mitchell, charlie batch, rodney peete, et al relatively healthy and upright.

are there outsiders stats for barry sanders? i really think all his negative runs on first down and 8 yard draws on 3rd and 9 would show that he was more of a stat machine flashing occasional moments of brilliance than a consistent elite rb.

i have been searching for game logs of his best seasons to back up my argument, but i have not been able to find any. any suggestions?

by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 11:06am

i forgot to rant about thurman thomas. best player on 2nd best team in league 4 yrs in a row? best player on the field in his first superbowl? a shame he wasn't named to the hall on the first ballot.

re: wide recievers. it is really hard to decide between all those guys who are so close in ability, stats, and success. (excluding rice, since he is so far above the others.) my guess is that dr. z and peter king's pets are the ones to make it. sorry art.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 11:10am

I think the primary thing Monk has going for him is his records. He broke a pretty old record when caught 106 receptions in 1984. That record stood until 1992, when Sterling Sharpe caught 108. (Talk about bad luck due to injury - Sharpe, IMO, only needed a couple more ok seasons to be a HOFer). He also broke Largent's all-time reception record, which was then broken by Rice. It's those two things that really stand out for Monk. However, in direct comparison to Carter, they aren't quite as strong. Carter also set a record for receptions in a season when caught 122 in 1994. Granted, Sharpe's record 112 was only set the year before. He also is now #2 all-time on the receptions list only to Rice. For those two things, I think Monk/Carter are even, with a slight edge to Monk. The advantages for Carter are 1)8 Pro Bowls to Monk's 3, 2)3 seasons ('95, '97. '99) where Carter was the receiving TD leader compared to 0 for Monk, 3)6 seasons in the top 5 for receptions compared to 3 for Monk (both had 1 at #1, and 1 at #2), and 4)there was a small stretch where Carter subjectively was considered the best in the game - between the end of Rice's dominance and prior to the emergence of Harrison/Owens/Moss. Although Monk was among the best in '84-'86, I don't think he was considered the best.

So in the Monk/Carter comparison, I think Carter easily wins. However, I would like to see Monk in the HOF simply for setting those records.

by Eric (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 11:23am

As far as the YPC vs. TD debate goes, let's compare two hypothetical receivers. WR A catches 3 passes for 45 yards on a drive - 15 YPC. WR B catches 3 passes for 45 yards, then adds a fade to the back of the end zone from the 3 yard line, making his totals 4 for 48, or 12 YPC. As JamesG said earlier, the low YPC is probably a result of the red zone TD catches. Is there any way we could calculate the average length of TD and non-TD receptions for the receivers in question?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 11:27am

I plead guilty to poor name recollection of the Tampa Bay Bucs, Marko. Maybe it was the creamsicle jerseys that threw me off.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 11:32am

Ned Macey (#97) - I think one thing might have to do with longevity vs. "bursts of greatness" For the most part, RBs that have high rushing totals also meant they had several seasons on top of their game. The only RB I can really find who mostly built his totals on longevity rather than individual great seasons in John Riggins. At WR, you can find several who did that - Henry Ellard and Art Monk being two. Below I have reconstructions of essentially the lists you were talking about.

One thing I will note is that only active or recently retired RBs (Smith, Faulk, Martin, Bettis, and Dillon) have worked their way onto the rushing list, whereas with WRs, these guys are pushed way down. For example, Gary Clark goes from 8th to 17th when you consider not-yet eligible players.

List: *means they are in
Walter Payton* 1975-1987
Barry Sanders* 1989-1998
Eric Dickerson* 1983-1993
Tony Dorsett* 1987-1998
Jim Brown* 1957-1965
Marcus Allen* 1982-1997
Franco Harris* 1972-1984
Thurman Thomas 1988-2000
John Riggins* 1971-1985
O.J. Simpson* 1969-1979
Ottis Anderson 1979-1992
Earl Campbell* 1978-1985

James Lofton* 1978-1993
Henry Ellard 1983-1998
Steve Largent* 1976-1989
Art Monk 1980-1995
Charlie Joiner* 1969-1986
Michael Irvin 1988-1999
Don Maynard* 1958-1973
Gary Clark 1985-1995
Stanley Morgan 1977-1990
Harold Jackson 1968-1983
Lance Alworth* 1962-1972
Drew Hill 1979-1993

(skipped Reed, Fryar, and Rison, as I didn't think they were eligible to next year, but I may be wrong on that).

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 12:07pm

I still think the question is "Should a Possession WR go to Canton"?.

If you want to talk about a WR having a direct impact on a team look no further than Randy Moss. Prior to Moss I think the Vikings under Green had made it to the Divisional round once in the previous 4 years. Following the arrival of Moss, they did it 3 straight seasons. Moss is clearly not a possession WR... but it seems the possesion WR is best suited at playing #2 to a guy who is a deep threat. Gary Clark has a similar effect to Monk. Thinking like this elevates Tim Brown above both of them.

Put a gun to my head and ask me rank them Brown, Carter, Monk... because I'm not exactly sure how much of Monk's stats is due to his era. I think Monk has a much bigger place in history than we give him credit for... as prior to 1984-1986 RBs and TEs were getting a majority of receptions... but after those 3 seasons the RBs and TEs drop off the map for the most part. Again... I can't tell if I'm exagerrating or misinterpreting the stats.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 12:34pm

114: No, I'm not kidding at all. Bruce and Holt, especially Holt, will make it not just because they were part of one of the greatest offensive machines ever, but also because they were still awesome even when they weren't. Only two players have had a comparable season to Isaac Bruce's 1995. Jerry Rice in the same year, and Marvin Harrison in 2002. And Bruce was playing with the worst quarterback of the three. I don't get what Art Monk has to do with this. Bruce will pass Monk this year in yards, and has already passed him in touchdowns. Bruce is the better receiver, plain and simple. He's done more in 12 years than Monk did in 16.

Holt's case is even stronger. Compare him to, say, Largent. Largent's best season numbers ever were his 79 catches for 1285 in 1985. Holt beat that as a second year wideout in 2000, with 82 catches for 1635 yards. He beat Largent's best year ever again in 2001. And in 2002. And in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Holt's 9487 yards in his first seven seasons very well may be the greatest start by any wide receiver ever. He's 415 yards ahead of where Rice was after Rice's first seven seasons, and a couple hundred ahead of Moss.

At his current pace, Holt should pass Irvin after two years, Reed after three, and Ellard, Carter, and Lofton after four. At that point he'll be behind only Harrison, Brown, and Rice. And I think people who deny him as a Hall of Famer will look pretty stupid by then.

by moloch g (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 12:50pm

barry sanders averaged 5.0 yards a carry over his career. only jim brown can say the same. anyone who says that barry was overrated has lost their minds.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 12:55pm

128: Word.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 12:59pm

Matthew - that's pretty disinegnious in saying that the Vikings only made 1 divisional round in the previous 4 seasons prior to Moss and then made it 3 years in a row. The Vikings made the divisional round the season just prior to Moss and then continued the streak for 3 more years with Moss on the team.

Yaguar - you are neglecting the era adjustment. Total career yards, total career catches, and total career TDs can't really be compared from post 1995 players to pre 1995 players without some adjustment. The movement of the kickoff position in 1994 and some other changes in emphasis have huge effects on the WR totals before or after the mid 90s. So many of the players in the top 20 all-time receiving yards are active players, and not all of them are getting in. Now I did say that Holt could get in if he keeps it up, being that he does have a few worthy seasons so far. If he had a carer ending injury tomorrow, however, he'd be in the same boat as Sterling Sharpe. As for Bruce, he's just not getting in. His best season also saw a huge explosion in receiving yards and will be adjusted downward. He still had 4 seasons at or near the top in WR yards ('95, '96, '00, and '04), but that's not enough. So did non HOFer Gary Clark ('86, '87, '90, and '91). In fact, Clark might not be a bad comparison. He was 8th receiving yards when he retired, Bruce is currently 12th. Both also had several other WRs that they played with concurrently that will be considered higher up on the "WR greatness" list.

by Vern (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 1:09pm

The HOF should enshrine what makes great football success. On that measure, the current HOF is a joke. We all know that great defense is one of the most important things to great football, if not the most important.

Yet what do we do? Argue about adding even MORE QBs, RBs, and WRs to the already pathetic lack of great defenders.

It should be called the Fantasy Football HOF. That way, we can just ignore defense all together.

by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 1:10pm

re: 126

i agree that the question is whether a posession receiver can be enshrined. kind of like asking whether a blocking TE vs. receiving TE. two different roles.

this highlights one area in which andre reed surpasses carter, irvin, and monk. he excelled at being both posession receiver and deep threat (primarily after retirement of lofton).

re: marvin harrison.

i may have missed this earlier, but is everybody agreed on harrison as a lock? i don't think he was ever more than the team's third best offensive player and he has a very low YPC--lower even than art monk of 8 yard hook fame.

moreover, i wonder how many of his td's and the sick 143 in '02 are the result of peyton padding their stats.

based upon dpar and dvoa, he is only in top 5 in league twice from 2000-2005, and it looks like he is done being one of the league's elite recievers, or even the top receiver on his own team.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 1:14pm

1995 is a bizarre year. I really wonder what happened then. Before that point, the most yardage ever in a NFL season was 1570 (set by Rice, of course.)

Then four wide receivers all broke that record at the same time, and nine players had triple digit receptions. Did something happen that year? A rule change? It's crazy.

If there was some change I'm unaware of that made WRs go bonkers from 1995 on, then it probably is fair to count it against Bruce. But I have no idea what caused it.

Bruce is roughly contemporaneous with Harrison, TO, and Rod Smith. Harrison's the lock. Bruce has as good a case as either of the other two, though, and I would argue better. It's really a question of how many WRs get let in from the 1980s to 1990s class. If guys like Ellard start getting in, they'd better let Bruce in. But if they're stingy with the people from the Irvin era, then they have a good case to let just Harrison in and not the others.

by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 1:22pm

128 and 129: very strong argument's you put forth.

what is the value of sanders' 5 yd avg? what was his average on 3rd and short, 4th and short, 1st down, etc.

personally, i value two runs of 4.5 yards on succesive 1st downs much more highly than one run of 11 yards and one run of -1.

i am not a lions fan, and i mostly watch afc east, but i have strong recollection of sanders picking up a lot of negative yardage.

i will reserve final judgment, however, until i look at the game logs or stats that account for unsuccesful runs.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 1:38pm

If you click my name in this post, you will go to a list of NFL rule changes from 1994-2004. Big ones in 1994 and 1995: In 1994, the kickoff was moved back 5 yards and new tees were required. In 1995, WRs were allowed to come back in bounds and make a play after being knocked out of bounds by a defender, and QBs were allowed to receive communication from the bench through radio transmission in their helmets.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 1:47pm

Here's another interesting case. Will TO get in the Hall of Fame, or did he blow it by ruining his relationship with McNabb and the Eagles.

by Xian (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 1:53pm

Okay, as a Packers homer, I'm totally fine with Holmgren getting in. But I'm not convinced he belongs. Is it because he coached the Packers from the bottom of the league to the Superbowl victory? Does he get marks against him for not winning against Denver the following year? What about the long string of medocrity after going to Seattle? (Which has now been broken, obviously...)

Or is he getting in on innovation or something similar? Directing SF's offense for years under Walsh?

Discuss. Well, or not.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 2:06pm

I have a feeling we'll be having a debate about Isaac Bruce in a few years not unlike the one we have now about Monk.

Bruce was sick in '95 (119-1781-13) and '96 (84-1338-7), second and first in receiving yards those two years catching from a QB platoon of Rypien and Chris Miller ('95) and then from Tony Freaking Banks ('96).

Obviously, if the man keeps doing that, he's a HoFer. But he doesn't -- he starts tweaking hammies, playing half-seasons.

Re-emerges with the Greatest Show and from '99 to '04 has six basically healthy seasons with very similar stat lines -- 70- or 80-some catches, 1000 yards and change. Very nice run, and now his career numbers obviously look great in historical perspective.

But -- though Bruce was the #1 WR of the '99 team, he's a coequal with Torry Holt in 2000 and Holt is the clear #1 thereafter. Meanwhile, we know these numbers are piled up for a legendarily pass-happy coach and team in a pass-happy era that's doing a Confederate dollar number on the coinage of receiving figures.

When it shakes out, you've got Bruce among the top 10 in receptions twice, and yardage four times. For Monk, those totals are four times and three times, respectively. He's 14th in career receptions right now, but for crissakes, Keenan McCardell is ahead of him and Keyshawn Johnson is breathing down his neck.

He looks a lot like Monk, really (though Rod Smith looks *a lot* like Monk). 2-3 really brilliant seasons, membership in a significant team, and some career stats from hanging around and playing fairly well in a #2 role for a number of years. Obviously a more explosive, game-changing-type player than Monk (his 15.1-13.5 career YPC reflects this).

What does that add up to? (honest question.) What are you gonna do with the WRs from the late-90's/early-00's era 5 or 10 years down the road?

Bruce's receiving DPAR for the seasons indexed by FO's stats section (are the '98 and '99 seasons posted publicly?):

2000 -- 49.7 (first) [Holt 42.0, fifth]
2001 -- 28.0 (13th) [Holt 34.4, seventh]
2002 -- 21.7 (18th)
2003 -- 9.1 (38th)
2004 -- 26.0 (15th)
2005 -- 2.3 (69th)

by S (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 2:35pm

#137 OK, I'll bite.

Holmgren had a stronger case before he left Green Bay. Since then Ron Wolf and Brett Favre seem to have gotten most of the credit for the Packers turn around (and subsequent bounceback following the Ray Rhodes era), while Holmgren coached years of underacheiving Seattle teams. If Seattle doesn't fall victim to the Super Bowl losers curse and remains in the NFC's upper eschelon for a few more years, his case will be much stronger.

That being said, Holmgren did make arguably the dumbest decision in SB history telling his D to let Davis walk into the end zone for the winning score in SB XXXII. Bad moments in SB's tend to hinder HOF candidacy (see Smith, Jackie).

by S (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 2:38pm

For the record, the only members of the 99-01 Rams that should be in will be Faulk, Pace, and Holt. And Aneas Williams (an '01 Ram, and consistantly among the league leaders in int.'s for much of the late 90's) will receive strong consideration as well.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 2:38pm

I hate the "Who would you rather have running on 3rd/4th down?" argument.

So you're basically conceding that you'd rather have Barry Sanders run on 1st and 2nd down... which occur at least as often as 3rd and 4th down.

Focussing on current WRs. Harrison is in, Holt's in (but not Bruce, even with his 1995). I'm inclined to lean towards putting TO in but he's definately debatable. It's a shame he's such a headcase because. Re-watching the KC-Philly game from last year gave me an appreciation for his talent. It seemed like in 2004 everyone knew TO was going to get the ball deep, but no one could stop it. I'm not sure how the Eagles offense is going to survive without TO... they need Reggie Brown to bust out with a 1200-1300 yard season.

Hines Ward is too early to tell, but he's stuck in the whole "Better as a #2 category". Silly to say about the SB MVP, but his best seasons came next to Plaxico Burress.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 2:59pm

So you’re basically conceding that you’d rather have Barry Sanders run on 1st and 2nd down… which occur at least as often as 3rd and 4th down.

Actually, I'm pretty sure that 1st and 2nd downs happen strictly more than 3rd and 4th downs. :)

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 3:11pm

Wait... I got that backwards...

Anyway... my point about Randy Moss' effect on the Vikings was more so to show the impact of a "Go Deeper" WR vs. "Possession" WR.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 3:19pm

Let's have fun with a bad sports argument. Here we go.

Barry Sanders only had good stats because he broke long runs. Look at 1997. Sure, 335 carries for 2053 yards looks like the best halfback season of all time. But take away a forty yard run from each game and he has only 1413 yards on 319 carries, which would only be fourth in the league, just a tad behind Dorsey Levens.

OK, have we had fun with that? It seems like even if you bend over backwards to prove that he's overrated, you fail miserably. I can understand someone taking Payton over Sanders as more of a complete back, but no other modern era guy comes close.

by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 4:09pm

i think my sanders argument is misunderstood. here it is in a nutshell: (1) i prefer rb's who don't have a lot of negative plays on 1st and 2nd down. these negative plays put teams in 3rd and long and obvious pass situations. (2) i also don't think gaining 7 yards on a draw on 3rd and 8 is a meaningful run. (3) great rb's--even smaller backs like emmit or faulk--are good in converting for short yardage. i beleive that sanders falls short in all three of these categories. i will concede that he had many breathtaking long runs, but i don't think that they balance out the flaws i outlined.

141: no, i wouldn't rather have sanders on 1st or 2nd. he had a propensity to lose yards and put his team in poor position. i want a rb with a high success rate on every down. not one who has a low success rate and then busts a 60 yarder and a 40 yarder to make his stats look good.

re 144: have you found stats on the number of negative runs he had in 1997 which put the team in poor position?

if the goal is to see an amazing run, take sanders, but to win a game, there are many backs i would take ahead of him.

when i say he is overrated, i don't mean to imply that he wasn't very good or even top 5 during his era. i just don't think he was the absolute best of his era, as is commonly stated.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 4:15pm

The Tatum Bell vs. Mike Anderson graph that came up in an FO mailbag recently is a good point for jetsgrumbler's case against Sanders. If you need a refresher click my name. Bell has over 1 yard per carry more than Anderson, but Bell's DVOA is only 7.6% compared to Anderson's 20.3%. If you look at the graph, you see why. However, our information on Sanders is incomplete. To really answer the question, somebody needs to go back and calculate VOA/PAR data for Sanders.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 4:32pm

Look, I love Emmit Smith, but if one doesn't strongly suspect that Sanders would have been the better back by a non-trivial margin, if he had Smith's teammates, and Smith had Sanders', one is neglecting to view individual football achievement in the context of the game ultimately being a group effort.

Matthew's best argument against Carter is how much benefitted at the end of his career by playing with Moss, but Matthew entirely overrates how good Jake Reed was, which is a problem with trying to evaluate individual football performance through metrics, even the advanced metrics used here. As I've said to Matthew before, if DPAR argues that Reed was a more valuable wr than Carter, then DPAR is a seriously flawed metric for measuring the value of a wide receiver. The nature of football makes it extremely difficult to wash away subjective judgements in evaluating individual performance, so it is important to use the right subjective judgements.

The problem I have with the whole Super Bowl victory method of evaluating individual performance is that no single player in the game of football, again, with the possible exception of quarterback, has enough impact on the odds of victory to use Super Bowl victories as a gatekeeper. Actually, I think the same argument can be made for playoff victories as well. I mean, if Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers, playing on the same team, never even resulted in a playoff game, much less a playoff victory for the Bears, how useful is playoff record, to say nothing of Super Bowl record, in determining how good an individual performance was? Or is the argument going to be that Sayers and Butkus were overrated? There are more than a few old linebackers still missing their jockstraps, and old running backs missing their teeth, who would beg to differ.

I do think it is useful, as a means of making sure that worthy players are not left out, to look at a team (here's where I'm on your side, Matthew), say like the Redskins in the first Gibbs era, and say, "Well, this team had four Super Bowls appearances in about ten years, and won three, with three different starting quartterbacks. Which factors were most prominent in this success, and what does this suggest about who may be worthy for the HOF?"

I think it is pretty obvious that offensive line play and sound defense were the most important factors, and I do think it strengthens the case for Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, and Darrell Green. I also think Green is a lock, Grimm is highly likely to get in, while I fear that Jacoby may join a long list of worthy offensive linemen, like Keuchenberg or Tinglehoff, who have to wait entirely too long, if they get in at all. For Rayfield Wright to have to wait until the veteran's committee voted him in was ridiculous.

All this indicates that the electors have been far too restrictive, especially when one considers the truth of Vern's statement above, that defensive players have been neglected. This is particularly true in the case of linebackers, who are woefully underrepresented (I know Matthew will join me on the Chris Hanburger bandwagon), although other defensive players, Joe Klecko being a good example, have been wrongfully ignored as well.

by PackMan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 4:34pm

If TD gets in, will Priest Holmes get in (assuming he doesn't play again)? I think the 2 are comparable, they both had just a few great seasons, the Chiefs didn't win any superbowls, but Priest was easily considered one of the top 3 RBs for several years.

And what about Cunningham? One of only 3 players to ever be named NFL MVP 3 times, has to get you some credit, right?

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 4:48pm

145: My point about Sanders is that even if you take the long runs away, he's still as good as anything Tomlinson or Alexander does in their average season. The long runs are just icing on the cake.

The Anderson vs Bell comparison really isn't apt. We tend to try to pigeonhole backs as "reliable four yards a carry" types or "breaks long runs" types, and refuse to believe that someone can be both. Barry was both. Even when you arbitrarily take away the long runs and pretend they never happened, he still has around 4 yards a carry on the rest of them.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 5:16pm

I'll get on the Walter Payton bandwagon here, and again, a lot has to do with how little support he had until the tail end of his career. Geez, until Jim McMahon showed up, Payton was the best PASSER on his team! His offensive line was at best mediocre for the first 2/3 of his career; heck, he was a better pass blocker than any of his offensive linemen!

Walter Payton, Reggie White, Jerry Rice, Anthony Munoz (with Walter Jones gaining on the outside), and, maybe, Lawrence Taylor, were the best non-quaterbacks I ever saw, since I began watching football analytically.

by Yaguar (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 5:21pm

Payton was probably the best blocker on his team too. Watching him block was almost more fun than watching him run.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 6:38pm

Re #119: Davis has no prayer, in my opinion. The discussion of whether he was the best RB in football is in my opinion immaterial; it’s clear he was among the best in an unusually strong group (The Faulk and Sanders seasons coming when his best years did was unlucky), and there’s no question that TD 1996-8 was one of the best RB runs of all time, and during that time he won two superbowls, which he was great in. But that is the ultimate flash-in-the-pan dominance; he has nothing to stand on in terms of career numbers, and the success of the Denver running game without him DOES bring him down. He needed at least 3 more 1000-yard-rushing seasons to really be a worthwhile hall of famer. I think Kurt Warner is an excellent comparison to make, who I think most people would agree has no place in Canton.
Let me ask you a hypothetical. Let's say an RB (who shall remain nameless) ran for 6457 yards and 55 TDs in his first four seasons in the league, winning all sorts of awards like pro bowls, all pros, MVPs, etc. Then let's say that after such a heavy workload, his ypc drops to under 3.5 yards per carry. Let's say he spends the next several years battling injury, too, and is a mere shell of his former self. With me so far? Now let's pretend that in just one season in that long string of injuries and reduced effectiveness, he manages to put up a respectable season (say 1300 yards and 12 TDs at 4.0 ypc), but otherwise all of his other seasons are injury-marred and ineffective. Would that one extra season make that runningback a Hall of Famer? Would that one extra season be the difference between entry and getting left out? Would that one extra season make him a better overall RB?

Fun game time. I wasn't describing Terrell Davis- I was describing Earl Campbell, who is generally considered a pretty easy choice as a HoFer. Davis and Campbell were within 40 yards rushing and 1 rushing TD of each other through their first 4 years (with Davis throwing in about 900 more receiving yards and 5 more receiving TDs to boot- as well as the "best postseason rusher in history" thing). Davis and Campbell also spent a lot of seasons at reduced effectiveness, battling injuries (Campbell spent 4, Davis spent 3). The only difference between the two is that Campbell managed 1302 yards and 12 TDs at 4.0 ypc once late in his career after his injuries. That's really the only difference.

Terrell Davis has a *MUCH* stronger case for the HoF than Campbell, in my opinion. Davis had about 900 more yards and 6 more TDs in his 4-year prime. Davis operated at a high level for all 4 years of his prime (unlike Campbell, who got 3.8 ypc during his 4th season). Terrell Davis was clearly just entering his prime when he got hurt, unlike Campbell who had already started coming down from his prime. Davis adds the ridiculous playoff numbers that aren't even APPROACHED by anyone else in NFL history. Check both of their stats sometime. In my opinion, if you think Campbell is a HoFer, you *have* to think that Terrell Davis is by extension. He's basically the same player, only better.

Check out Gale Sayers' numbers, too. Terrell Davis's compare pretty favorably there, as well.

Re #139: That being said, Holmgren did make arguably the dumbest decision in SB history telling his D to let Davis walk into the end zone for the winning score in SB XXXII. Bad moments in SB’s tend to hinder HOF candidacy (see Smith, Jackie).
Were you watching the same game as I was? There was no question in my mind that Terrell Davis was getting in the end zone. None at all. It was a foregone conclusion, as far as I was concerned. At least Holmgren letting him in gave his offense some time to try to make something happen- and really, can you fault a guy for believing that if he gave his 3-time League MVP a chance, he could make something happen?

by Marko (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 6:40pm

I completely agree with the comments above about Payton. He was the most complete football player I ever saw. In addition to everything mentioned above, he was a great receiver. He also was the Bears' emergency kicker. He kicked field goals and extra points in college.

It was fun watching him block. The most memorable block he made was in Week 3 in 1985. It was a Thursday night game in Minnesota. Jim McMahon didn't start because he was banged up, but Mike Ditka finally put McMahon in on the Bears' first possession in the third quarter. The Bears trailed 17-9 and had the ball at their own 30. On McMahon's first play, he went back to pass while a Vikings linebacker timed a blitz perfectly and shot right through the A gap. (I don't remember who it was, but I'll bet Will remembers.) A split second before the linebacker could hit McMahon, Payton stepped in front of McMahon and crushed the linebacker with a devastating block that stood him up. McMahon proceeded to drop back and hit Willie Gault in stride for a 70 yard touchdown pass and the Bears were on their way to a 33-24 win. Had Payton not stepped up immediately and delivered that key block, the linebacker would have had a clean shot at McMahon and McMahon could have been knocked out. The Bears' magical 1985 season might have played out differently if that had happened.

by Thad (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 7:08pm

re 114
no way James, you have got to be kidding me.
Bruce has played for 12 years and averaged over 15 yards per catch. Its not unheard of, but its still fantastic.
Think about it, how many guys have done it?

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 7:10pm

The best point from your post is that us Redskin fans should focus our energy on getting Grimm or Jacoby in rather than Monk... because they are the ones who really made the offense. Does that mean we should be debating Randell McDaniel/Gary Zimmerman vs. Russ Grimm/Joe Jacoby?

I think people have a certain bias towards less gifted players who work hard, give 100% and are technically proficient... which is why we love Monk, Cris Carter and now Hines Ward and Derrick Mason. I can't knock Carter for perfecting the art of the back of the end zone catch, and sideline catch.... but it's hard for me to let in a flood of WRs in the Hall... because I like the high standards.

Trying to compare WRs from different eras is like comparing Hollywood leading ladies... 10 years ago we had who... Sharon Stone? 20 years ago we had ...? But now we've got the great Alba/other Jessica/Scarlett Johanson and headcase Angelina...

by ifXthenWhyNot (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 7:15pm

I love Barry Sanders, but at least Terrell Davis gained positive yardage in every playoff game he played in.

But I think the only way that Davis makes the Hall is if Broncos fans start flooding YouTube with clips. Watching him run again is the only thing that will overshadow his short career. In my opinion, he is the best runner to watch that I've ever seen, including Sanders.

by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 7:26pm

Matthew, by claiming that Art Monk is on the same level as Cris Carter, I think you hurt the case for Monk getting into the Hall of Fame. Why? Because it clearly is not so, and the fact that you claim that Monk is "tied" with Carter merely emphasizes how overrated Monk is among many of those pushing his candidacy. If you want to make the case for Monk, you need to admit that there are several significantly superior receivers who soon will be eligible, and that they are legitimately more deserving of induction. Carter is a first ballot-er. Monk, on the other hand, is lucky to still be in the discussion.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 7:36pm

Matthew, our differences in regard to Carter are due to the fact that you don't think catching 10 yard touchown passes with much higher frequency than is the norm among even other pro bowl wide receivers is indicative of superior value. I differ, and I think we'll just have to agree to disagree.

As to the four offensive linemen we're talking about, I'd put Zimmerman ahead, and the other three at about the same level, despite McDaniel's very long string of Pro Bowl selections. Tackles, especially since 1978, are just more valuable than guards, and Zimmerman was a little better than Jacoby. All four are deserving of induction, however, and I always like to see the guys who've waited the longest get in first.

by Ben (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 7:45pm

Is Jerome Bettis the lock that all the commentators made him out to be during the playoffs last year? Does the ring help? Isn't it silly that because his defense had an awesome stretch in the playoffs his hall of fame credentials are boosted significantly, while he did very little to help his team in the playoffs?

by PackMan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 8:07pm

When talking about TD, lets consider his career numbers:
7607 rush yds, 1280 rec yds, 4.6 yds per carry, 60 rush TDs, 5 rec TDs over 7 years.
Let's compare those to someone who hasn't really been mentioned for the HOF:
8035 rush yds, 2945 rec yds, 4.6 yds per carry, 86 rush TDs, 8 rec TDs over 8 years.
If TD gets in, Priest Holmes should get in. Their numbers are almost identical, but holmes has played one more year. Both of them had 4 really good years, but TD had the rings, and Holmes had more TDs.

by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 8:47pm

I basically think Cris Carter is Art Monk 10 years later and on a team with no red zone scoring threats. I know stats get us somewhere in the discussion, but at some point I watch film of Cris Carter, and I watch film of Art Monk. It's a shame I can't watch film on either of them... as I have a biased memory.

From memory I still think they are virtually the same player. Monk was more of a downfield threat than the HoF voters would like to acknowledge.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 9:14pm

Wait a second, Matthew; you've previously told me how good Anthony Carter, Jake Reed, and, of course, Randy Moss were. Now, despite how good you think they were, you now assert that they have zero value as red zone scoring threats. Methinks this doesn't quite add up.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 9:26pm

Marko, as best my fading memory will serve, it was Walker Lee Ashley, who was a pretty good linebacker prospect prior to blowing out an achillies, who got drilled by Payton in that textbook blitz pick-up. My college roomie was from Chicago, we were watching that game in one of our favorite saloons, and that Payton block led to me picking up a substantial liqour tab that night.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/04/2006 - 11:37pm

Thad - 154, I'll have to get back to you after I count them up, but one player I know for sure has that average - and that's the player I already compared Bruce to - Gary Clark. See how close he is to the HOF.

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 12:13am

re: 154, 164

First off Clark played 11 seasons and averaged 15.5 yards per reception.

All the players who played at least a dozen seasons and averaged at least 18 yards per reception:
Paul Warfield- 13 years, 20.1
Jimmy Orr- 13 years, 19.8
Stanley Morgan- 14 years, 19.2
Wesley Walker- 13 years, 19.0
Mel Gray- 12 years, 18.9
Carroll Dale- 14 years, 18.9
Don Maynard- 15 years, 18.7
Gary Garrison- 12 years, 18.6
Max McGee- 12 years, 18.4
James Lofton- 16 years, 18.3
Haven Moses- 14 years, 18.1

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 12:18am

re: 165

Obviously, I stopped after Moses because I was tired. There are several more guys who played 12 years and averaged 15 yards per catch.

re: Holmes-Davis

People forget Holmes started a Super Bowl. Look it up- Holmes officially started for the Ravens in Super Bowl 35. He did have a 1000 yard season in Baltimore.

by Rob (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 1:49am

I think my Steve Tasker post got lost in there somewhere so I'm going to throw him out again. Best ST'er ever. I'd also say Brian Mitchel deserves a look for his returning.

and talking about rb's, my favourite 3rd down back ever was the Oilers' Todd McNair. No chance of ever getting close to a sniff at the HoF, but still.

What I think we need is a FOHoF.

by James G (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 12:04pm

Re: 165, guess I missed the 12 years part. Found a few more that played 11 years while averaging 15.5 yards/catch or greater from my youth - receivers that I remember as being considered the best when during my formative NLF watching years that are far away from the HOF in addition to Clark - Mark Duper and Mark Clayton both also apparently stopped at 11 years with those averages.

Players I found that are even longer, that I found before when senser81 challenged me to find WRs better than Swann in the late 70s - Harold Jackson and Harold Carmichael. Plus the list posted in in 165. Stanley Morgan has some great #s, but he's not HOFer and neither are the two Harolds.

Even if Clark is a little short of the 12 year mark, I think he's similar to Bruce - a player clearly remembered as dominant during some championship years (who of us watching at the time doesn't remember the nickname "The Posse" for Clark-Monk-Sanders?), but not enough total dominant seasons.

And just look at some of the WRs missing from the HOF - Morgan, Carmichael, and Jackson to name some - and tell me how Bruce is clearly superior.

by moloch g (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 12:28pm

ok barry sanders qb's

1989-Bob Gagliano and Rodney Peete
combined for 11 touchdowns and 24 ints.
even while d's stacked the line because
the lions had no passing game barry
still runs for 1470 yards 5.2 average
and 14 touchdowns.

1990-Bob Gagliano and Rodney Peete again.
with one year of practice this
super tandem got a little better because
they were facing the prospect of recently
drafted and future superstar andre ware
lurking in the shadows at the 3rd qb
position. with this awesome qb talent
barry only runs for 1304 yards 5.1
average and 13 touchdowns

1991- in a miracle season the lions find their future hall of fame qb erik kramer and combined with the possibly still active rodney peete go for 6.60 yards per pass 16 touchdowns and 19 ints. somehow the lions win the division at 12-4 but not because of sanders who has a pedestrian 1548 yard 4.5 ypc 16 td season

1992- erik kramer, andre ware, and rodney peete combine for 6.99yards per attempt 20 tds 21 ints. barry survives most teams stacking thirteen guys on the line in a down year of 1352 yards 4.3 ypc 9 td.

1993-barry gets hurt, runs for 1115 yards 4.6 ypc 3 tds in 11 games. erik kramer, rodney peete (6.6 ypa 6 tds 14 ints in 10 games!), and andre ware pick up the slack and combine for less than 3000 yards 6.77 ypa 15 tds 19 ints and somehow the lions make the playoffs.

1994-the glorious dave krieg year..barry actually has a qb who throws the ball forwards.opposing defenses look at each other in confusion. in 14 games krieg a lions qb actually throws for more then 61 percent completion with 14 tds and 3 ints. of course this is the lions so all those tds add up to only 1600 yards but whose counting. of course this being the lions the kind of success krieg was having could never be stood for so they opted to make the qb pickup of the century stealing scott mitchell from the dolphins who foolishly opted to go with marino. mitchell attempts to undo all of kriegs work going for 10 tds and 11 ints. barry quietly goes for 1883 yards 5.7 ypc 7 tds

1995-scott mitchell has the greatest season in pre joey harrington history. going for 4338 yards 7.4 ypa 32 tds 12 ints. flash in the pan? not me sir, says mitchell. barry goes for 1500 yards 4.8 ypc 11 tds plus 398 yards recieving.

1996-scott mitchell, will the real scott mitchell please stand up? 2917 yards 6.7 ypa 17 tds 17 ints. barry- 1553 yards 5.1 ypc 11 tds

1997-scott mitchell, mediocre to the extreme yet a step up for the lions. 3484 yards 6.8 ypa 19 tds 14 ints. with a qb that can at least make the opposing defense respect the pass on third and 10 barry goes for 2053 yards 6.1 ypa 11 rushing tds, 300 yards recieving and 3 tds. not a bad year. sadly also the year the great wayne fonts era ended so it had its ups and downs.

1998-sick of havinga qb the lions go with charlie batch,ben bergers future water boy and he and the comeback kid frank reich go for 6.95 ypa 17 tds 13 ints and 3300 yards. barry-1491 yards 4.3 ypc 4 tds. barry tells the world as good as the combination of gus ferrote and charlie batch might be, im hangin up the cleats.

my point being, even with irvin and aikman and the o line from heavan, the great emmit smith might not have done what barry did with a revolving door of scrubs surrounding him. every week teams stacked the line and he still did his thing running like only barry could. who didnt watch thanksgiving just to see barry play? in many ways he was the micheal jordan of football because you just had to see what he was goint to do-all by himself.

by moloch g (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 12:31pm

and steve tasker is def a HOFer

by Thad (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 1:11pm

James G
first of all I would put every wr you named in the Hall
Duper 511 catches
Clayton 582
Morgan 557
Carmicheal 589
Clark 699
Bruce 813
He just smokes them

by michael (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 1:13pm


The question that keeps coming up in my ind isn't "Why isn't Isaac Bruce in the Hall of Fame", but rather "Why is Lynn Swann?"

by Thad (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 2:13pm

800 catches, 15.0 yards per catch.
thats it

Why is Swann in the Hall
Basically SB 10, 13, and 14
16 catches for 364 yards.
Some of them are just astounding catches.
Against double coverage.
In those three games the Steelers running game was very poor.
107 rushes
299 yards
2.8 ave
Swann Stallworth and Bradshaw took the games over

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 2:18pm

Because, michael, the Steelers won four Super Bowls, and everybody just KNOWS that Swan was the major factor.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 2:36pm

Also, Swan's selection really highlights the poor thought process most selectors engage in. First, they fall into the trap of thinking that Super Bowl victories are a gatekeeper for the HOF for non-quarterbacks, but then they demonstrate that they don't really understand the game well enough to grasp that L.C. Greenwood was a larger factor in the Steeler dynasty that Lynn Swann. I mean, I don't think that Greenwood has even really ever gotten very close to induction. Kinda' silly, when one examines it.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 2:40pm

Thad, I don't dislike Swan, but can't you see the problems in evaluating a career through the prism of 16 catches?

by James G (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 2:44pm

171 - Once again, we have people comparing raw #s of today to raw #s of yesterday. Bruce has more catches during an era in which WRs catch more balls. If you are going to back to straight up # of catches, then Monk clearly deserves to be in, as he broke Largent's record, and still ranks 5th only behind Rice, Carter, Brown, and Reed. The two Harolds clearly played in an era where receptions were at a premium. Keyshawn Johnson has more catches than Gary Clark, but Clark was the superior player.

Look at Clark and Bruce in terms of top 10 seaons:
Receptions - Clark: 4 (10, 9, 7, 5), Bruce: 2 (4, 8)
Yards - Clark: 5 (4, 3, 8, 4, 2), Bruce: 4 (2, 1, 3, 5)
TDs - Clark: 5 (7, 9, 6, 6, 5), Bruce: 3 (6, 2, 6).

Just because Bruce has higher career totals doesn't mean he's the better player. Clark actually finished with the elite WRs more often than Bruce. And that's where the era adjustment comes in that knocks Bruce down. Then again, maybe Redskins fans should be pushing for Clark instead of Monk.

by James G (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 2:49pm

Re: 173, Interesting that Bruce comes out with Henry Ellard and Irving Fryar, because I don't think those two are HOF WRs either. They are both the epitome of good WRs that played for a really long time, but were never really considered the best. Ellard had a 3 year stretch (1988-1990) that would be HOF-worthy if it extended over the rest of his career, while Fryar doesn't even have that.

by James G (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 2:52pm

Michael (172) - I probably shouldn't get into another Swann argument, but it's clear that it's primarily the championships (for Stallworth, too) that gets him in. Rightly or wrongly, that got him in. From the #s, I think Carmichael, Jackson, and Drew Pearson (all non-HOFers) would be better choices, but I wasn't really following football during Swann's career (after all, I'm only 4 years older than MDS) so I don't know how he was perceived at the time.

by Nathan (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 3:15pm

Agree entirely with the B. Sanders > E. Smith argument. Without a doubt.

by James G (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 3:28pm

With Sanders and Smith, I think they were both good in their situations. I'm not sure Sanders would have done all that much better with the Cowboys because Sanders was clearly designed for a 1-back systems instead of a 2-back system. Smith got a lot out of having a FB in front of him, and when Detroit finally tried that for Sanders, it cramped his style. Smith couldn't freelance like Sanders and Johnston at FB certainly helped him get yards, but alot was Emmitt. Just witness how the Cowboys started out of the gate in '93 when Smith was holding out.

Yaguar - you also took Sanders's best season when you did that calculation. 6.1 yards/carry is certainly amazing, but Sanders only did that once. His other YPC seasons were good - 5.2, 5.1, 4.5, 4.3, 4.6, 5.7, 4.8, 5.1, and 4.3 - but I would like to see a calcualtion like that done on Bell for some of those seasons. My guess is that Smith would end up with a higher PAR than Sanders for the most part. Of course, you still have the question of the line and the teammates, which clearly helped Smith.

If the question came down to who do you want on your team - I really do think the offensive style has something to do with it.

by michael (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 4:00pm


I watched Swann in the SB. Many of his spectacular catches resulted as much from luck as skill. That often happens @ wideout. I played small-college football and made some pretty amazing catches. On some of them, I deserved credit for keeping concentration, but on others the ball happened to bounce the right way. The famous footage of Swann's catch over a supine Mark Washington is just such an example. And that may be the most telling point. One three-second snippet of highlight film has been parlayed by Lynn Swann into the Hall of Fame and a highly-paid career as a motivational speaker. He was no Paul Warfield. He wasn't even Bobby Mitchell.

In fact, I'll just stand right up and say what I'm thinking: IMO, Lynn Swann is probably the most undeserving member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.

by Thad (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 4:28pm

Will Allen,
of course I see the problem with it.
I am not saying its the right way.
I think the voters saw the games and the were really memorable games.
I am still kind of pissed about the two Dallas losses.

by Kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 4:31pm

Re #159: Is Jerome Bettis the lock that all the commentators made him out to be during the playoffs last year? Does the ring help? Isn’t it silly that because his defense had an awesome stretch in the playoffs his hall of fame credentials are boosted significantly, while he did very little to help his team in the playoffs?

Jerome Bettis BETTER NOT get into the HoF. It would just prove once again that the bar was so much lower for RBs and QBs than it is for every other position. With Bettis, I count 3 really good seasons (4+ ypc, 1400+ yards), one other really good season that got derailed by injures (4.8 ypc and 1,000 yards in 11 games), and then the rest of his career he's been under 4 yards per carry. Hello Eddie George.

by michael (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 4:36pm


What!?!? You dis Eddie George? You imply than an alumnus of the Ohio State University is destined for anything less than the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

by Thad (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 4:39pm

re 177
Look, 99 percent of the time I agree with your posts, so i don't want to come off looking like I am slamming you.
My feeling here is you are looking at peak performance and i am not. Well not as much. Its kind of like the mays Mantle debate.
I just don't care how many top 10 seasons Ellard or Bruce had. You draft somebody, they sign a concract, and play for 12 years. And play well. That is very valuble in my eyes
I don't think peak performance is somehow better than durablity in the NFL

by James G (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 5:12pm

Re - 186: Disagreements will happen, so I wouldn't worry about slamming me. I guess I just feel peak performance is more important than longevity for a HOF debate. That's why I like Irvin for the HOF, but not Fryar or Ellard. Irvin put together a few really stellar seasons over a short career, whereas Fryar and Ellard put up a bunch of good seasons over long careers. My feeling about HOFers is that they should at some point in their careers have been considered one of the 3-4 best players at their position for ~4-5 years. I'd like to see them have careers outside those years (hence, I wouldn't take Sterling Sharpe or Terrell Davis), but I wouldn't take guys that had long careers without that peak.

Since I've been debating against Bruce, I'll make a list of recent WRs that I think should be in:
Rice (obviously)
Carter - about a 3 year stretch where he was on top and a good supporting career.
Brown - debated him, but he did make 9 Pro Bowls and several years in the top 5 in yards or catches.
Monk - doesn't really fit my criteria above, but gets in by my roundabout way - he set records important for his position (# of receptions in a year and # of career receptions). If it wasn't for the records, I wouldn't support Monk.

Onto current players:
Harrison - 7 straight Pro Bowls and a huge stretch where he was considered the best WR in a game.
Owens - I'd like to see him do more, but he was considered one of the premier receivers for a good stretch and hits the leaderboard in TDs and yards.
Moss - Already hit the top 5 in yards many times, and was #1 in TDs 3 times already.

I think it's too early to tell on Holt, although he's off to a good start.

WRs that have been brought up that I wouldn't consider HOFers (recent ones only):
Reed - Close, but he just doesn't have enough top 5 finishes in my opinion.
Rod Smith - the comparison above to Monk is apt, except Smith is missing the records. I love the Broncos, they are my team, but I think the HOFers are limited to Elway, Sharpe, Zimmerman, and Nalen. Incidentally, I'd actually like to see Atwater on the list, too, but based on the criteria seemingly already set for safeties, he isn't making it.
Ellard & Fryar - just discussed them, but I really believe in peak and don't think either of them achieved a high enough peak.
Bruce - the prime starter of this argument. Being that he is still playing, I guess he really could drive up his totals in yards or receptions, but playing across from Holt, I just don't see him doing enough.
Jimmy Smith - another accumulator who I don't feel had a strong peak outside 1999 and 2001.

by B (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 7:12pm

I'm chiming in late, but on peak performance vs longeviety, I think both are neceessary to make the HOF. It's not about piling up stats or being th best for a few years, but being a phenomonal player over a long carreer in the NFL.

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 7:55pm

re: 181

In Sanders' 2,000 yard season he played in a 2-back system. Vardell and Schlesinger were the fullbacks.

by Brian (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 8:06pm

Does Adam Vinatieri get into the Hall?

by Andrew (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 10:45pm

Mentos #189:

Yeah exactly. Imagine what Barry might have done careerwise if the Lions had gotten him a fullback 8 years earlier.

Barry was the most amazing player I ever saw play (1986 to present), followed closely by Cunningham. I've never been a Lions fan, but when Barry was playing, I watched every Lions game I could.

by B (not verified) :: Sat, 08/05/2006 - 10:52pm

If kickers are allowed into the Hall, then Adam Vinatieri makes it.

by James G (not verified) :: Sun, 08/06/2006 - 12:38am

Re 189 - thanks. Mea culpa. My memory is clearly fading. I guess I vaguely remembered Sanders's poor start to that season. Found a TSN link about the full season (click my name) talking about the Barry vs. Emmit debate and how much better Barry was. Unfortunately, he really did tail of in 1998, along with the rest of the offense.

by moloch g (not verified) :: Sun, 08/06/2006 - 1:17am

the lions teams sanders played with were really great...for me to poop on.

by Fnor (not verified) :: Sun, 08/06/2006 - 5:00pm

Two things:

1) I don't think it really mattered what offensive set Sanders played out of. His talent was at finding holes in essentially broken plays and the open field, which translates pretty well to any offense, as his ability to find and make holes was uncanny. I, also, wished I had been able to see more of him. A joy to watch.

2) I think the problem with looking at Bettis as a product of rate stats is that he wasn't made to rack up phenomenal "per carry" stats. In fact, a lot of his runs were from 1-3 yards out from the goal line. Are you saying that his 2 yard run for a TD is the same as some other guy's 2 yard run on 2d and 7? That's a serious consideration if you're looking at Bettis as a player, and not just looking for ways to discount him.

Looking at the other stats, he has great longevity, plenty of postseason play, and quite good yardage. He wasn't much of a recieving threat, which I (but probably not the selectors) would hold against him, and he did taper off near the end of his career. Was he the best player at his position at points during his career? No, I don't think he was. But he was the best short yardage back in the league, which, combined with his career totals, at least makes him worthy of consideration.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sun, 08/06/2006 - 6:31pm

Very frequently, the Lions' offensive style was to have a really lousy quarterback. I don't think it favored Sanders very much.

by James G (not verified) :: Sun, 08/06/2006 - 11:00pm

It's a good thing the Lions played on Thanksgiving or else I would have barely seen Sanders at all (outside NFL Primetime).

by ifXthenWhyNot (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 12:11am

You're right about not seeing Sanders play on national tv except on Thanksgiving. Of course, there were the seven or so nationally televised playoff games, but he hardly showed up for those games.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 10:24am

RE post #175:

How do you know the 'thought process' of the HOF selectors? Why do you conclude that Greenwood was a ‘larger factor’ than Swann? How can you say that Greenwood hasn’t ever gotten close to HOF induction when Greenwood has been a HOF finalist 6 times, including this past year?

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 10:26am

The amount of hate on this site for Lynn Swann is astounding. It probably has something to do with the fact that Swann throws a monkey-wrench into this site's statistical gyrations which would indicate that Reggie Rucker has better HOF credentials than Swann. Similarly, a recent article did some number-crunching and concluded that Ken Anderson was more dominant than Sonny Jurgensen and was a bigger star than Dan Fouts. One can only hope that in the future, some subjective research would accompany the math equations.

I guess the moral of the story is that in many cases, statistical analysis and subjective opinion (i.e. "what really happened") need to be kept apart from one another. The discussion in this thread illustrates the point.

I’m sure that his Super Bowl performances had something to do with his perceived value during his playing career, but from 1975-1981 Lynn Swann was considered the premier WR in the NFL. To me, that is a significant accomplishment, much more impressive than Swann’s postseason exploits. Its interesting that many people on this site berate the selectors for putting Swann in the HOF, but there is another camp of people who thought that Swann had to wait too long for his enshrinement. To put it in the simplest subjective terms, Swann was the best WR in the NFL when he played. You can point to statistics and say “Swann wasn’t even on the same level as Harold Jackson�, and I would not argue that point. Statistically (at least in the regular season), Swann is not on the same level as Harold Jackson. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to reach such a conclusion; similarly, the Football Outsider posters have not made a discovery on par with the Rosetta Stone when they “calculate� that Swann’s statistics aren’t as impressive as Art Monk’s. I’m sure Swann’s lackluster statistics are what kept him out of the HOF for so long, but luckily the Pro Football Hall of Fame isn’t based solely on statistics and pro bowl appearances. Thus, Lynn Swann is a deserving member in the HOF.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 11:23am

Senser81, I didn't take the time to look up how often Greenwood had been a finalist, thus I qualified the statement with "I think". I stand corrected. I can comment on thought processes by the fact that Swan is in and Greenwood is not, and by the fact I've read selectors like King say that the four Super Bowl victories were meaningful in selcting Swan. I made the assertion that Greenwood played a larger role in the Super Bowl championships than Swan because I watched those teams closely, and they were built around a defensive front 7 which dominated games, and Greenwood was the 2nd best defensive lineman on the squad. If you think wide receiver play was a more important factor than defensive line play, in the success of the Steelers' dynasty, we'll have to agree to disagree.

I am not really bothered much at all by the fact that Swan is in, I merely think Greenwood is more deserving, and if the game were being played by the pre-'78 rules, I'd rather have Greenwood on my roster than Swan. I will note, however, that it is a little strange for Swan to be "considered the premier wide receiver" in the NFL from 1975-1981, while only being selected for the Pro Bowl three times. Yes, Pro Bowl selections are a problematic way of evaluating a career, but surely, if Swan was considered the premier WR during that time frame of seven years, his peers would have selected him more than three times to represent the AFC, unless ones wishes to posit some sort of strange anti-Steeler or anti-Swan bias by the players, while everybody else in the game recognized Swan as being the premier wr.

Having said all that, I agree with you that metrics have to be used very carefully when evaluating individual performance in football; the game has so much interdependence among players that individual metrics can often obscure rather than illuminate.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 11:28am

So, the HoF isn't for the greatest football players? I guess if you're famous that's enough? It is called the Hall of Fame.

That's a ridiculous argument. The HoF can be called anything but the point is to enshrine players who were the absolute best and Lynn Swan wasn't. It's not just this site that argues that he's the worst player in the HoF - I've seen many writers argue that he wasn't good enough to merit being in the Hall. You can make assertions that he was the best from 75-81 but until you bring up measures that we can examine - Pro Bowls, stats, whatever - to compare him to other players, we can't even make an argument against it.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 11:59am

Actually, even by post-'78 rules I think I'd rather have Greenwood on my team, although not by nearly as large a margin, given how the rules changes greatly increased the importance of wide receiver play.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 12:51pm

Re: #202

Granted, Swann's induction stirred up a lot of debate, but I don't really understand why you can't produce a counter-argument to my claim that Swann was the best WR of his era. You can simply offer your opinion as to who was better than Swann in the mid-to-late 70's. Not that difficult. You can examine it any way you want. If I said "Rusty Hilger was the best QB ever", would your reply be "Until you bring up measures that we can examine - Pro Bowls, stats, whatever - to compare him to other players, we can’t even make an argument against it,"?

re: #201 & #203

I would hope that Swann's postseason numbers and 4 rings would be "meaningful" in the eyes of the HOF selectors, but I don't see how Super Bowls were the 'gatekeeper' to Swann's selection. I would think that there must have been some substance to Swann's ability. If the HOF committee elected Swann solely on his Super Bowl rings, then one has to wonder why Cliff Branch (leading postseason WR when he retired, 3 rings) and Drew Pearson (great postseason numbers, 3 SBs) are on the outside of Canton looking in. Perhaps Swann was simply a better WR than Branch and Pearson, regardless of pro bowls/stats? (Side note: I think Drew Pearson should be in the HOF, too.)

I don't really buy into the Steeler D-line vs. Steeler WR comparison, either. The comparison is simple: LC Greenwood vs. Lynn Swann. By a similar token, one could argue that the 1970's Dolphins defense was more important to Miami's success than the Dolphins' wide receivers, yet I don't think anyone would enshrine Vern Den Herder over Paul Warfield. Greenwood was a great player in his own right, but I don’t think he was better than Swann relative to his peers.

Swann was a 3-time 1st Team All-Pro during the 1975-1981 time period. Quite impressive. I reviewed all the pro bowl WR selections from 1975-1981, and the only WR who had more pro bowls than Lynn Swann in that time frame was Ahmad Rashad (4 total, 1978-1981).

This topic was discussed ad nauseum in a previous thread…here is some relevant chatter and the link.

"I have the rankings from the NFL’s top scouting service. It is the most used and top ranked service. It’s rankings for WRs include skills, not numbers. A WR could have a perfect score on a play where the pass was thown to another WR. They look at routes, catching ability, separation, all those things. Here are Swann’s:

1974 not ranked, but #1 PR in NFL; 1975 #1 in NFL, 1976: #5 NFL, 1977: #1 NFL, 1978: #1 NFL, 1979 #2 NFL, 1980 #4 NFL, 1981 24th, 1982 39th. Six of his 9 years he is in top 5 and 3 time he was #1. Remember, scouts look at ability, who is the best player, not the statistical leader. (Pearson was #1 in 1974 and high in all those other years) So, that is one services opinion. There are, I am sure, others."


by James G (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 1:32pm

I think part of the problem with WRs are the #s we have are really incomplete. With QBs and RBs, we at least have yards/attempt, which include all the times that they failed to do anything as well. At the very least, one of the things missing for WRs, at least in any easy-t0-find historical sense, are times targeted.

When Matthew correlates the DPAR to to the yards per catch, he's not noticing what the WRs yards/time targeted are. When we look at Lynn Swann's #s, we notice he had low total #s, but maybe he really did make the most of every pass Bradshaw threw to him. I am too young to really evaluate Swann subjectively, so all I have is the #s. I'd venture that even senser81 is too young to evaluate Bennie Friedman based on watching him, so I'm not sure how me made the HOF many years later except based on #s.

Even when the selectors or us are subjectively evaluating players, how many perfromance have we seen? Usually, the bulk of the postseason performances, but only the full set of regular season performances of players from our favorite/local team. And that means we have to rely on stats to give us an indication as to how well the players played when we didn't see them.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 1:36pm

senser81, I never said there was no substance to Swan's ability, I said absent the Super Bowl rings, he wouldn't be a member of the HOF, and if the four rings are to be a key element in Swan's induction, it is quite reasonable to ask what elements of the 70s Steelers teams were most important to their success. Again, if you belive Swan's play was more critical than Greenwood's, we'll just have to disagree.

The proper analogy to the great Dolpjins teams (let it be noted how often DenHerder was recognized by his peers, compared to Greenwood), would be the Dolphins' offensive linemen, since offensive line play was indisputably the most important element to that team's success. Larry Little and Jim Langer are in, and Bob Keuchenberg should be. My point is that if Super Bowl victories are to play a large role in evaluating individual performance, the selectors should at least think about which players on those Super Bowl winning teams were most important to that level of success, not just in the final game, but throughout those championship years.

The fact that Greenwoood is on the outside, while Swan is in, while Greenwood certainly was widely recognized for his dominance during his career (6 Pro Bowl selections), leads me to believe that the selectors have not really evaluated the Steelers teams of the '70s in an analytically sound manner.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 1:54pm

The fact that the 70s Steelers have five offensive players in the HOF, and only four defensive players, also leads me to suspect that the HOF slectors, like many football fans generally, don't really grasp well what elements are most critical to winning football games.

James G, I understand what you are saying, but I think your post also points to the inadequacy of even the metrics employed here to evaluate individual performance, due to player interdependence. Measuring the targeted/caught ratio is certainly worthwhile, but one has to recognize how dependent that number is on quarterback behavior, which, in turn, is dependent on the perceived value of the other receivers, and, of course, how well the offensive line performs. It is really, really, hard to measure individual football performance objectively, which isn't to say that it shouldn't be attempted, but only that one should recognize the inherent problems.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 1:57pm

re: #206

Sure, if Swann doesn't have 4 rings his chances of making the HOF are greatly diminished, but its not like the Steelers got lucky one year and won the Super Bowl, and Swann came off the bench to have a great game. The Steelers were arguably the best team ever, and Swann played a significant role. To speculate what would happen if Swann had 0 rings and 0 SB MVPs is a tad unfair.

As for Greenwood, I think he is hurt somewhat by several of his teammates already being in the HOF, so the selectors don't want another 70's Steeler in the Hall...but moreso Greenwood is hurt by the logjam of great DEs from that relative time period. Think of how long Carl Eller and Jack Youngblood had to wait to get into the HOF, and you still have guys like Claude Humphrey and Harvey Martin knocking on the door. Elvin Bethea got in recently after a long wait, too.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 2:15pm

That's kinda my point, Senser81; the fact that the HOF selectors put in two Steeler wideouts from that era, prior to voting in a 2nd defensive linemen, indicates to me that many selectors don't analyze the game much better that the casual fan.

by Kris H (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 2:16pm

Forget Bill James, and the "best player at his position" idea -- does this mean no RB who played during Jim Brown's career can get in, or no WR who played during Jerry Rice's?

Statistics alone, also, can't make up a discussion about the football hall of fame. For the most part, I think the criteria implied in the selections to the HOF over the years are sound, and I'd say they are this, in no particular order:

1. Did the player do something legendary or memorable, particularly with regard to a championship game?

2. Did the player excel for a long period of time, in spite of a lack of top-notch championship performances?

3. Was the player statistically dominant, and/or set meaningful records?

4. For positions which stats don't easily reflect, did they make it to a whole mess o' pro bowls?

Most players get in for only one of the above reasons; the upper tier of HOF'ers (Joe Montana, say) meet more than one of the above requirements.

No. 1 above, for example, explains why Joe Namath and Lynn Swann are in, and Drew Pearson and Art Monk are not. No question this hurts good players on bad teams, but let's face it: part of the HOF voting depends on being a staple of NFL Films lore. I agree, generally, with this criterion. Namath had as many terrible seasons as good ones, but he deserves to be in, as he was the NFL's first rock star, so to speak, and led his team to a win against a truly excellent Colt team in SB III. Swann didn't have a great career, was really a good WR for only about 5 of his 9 seasons, but he made simply amazing catches in the biggest games. Without him, the Steelers may not win those games, and Swann turned some inaccurate Bradshaw passing into long-gaining completions.

No. 2 explains someone like Fran Tarkenton. He belongs in the Hall, in my view, despite accomplishing very little in the postseason. An argument could certainly be made that he piled up numbers and wins playing on the only good team in a garbage division in the 1970s; but in my view, this would be wrong. He helped change the way the position of QB is played, and he excelled right on into old age, including his last season. Obviously, he piled up significant records as well. Was he ever the best QB in football? Nope. But that's a separate issue.

3. Many players in the Hall make it on this basis, though it's usually combined with one of the others. Jerry Rice, for example, shattered records, AND produced legendary performances in big games. Dan Marino may be a player who got in on solely this criterion alone. Never won a Super Bowl, and, in fact, played poorly in a few AFC championship games as well. In many respects, his career could be described as 4 out-of-this-world seasons, followed by several merely good years after his Achilles injury. He ended his career with a few pretty bad years, too, getting by on experience alone. But, he gets in. His numbers were monstrous. The Eric Dickerson of QBs.

4. The linemen of the world generally belong here.

To me, these criteria are sound. For the most part, I'm fairly happy with the football HOF selection process, but I think it has little to do with the criteria cited in this excellent and fun article.

by Kris H (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 2:21pm

I don't think Art Monk should get in. But what about other Redskins?

To me, Gary Clark was a superb wideout, and had some great performances in big games. He's the Redskins' Lynn Swann -- though Clark also finished his career with 10,000 yards receiving. He was the WR opponents feared -- not Monk.

I don't think Jacoby should get in, but to me, he's borderline. I do think Russ Grimm should get in, though, as I think he was the best linemen on the early '80s Hogs, and one of those guys should get in to represent a unit that was a dominating force on a very successful team, a team that was a kind of mini-dynasty.

And what about Jim Lachey? Better than Jacoby, his acquisition in the late '80s paved the way for one of the NFL's greatest teams, the 1991 Redskins.

For the record, let me state that I have been a Steelers fan all my life, though I've lived in Washington. In the 1980s, I hated the Redskins, rooted against them, but I watched almost every game. Now i have a deep nostalgiac respect for Joe Gibbs's first run with that team. So in any event, I think I am qualified to talk about the 'Skins with a little insight and no bias. Just my two cents.

by Kris H (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 2:24pm

Oh, and incidentally, I think Terrell Davis should get in. But it's a squeaker, in my mind.

I think he satisfies the no. 1 condition I describe in #210. He did something legendary, leading the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins.

Most importantly, his performance helped the AFC stop the mighty NFC streak, which looked like it would never end. And it was his play, not Elway's, which put 31 points on the board against an excellent defense.

And he was a money postseason player.

He should be in, for the same reasons Namath and Swann are in.

by michael (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 2:39pm

Lynn Swann is a notorious member of the Howie Long school of "I'll-talk- to-any-reporter-who'll-remember-
me-come-Hof-voting-time." Particularly post-career he has been an indefatigable schmoozer who has lobbied for his own induction. He's also a handsome, personable guy whose career is perceived to have been cut short.

I don't remember Lynn Swann ever being considered the best wideout in the NFL. He was a talented weapon on a great team, but the best? Drew Pearson, Steve Largent, Harold Carmichael, John Jefferson, Wes Chandler, Harold Jackson, James Lofton. Enshrine Ahmad Rashad! Danny Abramowicz to the Hall! Flipper Anderson in '07!

But I would like some of the good hash that senser81's smoking.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 2:40pm

re: #209

You are really oversimplifying the matter. You are comparing LC Greenwood to Lynn Swann in regards to LC's HOF credentials, when you really need to be comparing LC Greenwood to other contemporary DEs (and other HOF DEs). I would hope that the HOF selectors compare players of like positions, as opposed to your way of comparing HOF candidates to their own teammates.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 2:49pm

KrisH, I have a problem with number one, for a couple of reasons. It is hugely influenced by what city a player plays in, and by sheer luck. Joe Namath was greatly helped by the fact that he played in media-centric New York, and if he had played in K.C., and Dawson had played in New York, Namath making his poolside prediction prior to beating the Vikings (I have no doubt that Dawson could have led the Jets to victory over the Colts as well), wouldn't have resonated nearly as much. "Rock stars" generally don't play in Kansas City, after all. I'd make an argument that Namath is least-deserving inductee since the merger. Also, it just seems silly to evaluate a career of 150-plus games or so through the prism of one or two games. I know it is a natural tendency, but that doesn't mean it is a good tendency.

As to to other matters, if I remember correctly, Tarkenton had a winning record in the playoffs (6-5), so it isn't entirely accurate to say that he accomplished little in the post-season. Also, as I have noted before, Tarkenton was already past his physical prime (12 years into his career) by the time he had good teammates to benefit from, when he was traded back to the Vikings. If he had enjoyed having superior teammates early on, in the manner of a Starr, Bradshaw, or Montana, there's a reasonable chance that Tarkenton would be generally acclaimed as the greatest qb ever, or would certainly be part of the discussion. He truly had pitiful support for the first 2/3 of his career. This situation reminds me a lot of those who claim that Emmitt Smith was clearly better than Barry Sanders.

Regarding offensive linemen, I do think Grimm, Jacoby, and Lachey all belong.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 2:55pm

re: #213

You must have a bad memory if you don't remember Lynn Swann [I]ever[/I] being considered the best wideout in the NFL since Swann was 1st team All-Pro 3 times and named to the All-Decade 1970's team. Strange, considering earlier in this thread you compared Lynn Swann to Bobby Mitchell (?). You seem to be someone who likes to name-drop, even (especially?) when you have very little idea as to what you are talking about.

by bmw1 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 2:56pm

Adding to #213 - a few more WR's who were better than Swann:

Wesley Walker
Tony Hill
Reggie Rucker
Stanley Morgan

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:02pm

Senser, what is oversimplifying about first reserving HOF slots to the players whose play is most conducive to winning football games? Is not the object of the sport, first and foremost, to win the game? If so, why should we not first induct a player whose performance, to the degree it can be isolated from his teammates' play, was superior to others, in terms of maximizing the chance of victory? My point is that if I were starting a team, I'd rather have L.C. Greenwood than Lynn Swann, because Greenwood would increase my chance of victory more than Swan, even more so if we are working with the pre-'78 rules. Thus, Greenwood is more deserving of a spot in the HOF than Swann, which isn't exactly damning criticism of Swann, by the way.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:08pm

Senser81, let be clear by stating that I'm not on board with those ripping Swann excessively. Being named first team All-Pro three times is a very significant accomplishment, and it must be understood that a receiver playing in the 70s for a team with the sort of defense the Steelers had simply wasn't going to rack up huge numbers.

by michael (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:11pm


Bobby Mitchell, split time between RB/WR for the Browns and Redskins from 1958-1968. Rushed for 2735 yards and 18 TDs, caught 521 passes for 65 TDs. Four-time Pro Bowler. Retired with 14,078 all-purpose yards (he was a great return man). Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.

I think I have some idea what I'm talking about. As far as big-game performance, well, Timmy Smith for the Hall of Fame!

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:13pm

re: #218

Although I somewhat disagree, I readily admit this discussion is much better than the tiresome FO debate of Reggie Rucker vs. Lynn Swann.

My point is that when judging an individual's merit for the HOF, you should judge that player against his peers at that particular position. You shouldn't judge that player against his teammates.

That said, it appears that to some degree the HOF selectors agree with you. There are many more QBs in the HOF than Safties, and I am assuming that is because a QB is more important to a team's success.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:22pm

re: #220

Thats nice. You can regurgitate a blurb about Mitchell's career. I still don't understand your point of comparing Bobby Mitchell to Lynn Swann. They had nearly opposite careers...Mitchell started as a RB and was converted to a WR, played in one of the most prolific passing offenses of all-time (1960's Redskins), and has virtually nil postseason statistics. Was Bobby Mitchell a better football player than Swann? Yes. Was Mitchell a better WR than Swann? Perhaps. Does that mean Swann is undeserving of the HOF? Of course not.

by James G (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:27pm

Speaking of All Pro, does anybody have an accessible list? I tend to use Pro Bowls as a proxy for how players were subjectively thought of at the time. It's easy to find with pro-football-reference, and therefore accessible, but All Pro is likely a better standard because fewer players make it, meaning it's really the cream, and is not going to subjected to conference imbalance, like Pro Bowl selections (e.g. all NFC WRs had to compete with Rice for a Pro Bowl slot, while AFC WRs didn't).

I have Total Football, Total Football II, and should get the new ESPN encyclopeida in the future, so if it's in there, tell me (haven't looked at either in a while).

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:30pm

Yeah, and I can't disagree with the number of QBs inducted (although the ease with which Namath made it in strikes me as silly), given how much more the play at that postion affects the outcome of a game, relative to any other player on the field. I think some positions are somewhat overrepresented in the HOF, relative to other positions. The larger problem, I think, is that the HOF is too restricitve, which leads to putting too much emphasis on Super Bowl championships or Super Bowl performances.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:37pm

Just to be clear, Senser81, you really aren't advocating that safeties should be weighted as heavily as quarterbacks, in terms of HOF inductions, are you? Should not the HOF be reserved for the players who best maximized the chance of victory, regardless of position?

by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:46pm

re: #223

The book I have (Total Football) lists various all-pro teams in the section after the pro bowl teams.

re: #225

No, I am not advocating that QBs and Safeties should be weighed equally. That said, there are a few QBs in the HOF who were borderline (Blanda, Griese) and a few Safeties I'd like to see enshrined (C. Harris, J. Robinson), but all in all I can't complain. I would like to see a few more OLBs enshrined, starting with Chuck Howley and Chris Hanburger.

by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:51pm

I think it's impossible to evaluate Lynn Swann without looking at his Super Bowl performances. Swann's regular season numbers are not HOF-quality for a variety of reasons, including the reduced passing numbers of the mid-1970's, the Steelers' reluctance to pass (rank in attempts from 1974 to 1982: 10, 24, 28, 16, 22, 9, 14, 23, 17), missing at least 1 game due to injury or strike in 7 of 9 seasons, and retiring early.

Yes, with a lesser team, he wouldn't have even been there, but Swann played a significant role in helping the Steelers win 3 of those 4 Super Bowls.

Super Bowl IX: Swann was a rookie whose primary role was as the Steelers' punt returner. Swann set a then-Super Bowl record for punt return average (3 for 34 yards), but otherwise would have no impact on the game.

Super Bowl X: Swann was the MVP, and deservedly so. Targeted 7 times on deep passes, Swann caught 4 for 161 yards. The biggest of these was for a 64-yard touchdown, putting the Steelers up 21-10 with 3:02 to go, but the other 3 were all important. These included a 32-yarder on 2nd and 5 from the Dallas 48 down 7-0 in the 1st quarter (the Steelers would score the tying TD 3 plays later) and a juggling 53-yard catch on 3rd and 6 from the Pittsburgh 10 near the end of the 1st half.

Super Bowl XIII: Targeted 12 times, Swann caught 7 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. 6 of those catches were for first downs. Swann also drew a controversial 33-yard pass interference penalty on Cowboy cornerback Benny Barnes midway through the 4th quarter, leading to a Steeler TD 3 plays later that put the Steelers up 28-17.

Super Bowl XIV: Targeted 6 times, Swann caught 5 passes for 79 yards and a 3rd quarter 47-yard touchdown that put the Steelers temporarily ahead 17-13. Swann was hurt midway through the 3rd quarter (a mild concussion), and would not play the rest of the game.

by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 3:52pm

Jefferson was spectacular from 78 to 80.
Swann was very good, but no way was he the premiere reciever.
three year averages

49 catches 800 yards 7.7 tds 16.4 y/catch

very good to be sure

66 catches
1140 yards
12 td's
17.2 yards/catch

He was just amazing to watch, not HOF worthy to be sure, but for three years he was awesome

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 4:05pm

Yes, outside linebackers are ridiculously underrepresented, especially those who played significant time in the 70s, which includes Hanburger and Howley, who also top my list. It amazes so much that Howley isn't in that I sometimes forget that he has yet to be inducted.

by Kris H (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 5:42pm

Will, you make very good points, and I don't think we disagree that much.

But about my point #1, to elaborate on it a bit:

Football is a game that offers players limited opportunities to showcase their talent. Baseball, Basketball, hockey, all play millions of games. In football, seasons are short, careers are brief, and postseason glory can stick to a player for a lifetime even if we're only talking about, basically, a game or two.

Therefore I do think there ought to be a certain "glory" factor by which players can get into the Hall. That's why I have no problem with Namath and Swann being there (though in my mind, Swann has the much stronger claim of these two; I could certainly live with Namath not being in the Hall, particularly since he didn't even play a good game in SB III - he just didn't make mistakes. Len Dawson was far better than Namath, and I do agree with your point regarding media attention).

As for Tarkenton, yes, absolutely, he was a truly great player, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I agree completely he spent most of his fine career playing with turds. And his postseason play isn't bad -- obviously, he got the Vikes to three Super Bowls -- but are there any memorable performances by Fran in any postseason game? Is there a great playoff moment for Tark? No, there isn't, and that's my point, probably departing from your opinion. But do agree he should be in the Hall and is one of the ten or fifteen best QBs in history.

Agree also with your support for Howley. Great LB.

But to sum up my point, I think the subjective factor of "football glory" can be part of the consideration. It needs to be one part of an otherwise good career - hence it doesn't apply to Timmy Smith - but if some guys get in on this criterion, I think it's valid.

It may well not be fair. But as other posters have mentioned, the HOF should not be about what "could" have happened if a guy had been on a better team, or in a bigger city. Could the Steelers have won four Super Bowls with Archie Manning at QB? Maybe. Maybe more - but Archie can't get in on that basis.

As for Swann, I'm a Steelers fan, so I'm happy he's in, but I'll concede that it took a lot postseason glory for him to make it - but he racked up more spectacular plays in multiple Super Bowls than just about anybody.

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Mon, 08/07/2006 - 9:22pm

Might want to read Dr. Z's "A Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football" (and that's just one source). Might change your opinion that Namath didn't play a good game in Super Bowl III.

by Kris H (not verified) :: Tue, 08/08/2006 - 2:28am

Mentos, do you remember the argument regarding Namath's play in SB III? I'm certainly open to changing my view! I've got the game on tape, and in my view, the Jets' D holding the Colts to 7 pretty much explains the win.

He connects on some key 3rd downs, but otherwise, it's the D that wins that one, from the view from my armchair...

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Tue, 08/08/2006 - 10:51am

No, I don't remember the argument. I guess there was a thread here on it?

If so, could somebody point me to it?

His flanker was injured. I think to this day Don Maynard is still the only Hall of Fame wide receiver to play in a Super Bowl and not catch a pass.
So, that was working against Namath.

He beat the Colts blitz wonderfully and really didn't make any mistakes.

by Jeremy Billones (not verified) :: Wed, 08/09/2006 - 2:52pm

Re: #210

The full Keltner list is:

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

2. Was he the best player on his team?

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Also note that James didn't intend it to be used as any kind of checklist -- just a way to frame the discussion and get people to foucus on certain aspects of performance rather than anecdotes.

by kiechel valentine (not verified) :: Thu, 08/10/2006 - 2:24pm

Terrell Davis the best post-season running back of all time. In his 8 post-season games, he never stepped foot on the field in the second half in the divisonal playoff against Jacksonville in 1998 or Miami in 1999. He made game breaking runs in Super Bowl XXXII and the 1999 AFC Championship Game against the Jets. His 4 career fumbles gives him one of the best carries to fumble ratios in the league for his era and John Elway openly admitted repeatedly that Davis was the best blcoking half back he'd ever seen.

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Thu, 08/10/2006 - 3:27pm

re: 235

Davis had 16 fumbles through 1998.

I'm not sure where you got the 4 from, unless that's his playoff fumbles total.

by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 08/10/2006 - 5:05pm

he never stepped foot on the field in the second half in the divisonal playoff against Jacksonville in 1998 or Miami in 1999.

No, and no.

In the Jaguars game, Davis ran a whopping 31 times for 184 yards before injuring his ribs late in the 3rd quarter with the Broncos up 21-17. NFL no-name Derek Loville then ran for 103 yards on 11 carries, as the Broncos scored 3 4th quarter TDs to win 42-17.

The Miami game:

"It's tough to win 13 games and then play two games that don't mean anything," said Davis, who had 129 yards on 16 carries in the first half, exactly 100 yards more than he had in Miami, where he was 16-for-29 for the entire game. In this one, he left with a slight leg cramp early in the fourth quarter, 1 yard short of 200 for the game.

Davis' heroics came against a Miami defensive line that was missing two starters, Pro Bowler Tim Bowens and Jason Taylor. That was one reason Denver scored three rushing touchdowns against a defense that allowed just six TDs on the ground in the regular season.

by EjB (not verified) :: Thu, 08/10/2006 - 5:30pm

Offensive linemen headed toward Canton? Two words...ALAN FANECA!

by stan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/10/2006 - 10:57pm

Perfect example of journeyman (by HoF standards) enshrined in Cooperstown because of longevity is Paul Molitor.

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Fri, 08/11/2006 - 1:57am

Franco Harris
Marcus Allen

First ballot Hall of Famers

Now tell me Curtis Martin shouldn't be a 1st ballot inductee.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/11/2006 - 8:33am

#240 - I think Martin's a HOFer, but more likely a 2nd or 3rd balloter. I don't think those 2 guys say otherwise, either. First, we know all the Steelers of the 70s got an extra boost due to their 4 SB rings. However, in Harris's case, he was also 3rd in yards rushing when he retired (only behind Walter Payton and Jim Brown, with Payton still adding over 2,000 yards after Harris retired). Harris was also 3rd in TDs (only behind Brown again and John Riggins. Payton only passed him later). Allen was actually 1st in rushing TDs when he retired, while only 7th all time in rushing.

Whether or not you think rushing TDs are a good measure for a RB, it seems clear to me it's a factor in the HOF voting. Martin is 4th all-time in rushing, but only 10th in TDs.

In terms of top 10 seasons:
Rush Yards: Martin 7, Harris 8, Allen 4
TDs: Martin 6, Harris 6, Allen 9
Yards from Scrimmage: Martin 8, Harris 4, Allen 5

Pro Bowls:
Martin 5, Harris 9, Allen 6

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Fri, 08/11/2006 - 3:39pm

In 54 more games, Allen had 33 more rushing TDs. Allen was a better goal line back than Martin.

I've seen (estimate here) 140 of Martin's 168 career RS games and all of his playoff games. I saw anywhere between 40-50% of Allen's games.
Martin was much more impressive to me as a running back. What can I say.

by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/11/2006 - 4:29pm

Martin definitely has better peak stats, IMO. Allen is in a rare class for a RB - career that lasted 16 years and really allowed him to accumulate stats. Two HOF RBs seem to be in primarily on accumulated stats - Allen & Riggins. And the most impressive stat for both of them is TDs. Allen retired as #1 in that stat and Riggins as #2. And I have to believe that was the primary fact putting both of them in. Emmitt Smith is the only other back that I can find that played for about as long.

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Sat, 08/12/2006 - 1:23am

Joe Perry played 16 seasons (2 in AAFC, 14 in NFL).

Allen- 16
Smith- 15
Riggins- 14

O.J. Anderson played 14 years. Might be some other 14-season guys out there.

by thad (not verified) :: Sat, 08/12/2006 - 2:57am

re 240
Super bowl MVP
You can compare Martin to Allen and Harris in any number of ways and Martin will look better no doubt.
You may have seen most of Martin's games, most people have not.
the playoffs are televised nationally.
Harris has over 1500 yards in the playoffs, Allen has over 1300 yards.
In january of 84 DC was planning a victory parade.
Allen just destoyed the skins.
Darrell green was considered the fastest player at the time. Allen runs left, Alenn runs right, allen runs up the middle for 74 yards and Green is nowhere to be found!
Every Hof voter has seen that play. They look at his stats
they talk about famous playoff games
they smoke cigars
they tell a few dirty stories
boom, he's in.
James G and I have a different outlook on who should be in.
He values peak performance, I value long term consistancy.
Having thought about this a bunch recently, I think the number one criteria for getting into the HoF is steller playoff performance. That is why Harris and Allen were in so fast.

by James G (not verified) :: Sat, 08/12/2006 - 9:55am

244 - Did I count an extra season for Riggins? I had him at 15, and specifically looked at O.J. Anderson when I made that comment. I missed some of the really older guys like Perry.

245 - SB MVP probably has something to do with it. Both Allen & Riggins were SB MVPs and I'm sure that added to their allure. Swann is primarily in on his postseasons and has a SB MVP. I'm sure Bradshaw's 2 BS MVPS have a lot to do with him getting in addition to the Steelers winning. I'm sure when Tom Brady is eligible, his SB MVPs will be the primary factor as well.

There are a few SB MVPS missing from the HOF however, especially on defense. On offense, the two I've seen arguments for that I don't think are going to make it are Ottis Anderson and Phil Simms.

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Sat, 08/12/2006 - 12:34pm

Alas, Thad is probably right. Had the Patriots won SB 31, Martin would just about be a guaranteed 1st ballot guy.

re: 246
John Riggins sat out the 1980 season.

by thad (not verified) :: Sat, 08/12/2006 - 1:39pm

I have read that Gibbs went to visit Riggins to try and get him to sign with the Redskins.
Supposedly Joe shows up at 10 am
Riggens opens the door with a beer in his hand.
I don't know if its true but I always thought that was a preety funny story.

by Brian (not verified) :: Sun, 08/13/2006 - 9:03pm

Now that Junior Seau has retired, is he a first ballot guy?

by Mentos Fillapeedios (not verified) :: Mon, 08/14/2006 - 3:28am

Yes, Seau is a first ballot guy.

by Adam (not verified) :: Mon, 08/14/2006 - 3:38pm

If Terrell Davis is a product of the system, and the system is based on the offensive line that has produced 5 different 1,000 yard backs, nearly produced 2 different 1,000 yard backs in the same year then there is no question that the entire Denver offensive linemen from the mid 90s to now should be in the Hall of Fame.

You just cant keep Broncos out forever, nto when they have consistently put up huge rushing stats for 10 consecutive years and have two Superbowl rings. Elway should be the first of about 5 people to make the HoF from those Denver teams (Nalen, Sharpe, Zimmerman and Schlereth, and a case could be made for Atwater and Dennis Smith - who was arguably the better safety on the team - as well). Until Dr. Z and all the other media journalists are taken completely out of the voting process, the Hall of Fame will continue to be a sham that heavily favors the east coast.

by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 08/14/2006 - 4:41pm

Re: 251

Until Dr. Z and all the other media journalists are taken completely out of the voting process, the Hall of Fame will continue to be a sham that heavily favors the east coast.

Which East Coast team did Warren Moon play for? Rayfield Wright? John Madden? Troy Aikman?

It's a struggle for ANY lineman to be elected, whether East Coast, West Coast, or somewhere in between. Russ Grimm, guard for 3 Super Bowl-winning Washington Redskin teams, has yet to be elected, 15 years after his retirement. Joe Jacoby, tackle for those same teams, has never been a finalist.

Here is a list of the Hall of Fame selectors. Notice that's there's one for every NFL city, plus 7 "at-large" national selectors, and that it takes 31 of 39 to elect a player to the HOF.

by James G (not verified) :: Mon, 08/14/2006 - 5:57pm

251 - Neither Atwater or Smith are going to make it, but between the two, Atwater has the better case: He made 8 Pro Bowls compared to 6 for Smith, he has the memorable hit on Christian Okoye, and the Broncos won 2 Super Bowls when he was playing for them, a few years after Smith retired.

I don't think Sharpe will have much problem making it. As for Zimmerman, Travis is right - O-linemen always have a problem. The same people that vote HOF put Zimmerman on both the all 1980s decade team and all 1990s decade team so I doubt they are ignoring him.

With Seau retiring, I think this affects our other discussion about Curtis Martin. Because now he has Bettis, probably Faulk, and Seau turning eligible the same year he does. And IIRC, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders would have been eligilbe the year before, so Martin may have other older players going against him.

by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 08/14/2006 - 6:28pm

Quick correction to my #252:

It takes 32 selectors to vote a player into the HOF, not 31.

by John (not verified) :: Tue, 08/15/2006 - 12:01am

What about Roger Craig?

He would never make it as a pure rusher, but add 566 receptions in 11 years including 4 years with more than 70. And the first player with more than 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving in the same season.

by Carl (not verified) :: Tue, 08/15/2006 - 1:59pm

Herschel Walker!

by Steve (not verified) :: Wed, 08/16/2006 - 10:11pm

I think the ultimate thing about this stuff is that the HOF argument in the NFL is always about criteria. While people on here want to go retro and call Swann mediocre, that is complete hogwash.

What no one is focusing on is the style that the Steelers played and how it restricted stats accumulation for Swann.

For example - in 1975 the Steelers had 99 wideout catches and Swann had 49 of them. He was THE premier wideout on a SB winning team and the SB MVP. The next year he had only 28 catches - but that was 43% of all the catches by Steeler wideouts. In 1977 Stallworth emerged and they basically shared the WR catches (Swann had 50 grabs)) as the Steelers actually threw it decently. In 78 Swann had more than half of the WR catches for another SB winner. In 79 he missed three games but had the highest YPC of his career. His two biggest post season career games came in Super Bowls... Calling him mediocre is silly.

Comparisons to other good wideouts of the era are reasonable, but Swann (like every player) was a product of his team's system and he was a very good wideout who shone when it mattered most.

Now, understand, I HATE writing this because I am a Raiders fan who was watching him be part of the problem at that time - but one must give the Devil his due.

The whole "there are too many 70s Steelers in" argument by the HOF voters is absurd. Greenwood was a force and deserves to get in. Frankly, so does Stabler - not because of stats in Ken's case, but because he WAS the 70s Raiders.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Thu, 08/17/2006 - 3:14am

The other thing about Lynn Swann is that he exemplified graceful athleticism at the time. Obviously, every game he played wasn't Super Bowl X, but he made enough of those plays that "Swann-type catch" was part of the lexicon for a while. Having said that, I'll add that Swann was eligible for many years before he was elected.

This leads to a more general point: it helps to have seen the player in question, as well as having an idea of how he was regarded in his time. It's not that contemporaries all agree (just look at any thread about which current players should get in), and even the Hall of Fame selectors disagree with each other, but when the numbers don't match the induction status, there are reasons.

by Lee Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 12:39pm

How can Art Monk not be in the HoF. I think some people must be blind. Why don't you go back and look at his numbers again - and consider he played on a run heavy team based around the likes of Riggins. he set all kinds of records that are still very high even today. He wasn't the go to guy on the team? You obviously weren't watching the Redskins, he was the main man, particularly on those key 3rd down routes which kept drives rolling. I'm sorry, but there is no logical or sensible reason to not have Monk in the hall, considering the era/team he played in, and it's embarrassing that many of you have him behind ANY of the other guys on that list of WRs you mentioned.

by DjTj (not verified) :: Thu, 09/07/2006 - 2:44pm

I'm late finding this discussion, but I'd like to make three points in response to Smith:

(1) The concern with lobbying is misplaced. Players have always gotten in through lobbying, whether it's Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, James Lofton, or Harry Carson. They got in after years of waiting because of lobbying from Pittsburgh fans and Ed Bouchette, Packer fans and Cliff Christl, and Giants Fans and Peter King. The whole voting system, based on one writer per city presenting the case of their hometown players, has a strong lobbying component.

(2) If Monk got in, it wouldn't show that the voters caved to lobbying. He hasn't been kept out because of his lack of qualifications. He missed the cut in 2001 because he ran into the Lynn Swann campaign. In 2002, it was the John Stallworth campaign. In 2003, it was the James Lofton campaign. In 2004, there was a failed push for Bob Hayes led by Dr. Z. In 2005, Michael Irvin came on the scene. This year and the next, we are stuck in an Irvin vs. Monk deadlock. They only induct 6 guys every year, so the fact that a player doesn't make it doesn't mean that they aren't qualified; it only means that someone else got more votes. Lobbying might get some players in, but that means it's also keeping players out.

3) Monk was the first option for most of his career. Who led the Redskins in receptions in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1989, and 1991? James Arthur Monk.

Monk had the numbers before anyone else had the numbers. He has the rings. He was the best receiver in the league in 1984. He never had a Hall of Fame quarterback throwing to him, and he got his rings with three different quarterbacks. He caught tough passes across the middle, he blocked on the outside for the running game, and he did his job as well as anyone had ever done it. Art Monk is a Hall of Famer.

The Art Monk Hall of Fame Campaign

by Dan Grum (not verified) :: Fri, 09/22/2006 - 12:37pm

How about the players the selection committee has consistantly missed in the past. It's about time that Gene Hickerson was named for consideration by the veteran's committee. His only qualifications? How about being named to the all decade team and being rated as one of the best 2 pulling guards in the history of the NFL. Good grief!