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Two NFC teams were hit hardest by injuries last year. One already set the AGL record in 2016, while the other has a coach with the worst AGL since 2002. Also: the Rams' incredible bill of health in L.A., and Tampa Bay's questionable injury reporting.

11 Dec 2013

Scramble: 2013 Hall of Fame Semifinalists

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

Tom: The Pro Football Hall of Fame released the new list of semifinalists last month: the 25-modern era candidates who will be reduced to the 15 (plus the two senior nominees) whose candidacies will then be discussed by the Hall of Fame selectors the day before the Super Bowl. Sadly, we seem to have neglected that list to date at Football Outsiders. Time to rectify that omission. How the selectors get from the list of 15 down to the five finalists, who then receive an up or down vote, is a complicated process with an abundance of messy internal politics. Your Scramble writers have no control over that process, so we're going to ignore that and do the same thing we did last year, namely focus our discussion on the four first-year eligible candidates among the 25.

Mike: We had such better column titles last year.

Tom: Unless you want to actually look up which column was about what from a listing of columns.

Mike: Yes, well, art, and all that.

Tom: I currently have no art hanging anywhere in my work or residence.

Mike: I think you're just mad you lost the staff vote to rename the site "A Sometimes-Useful Repository of Various Retrospective Statistics and Analysis Regarding Teams and Their Composite Players in the National Football League and National Collegiate Athletic Association."

Tom: Give me a little bit of credit, Mike. That name is too much of a mouthful. The full site title could have been recondite, but I wanted an acronymable title, preferably to RECONDITE.

Mike: Now I'm going to spend half the column trying to think up words for that acronym.

Tom: The problem with RECONDITE as an acronym is you need an "F" or "G" for "football" or at least "gridiron."

Mike: Also, I feel bad for the Hall of Fame. They have a Twitter thing at the bottom of the page to aggregate everyone using their suggested hashtag, and all they got was a couple Seahawks fans. Overenthusiastic Seahawks fans are the last people you want visiting your website.

Tom: Anyway, the Hall of Fame. The four first-year eligible candidates are linebacker Derrick Brooks, head coach Tony Dungy, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and left tackle Walter Jones.

Derrick Brooks

Tom: In time-honored tradition, we'll start with your favorite player, Mr. Derrick Brooks. For reference, his Pro-Football-Reference page and his NFL.com player profile with tackle stats 2001 to present. Any thoughts on Mr. Brooks?

Mike: How on earth did you remember that United Way spot?

Tom: By virtue of a great memory and fond reckoning for those spots. See also Eddie George. "On the field, Eddie's work ethic is contagious. On the football field, it's contagious. … Slackers."

Mike: Yeah, the George ad was great. Back to actual football, our stats don't seem to like Brooks that much. I must admit I find this a bit surprising.

Tom: Eh, a 42-Defeat season in 1999 is nothing to scoff at. Besides, he was a weakside linebacker. By the time we have charting coverage stats, for Pro Football Prospectus 2006, he was 32, a couple years into the downside of his career, on a non-great defense.

Mike: Of course, his PFR similar players are Jack Ham, Ray Lewis, Junior Seau and Mike Singletary.

Tom: Eleven Pro Bowls and five All-Pro mentions certainly put him in elite company. He basically set the prototype for the contemporary weakside space linebacker.

Mike: He also was one of the driving forces that dragged Tampa out of the wilderness and back into relevance. So he is a prototypical "key player in a dominant defense with a great storyline attached."

Tom: Right, and the 2002 Buccaneers were a phenomenal defense, the second-best in the quarter-century of our numbers.

Mike: And he was arguably the best defender of that group. That seems like damning with faint praise for a Hall of Fame candidate, but remember that defense included peak Warren Sapp.

Tom: One of the criteria for greatness seems to be: did this player have any greater significance? Brooks and Warren Sapp were the two game-changers on the best and most prominent exemplar of the Tampa-2, a popular defense in the league. Sapp's already in, as you note. Brooks deserves the honor just as much, if not more.

Mike: I'm not sure it's quite that simple.

Tom: For our part of the exercise, I don't see why not.

Mike: Overall, I don't think Brooks has had the same quality of career as Sapp.

Tom: Maybe there's a distinction there, that a defensive tackle is innately more valuable than a weakside linebacker. Maybe Brooks should have to wait longer than Sapp did. But he's still worthy.

Mike: Sapp was, for instance, a Stop machine. I think the problem with Brooks is that he's going to end up with unfavorable comparisons to other candidates that have been waiting.

Tom: Who, really? Among the other linebackers in this class, Kevin Greene and Charles Haley were pass rushers. Karl Mecklenburg was a bit of a rusher, too, and an inside player.

Mike: Yes, but he isn't just competing against other defenders. He is competing against everyone.

Tom: Sure, but that's the whole complicated process of getting from 25 to five. I think Brooks is clearly worthy and should make the Hall of Fame. That doesn't guarantee he makes it, though.

Mike: I agree that he is worthy. I think Sapp's induction makes Brooks' induction more likely. I'm just not sure he makes it across the finish line. Definitely not this year.

Tony Dungy

Tom: Next up, continuing with the Buccaneers theme, Tony Dungy. P-F-R coaching page, because unlike Dick LeBeau, I cannot see his playing record having anything to do with his candidacy. Career record 139-69, a .668 winning percentage. 54-42 in Tampa, 85-27 in Indianapolis. 2-4 the postseason in Tampa, 7-6 and the Super Bowl XLI win with the Colts.

Mike: Dungy is a shoo-in because he is universally beloved.

Tom: He ranks 22nd in wins. Among coaches who coached for at least ten seasons, Dungy ranks eighth in winning percentage.

Mike: I wish the analysis would be more nuanced, but his teams had a seemingly never-ending run of (regular season, at least) dominance, and he is basically the Football Pope. Now, the fact that a lot of this success came with the great fortune of fielding possibly the greatest sportsman of all time for nearly every snap of every game is perhaps reason to question Dungy's contribution, but there is no good way to separate coaching factors. And unlike Marty Schottenheimer, he actually won the Super Bowl.

Tom: Maybe this is just on the top of my head because of the Houston '93 episode of NFL Network's "A Football Life," but I distinctly remember Steve Young on ESPN after the 2001 Buccaneers were blown out by the Eagles in the playoff, talking about how the Buccaneers had joined those Oilers teams and some others as units that never could quite get over the hump. As you note, it's hard to separate Dungy's legacy from his players. And he's Football Pope, beloved, so he's going in sooner or later.

Mike: Sooner, rather than later, I wager.

Tom: Like Parcells the first time he was up for consideration, I wonder if voters will take into account that he might not really be done. He's still only 58, young enough to coach again.

Mike: I think he's having so much fun with his clicker diagramming the safetymen that he'll get back on the field.

Tom: Maybe. That's a question the selectors will have answer, even if it's just to decide to ignore it.

Marvin Harrison

Mike: Marvin Harrison has the same Peyton Manning issue, although we at least have statistics for Harrison.

Tom: Harrison is part of the selectors' (and everyone else's) problem, one we've discussed many times before: How do you separate wide receiver numbers from player quality? His P-F-R page. NFL page.

Mike: For instance, Harrison made a jump his sophomore year, moving into the league-wide top 15 by both DYAR (253, 12th) and DVOA (14.3%, 14th). This was 1997, of course, the year before Manning's career began.

Tom: Right, we have some evidence he was a good player before Peyton arrived, then went to stratospheric heights. I raised the question a while ago, was Emmitt Smith "just" a Curtis Martin-level player who ended up in a great situation? So, was Marvin Harrison "just" Jimmy Smith with Peyton instead of Mark Brunell? Since I made that Smith-Martin comparison, Martin made the Hall of Fame on his second attempt, a decision I both was surprised by and did not agree with.

Mike: I agree with both the Smith and the Harrison comparison.

Tom: As with Smith, though, the numbers (at least in the regular season) are just so overwhelming the question is left as an abstract exercise. Unless the Hall of Fame voters get absolutely hinky, which with wide receivers is basically what's going on. Does Harrison go in this year? Does Tim Brown? Does Andre Reed? Will the supporters divide into three different camps and none of the three make the cut-down to 10? Who knows.

Mike: Well, Harrison led the league in receiving DYAR three times. Manning fed him the ball a tremendous amount, however. In 2002, Peyton Manning threw the second-highest number of passes of his fairly pass-heavy career. Harrison was the recipient of a full one-third of those 591 passes. So yes, Harrison accumulated unreal counting stats. Only in two of his 12 years, however, did he manage to crack the top 10 in value per play.

Tom: That doesn't strike me as that unusual with high-volume No. 1 wide receivers. Larry Fitzgerald has only been in the top ten in DVOA twice in his career.

Mike: Randy Moss was six times in 14 years.

Tom: Fine. Moss is arguably the fourth best receiver in NFL history. Harrison isn't quite at that level.

Mike: Jerry Rice was top 10 in five of the 13 years we have DVOA for him.

Tom: Rice ranks above Moss in the pantheon of great wide receivers in NFL history.

Mike: Isaac Bruce did it three times.

Tom: Reggie Wayne did it four times. Terrell Owens did it five times. Just to help you out.

Mike: Yeah, I was getting to them. I think that all illustrates my point rather nicely, however. Being an extremely productive counting player does not impair your ability to be an extremely productive rate player.

Tom: I think that's a bit of an arbitrary endpoints issue, though, and I think you're unfairly discounting the total value Harrison brought to his team. When we ran our anniversary article on wide receivers, he ranked second in best career DYAR among wide receivers who debuted in 1991 or later, behind only Moss.

Mike: It is absolutely biased due to my preference for rate stats, I will agree. But in my defense, I view the split as a way, to use a wide receiver example, of sifting through the Wes Welkers of the world. Not in any way comparing Welker and Harrison, but a wide receiver is part of a battery. And consistent, per-play value to me is about as good an indicator as we can have that an individual receiver is great and not just being fed the ball.

Tom: Welker never ranked in the top 40 in DYAR or top 20 in DVOA without a Hall of Fame quarterback. Harrison did. Harrison ranked 29th in DVOA and 6th in DYAR in 1999. The WR2 on that team was Terrence Wilkins.

Mike: As I said, there is no comparison between the two.

Tom: Marvin Harrison that year was probably both great and fed the ball all the time. That offense ranked fourth in the league in pass DVOA. That doesn't happen if Harrison isn't fed the ball.

Mike: And Harrison is absolutely deserving of a spot as a semifinalist. I'm just not sure he deserves a spot in the Hall.

Tom: When Mike Tanier wrote about the current class, he advocated putting them all in. My point is not that I'm absolutely sure Harrison is among the five most deserving of the current crop of semifinalists, but that he's certainly Hall worthy.

Mike: Do not try to turn Tanier and me against each other! This is where we get into a philosophical discussion about big halls versus small halls and the readers all fall asleep.

Tom: I think one of the features of Harrison's candidacy right now is he's not going against any real "true contemporaries." Right now, we don't have to debate him versus Wayne or TO or Isaac Bruce or Torry Holt. Those debates may be coming in future years, especially if Harrison doesn't make it in this year. Maybe I'd feel differently if the argument was "pick which five wide receivers to put in the Hall of Fame in the next ten years," including guys like Andre Johnson who may retire soon enough they'll be eligible no later than 2022. I think he's clearly ahead of both Reed and Brown, the current semi-finalists.

Mike: I agree. I just don't think that matters much.

Tom: You're sitting in the room, Harrison is one of the final five. Yes or no?

Mike: I think my answer is no. There have been too many great wide receivers who did not have the benefit of such a uniquely great quarterback, receivers who dominated the position in a way Harrison simply did not. All in recent memory.

Walter Jones

Tom: Walter Jones is the final first-year eligible semifinalist. P-F-R page. Nine Pro Bowls and four-time first-team All Pro.

Mike: Yeah, it's Walter Jones.

Tom: Certainly deserved NFL MVP honors in 2005 more than Shaun Alexander, but that's a separate argument, and one about media members instead of players. How convenient that the great tackles of the mid-1990's come up in separate years. Jonathan Ogden went in last year. Jones is up this year. Orlando Pace will be up next year or the year after.

Mike: I wonder if they planned it that way?

Tom: If they all retire at the same time, we may be having a wide receiver-like logjam created by separate yelling camps. If they did intentionally stagger their retirements, it was brilliant.

Mike: It would be a bit of coordination worthy of their storied line careers.

Tom: I don't think I'd ever checked this before, but the Seahawks only ranked 25th in Adjusted Line Yards on runs at left tackle in 2005. That ended a streak in which they'd ranked in the top six for six of the previous seven seasons. Are you now down on Jones' candidacy?

Mike: Is that sarcasm I detect?

Tom: Would I ever be sarcastic?

Mike: Perish the thought.

Retrospective Efficiency Coefficients On NFL Dudes In Toto Experientia, by the way.

Tom: Hmm, maybe. I was thinking Recapitulation Of Numeric Data In … eh, whatever. Good luck with the actual selectors to all the semifinalists.

Loser League Update

Quarterback: And once again, Geno Smith ... wait, the much-maligned rookie actually finished with 23 Loser League points, helping sink the fate of many a team that has prospered on the backs of his struggles in recent weeks. In fact, a struggling AFC East rookie did finish atop the LL standings this week, but it was EJ Manuel, who threw four interceptions and finished with 4 points.

Running Back: Willis McGahee, Alfred Morris, Bilal Powell, and Stevan Ridley each finished with a ho-hum 3 points.

Wide Receiver: Ten wide receivers finished with no more than 1 Loser League point this week. Of that decatet, James Jones was the only one who wore a jersey number higher than 19. T.Y. Hilton and Ted Ginn were the only members of that group at 0, while the others were at 1.

Kicker: Halfway through the early slate of games on Sunday, your Scramble writer was prepared to research when the last time the two kickers in a game finished in a tie atop the Loser League leaderboard with 0 points of fewer. Then the Lions committed a false start penalty following a fourth-quarter touchdown, David Akers missed his extra point for his -5, and Alex Henery remained planted firmly to the bench outside of kickoffs. Bah, humbug.


KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: What is the best, most direct way to cost your team the game? How about stepping an unforced step out of bounds on the final play when there are no defenders between you and the end zone? The only thing that separates Antonio Brown from the greatest KCW accomplishment of all time is he did not hurt teammates in a minor and amusing fashion in the process.

MIKE MARTZ AWARD: The best way to win in the NFL, as a general rule, is by throwing the ball. There are exceptions. One of those is, perhaps, when facing a terrible run defense, a defense missing several linebackers and even more defensive tackles, and the run has already "been established," as the kids say. Naturally, after handing the ball to DeMarco Murray 13 times and gaining 99 yards on their first three offensive possessions, the Dallas Cowboys decided ... what, exactly? That running the ball was not sufficiently interesting, or did not present enough of a strategic challenge to their great intellect? Whatever the cause, Murray had one carry on the next three possessions combined. By the time Bill Callahan remembered it might be a good idea to call run plays, the game had gone from 14-14 (after that third possession) to 42-14 (and then 42-21 after the fairly easy run-driven romp).

Todd Haley's Hook and Ladder Unforced Error Lock of the Week

Tom: Weekly reminders: all lines are courtesy of Bovada link, and all picks are made without reference to the FO Premium picks for that week. Unless directly stated otherwise, no actual money is involved in hypothetical wagers made in Scramble for the Ball. Last week, I trusted in our numbers, and the Chargers, paragons of unreliability, came through for me, while the Panthers did not for you.

Mike: Boy did they ever not. Unlike last week, I see a number of attractive lines, here. The ones that really pop out are Seattle -7, Indianapolis -6 and New England -3. I have no idea where that last one is coming from.

Tom: Miami is playing at home and is not that bad. Weighted DVOA suggests a line closer to NE -1.

Mike: How on earth are you calculating that? NE has 21%, MIA -1%.

Tom: Right, and Miami is at home. Home DVOA edge is 17%, which is roughly 3 points. Adjusted, you get NE 21%, MIA 16%, a 5% differential. 5 : 17 :: x : 3, x ~1.

Mike: I think you're drilling general numbers down too far into the specific.

Tom: Just to clarify-the home DVOA edge is 17%. The home-field betting edge is about 3 points. This is just a crude rule of thumb.

Mike: Miami is also terrible defending against No. 2 receivers, tight ends and running backs. While Rob Gronkowski may be out, Tom Brady does nothing well if not spread the ball. I just don't think Miami can stop the Patriots' offense in nice weather. For the half they actually show up to play. New England Patriots -3 at Miami Dolphins.

Tom: This may end up making me look silly. But the San Francisco 49ers are favored by 5.5 points. They're playing a 1 p.m. ET game across the country. They're playing the Buccaneers, a team now playing much more like the average team DVOA indicated they might be. Yes, granted, it's Mike Glennon against a good defense. But Weighted DVOA suggests this should be much closer to a pick'em than the road team favored by so much. Yes, trusting a Greg Schiano team bothers me. But I don't believe in San Francisco that much. Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5.5 vs. San Francisco 49ers.

Mike: I think this makes you an honorary Schiano Man.

Tom: I should have noted this last week, but I was a bit disappointed Buccaneers defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan's offer to fans to show up early at the facility and help him draw up a game plan didn't draw a Loser League team name. Something like Bill Sheridan's 5 a.m. Planning Session, or some actually good name.

Mike: Alas, the missed possibilities.

Tom: Now watch them lose 38-0.

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 11 Dec 2013

112 comments, Last at 19 Dec 2013, 4:00pm by tuluse


by BroncFan07 :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 3:57pm

I've always wondered, why don't Marvin Harrison's playoff failures ever get held against him in these types of discussions like with other players? Because he's not a QB? He always seemed to be the A-Rod of football (minus the PEDs): a guy that puts up massive fantasy stats in the regular season and disappears in the postseason. More specifically, the comp is Narrative A-Rod, whose playoff career started with Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:25pm

Harrison's per-game playoff stats aren't that dissimilar from either Moss or Owens.

He and Moss are also the starting wideouts on the HOF's all-2000s team.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:42pm

Now THAT is interesting. I am a 4-decade Colts fan but always assumed he kind of disappeared in the post-season, at least compared to reg season production (more so than his QB). 3 catches for 40 yards is my mental image of a typical Harrison playoff game. Not bad, just not up to his usual spec. Wayne has better playoff stats than Harrison, though that may rely on one monumental game. Glad to hear Marvin was about "average" (if you consider Moss/Owens to be average, that is....)

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:54pm

Harrison had markedly less variance than Owens or Moss. Owens had two enormous games, but started his playoff career with a couple of 1-7 stinkers. Moss was less boom/bust than that, but moreso than Harrison. Harrison was never much beyond a peak of 6-70 or so, but rarely less than 3-40.

by BroncFan07 :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 5:39pm

What would his numbers be if you threw out the only monster game he had, which was the 2003 WC vs Denver? Maybe not enough to totally skew the numbers, but would be similar to throwing out Narrative A-Rod's 2009 postseason.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 3:59pm

Dungy has a major wildcard in his favor, too -- first black coach to win a Super Bowl.

Harrison has a major negative wildcard -- killed a guy.

by facw (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:55pm

Yeah, I'm a bit surprised that the fairly solid sounding allegations against Harrison didn't get mentioned. I think the hall guidelines say that only on field issues should be considered, but seems likely that it will have some influence on the selectors. During his playing days, Harrison was considered a sure fire Hall of Famer, and I do think his post career problems have played into the fact that isn't true anymore.

by wr (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 5:41pm

They ignored LT's off the field issues, so it is not a reach to assume they
will ignore Harrison's.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 5:49pm

Yeah, I know it's explicitly not part of the HoF criteria, but I'll be sorely disappointed if the sports media doesn't actively report on...

Oh, who am I kidding? You know ESPN and NFLN will sweep it under the rug if he does make it in.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 7:06pm

He could say he shot a man just to watch him die - it would work for the C&W HOF.

by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 7:37pm

That was Reno, not North Philly. Pretty sure nothing from North Philly is enshrined in the Country and Western HoF since the Stetson Hat factory closed in 1971.

by Adam W (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 6:34pm

The Football HOF specifically instructs voters NOT to consider character/off-the-field activity. It's based entirely on performance and contribution to the game.

And, naturally, Goodell wants to change that.


by Mxpx (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 9:11pm

The complete misrepresentation of the facts regarding the Marvin Harrison "murder" is something I would expect on a far less sophisticated message board. Do all you Perry Mansons realize Harrison was never arrested, much less charged, with anything to do with the shooting? Sure, there is wild speculation about what happened and Harrison's potential involvement. But the facts are the guy who was murdered was a career criminal who had previously been charged (AND CONVICTED) of filing a false police report citing an altercation with Harrison. Oh hell, what do I care. Carry on with your wild exaggeration of the facts...

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 9:58pm

Perry Manson wasn't he that 60's serial defense attorney?

by Mxpx (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 9:32am

Did I date myself with the Perry Mason reference? Perhaps Nancy Grace is a modern and more accurate portrayal of the wild speculation and exaggeration that is being conducted here.

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:13am

I hate to "spell" it out for you. Reread your original post. Reread my post. Look for joke.

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:12pm

The fact that the altercation was confirmed by multiple witnesses, and that he was indeed shot with a relatively rare (rather expensive) 5.7 mm pistol owned by Harrison is pretty damning. That the victim was a career criminal is irrelevant.

by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:26pm

You may want to contact the Philadelphia Prosecutor with your facts, because the authorities that actually investigated the case decided not to even interview Marvin Harrison, much less arrest or put him on trial.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:21am

You're forgetting the "Tony Dungy is a bigot" negative. and the "Tony Dungy most likely drove his son to suicide" negative.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:45pm

You have to be real jerk to speculate, from a place of ignorance, as to what "drove" a person to suicide. If you knew James Dungy, I retract.

by DEW (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:01pm

I prefer to think of Antonio Brown as a gallant sportsman who prevented the referees from screwing up another result when they missed the forward lateral on the same play. But then, I cheer for the Dolphins, and have had sufficient stress this year from our offensive line being offensive both on and off the field, so I must take my silver linings where I may.

by no point in dyar (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:03pm

If the second greatest receiver by DYAR is not considered hall-worthy by an FO employee, that really goes to show you how worthless these individual player stats are.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:30pm

Well, it was just his opinion.... Worthless seems rather harsh

by RickD :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:57pm

And neither said he's not HoF-worthy, just that he might have to wait a bit, given the logjam at WR. Tim Brown has been waiting for a while.

by Spoon :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 8:16am

Yes, Mike did in fact say - or at least strongly imply - that Marvin Harrison is not HOF worthy. Which is insane.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:25pm

All these guys are deserving, and it isn't even a close argument.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 5:56pm

Unfortunately, most of the guys who don't make the cut are deserving, too.

I apologize for my rampant homerism, but Strahan should have gone in last year ahead of Sapp, and I'll be disappointed if he doesn't make it in this season ahead of anyone but Jones, Brooks, and possibly Will Shields.

I'm utterly shocked that anybody would even question Derrick Brooks, especially here at FO.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 6:15pm

It's a horribly mismanaged institution.

by Jimmy Oz :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 8:58pm

What could possibly go wrong with a bunch of writers that don't watch all the games deciding who they think the best players were in the last 18 to 5 seasons?

by LionInAZ :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 10:08pm

It could be lots worse -- we could have fans decide.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 3:59pm

Would it really be any worse? I think it'd be about the same.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 3:59pm

Agreed on both accounts (and with Will).

Brooks is considered the 2nd best linebacker of his generation behind just Ray Lewis.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:37pm

Broken Record Bob here, stating for the nth time that the narrow end of the selection funnel has to get bigger. How is the HOF relevant if Dungy, Brooks, Jones, and Harrison are left outside? Since the selection rules (5 per year?) were in place, the league has grown in many many ways (this site being a prime example). But mostly, there are more teams and players now than there were then. And there is a giant logjam. And not enough interior linemen. Its an aristocracy of the select lucky few, it's un-American.

So: Either open the annual maximum entry allotment by 50%-100% (10 guys a year, max, but you don't have to allow that many in! You can just vote in five, but if there are ten guys with really strong support, let them in.) or allow a one-time surge of about 25 to clear the backlog. I opt for plan A.

FTR, I almost agree about Walter Jones winning Shaun Alexander's MVP in 2005. It should have been Peyton, but voters were sick of him after winning two consecutive years (like that's HIS fault?) so it went to Alexander (who set a new record for RB TDs that, at that point, was being broken or threatened annually). Jones should have been second in line. Alexander was washed up less that two seasons later; Manning is still a football deity, and Jones will be in the HOF in a few months. Alexander was not the best choice.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:53pm

Completely on board with the position that the "funnel" has to get bigger. It hasn't changed in size since the 1960s. Fifty players and coaches per decade is far too few for a 32-team league.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:56pm

I'd like to implement a rule that the HOF must reflect the distribution of playing positions, +/- 30% or so.

Which means no more QBs or RBs until 2040. And we need a ton of kickers and linemen.

by mm(old) (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 9:15pm

Several years ago when we were discussing this on this site, I made a proposal similar to the following:

Every year the HOF electors should be allowed to select:
2 Defensive players
1 Offensive 'skill' player
1 Offensive lineman
1 'Wildcard', which can be a player of any position, or a coach, owner, or other contributor

Every 4 years the HOF gets an extra slot which must be used on a coach, owner, or other contributor (example: Steve Sabol)
Every 5 years the HOF can also select 1 Special Teams specialist (kicker, punter, return-specialist, etc.)

Thus, over any 10 year period, they would select roughly a 52 player team with at least 20 defenders, 10 offensive linemen, 10 skill position players, 2 Special Teamers, and 10 other players/contributors (lets face it, they will almost all be QBs/RBs/WRs). They will also have elected 2.5 non-players, which could include 1 coach & 1 owner.

In short, it would look like a proper all-decade team. You'd recognize great players from all positions.

I'm a small-hall guy. I think 5 players a year is plenty. But I think they need to drop the number of skill-position guys to allow others in.

by Edge (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:05am

Wide recievers and tight ends are not currently disproportionately represented in the hall of fame. A lot of quarterbacks and running backs have been inducted, but not receivers. Your system also doesn't acknowledge the truth that quarterbacks are more important than left guards and more of them should be inducted.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:27am

"quarterbacks are more important than left guards and more of them should be inducted."

Couldn't disagree more.

Quarterback's abilities are multiplied, and have a lot of leverage on team performance, but that doesn't mean we should let anyone but the absolutely elite go in.

As far as I'm concerned, the HOF for QBs of the last decade should be Manning, Brady, and maybe Brees. No Donovan McNabb, no etc. The absolute elite only.

by Nevic (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:38pm

Wow, not even Stubbleface??

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:53pm

My memory is hazy but as I recall LG Steve Hutchison free agented off to Minnesota at the end of the season. At that point the Minnesota run game picked up and then Seattle one dropped off.

by The Ancient Mariner (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 11:06pm

I vote for both plan A and plan B.

by D :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:25am

I agree that Jones was more deserving than Alexander, but I disagree that it should have gone to Manning. Steve Smith would get my vote.

by tuluse :: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 4:00pm

Hey Bob, I'm really happy for Peyton, but Steve Smith was having the most valuable receiving season of all time.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:51pm

" Moss is arguably the fourth best receiver in NFL history. Harrison isn't quite at that level."

I'll bite. Who are #2 and #3? (Clearly Rice has to be #1.)

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:57pm

I'm guessing it's going to be one of Owens/Wayne/Irvin, although they might throw back to Hutson.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 5:12pm

One presumes Don Hutson is in there. Largent and Charlie Joiner were the receptions leaders who took over from him but they're a bit forgotten these days.

by theslothook :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 5:14pm

Yeah honestly, I think at this point, most people would probably say Moss is the number 2 receiver(with don hutson put into the prior era category). I think two more seasons of this kind of play and I'll be ready to say Calvin is higher than moss. Andre Johnson also has a compelling case for the number 2 spot.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 9:14pm

Hutsob, warfield, berry can be considered

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 10:23pm

I had Rice, Hutson, and Alworth in mind.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 10:27pm

Alworth in mix foir top four too

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:46am

Hutson, Rice, Biletnikoff, Moss maybe?

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 6:15am

Biletnikoff all time grrat but probably not top 4,. Top 10-20 area more likely

by facw (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:51pm

Finally a Martz award for something Martz might actually do, as opposed to the normal parade of John Foxian ultra-conservatism that normally takes home that prize.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 4:57pm

How is Derrick Brooks not absolutely and utterly automatic in year one? He was a five-time first-team All-Pro as well as four more times as 2nd team. The year Tampa won the Super Bowl he was the DPOY in an absolutely dominant campaign. That year, Keyshawn Johnson led the team in TD receptions in the regular season with five. Derrick Brooks scored FIVE TDs that year, one of which was the proverbial dagger in a blowout Super Bowl win. Brooks is the singly best player in the history of the Bucs, and one of the best LBs in the game.

PFR lists him as having the 14th most career AV in history. He didn't have the "splash" of Warren Sapp, because Sapp is a loud and obnoxious self-promoter, and Derrick Brooks is a quiet guy who did his job and spent his offseasons taking planeloads of kids on trips to Africa and doing other charity work. If he was a blowhard playing a big market, everybody would know his name. The fact the guy was quiet off the field isn't a negative, and I don't know how Derrick Brooks isn't the definition of a first-ballot guy.

by theslothook :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 5:24pm

For whatever reason, the media fawning never followed him the way it did Ray lewis. Not sure why - personality I suppose.

One thing about the hall of fame is the uniqueness of the player. For instance, Marshall faulk as a rusher was probably only very good, not transcendent. But it was his uniqueness that made him one of the greatest players in history. In some sense, brooks is also unique that way. He was a 3-4 lb, sure, but he was also the primary cog in a scheme that relies on a deep cover lb. He defined the zone cover linebacker. And remember, this was all in an era before the nfl had gone completely spread where now everyone needs a good cover linebacker. I have to imagine in today's nfl, brooks would be as valuable as a troy polamalu. If he isn't a first ballot hall of famer, then really, the term has no meaning.

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 9:09pm

Hmmm..., I think there are reasons why Ray Lewis got more hype. More pro-bowls, more all-pros, more DPOYs, more super bowls (eventually). Not to mention MLB is a more celebrated position in terms of the leadership qualities that people assume it has. Plus the Bucs defense wasn't nearly as good once Dungy and Sapp left (2002 aside), whereas the Ravens defense was dominant for years despite plenty of roster turnover and defensive coordinator changes. Not only that but the Ravens D had several dominant years spread over Ray Lewis's entire career, opposed to the Bucs having one insanely dominant year along with many good ones.

That being said, Brooks is obviously a first ballot HOFer.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 10:14pm

Listen, I am an utter, screaming, epic-level Derrick Brooks fanboi, but even I put Ray Lewis above him. Lewis was an impact player for an incredibly long time, and he's as clearly HOF-caliber as anyone has ever been. That being said, ESPN's group of "experts" named only two players as consensus all-decade picks for the 2000s, and those were Lewis and Brooks. I have no doubt thinking Ray Lewis was the singly most dominant defensive player of his time, but I also have no doubt I'm putting Brooks second on that list.

by Eddo :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 10:16pm

Yeah, "not as good as Ray Lewis" is both a true statement and in no way a reason to not put Brooks in on his first try.

by theslothook :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 5:20pm

I feel like the subjectivity of all of this is playing right into why harrison will not make the hall. Since we have no way to quantify separating qb play from receiver play, I think some people are so liberal with their interpretations that anyone associated with a hall of fame qb will not make the team. If there is a top 10 receivers all time to this point, harrison is on that list and since we're talking top 10 all time, he absolutely belongs as a first ballot hall of famer.

To tony dungy, I think he's a very great coach and as a colts fan, I was as much happy about him getting the monkey off his back as I was peyton. In fact, for dungy, he had to fight so many other narratives - Hes an ineffective big game coach, hes too nice, hes not rah rah enough, etc etc. Obviously, people will hit him with the peyton manning effect, but remember, he also took a moribund bucks team and made them relevant. i also fully believe he would have won the sb had he stayed in tampa(hard to go wrong with the one of best defenses of last two decades). He designed the tampa 2 scheme(I think) and he should be given so much credit for that. Frankly, in a fantasy world, i would love him to come back and coach indy.

by Edge (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 6:04am

If history is any indicator having a hall of fame quarterback does nothing to hurt your chances of getting in as a coach or a receiver.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:30am

Aye, if history is any indicator, Harrison, Wayne, Edge, Addai, Saturday, Clark, etc will all be HOF'ers.

by Edge (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 6:25pm

It is asinine to take WR "rate" stats seriously as a measure of how well the WR's are playing. Lets look at 2002's DVOA top 10 since that is the season that most exemplifies Harrison being thrown to a lot, the top 10 in DVOA were Dennis Northcutt, Jerry Porter, Ashley Lelie, Amani Toomer, Eddie Kennison, Laveranues Coles, Wayne Chrebet, Donald Driver, Joe Jurevicious, and Dante Stallworth. Does anyone seriously think that that represents in any way the ten best WR's in the league that year?

Calling these "rate" stats is completely meaningless because it fails to measure what happens when the receiver isn't thrown the ball (what probably happened was he ran the wrong route or couldn't get open). In 2002 1/3rd of Indianapolis's passing plays Manning's best option was to throw to Marvin Harrison. On less than 10% of Denver's plays was the best option throwing to Ashley Lelie. Saying that these are "rate" stats makes the implicit and ridiculous assumption that if Brian Griese had thrown it to Ashley Lelie 200 times then he would have had 2000 yards at a catch rate of 66% and over 10 YPA.

by MC2 :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:09pm

These are great points that you bring up. I have long said that while FO's stats are good for evaluating teams, they are basically worthless for evaluating individual players (particularly non-QBs) because they are totally incapable of separating a player's performance from his offensive line, offensive system, supporting cast, etc.

by LionInAZ :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 10:32pm

This would be a valid complaint if FO actually used DVOA to rank players. But they don't -- they use DYAR, a counting stat. That said, how can it be bad to use DVOA to sort out players with similar DYAR?

by Edge (not verified) :: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 2:39pm

If you read the article I am responding to the argument used against Harrison is that he didn't often rank in the top 10 in DVOA, which he said he thought was better than DYAR. Harrison is basically the best DYAR receiver in the history of ever, so it would never be used in an argument against him. There are no receivers with similar DYAR to Harrison who are Hall of Fame eligible but aren't in the Hall of Fame. I listed who the top 10 DVOA receivers were in 2002 to illustrate that ranking in the top 10 of DVOA is basically meaningless as a yardstick of elite receivers.

by Edge (not verified) :: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 3:03pm

To answer more specifically why using DVOA can be bad when used to sort out players with similar DYAR, if you actually look at what DVOA says the best receivers are it is often nonsensical. One major reason is that DVOA is supposed to be a "per play" stat, but it only counts plays where the receivers are thrown the ball. It doesn't penalize receivers who aren't thrown the ball on a play because they couldn't get open, which is one of the most basic skills that distinguish WR's from each other.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 6:41pm

Peyton Manning putting up the numbers he is this season with guys like Thomas, Decker, and Welker (good receivers but not HOFers...at least not yet) will certainly hurt Marvin Harrison's chances. However, the argument that WRX is only good because of QBY is one that frequently frustrates me (and it always comes up around HOF time.) The only way you can solve that argument (and you can't) would've been to have players switch teams.

Put Barry Sanders behind Emmitt Smith's offensive line and see who put up better numbers.

by Independent George :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 7:22pm

I hate the idea of penalizing a WR for having an all-time great at QB, especially when the eyeball test tells me it was a mutually symbiotic relationship.

On the other hand, I'm completely in favor of giving a WR bonus points for living with subpar quarterbacking - as was the case with Chris Carter and Tim Brown, and is currently the case with Steve Smith and Larry Fitzgerald.

by Sakic (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:01am

"Mutually symbiotic"...I like it. I'm also willing to give Carter and Brown bonus points for their subpar quarterback play (less so for Carter since he pushed off every other play but since he's already in it's a moot point.)

The hard part for me is distinguishing the best players on the greatest teams. The 70s Steelers are full of hall of famers but I have a knowlegable football friend who swears to this day that the only reason Terry Bradshaw is a HOFer is because of the people around him. The same thing goes for the 90s Cowboys...was Aikman a HOF quarterback or was he only great because he had that offensive line protecting him, Emmitt Smith running the ball to take pressure off him, and Michael Irvin getting open.

The nice thing going forward is that when the two wide receivers who were considered the best of their era (Moss and Owens) become eligible you will at least have the advantage of seeing how they played with different teams and more importantly different QBs throwing them the ball. Moss will lose votes for being a loafer and Owens will lose points for being a doucher but they will both be no-brainers.

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:40pm

I wasn't even born when the Steelers won their first championship, so I can't judge on a personal level, but one of my favorite hypotheticals is what would have happened if Archie Manning declared for the NFL in 1970 instead of 1971, and got drafted by the Steelers with the #1 pick.

by MC2 :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:44pm

I have a friend whose father was a huge (and pretty knowledgeable) football fan, and he always swore that if Bradshaw and Manning had traded places, the Steelers would have been even better than they were, while the Saints would have been even worse.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:01pm

His father was right. Bradshaw would likely have been out of the league by 1977, if he had been stuck on that Saints roster, with that coaching. The part about qb evaluation that gets even more ignored than roster context issues is coaching context issues. Bradshaw never played on a team without HOF-level head coaching, and the outstanding staff a HOF head coach put together. Archie Manning was 28 before he had competent coaching, but was still saddled with a bad roster.

One the reasons I argue that Tarkenton may have been the best ever was that he did what he did, despite being 32(!) before he was on a team with competent coaching.

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:56pm

But everything is in flux; if the Steelers get Archie Manning in 1970, do they still get to draft Hamm, Lambert, Harris, etc.? I assume later picks like Webster & Stallworth are still available to them, but those were some pretty key 1st-2nd round picks.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:01pm

Very good point, and we don't have the DeLorean to test the theories.

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:06pm

I look for any excuse to link to my favorite Pro Football Mock article:

Hoodie-Wearing Stranger Exits DeLorean In 1974, Offers To Pay For Archie Manning’s Vasectomy

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:13pm

You trying to get me to ruin my notebook? HA!

by Sakic (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:05pm

I love the "what if" scenarios...my personal favorite being what if the Packers had drafted Barry Sanders instead of Tony Mandarich. Sanders was the better player (duh!) but would have drafting the better player that year made the Packers good enough to have not traded for Brett Favre (or from hiring Ron Wolf/Mike Holmgren.)

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:45am

And Randy Moss. It's amazing the numbers Moss put up with mostly terrible quarterbacking (and yes, I think Culpepper's numbers were almost entirely Moss)

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:34pm

I left out Moss because I figured he's a HoF lock, but you're absolutely right about his QBs.

Maybe I'll be surprised, but it saddens me to think that Steve Smith most likely won't even make the final 15 once he's eligible. In his prime, I'd have taken him before TO or Harrison. 2005 remains one of the most absurd WR seasons ever, if for no other reason the experience of watching him singlehandedly destroy the Bears' D in a bar full of Bears fans.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 9:03pm

Corrwction to, article----
Curtis Martin did nkt get in on first attempt. 2nd ballot

Martni was good selection. Deserves halll spot.

Brooks, harrison deserve in.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:35am

Fixed, thanks.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/11/2013 - 9:06pm

W. Jones too

by young curmudgeon :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:05am

Wow, is Peyton Manning really "possibly the greatest sportsman of all time"? I'd love to know the basis for that assertion. Are we talking athletic ability, accomplishments, awards, 'sportsmanship' (as a demeanor), impact on his sport, impact on society? Is it a given that Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time? If yes, is it a given that he is the greatest football player of all time? If yes to that, is he the greatest American athlete of all time? I'm willing to listen to the arguments, but I think it's worth more thought and discussion than simply a throw-away line in an article about someone else! (Yes, I did note the word "possibly." My question is "How possible is it?")

All that is an attempt at a serious discussion. This part is snark: Babe Ruth, Pele, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Jim Brown, among others, have assembled on your porch and would like a word with you.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:51am

Jim freaking Thorpe

by theslothook :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:48am


by eggwasp (not verified) :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 9:09am

Greatest sportsman of all time is obviously Don Bradman. If Manning threw for 8000 yards a season, then he'd be averaging roughly as much as Bradman did above his sports all-time #2.

by MC2 :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:10pm

If Manning had had the exact same career he's had as a QB, plus spent 5 years as a HOF-caliber LB, then he might have an argument for being a greater sportsman than Babe Ruth.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:59pm

Ted willoams can be cobsideredbtoo for ba s eball wizardry, fishing excellence.

Sammy Baugh gerat sportsman too

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:07pm

If it can be considered an athletic feat to land a shot up fighter jet without landing gear (because you don't want to eject, given your long legs will end up being shattered against the fuselage as the canopy is blown off, and the seat shot out) and then leap from the burning plane onto the runway, and dash off just before the plane explodes, then Ted Williams is hands down the greatest sportsman ever.

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:02pm

I vote for Simo Häyhä as the greatest biathloner of all time.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:11pm

I'd forgotten about him. "White Death" definitely puts any nickname of any American athlete to shame, and with 505 confirmed kills in 100 days (!), with a rifle equipped with iron sights (!!), it most definitely was fitting. Hopefully, the guys doing color for NBC during that Olympics avoided the "He's an assassin" cliche'.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:04pm

It's easier when you're shooting at post-purge Russian troops trying to drag machine guns across Finnish snowfields.

by Independent George :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:35pm

Everyone always brings up the same two objections:

1. The Finns had homefield advantage.
2. The Russians had just purged their roster in the offseason to clear cap space.

Both are technically true, but irrelevant. Even after the cap purge, the Russians had enough talent to go on a late-season run and defeat Germans and win the European East Division, not to mention the fact that the small-market Finns cap level was still only a tiny fraction of the Russians even after cutting all those officers.

by theslothook :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 7:47pm

Of course, we all know how that story ends. After the previous owner died of old age, ownership of the team kept changing hands and slowly but surely, they overspent on defunct philosophies, over the hill talent, and eventually, they had to withdraw from the league completely. See...may it is better to have a mean-spirited meddling owner than a string of clueless one's.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 1:13am

One loss is a tragedy. A million losses is a statistic.

by Independent George :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 2:04am

No, million losses is the Lions.

by LionInAZ :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 10:52pm

Ted Williams turned Eddie Brinkman into .280 hitter. If that doesn't constitute greatness, I don't know what does.

And name another sports figure who has his head in cryogenic storage.

by young curmudgeon :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:21am

I have no opinion on whether or not Marvin Harrison or Tony Dungy should be in the HoF, but I do have an opinion on whether the impact of Peyton Manning on their careers should be relevant. That opinion is "No." The discussion of "would Harrison have been as good if he hadn't had Manning throwing to him?" is, at best, an academic exercise; at worst, it's a late night dorm bull session or argument in a bar. Harrison (and every other candidate) should be judged on the career he had, not some career he might have had in an imaginary world of the critic's choosing. Would Harrison have been a quality receiver if, for instance, I had been playing quarterback on his teams? Would Manning have been an all-time great if his offensive line had comprised my four cats plus the stray that sometimes wanders through the back yard? Would Gisele Bundchen have had a more fulfilling life if she'd married Raiderjoe instead of Tom Brady? (Well, that one is self-evidently true.) These questions can make for stimulating discussion and interesting speculation (they can also make for uninformed bloviation and far-fetched assertions), but they don't evaluate the actual career of the player in question. Performance takes place in a context, and in a player has the good fortune to benefit from a favorable context, he still has to take advantage of that opportunity.

by theslothook :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:48am

I will attempt to address this based off mike's prior comments. When he says greatest sportsmen, I think he means that he believes that Manning may be the only person in the nfl that can individually make a team good just by himself. Obviously, thats hyperbolic and he knows it, but I think he really means that with just average talent, the team will likely be a borderline superbowl contender. With below average talent, they are still an above 500 team. He probably thinks only manning can actually do that.
As to address if hes the greatest sportsmen across sports, thats pretty much impossible to declare for anyone. I mean, I guess if team success being dependent the most on one player, I would think it would be a basketball player and probably Mj, Wilt, lebron, magic, etc.
As for greatest qb. In my experience, greatest qb ever comes down to preferences and context. Do we pretend like if he were inserted with modern rules, with a good o line or bad, with good wideouts or bad, good coaching, etc etc. If manning were to play in the dead ball era? I doubt hed be all that great where someone like tarkenton is probably better.
IMO, and I am a manning fan, but I do think hes the best qb I've seen - which starts basically at 2000. I do think hes been helped by talent around him and I do think his audibles and tendency to believe he can thread any throw have come back to bite him at times. But I also think no other franchise with the possibility of New Orleans at times has asked their qb to basically compensate for every ailing flaw the team has. Even the packers this year are nowhere close to has horrible as that colts team without manning was. That team lost to even bad football teams with poor qbs at home.
All that to say, yes it was hyperbole on Mike's part and I think he was trying to be hyperbolic.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:27am

"When he says greatest sportsmen, I think he means that he believes that Manning may be the only person in the nfl that can individually make a team good just by himself."

You can make a serious argument that Jim Thorpe individually made the NFL good by himself.

Although you might find the corpse of Bronco Nagurski following you down a dark alley.

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:52am

I'm going to pass on discussing Saint Dungy so as to avoid vomiting and instead focus on "was Marvin Harrison 'just' Jimmy Smith with Peyton instead of Mark Brunell?"

Jimmy Smith was awesome. He was easily a Hall of Fame level player. I present Chase Stuart's article on the greatness of Jimmy Smith and simply echo its sentiments: http://www.footballperspective.com/jimmy-smith-is-one-of-the-best-wide-r...

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 12:39pm

Nothing in Chase's post altered my "No" on Smith.

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:17pm

I love how no one will even discuss why they believe Jimmy Smith was so clearly short of the Hall of Fame. They just say, "No."

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:04pm

I think for a great many of those people the answer is they didn’t see him play or not enough to really appreciate him. He played in one of the smallest markets in small market divisions. With the balanced division set up, teams play 37.5% of their games in the division, but before if you were in a 5 team division, it was 50% and in the AFC Central for 3 years (99-01) 62.5%! Throw away the 7 games Smith played for Dallas in 1992, and 83 of his 160 other games were division games. I saw a lot of Jimmy Smith either live on TV or in the stadium , the rest of America including most HOF voters not so much.

Take Jimmy's signature game against Baltimore Sep 10, 2000, a one o'clock game. How many markets was it televised in? Baltimore, Jacksonville. Pittsburgh maybe unless they were watching the Bengals-Browns. I was at that game and I still have nightmares about Jimmy Smith and the Ravens won. So who else saw anything but the highlights of that game? For me he’s an obvious HOF player.

by Travis :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:06pm

Take Jimmy's signature game against Baltimore Sep 10, 2000, a one o'clock game. How many markets was it televised in?

Among top markets, Baltimore, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington. More of the East Coast than I would have guessed, but most CBS markets got Colts-Raiders.

By DVOA, the Ravens pass defense was actually worse the following week against Jay Fiedler and the Dolphins. Did the Ravens make any early-season changes to the pass defense?

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 3:42pm

Orlando is a Jacksonville secondary market as is Washington for Baltimore so they were obligated I'm guessing. It was a division game for Pittsburgh. I can kinda of see Philly, but Charlotte is a bit of a puzzler.

By DVOA, the Ravens pass defense was actually worse the following week against Jay Fiedler and the Dolphins.

Wow, I guess if you give up 152 net passing yards to Jay Fiedler, it's a bad day at the office. I can't remember any changes, at least personnel wise. They were pretty much sending the same guys out there.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 2:40pm

It's not that complicated. His numbers are not so overwhelming in my view that they form a sufficient case for inclusion by themselves, and I simply don't think he was good enough as a player.

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 4:12pm

His numbers are only "not so overwhelming . . . that they form a sufficient case for inclusion by themselves" without context, which was the point of Chase's post. In the context of his team, if his numbers aren't strong enough for him to go in or even get discussion (And by dismissing him so summarily by saying, "I simply don't think he was good enough as a player," you certainly seem to be implying that he doesn't even deserve discussion.), the WR wing of the Hall of Fame needs to be much smaller than it is.

And just so it doesn't seem like I have an axe to grind against you on this point, Tom, I have never heard anyone actually explain why they think Smith is short of the Hall of Fame, and it's always annoyed me.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 5:26pm

It was probably after this, but Chase in the offseason I think did a season where he attempted to adjust for team pass attempts and produced results that, frankly, I did not agree with. At all. I don't agree with the methodology in this case either. I agree with career DYAR, which rates Harrison as something like 40 or 45% more valuable than Smith.

Of course, even with a numbers-heavy position like wide receiver, you can make qualitative as opposed to merely quantitative assessments of players. From what I saw, including what I've read from people whose assessments I respect, Smith, while obviously a fine player I wouldn't kick off my team, was not an all-time great. If you believe that automatically means there should be fewer receivers in the Hall of Fame, well, I was never a fan of Art Monk's candidacy so we can start by kicking him out if you so desire.

by Shattenjager :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 6:13pm

He's done a number of different systems for wide receivers. The most recent ones, I think are True Receiving Yards--which he and Neil Paine apparently worked on together (http://www.footballperspective.com/true-receiving-yards-v2-0-extended-ba...) (Jimmy Smith ranks number 28 in total career yards, 23 in weighted yards, and 16 in best six years)--and the latest version of his Greatest Wide Receivers Ever (http://www.footballperspective.com/the-greatest-wide-receivers-ever-vers...) (Jimmy Smith ranks 12).

If you want to discount his numbers by saying that the tape, so to speak, doesn't support them, that's at least an argument. Not one with which I agree at all, but one that is sensible enough.

I'm saying that if his numbers are so far short that he can be summarily dismissed from consideration, we have far too many receivers in the Hall of Fame, because his numbers do say he should get consideration, even if that consideration ultimately results in rejection.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 12/12/2013 - 8:15pm

So, by that last link, Smith's career overlapped with eight players who ranked above him. I'm fine with declaring Smith the ninth-best wide receiver of his era, broadly defined, and saying the ninth-most prolific receiver in a given era probably shouldn't make the Hall of Fame.

by Shattenjager :: Fri, 12/13/2013 - 2:42am

I would disagree with your definition of an "era" as far as it matters for judging players for Hall of Fame consideration. I certainly don't think of Andre Johnson and Jerry Rice as part of the same era, and they overlapped for two years. I also don't really like the logic of "only the best X players at Y position/thing from any given time should get in," because of variability in the distribution of talent in different eras. As you're defining Smith's era it spans 1985 (Jerry Rice's rookie year) through whenever the later to retire of Steve Smith or Andre Johnson retire. A 30-year span really seems awfully long for an "era" to me, even if it's intentionally broad.

I do think that it's a legitimate point against him that at any given time there were a few other guys putting up numbers at least nearly as impressive as his (Rice, Carter, and Brown early in his prime; Owens, Moss, and Harrison through much of it; Holt and Steve Smith late). However, the fact that he was at least in the same area as the most statistically dominant receivers essentially for a decade and did so in a very poor situation that cannot be fully accounted for in statistics (yet!) is enough to make him a Hall of Famer in my book.

Thank you for engaging in discussion on the topic, Tom. It's been fun to get a discussion on the issue! I'm not sure there was ever much gained here and I don't think there's any good to come from further discussion, but it was good to have the discussion at least.