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?

01 Mar 2012

Walkthrough: The Sake of Argument

by Mike Tanier

Who will be the next Cris Carter?

I’m not asking who will be the next receiver to post back-to-back 122-catch seasons or score 65 touchdowns in six years. I want to know who the next player to be kept out of the Hall of Fame because his statistics are too good will be.

Bashing the Carter omission is last month’s topic. Hall of Fame voters passed him over once again because there are a backlog of other (far less) qualified candidates they are trying to sort though, and perhaps more importantly, because many of the voters are old-guard types who have a knee-jerk compulsion to argue into the face of overwhelming statistical evidence. Give these guys an insanely obvious statistic –- like back-to-back 122-catch seasons –- and they will give you an old anecdote about Elbert Dubenion packing a sprained ankle in muddy snow so he could catch a touchdown from Jack Kemp, then lean back and nod as if they have somehow trumped you.

The anti-stat gang stood in Art Monk’s way for seven years, and now they are standing in Carter’s way. Soon, they will face the problem that all qualified candidates, dating back for several decades, will have both a full and impressive statistical record. The "full" is as important as the "impressive," because we are coming upon an era in which even defenders who retired a decade ago have easy-to-find, accurate data for tackles, sacks, and even passes defensed, whereas up until 1982 we had nothing but interceptions and the unreliable sack and tackle information provided in team media guides. If someone wants to go back and argue that Jessie Tuggle belongs in the Hall of Fame, they no longer have to rely on poetic images of how running backs trembled at Tuggle’s approach or testimonials from defensive coordinators who called him the key to the Falcons defense. They can point to 21 career sacks and two 200-tackle seasons, note that his five Pro Bowl appearances do not line up with his best years, and so on.

You would think that such detailed information would be a boon to Hall of Fame voters, but in fact it handcuffs them from using poetry and anecdotes. A lot of these guys are addicted to poetry and anecdotes, which are great at filling the voids between facts with lots of inarguable nonsense. The voters have been getting their fix by reaching back and selecting Chris Hanburger and Rayfield Wright from the grand, glorious 1970s, when men were men and stats were nonexistent, for several years. That well is running a little dry, so the anti-stat guys are shifting gears and earning their contrarian cred in other ways: suddenly noticing the contributions of offensive linemen, becoming even more Super Bowl-biased, or just denying the obvious and hoping it is interpreted as wisdom.

In a few years, the Hall of Fame ballot will be teeming with Carter-types, and voters will have to perform a delicate juggling act in order to exclude as many worthy candidates as possible for the most specious reasons. Here is my top-five countdown of the most likely players to be Cartered out of the Hall of Fame far longer than they should be, based solely on their overwhelmingly obvious qualifications. This list does not include Randy Moss-types who have earned their backlash, just excellent players with minimal-to-nonexistent baggage who will have to apologize for their statistics if they hope to see their busts in Canton.

5. Ed Reed. First, Reed will be overshadowed by Ray Lewis, because both will retire at nearly the same time. Then, he will split the ticket with Charles Woodson, a more outspoken, interesting secondary player who happens to have a Super Bowl ring (though a less successful overall career). Finally, Reed will suffer from Paul Krause Disease. Readers who think I am being too hard on the anti-stat brigade need to look up Paul Krause, who is still the all-time NFL interception leader with 81 picks for two different teams. Krause made eight Pro Bowls for two different teams and was one of the stars of the Purple People Eater defense which reached the Super Bowl four times. He retired in 1979, and the Hall was kind enough to allow him entry 19 years later after spending nearly two decades brushing him off as a "cherry picker" who did nothing but compile easy interceptions. Reed will hear some of the same criticism.

4. Michael Strahan. Hall of Fame voters are still furrowing their brows and trying to figure out what to make of those pesky sack totals. Some are still pounding on the desk and screaming that Gino Marchetti didn’t need no gosh darned sack totals and would have recorded 53 sacks per year if he played nowadays, anyway. Others are struggling to put players like Chris Doleman in context. Recent inductions suggest that Strahan will coast in, but some voters are going to bring up the Brett Favre slide as if it is indicative of something, while others will simply become reactionary about the recent Doleman-John Randle inductions and start stumping for some 1970s player who was better than Strahan because players in the 1970s were better at everything than anybody. Strahan’s media presence could work against him the way Carter’s has, and playing in New York creates as much of a backlash as an advantage.

3. LaDainian Tomlinson. Two powerful forces are starting to work against Tomlinson. One is his late-career string of ho-hum seasons. The 2008-2011 seasons add ballast to his career totals but fuel to any argument that he was some kind of "stat compiler," and they push his truly great seasons back further into the memories of voters.

More damning for Tomlinson is that he spent his whole career on underachieving teams that had well-publicized clubhouse issues. The problems of the Chargers and Jets will be smeared into Tomlinson’s record by those who feel the reflexive need to argue away 1,800-yard, 28-touchdown seasons with the famous "yeah, but" rhetoric.

2. Wes Welker. The 2011 season solidified this guy’s Hall of Fame resume: with three reception titles, four 100-catch seasons, and two Super Bowl appearances, Welker now has accomplishments that blow away many Hall of Fame wide receivers. Unfortunately, he is also becoming very Carter like: 122-catch seasons, a big-time offense that kept falling short of a championship, a period in which he was overshadowed by Randy Moss. The "plucky white guy" thing could earn some backlash, and he could get lost in the shuffle as this generation of Patriots tries to jockey for spaces in the Hall of Fame line.

There have been 25 seasons of 110 or more catches in NFL history. Welker has four of them. There have been seven seasons of 120 or more catches. Welker and Carter have two each, with Marvin Harrison, Jerry Rice, and Herman Moore claiming the others. These seasons don’t grow on trees, and they don’t come about simply because teams throw lots and lots of short passes. But those are some of the arguments being lobbed across the table against Carter, and they may still be in fashion in 15 years when it comes time to discuss Welker.

This is also a good time to mention that the Hall’s anti-stat lunacy is most pronounced at wide receiver. Voters looked at the passing explosion of the late 1970s and just assumed the fetal position. Six wide receivers have been inducted since 2000: Jerry Rice, Art Monk, Michael Irvin, James Lofton, Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth. That’s one guy who has no business in Canton but who had a lot Super Bowl rings (Stallworth), another guy with very dubious accomplishments but lots of rings (Swann), a guy with exceptional accomplishments and lots of rings who had to wait for some strange reason (Monk), a guy with exceptional accomplishments and rings, so we all just forgot what an awful human he was for several years (Irvin), a guy who belongs on Mount Olympus but also had rings (Rice), and Lofton. The backlog of highly qualified candidates now includes Carter, Andre Reed, and Tim Brown, soon to be joined by Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce and the whole Moss gang of troublemakers. If the voters are meting out space for receivers at a six-per-decade clip and considering multiple Super Bowl rings an entry requirement, we will soon reach a near-perfect state for voters in which the only correlation between the all-time receiving lists and the Hall is Jerry Rice.

1. Tony Gonzalez. You can see this one coming, can’t you? Gonzo already has plenty of deniers, people who suddenly claim they would take an old-fashioned blocking tight end like Bob Tucker over Gonzo any day. (Forget that Tucker was more of a receiver: the important thing is that old guys were better). The more amazing Gonzo’s accomplishments, the more ridiculously important blocking becomes for tight ends, and the weaker Gonzo’s reputation as a blocker gets. Also, amnesia sets in, so everyone forgets that the same things were said about Kellen Winslow, and that Winslow played 30 years ago, so the phenomenon of the "pumped up wide receiver" is not exactly new. When Gonzo retires, there will be serious columns written actually debating and questioning his Hall of Fame merits, by people who really earn paychecks from major media outlets as supposed experts in professional sports. Not just Jason Whitlock, mind you, but people who expect to be taken seriously.

In seven years or so, we will all be scratching our heads wondering how Gonzo failed to reach the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. The only thing that will keep us from giving up on the whole concept of the Hall of Fame completely is that the voters will finally let Carter in that year.

(If I can add a note: At some point the Hall of Fame is going to have to do something to deal with the backlog of qualified candidates. I think the first step is to end the practice of guaranteeing one Senior Committee candidate a place in the HOF, which limits the voting on recent players and coaches to five per year. Toss the Senior Committee candidates in with everyone else and pick six. Or, perhaps they want to consider raising that to seven or eight players per year. That's not ridiculous considering that we now have 32 teams with 22 "starters" apiece. -- Aaron Schatz)

Running Back Top Fives

Last year’s Quarterback Top Five countdowns were a rousing success. They provoked a lot of nostalgia and some heated arguments, and they got us through the lockout by giving you something fun to read and me something easy to write.

There’s no lockout this year, but there are plenty of historical arguments left to enjoy. So Walkthrough will be counting down the Top Five Running Backs in all 32 franchise histories over the coming months. We will start by setting the tone with one interesting, controversial team: the Redskins.

All of the Top Fives are based on each player’s record with the franchise in question, so John Riggins does not get credit for his performance with the Jets until the Jets countdown, when his Redskins accomplishments will be ignored. The lists are compiled with the help of the Pro Football Reference database, but the opinions are subjectively my own. When projecting across eras, I guess, and readers are encouraged to discuss how far off the mark some of those guesses are.

You get the idea. Let’s get rolling.

1. John Riggins

In 1982, John Riggins had the worst season an NFL player has ever had that was perceived as being a great season.

Riggins led the NFL with 177 carries in that strike-shortened year, averaging just under 20 carries per game. He gained just 553 yards, averaging 3.1 yards per carry. He scored just three touchdowns. He caught just 10 passes for 50 yards, providing no value as a receiver, and in fact he left the field on passing downs.

Riggins ran behind one of the greatest offensive lines in history in 1982. The Hogs were already nicknamed The Hogs, and while none of them had made the Pro Bowl yet in 1982, Jeff Bostic, Russ Grimm, and Joe Jacoby would make it in 1983, and we all know Pro Bowl berths often come a year or two late. Despite playing behind an exceptional line and typically getting 20-28 carries per game, Riggins rushed for over 100 yards just once in the regular season and put together a string of 28-for-70, 20-for-52, and 31-for-87 rushing performances.

That last 31-for-87 rushing day came in a 15-14 win over the Giants; Mark Moseley kicked three field goals in that game. Moseley set an accuracy record in 1982, converting 20-of-21 field goal attempts. Moseley was a 34-year-old straight-ahead kicker whose deep leg was shot. Luckily, 15 of his 21 attempts in 1982 came from inside of 40 yards. In the Giants game, Moseley kicked field goals of 20, 31, and 42 yards. He missed the extra point after the Redskins lone touchdown in that game, a 25-yard run by change-up back Joe Washington.

Moseley kicked four field goals to provide all of the Redskins scoring in a 12-7 win against the Cardinals the week before the Giants game. Moseley’s kicks traveled 32, 30, 24, and 20 yards. Riggins carried 26 times for 89 yards.

I brought up Moseley’s short field goals to underline a point about Riggins’ short-yardage running. As a power runner, Riggins was supposed to be able to pick up tough yardage around the goal line. But his three touchdowns, and the large number of short field goals Moseley converted, indicate that Riggins was not doing anything special in the red zone in 1982. While most Football Outsiders research suggests that goal-line conversion statistics are so volatile that they are meaningless, common sense says that an experienced power runner, with a group of budding All-Pros blocking for him, should be able to score enough goal-line touchdowns to keep his team from needing weekly 20-yard field goals. Riggins could not.

So Riggins was, in 1982, a power runner with no breakaway ability (his longest run was 19 yards), no receiving skills, and questionable value in short-yardage situations. He was also just two years removed from a long holdout in an era when holding out was one notch below Satanism in the minds of most fans and sportswriters, and he was outspoken to the point of being obnoxious. (This was before he started getting blasted at political events and insulting Supreme Court justices, but he was on his way). Yet he was one of the most popular players in the league and was universally considered one the central cogs in the newly-created Redskins machine, a more important element to their success than Joe Theismann, the young Art Monk, or the defense.

I watched the broadcast of Super Bowl XVII to confirm my childhood memories of how Riggins was perceived. "How will the Dolphins stop Riggins?" was the storyline before the kickoff. Dick Enberg told some charming stories of Riggins’ holdout and his Super Bowl Week behavior (he refused to dress appropriately for media events, for example) after one of the running back’s many three-to-four yard plunges into the line. Dolphins running back Andra Franklin finished second in the NFL in rushing (Riggins was 15th, Tony Dorsett led the league), and Enberg compared the two big backs at one point, noting that Riggins had a "kinda average" regular season. That moment of faint praise aside, Riggins was clearly preordained the star of the telecast, with the Hogs a surprising second.

Riggins did not have a "kinda average" regular season. He had, frankly, a terrible regular season. It was not perceived as such for a variety of reasons.

First, Riggins was much better in the playoffs, rushing for 119, 185, 140, and 166 yards in the tournament-format playoffs that ended the 1982 season. The regular season was so short, and the playoffs were so unusual, that Riggins managed to gain more yards in the playoffs than the regular season, and neither public perception nor professional opinion had a lot of time to breathe. Football reappeared about a week before Thanksgiving, then sprinted full speed into the Super Bowl in 1982. By the time anyone caught their breath, the Redskins were suddenly great, and Riggins was plowing out 185-yard games.

Second, the Redskins were using a totally new offense, with Riggins as the single setback behind a tight end and H-back who were constantly in motion. Joe Washington, who served as Riggins’ change-up back, did not play much in 1982, so Riggins was the Redskins’ only regular ball carrier. In the early 1980s, it was very rare for a team to use one running back almost exclusively, and it was almost unheard of for a team to reach the Super Bowl without an excellent running back. There was a sense that Riggins just had to be doing something good, just as there was a sense that Rex Grossman had to be doing something right when the Bears reached the Super Bowl a few years ago.

Third, Riggins was a great quote, and sportswriters love slow-footed, aging white guys because they remind us of ourselves. The "Rigginomics" nickname provided a cute hook, and Riggins had been with the Jets long enough to have supporters in the New York media. He was an easy guy to spin the "tough, determined" storyline around, even though most tough-determined guys would not announce that the reason they returned to the NFL after a year of "retirement" was because they were bored and broke.

So Riggins earned some accolades in the postseason, bore the unusual burden of being the NFL’s first "ace" back, and caught some breaks from writers and fans who thought he was a hoot. He also rarely fumbled, which had value, and he was almost impossible to drop for a loss, though it is hard to imagine many defenders getting into the backfield against the Hogs. The fact that he left the field in favor of Washington or Clarence Harmon in passing situations prevented him from padding his statistics with draw plays; the third-and-long draw was a very common strategy back then, and many speed backs racked up high per-carry averages by gaining eight yards on third-and-15. Riggins was gaining his 3.1 yards per carry by literally running about ten feet every time he touched the ball, so he was at least consistent.

Still, watch Super Bowl XVII, and you will see the Hogs drive the Killer B’s back four yards at the snap, with Riggins gaining four yards. You will see him get the ball on second-and-4, then again on third-and-1 for a one-yard gain. You will see him stopped on a third-down conversion in the first quarter that leads to a short Moseley field goal. You will also see him break the game open with a long touchdown on a fourth-down conversion, of course, and you will see some things that surprise you, like a 15-yard scamper on a screen pass. But Riggins had accumulated just 49 (on 15 carries) before halftime, and it’s hard not to think that Franklin would have had 70 yards given the same blocking, or that Dorsett would already have two touchdowns. You are watching Brandon Jacobs, not an all-time great. And Super Bowl XVII was Riggins’ career-defining game.

Riggins was better in 1983, though again the perception was well out of whack with reality. His yards-per-attempt climbed to 3.6, and he started churning out 25-carry games every week, helping the Redskins chew clock in their easy victories. At the same time, his receiving value achieved absolute zero (he didn’t catch a pass after Week 8), and his 24 touchdowns were the residue of a great offense and a fetish for using him as the goal-line back. Riggins had ten touchdowns each of one or two yards. The Joe Gibbs offense blossomed in 1983, and Riggins is best thought of as the "dirty jobs" guy who finished drives and sat on 31-10 leads. Instead, those 24 touchdowns turned him into something of a living legend.

In 1984, Riggins again led the league in touchdowns but did not make the Pro Bowl; Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton, James Wilder and Wendell Tyler represented the NFC instead. The presence of Wilder and Tyler suggests that the world had caught on to the fact that anyone with two functioning knees could probably average 3.8 yards per carry behind the Hogs. The Redskins would soon put George Rodgers, then Earnest Byner in the backfield behind the Hogs. Both of them would have seasons which were more productive on a per-play basis than Riggins had in his glory seasons.

Okay, that was all very negative. So why is Riggins at the top of this list? First, there are his 1978 and 1979 pre-holdout seasons. Playing as a pure fullback in a two-back backfield, Riggins was very good in those years, rushing for over 1,000 yards each year and catching a total of 59 passes. These were Riggins’ best seasons with the Redskins (he also had some good ones with the Jets), but they are forgotten because the late-1970s Jack Pardee Redskins were nothing special.

Second, the 1983 season was a legitimate Pro Bowl season, if not the greatest achievement in NFL history, and 1984 was pretty good. The 1982 regular season was, as noted above, lipstick on a hippo, but Riggins’ performance in an unusual postseason needs to be considered. Riggins had two different Redskins careers, one as an unheralded fullback on a weak team, another as an over-heralded cult hero on an outstanding team. Put them together, and he beats the No. 2 player on this list by a hair.

Riggins reached the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility, and no one blinked at his acceptance. He certainly met the "fame" criteria; he was one of the two or three most well-known players in the NFL from 1982 to 1985. The Super Bowl touchdown and the 24-touchdown season were bulwarked by 11,000 rushing yards, many of them accumulated before he became a household name. He was one of a generation of players whose careers came together at the start of the 16-game season era and the offensive Big Bang of 1978. His best seasons came at exactly the time when it became hard to gauge what a great series of seasons was going to look like, and he retired with numbers that appeared historic but are now the province of Corey Dillon-types.

Riggins belongs in a category with players like John Stallworth: good players on outstanding teams in unique circumstances. If he were on my roster, I would find some role for him. But if he were gaining less than four yards per carry while the Hogs blocked and Monk streaked down the sideline, there is no way he would be my starter.

2. Larry Brown

Brown was one of the best running backs in the NFL from 1971 through 1973. He was a 195-pound halfback who could run inside or outside and was very effective as a receiver, typically catching over 30 passes and averaging more than 10 yards per catch in his best seasons. Brown had over 300 touches in 1972 and 1973, and the workload did him in: By 1974 he was down to 2.6 yards per carry, though he still contributed as a receiver. He was toast by age 29.

The Larry Brown of the early 70s was a far superior player to John Riggins of the early 1980s; again, Riggins ranks higher because of his longer productive career with the Redskins, and because of some outstanding postseason performances. As we work through these lists, career lengths will be graded on a curve, because knee surgery was like a nine-year-old cutting a flank steak until the 1980s, and the salary differential between running back and insurance salesman was shockingly slim until about the same time. It is important to note in this case that Brown and Riggins were near contemporaries; when Brown was having an MVP season in 1972, Riggo was rushing for 944 yards for the Jets. (They were teammates in 1976.) Under the circumstances, Riggins’ longevity should count for something.

3. Cliff Battles

The predominant offense of the 1930s was the single wing. We could go on for a few thousand words about the single wing, and I would make a bunch of errors and oversimplifications in the process. It’s easier to think of the scheme as a Wildcat that you are forced to use for every snap. There was a tailback, something akin to Tim Tebow circa Week 12, and a fullback, who we would really think of as a running back. There was also a blocking back or "quarterback," who was more like our modern H-back, and a wingback who was kind of like Hines Ward: he could catch passes, but being a nasty blocker on sweeps was also a big part of his job, and he took handoffs on reverse-type plays. The terminology alone can give you a headache because roles are precisely juggled from where they are now, and many sources "correct" the labels by calling the single wing tailback a "quarterback" and so on.

Cliff Battles was a single-wing tailback early in his career, meaning he lined up as a modern shotgun quarterback, though single-wing centers often snapped to other players, including the fullback, "quarterback," or motioning wingback. (Feel free to scream.) Anyway, Battles finished second in the NFL by rushing for 737 yards in 1933. Teammate Jim Musick finished first with 809 yards. The pair also completed 16-of-57 passes for 216 yards, zero touchdowns, and 17 interceptions, proving that Rex Grossman and John Beck really weren’t the worst passing tandem in Redskins history. At any rate, Battles was also among the NFL’s leading receivers with 11 catches. The Redskins were a pretty good 5-5-2 team, and Battles was one of the two guys who supplied all of their offense.

A few years later, Ray Flaherty took over as the Redskins coach, and Sammy Baugh took over at tailback, with Battles moving to fullback. Flaherty was an early-NFL innovator who is often credited with inventing the screen pass. He also used more "double wing" formations, so his Redskins looked a little more like a modern shotgun team than a Wildcat team. Baugh, of course, became the first modern quarterback, but when he was a rookie, the Redskins offense still funneled through Battles, who had a whopping 216 carries and led the league in rushing in 1937.

Battles then asked for a raise; depending on the source, he asked for as little as $250 dollars more (Baugh’s version) or expected to make $10,000 (George Marshall’s story). Marshall, who was a classic owner from the "wonderful old days" (stingy, short-sighted, resentful, racist) refused to pay, and essentially blackballed Battles, who knocked around as a coach, served in the Marines, and eventually entered the private sector.

Battles is a Hall of Famer, and the first of the ancient era players that we will encounter on our adventure. There will be more. When we ranked quarterbacks, it was hard to venture back before 1950 for all but a handful of players, but we will come face-to-face with Bronko Nagurski, Tuffy Leemans, and others in the weeks to come. We have a fighting chance of comparing 1930s rushing statistics to 1975 statistics and modern numbers, something that is impossible at every other position on the field. That said, Battles played for the Boston Braves against the Staten Island Stapletons, so we don’t want to get too carried away. Battles appears to have been a Larry Brown of his era, a versatile speed back who was considered one of the best players in the NFL for a few seasons. Putting him next to Brown feels right.

4. Clinton Portis

Like Riggins, Portis was outspoken and eccentric to a point where it might have been detrimental to the team, but because his shtick was rather funny and his on-field effort was excellent, he got a lot of benefit of the doubt. Washington writers have a high tomfoolery threshold; it must come from being close to the capital.

Our metrics were usually kind to Portis, who lost his big-play ability soon after arrival in Washington but became a dependable grinder who could contribute in the passing game and was one of the best pass protectors of his era. Portis suffered through the Second Coming of Gibbs and the brief Jim Zorn disaster, and became one of the symbols of the perpetual suffering that Dan Snyder has caused. Portis and Snyder were also notoriously close, and it is not clear just how much influence Portis had in his role as unofficial assistant GM. He had to deal with any damage he caused off the field once he stepped on the field, so Portis deserves more benefit of the doubt than, say, Vinny Cerrato deserves.

5. Earnest Byner

By the early 1990s, the Gibbs offense had evolved into a three-wideout attack. The Riggins-type rusher, now played by Gerald Riggs, was clearly the No. 2 back, used in power situations. The No. 1 back had become an all-purpose featured back who could run inside and out, as well as catch passes. Earnest Byner filled that role for five seasons, including 1991, when the Redskins had one of the best offenses in the NFL.

Byner narrowly edges Stephen Davis for this list. Davis was a hard working thumper for the late-era Norv Turner teams. As Turner running backs often are, Davis was very productive, and the teams he played for had not yet flown off to planet Danny Boy. When Marty Schottenheimer arrived, he decided to get three or four years worth of carries out of Davis in one season. Then Steve Spurrier set about to prove that the NFL was just like Gainesville and marginalized Davis so he could see more of the Shane Matthews-to-Chris Doering pass combination, entrenching the cycle of guru worship and disappointment that now defines Redskins football.

Davis may well deserve to rank above Byner; it’s a close call, and I admit I am just favoring a player whom I liked when he played for the Browns and who once killed the Eagles in a playoff game.

Terry Allen also deserves honorable mention; he had a pair of very productive seasons under Turner, scoring 21 touchdowns in 1996. The 1996 Redskins completely Norved in the second half of the season, going 2-6 to finish the year and losing a bunch of 21-10 type games, but Allen tooted along and ended with 347 carries. Allen was very good, but it is hard not to react at those events from 15 years ago with the shock that it is still going on, both for the Redskins and for Turner-coached teams.

Joe Washington, as mentioned several times earlier, was the dynamic change-up to Riggins. George Rodgers was a college football superstar who arrived from the Saints after a few productive seasons, some injuries, and a bout with drugs. I will not go so far as to say that either or both were better than Riggins at any one time. I can only suggest that a long look at their stats and accomplishments, compared to Riggins’, are enough to make anyone question just how much credit was misapplied during the early Gibbs tenure.

Next time: we will start working through the rest of the NFC East, and try to keep it under 1,500 words per player!

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 01 Mar 2012

283 comments, Last at 31 Mar 2012, 9:42pm by BaronFoobarstein


by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 12:35pm

As a Bucs fan, "Best Offensive Player at Position X in Team History" is patently depressing. Do defense next year so I have something to be excited about. Derrick Brooks! Warren Sapp! Ronde! Nickerson! Selmon!

by Guido Merkens :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:51pm

The Bucs actually aren't too bad at RB for a team that's "only" 35 years old. James Wilder, Warrick Dunn, and Mike Alstott are nothing to be ashamed of, and Cadillac Williams and Ricky Bell had short periods of high productivity.

QB and WR, though, are another story. Could Brad Johnson's three years of reasonable productivity really make him the best QB in Bucs history? Would you take Keyshawn's two years of borderline-Pro-Bowlishness followed by implosion over Joey Galloway's three years of acceptable numbers, or Mark Carrier's six years of mediocrity?

by 0tarin :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 7:26pm

This Ravens fan heartily endorses this request. I'm looking forward to this year's "Jamal Lewis, Ray Rice, and those other guys".

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:41am

This Texans fan prefers the idea of "Arian Foster, Domanick Davis/Williams, Steve Slaton, Ben Tate and . . . Ron Dayne? Jonathan Wells?" to "Defensive tackles? The Texans have had defensive tackles?" or a list of top 5 safeties that includes CC Brown.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:22pm

When Tanier did his Top 5 Tampa QBs list, it was Brad Johnson, Doug Williams, Trent Dilfer, Vinny Testaverde, and Jeff Garcia. I mean, eeeeeew.

RB has been at least marginally decent, but WR is most definitely another cringe-worthy list. But seriously, yeah, please give me an LB list so I can man-crush all over the greatness of Derrick Brooks.

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:39pm

Linebackers need to be split up, just look at the Bears you can make a list of MLBs only that includes 4 current/future HoFers.

by Kev (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 2:31pm

They did have young Priest Holmes. 1,008 yards in 1998 and was good when splitting carries with Lewis and (for some reason)Errict Rhett.

by Kev (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 2:39pm

Oops,I guess Priest was hurt in '99,but he averaged 5.7 YPC.

by Dean :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 4:09pm

Holmes really wasn't very good that year. He had two 200 yard games against an utterly wretched Cleveland defense (or maybe it was Cincy?) and did nothing against anybody else.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 4:52pm

It was Cincy, but he did have 100 yard games later in the season vs Indy and Detroit ( http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/H/HolmPr00/gamelog/1998/ ). He also had a 13 catch game vs Tenn earlier in the year and hit 99 vs Oakland as well and over 100 combined yards (rushing and receiving) vs Pitt. He wasn't super star that year, but he was effective in at least half his games and had a few other 4+ YPC games where he got less than 10 carries, so that was a utilization issue.

Considering he didn't play much in the first 3 games, I think he was still generally an above average back. Though I agree he wasn't 01-02 Holmes.

by George (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 12:43pm

"a guy with exceptional accomplishments and lots of rings who had to wait for some strange reason (Monk)"

I've actually heard the reason, and it is strange. The most common argument by HOF voters against Monk was the lack of a "signature catch".

by Shekb (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:23pm

"I've actually heard the reason, and it is strange. The most common argument by HOF voters against Monk was the lack of a "signature catch"."

This is the problem you have when you suddenly decide that guys like Swann should go in on the strength of a few signature catches, and little else. It's a damned hard standard to apply across the board.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:44am

I reckon Tyree gets in before Cris Carter on that basis

by dryheat :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:10pm

I think Parcells did more to torpedo Monk than anybody...for years he went around telling anybody who would listen that as HC of the Giants, he never once feared Monk, but game-planned around trying to stop Gary Clark.

I never thought of Monk as a no-brainer either...not that his inclusion bothers me at all.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:43pm

Really? Because I could swear I've seen Parcells quoted as saying that he views Monk as an obvious HOFer. Also, Clark was really good and probably would be in the HOF if he'd had a longer career. As it is, his numbers are close to Irvin's.

Ah, here we go. Parcells in 1995: "Monk is headed to Canton downhill on roller skates."

Here's a bonus quote from Bill Polian: "I believe he's a Hall of Famer. I was a pro scout when he was playing, so it was my job to know who those guys were. I would put Art in that category, but apparently there are a lot of Hall of Fame voters who don't feel Art Monk was in that category. It's hard for me to believe they ever saw him play."

by tuluse :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 12:54pm

It's funny, but I'm not sure Welker is a HoF player myself. He has had 4 great seasons, but they are in the most passing friendly environment the NFL has seen, and with one of the best QBs ever throwing him the ball.

What's more impressive, catching 122 passes for 1300 yards from Brady, or catching 100 passes for 1071 yards from Jim Miller and Shane Mathews? Then following it up with a 97 catch, 1189 season catching passes from Miller, the dessicated corpse of Chris Chandler, and Henry Burris?

Also, Welker's career has been pretty short since he didn't get started until he was 24. If he has 4 more years of at least a 1000 yards, he's probably in, but it's not a fact that's going to happen.

by RickD :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:11pm

I like the "Welker wouldn't be that good without Brady" argument. It's similar to the "Brady wouldn't be that good without Welker" or "Brady wouldn't be that good without Moss" argument. And then there's the "Belichick is overrated, anybody could win with Brady" argument, which smells a lot like the "Brady is overrated, he just wins because of Belichick" argument.

Excellent players who play with other excellent players shouldn't have that held against them. That kind of synergy is always a function of all the people involved.

So, yes, catching 122 passes for 1300 yards from Brady is more impressive than catching far fewer passes for far fewer yards from anyone. Life doesn't grade on a curve.

by tuluse :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:37pm

"Life doesn't grade on a curve."

Isn't this a big part of the idea behind DYAR and DVOA that stats don't take into account opposition or degree of difficulty?

I never said Welker wasn't excellent, I do think he is, I just don't think he is excellent enough to be in the HoF. We have evidence that Brady is excellent without Welker, or with a hobbled Welker. We have evidence that Brady isn't as good without Moss as he was with him, however he's still excellent without him.

Welker has finished top 5 in receiving yards only twice. So he is catching a lot of passes, but he isn't doing as much with them as other receivers are doing with their catches. He's finished top 5 in DYAR 3 times.

by RickD :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:25pm

It is a far different thing to take the opposition into account than to try to untangle the relative contributions of various players on the same team.

And no, Brady was not the same QB before Welker arrived. It's not an accident that all of his best seasons have included Welker as one of his top two targets.

You said more than "Welker isn't in the HoF yet." You implied that we should ignore 25% of his production because he's blessed with Brady as his QB. As if the rest of the Pats' receivers over the past decades have done as well.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:21pm

Brady has been blessed with Welker as his receiver.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:44am

Well, up until 2007 the Patriots' wide receivers were invariably somewhere between indifferent and actively terrible. Welker's a very good player. He is a much better player than Reche Caldwell, or Jabar Gaffney, or David Givens. That doesn't make him a hall of famer.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:07pm

For me the question should be is catching 122 for 1300 today as impressive as catching 122 for 1300 fifteen or more years ago?

by RickD :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 3:00pm

How about 122 for 1569 yards?

Welker was very good in 2011.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 3:34pm

At the risk of being branded a Pats hater, I'll offer some caveats for that season. I feel that this year the teams that prospered were able to exploit defensive misalignments and coverage breakdowns that were endemic early in the season as a result of the reduced practice time caused by the lockout. I'd suggest that this was partly responsible for the explosion of passing across the league.

I think the Pats are the best in the game at exploiting any 'free grass' the defense offers. After five games Welker had 740 yards, an average of 148 yards per game, in the remaining eleven weeks he averaged 75 yards per game, which extrapolates to about 1200 yards, which is close to the sort of numbers he normally puts up. I will happily admit that your execution has to be pretty good to exploit the defensive errors in such a remorseless manner.

I am aware that this is a rather extreme example of chopping stats to make an argument but a player's production dropping by 50% after five weeks is a little strange too. There was likely some effect from most teams being unable to find a decent answer for the matchup nightmare presented by the Pats two tight end spread.

by RickD :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:51pm

This really offends me as a mathematician:

"After five games Welker had 740 yards, an average of 148 yards per game, in the remaining eleven weeks he averaged 75 yards per game, which extrapolates to about 1200 yards, which is close to the sort of numbers he normally puts up."

Why even bother to look at statistics if your purpose is to decide which subset of the data aligns best with your preconceptions?

Welker was better in 2011 than he was in any season before then. End of argument.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 5:04pm

Didn't mean to cause offense and I did admit that I was chopping stats.

You say Welker's 2011 was better than any previous season, I didn't suggest otherwise, all I was trying to do was provide a possible explanation.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:51am

You pointed out the pattern (kind of) but you don't have an explanation.

I think the explanation is the departure of Mr. Moss and the ascension of Welker into the clear #1 WR.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:47am

He does have an explanation: the lockout was more disruptive to defenses than offenses, and for obvious reasons this effect was strongest earlier in the season.

Anyway, is Welker clearly the #1 receiver, ahead of Gronkowski? Either way, he's certainly not a conventional, do-everything WR1.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:39am

It amuses me that the argument against Welker is that he's really good at getting open, as if that were somehow a negative trait.

I'd love to have three receivers with that same vice.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:47am

It's nice, but it would be nicer if he were really good at getting open deep, as well.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:30am

Why? Of what possible benefit would that be? He's paired with a QB (and has been his entire career) who is terrible at passing deep.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:48am

And yet that quarterback still seemed reasonably adept at connecting with Randy Moss.

Also, it would open up space underneath him for other receivers, and for the running game. It would prevent the "cram the interior zone" strategy employed succesfully by the Bills and others from being so effective.

by Alternator :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 2:07am

For sheer physical dominance, a motivated Randy Moss is possibly the greatest wide receiver to ever play the game. I'm fairly certain any QB would have a decent deep ball with 2007 Randy Moss going deep.

Brady's deep ball is below average, but still within the realm of acceptable. Compounded with nobody really capable of going deep and reliably getting open, and the deep pass doesn't much exist.

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:31pm

Who has argued that Welker is not a very good player?

by 3.14159265 (not verified) :: Wed, 03/07/2012 - 7:22am

Welker is a great player for the dink and dunk offense that the Pats run. He and Brady run it to near perfection.

by RickD :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:06pm

I don't think Ed Reed will have any major difficulty getting into the HoF. The media love him. The Ravens' D has been good enough, long enough, that there's little danger that Reed will be lost behind Ray Lewis's shadow.

Strahan has the problem of the logjam of pass rushers in the queue, and the fact that his record season is widely derided for Favre's clinching gimme. But his Super Bowl ring should help.

Welker is curiously underrated by many Pats' fans, many of whom seem to think that anybody could be plugged in as a slot receiver and be just as productive as Welker is. Memories of the 2006 season, when the Pats had zero quality WRs, appear to have disappeared. There is an ongoing fantasy that Edelman could do just as well. Apparently white WRs are fungible.

Gonzalez won't have a problem making the Hall. Tomlinson shouldn't. The chaos in the Jets' locker room is in spite of him, not because of him. In the current climate, when RBs seem to pass their peaks within three years, Tomlinson should look very good.

by Jimmy :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 10:37am

I can remember Troy Brown doing almost the same stuff as Welker, if the Pats had been passing the ball as much back then, or if Belichick had been the coach there earlier he might have put up similar numbers.

by Bill (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:22pm

Sir -

That was as much derision as I have ever read here. I am curious - are these HoF voters strawmen, or are you guys, with your ever-expanding inclusion into "the club", really meeting, conversing with, and being stunned by, the kinds of voters you describe?

If so, what percentage of the voting group would you estimate they represent?


by Guido Merkens :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:53pm

Extra points for the WSJ-style intro.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:25pm

I agree that it's possible to reject the premise of this question, that doesn't mean it isn't a good read and it will probably provoke quite a debate.

by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 3:01pm

The latter.

I won't try to estimate a "percentage." And I won't carry tales out of shop.

Just to share what an editor once told me. "You would be astounded at how little some people know."

by Ryan :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 3:10pm

What seems to be the qualification other than "be the beat guy for your local team's paper"?

by DrunkenOne :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:25pm

Portis should get knocked down a spot simply because he was acquired in one of the most lopsidedly bad trades in NFL history. People forget that not only did the Redskins trade a young, future HOF CB in his prime for a Shanny system RB (granted, a really good one) but they also gave away a 2nd round pick.

lol redskins

by Dean :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:04pm

But that's not Portis's fault.

I hate the Redskins, and I get in full-on old-man mode when players forget that the sideshow is not the show, but Portis got it. He can be as outlandish as he wants in the media room. That's funny stuff and it's the appropriate place for it. He was smart enough to not bring it onto the field.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:46pm

The trade wasn't quite as bad as that. If my memory is accurate, Bailey was a pending free agent at the time and wanted out, and who threatened to sit if he was franchise-tagged. The Skins didn't have a lot of leverage with him, so his trade value was reduced. That helps explain why they included a 2nd. In their minds, it was Portis for a 2nd, and Bailey was the throw-in because they were going to lose him anyway.

Fact is, Bailey was fed up playing for the chaotic Redskins and even threatened to boycott training camp if labelled their franchise player. "It was extremely obvious that he wasn't coming to camp," Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs admitted. "I think he pretty well made up his mind that it was going to be hard for him to come back here."


by Never Surrender (not verified) :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 11:56pm

Bailey was never going to play another down as a Redskin, for reasons only partly related to football. His wife had given him an ultimatum following an affair: we're leaving the area, or I'm leaving.

The fact that the Redskins got anything out of him, much less a franchise RB, is somewhat remarkable. The 2nd round pick was really the price for Portis.

The deal wasn't great for Washington, but neither was it a bad one at all. Making the most of an unlucky situation.

by Lance :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:32pm

Lots to think about here. In anticipation of future RB Top 5's (I love this concept, and hope I don't have to wait until 2024 to get to, say, DT Top 5's), I'll throw out the Cowboys' group:

1) Smith
2) Dorsett
3) Don Perkins
4) Calvin Hill
5) ??

I was going to put Herschel Walker here, but I didn't realize that he played so few seasons for Dallas. Do you get credit for the fact that your being traded resulted in the franchise trading you away returning to past glory? Maybe. If not, then you're left with someone like Robert Newhouse, who had a great career for Dallas but mostly played FB, and then if you're throwing that in, then don't you pick Moose over anyone else? I don't know. So I'm stuck. I'll be curious to hear what the FO people say.

by clark :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:29pm

You can go with Duane Thomas on peak value, although his career is shorter than I remembered. Otherwise you're down to one of the guys you mentioned, or Marion Barber.

by RickD :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:34pm

Useful link

You've got the top 4 in order. Really makes it clear that it's going to be hard to find five decent RBs for a lot of franchises. For the Cowboys, the fifth spot appears to be in competition between Robert Newhouse and Marion Barber. DeMarco Murray shouldn't need too many years to make that list.

by Lance :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:36am

I actually did check out the link, and it made me switch Hill and Perkins-- Hill really didn't end up playing as long as I thought. I didn't realize that Marion Barber was so high on the list! Nor, for that matter, that two QBs made the top 25.

I agree about Murray, though-- if the Cowboys can fix their line and keep it working along with a good passing game, he should do well.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 3:17am

Nor, for that matter, that two QBs made the top 25

I count three: Staubach, Meredith and Aikman (who really surprised me by being there). Of course, DeMarco Murray is 51 yards away from the #25 spot after one truncated season...

- Alvaro

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

by BigCheese :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 3:22am

From that page I looked at the Bears' rushing leaders and found something truly depressing:

24 Jim Harbaugh 1987 1993 89 48 296 1609 15 26 5.4 18.1 38
25 Cedric Benson 2005 2007 35 12 420 1593 10 43 3.8 45.5 4

The 2006 #4 overall pick who gashed the Bears in 2010 as a Bengal had less total yards rushing than the current coach of the 49ers... in 124 more attempts!

- Alvaro

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

by Lance :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 9:38pm

Sorry; I was going by memory. But yes, seeing Aikman there was incredibly surprising. Of course, Dallas has been lucking having had good luck with RBs for great spans. Thus, while a few greats occupy the top spots, someone has to come in after them, even if it's a non-running QB like Aikman.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:46pm

I've heard enough, despite the voting process supposedly being a closed room that isn't talked about to the outside world (which is a mistake, in my view), to strongly suspect that not only are the selectors for the HOF in good measure ignorant about the matter at hand, but they regularly allow their personal dislike of certain players affect their votes. It's an entirely corrupt institution in my view, and as long as the voting is restricted to that few dozen people, it will likely remain so.

by Guido Merkens :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 1:57pm

This isn't a problem restricted to the HOF; it pervades any award still determined by the old-guard national media. The Heisman Trophy is the shining example in this field.

I'd be in favor of a HOF selection process more like the one used for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, where a group of experts, picked anew every year, considers a group of teams by starting with basic statistical measures and then adding intangibles into the mix.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 3:11pm

Or alternatively we do it like the Pro Bowl with fans getting 1/3 of the vote, coaches 1/3 and players 1/3?

F'k knows what system would actually work.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:53am

Can we just make Chase Stuart Curator of the Hall of Fame and let him enshrine whoever he wants?

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:50pm

I was going to say no because he'll put Testaverde in, but a little research showed that I was confusing him with Jason Lisk, so my answer is unequivocally yes.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:28pm

If I remember correctly, Lisk didn't say that Vinny had a Hall of Fame career, he only speculated (and made a very good case) that if Vinny had had good or merely decent teammates, THEN we would probably be looking at a lock for the HoF.

by Shattenjager :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:34pm

Indeed: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=5449

I loved that post. I had actually always said basically the same thing, and that post suggested maybe I wasn't nuts. Also, growing up watching John Elway, I've always had a soft spot for QBs who spend their careers with crappy offenses around them.

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:44pm

I don't agree with the conclusions in that post. Manning was incredible with a poor cast, Elways was excellent with a sub par cast. Vinny was passable.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:47pm

First of all: Manning and Elway represent a very high bar.

Second of all: Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James constitutes a poor cast? Even if you consider the chicken-egg thing going on there, I don't see it. O-line has always been spotty i Indy, but not everyone can have as good a pocket presence as Manning.

Third: Elways statistical career doesn't really blow anyone away either (on a per season basis anyway). In the Shanahan era (~40 percent of his career) he had excellent support.

The best offensive teammate Vinny had was who? Keyshawn Johnson?

by Shattenjager :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:30pm

"The best offensive teammate Vinny had was who? Keyshawn Johnson?"
Curtis Martin.

Also, "the Shanahan era" represents four of Elway's 16 years (25%) and 1866 of his 7250 attempts (25.7%), and the 1995 team really didn't have enough to call it "excellent," I think. Rookie TD started at RB and Sharpe was there, sure, but the starting WRs were Anthony Miller and Mike Pritchard, and 3/5 of the offensive line was new.

by tuluse :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 3:59pm

With Manning I was referring to last year when he had Wayne and probably no other offensive player that would start in the league on most teams.

"First of all: Manning and Elway represent a very high bar."

Yeah that bar is HoF, which Vinny should not be in.

by Shattenjager :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 4:08pm

This is a straw man. No one said that Vinny Testaverde belongs in the Hall of Fame.

by tuluse :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 4:29pm

From the article

"I submit that Testaverde didn't discover some fountain of youth or manage to delay the aging process. He was just really good. And when you are really good at age 30-35, you can afford to lose a little and still be able to play in the NFL to age 40. I can't help but wonder what would have happened if Testaverde had managed to end up with an offense that had a few more good players when he was entering his late 20's. My guess is that he would be practicing his Canton speech."

I disagree with that, I think to a large degree, you can't keep a good quarterback down. Even if his stats are bad, he'll do things that look like a what a HoF does, Vinny didn't, or at least not often enough. I think he would have been Mark Brunell if he had better teammates.

by Shattenjager :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 4:42pm

So you think that quotation from the article proves that Lisk was arguing that Vinny should go into the Hall of Fame now, in the world as it is.

by tuluse :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 4:46pm

No, I think it's saying he thinks Vinny would have a been a HoF QB with average teammates for the majority of his career, I disagree.

by Shattenjager :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 4:52pm

And before you said, "that bar is HoF, which Vinny should not be in," which is stating that Vinny shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. Since no one argued that he should be in, I called that a straw man, and you replied with a quotation from the article and no suggestion that it was indeed a straw man or that you had misstated your position, which I took to mean you did not believe it to be a straw man.

by tuluse :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 10:00pm

I think even in an alternate reality where Vinny had better teammates, he would not be in the HoF. He doesn't pass that bar.

So yes, I misstated my position.

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:32pm

Only if the PFR blog comes back.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:30pm

Here's the list of current members of the selection committee. Rife with idiots.


by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 5:49pm

Yeah my local writer is an abomination. Doesn't really understand anything about how the game works IMO. He might as well be writing in 1970 (except at then he would have an excuse).

by Will Allen :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:11pm

Vikings top 5, since the merger (which excludes the extremely good Bill Brown).

1. Adrian Peterson. He isn't a flawless player by any means, but against constant eight, nine, and even ten man fronts, given only one year in which the Vikings passing game was not below average, he has been great.

2. Robert Smith. Absent the early knee injuries, he may have been HOF-worthy.

3. Chuck Foreman. He benefitted from playing with Tarkenton, who always got the offense into the right play, and running behind Ron Yary and Ed White, and did not have a long career. He did everything really well, however, especially catching the ball, where he alomost always made the first tackler miss.

4.Darrin Nelson. A poor man's Foreman, which is pretty good.

5.Terry Allen. A solid player, who only played the early part of his career with the Vikings, because Robert Smith was drafted.

by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 3:03pm

Aw, guys! Don't spoil all the future Top Fives! Let me go first, then come on and hammer my choices!

by Will Allen :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 3:31pm

Sorry, got carried away. Your list sucks because it is outrage to have it topped by a guy who was too drunk to avoid making comments to a Supreme Court Justice that typically are made to a woman hanging from a pole. Or something.

by Dean :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:08pm

But he had a really cool mohawk.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:35pm

Then again, I say he is great, for the statement he made after sitting out a year; "I'm bored, I'm broke, and I'm back.".

by Junior :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:20pm

My favorite was in the postgame after Super Bowl XVII. NBC was trying to get Reagan on the phone to congratulate the Skins. Riggins - "He may be President but today I am the King".

by tuluse :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:47pm

If that's not HoF worthy, I don't know what is.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:47am

Why limit it to post-merger? RBs don't change much in profile once you get out of the A-backfield era and start getting manageable amounts of ball-carriers on the field.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:15pm

Just seemed to be a natural point. If I go back to the beginning for the Vikings, Bill Brown, who was a very good receiver, outstanding blocker, and powerful runner, probably ranks number 4 on the list.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:23pm

I don't think Welker should be in the Hall, at least not given his current record.

I've always believed that yards are more important than catches, i know this runs contrary to the tenets of FO but that's my opinion. I'll take a an 80 catch, 1400 yard season over a 100 catch, 1100 yard campaign. (I do agree with FO's highlighting of sustainability but I also feel that the deep threat will influence the shape of the game in ways that DVOA doesn't do a great job of recognising).

For me it's quite simple, while Welker has four 100 catch seasons he only has two years with more than 1200 yards. If you were asked if a reciever with only two 1200 yard seasons deserved to make the Hall how many people would vote him in? Additionally, Wesley has a career YPC of 11.1. That's not great is it?

Finally, there's Troy Brown. He had a three year period when he put up Welkeresque totals of 281 catches for 3033 yards and nobody thinks he belongs in the Hall of Fame (maybe the Patriots Hall). I think that Bellichick has recognised that there is a very productive role for an undersized slot receiver in the modern NFL and Wlker is a very good player in that role. That isn't to suggest that those players don't need to be able to read defenses, have good hands or be able to regularly catch the ball inside the numbers without getting hurt but for me that doesn't mean that a player inthis role with high catch numbers is HOF worthy.

(If Ed Reed doesn't get in I'll be apoplectic.)

by RickD :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:52pm

We'll have to see how Welker's career plays out. I would agree that at this point his candidacy is relatively weak, esp. given the glut of WRs. If he can have 3-4 more seasons at a peak level, I think it'll be strong.

by nojo :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:57pm

281 catches for 3033 yards over 3 years isn't Welkeresque.... The lowest catch total Welker has had in any 3 consecutive years with the Patriots is 320, and the lowest yardage total in the same period is 3361.

by tuluse :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 7:23pm

Maybe it's just me but within 1 catch and 7 yards per game seems to qualify for and "esque"

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:04am

Congratulations on finding a way to make a 10% difference in production level look insignificant.

You know, Ted Williams averaged less than half a hit per game more than Dave Kingman. And they averaged the same number of HRs/season. I guess that Ted Williams and Dave Kingman are indistinguishable.

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:29am

Esque does not mean exactly the same.

I think player A who provides 90% of what another player B provides could be described as player B-esque.

by theslothook :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:42am

Does anyone else agree welker is a bit too one dimensional a receiver? I know this argument feels really flimsy, but, again, if welker were in an offense that were medium throwing or didn't have a qb or system that accentuated the short attack the way pats do, would welker be what he is? As great as he has been, i still feel like he does the damage he does because there are more frightening miss matches defenses key on, Moss& Gronk. If the hall is about rewarding the very best at their positions, is welker really better than harrison, holt, bruce, carter, etc? Maybe on the patriots, welker is, but for the majority of teams, i would say no in the same way sproles is super valuable on certain teams and maybe relegated to situational player on the majority of others.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:52am

Does anyone else agree welker is a bit too one dimensional a receiver?

Well, he's not very tall and he's pretty skinny, so I guess that leaves a fairly nominal span as his one-dimension.

The biggest knock on Welker in the hall is that he's a short slot WR who's white. He doesn't look the part.

Here's another question: How would Randy Moss have done on a (pro) team with Chad Pennington or Matty Checkdown at QB? Would he have become a marginalized specialty player too?

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:59am

Moss is the worst possible example. He might not have scored quite so many long touchdowns, but a quarterback who can't get his head around the idea of "throw it high in Randy's vague general direction" is too dumb to even get as far as busting in the NFL, so he'd still have caught a bunch of shorter scores.

Only inhumanly terrible quarterbacking (or Randy Moss himself) could make Randy Moss look less than great. Anything less than great quarterbacking in the perfect system, and I think Welker is just a very good slot receiver.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:27pm

I really think you have that backwards. Anything less than a great receiver in the perfect system, and I think Brady is just a very good short-ball quarterback.

by mansteel (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:35am

This is it exactly, IMO. He does a couple of things really well and is in an offense that does an amazing job of taking advantage of these things. He'd be a lot less valuable in other offenses.

Put it this way: would the Falcons trade Roddy White for him? The Giants Hakeem Nicks? The Chiefs Dwayne Bowe (assuming they retain his rights)? The Steelers Mike Wallace? I could go on. If your answers are no--and mine are, FWIW--then surely the Welker-for-HOF argument loses credibility, right?

BTW, I'm not saying the Patriots would/should necessarily do any of the above deals because Welker is obviously very valuable to them. I just don't think he'd be nearly as valuable on most (all?) other teams. Meaning he is, to a degree greater than most very productive players, a system guy.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:52am

Agreed. The defensive counterpart is Ronde Barber (who will get in, and I think shouldn't). Buc-2 corners and slot receivers are doing a training-wheels version of the job. They can still be valuable, if they're as good at it as those two, but there's a limit, and NFL personnel people know it - as reflected in their contracts.

Let's see what Welker gets paid. I'm betting it's not Larry Fitzgerald money - or even probably Brandon Marshall money.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:03pm

They can still be valuable, if they're as good at it as those two, but there's a limit, and NFL personnel people know it - as reflected in their contracts.

So next week we'll see this from you:

Peyton Manning, no longer a future HOFer.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:56pm

Or Peyton Manning, no longer certain to be healthy enough to play 16 games at a high level to be worth rewarding as a future HOFer.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:18pm

I'm fine with that argument, but Shush is using Welker's future contract vis-a-vis Marshall and Fitzgerald's contracts as (predicted) evidence that he's not a HOFer.

By that same logic, if Manning gets cut, his contract will be worth $0, which would make him the least valuable player in the NFL, and clearly not HOF potential. That he's coming off injury, 208 games played, and if 36 is independent to the subject contract argument, just as it's independent that Welker's had a knee injury history and is 30, whereas Fitzgerald was 28 when he signed and Marshall is 27.

Contracts are about future value; HOF campaigns are not.

by Jonadan :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:26am

I don't know - I seem to recall that way back when he got traded from Miami to New England, there were a lot of columns with the theme, "if Belichick wants him, you know you should probably keep him," even though he was then probably the #3 or 4 receiver on the Fins. Most receptions, 2nd most yards (67/687) - he put up a decent year in Miami being thrown at by Harrington and Culpepper.

Probably he wouldn't be Wes Welker, gritty white man extraordinaire, if he still had Henne or Moore or whoever throwing him the ball instead of Brady. And I don't know if I'm willing to usher him into the hall quite yet. But your argument is essentially "no HoF because he doesn't fit anybody else's system", which is just kind of... silly.

"When you absolutely don't know what to do any more, then it's time to panic." - Johann van der Wiel

by PatsFan :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:18pm

Welker was more "traded" than traded. The Phins put the 2nd-round tender on him and the Patriots were in the process of crafting the usual poison-pill unmatchable offer sheet together to get him from the Dolphins - giving up the required 2nd round pick in return.

Then (probably so that no one could possibly grieve the transaction) they decided to throw in a 7th-rounder and make it a trade instead of using the poison-pill offer.

So technically it was a trade, but it's not like Miami voluntarily entered into it.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:12pm

Put it this way: would the Falcons trade Roddy White for him? The Giants Hakeem Nicks? The Chiefs Dwayne Bowe (assuming they retain his rights)? The Steelers Mike Wallace? I could go on. If your answers are no--and mine are, FWIW--then surely the Welker-for-HOF argument loses credibility, right?

Would they is a different argument than should they. The Eagles should acquire a LB; they still won't draft one.

I would argue that in the case of Atlanta, absolutely. If I were NYG, I'd strongly consider it. Pittsburgh and KC, perhaps. For Pittsburgh, stylistically, that's a nominal trade, and Wallace is younger. But that's more of a fit issue. The old Steelers probably would have preferred Bettis to Faulk or Sanders -- that doesn't make Bettis the better runner.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:37pm

Put it this way: would the Falcons trade Roddy White for him? The Giants Hakeem Nicks? The Chiefs Dwayne Bowe (assuming they retain his rights)? The Steelers Mike Wallace? I could go on. If your answers are no--and mine are, FWIW--then surely the Welker-for-HOF argument loses credibility, right?

If the Falcons wouldn't trade Roddy White for Wes Welker, then they're incredibly dim.

The Giants, if given the chance, ought to trade Nicks for Welker. A trio of Cruz/Welker/Manningham would be a better grouping. Nicks does the same thing Cruz does, but not as well.

The Chiefs would have to be insane to not trade Bowe for Welker. Bowe is a good receiver but he's not close to elite.

About the only one listed that I think a team shouldn't trade for Welker is Wallace.

You deeply underrate Welker. The ability to get open all the time is rare, and Welker is the best at it.

No, really, Welker was the 1st team All-Pro and he earned it. He's not Brandon Stokely. He's not just another white slot receiver.

If the Pats traded Welker for White or Bowe or Nicks, I'd be livid. All of these players have the same skill set. It should be easier to find a receiver with that skill set while retaining Welker and his relatively unique skill set.

I can accept that his peak hasn't been long enough to merit Hall inclusion (yet). But this talk of trading him for Team X's best receiver, regardless of which team Team X is, is fairly insulting to him.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:14pm

No account for the age differences or injury histories? I think I'd take most of those receivers over Welker at least partly for those reasons.

by Alternator :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 3:03am

If I'm the Steelers, I consider the trade, because I worry that Big Ben won't be healthy for long enough to care that Wallace is younger. Whether that is due to repeat trauma or Ben trying to headbutt a bull is another issue.

If I'm the Giants, I make the trade mostly for the fact that Nicks doesn't have anything that makes his role unique on the team, but Welker would give Eli a great underneath option. The Giants are a great team when they're playing well, but lack consistency, and one of the most consistently open guys in the league has to be a big plus.

If I'm the Falcons, I have to have brain damage to make that trade, since they have a young QB and Roddy is more likely to stay healthy longer than Welker, even though I think Welker is the better player.

If I'm the Chiefs, I probably make the trade just on the basis that Welker can make things happen more often than Bowe, even if those things don't have the same upside. There's a good reason to say "oh Hell no" based on age and injuries, though.

by dryheat :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:45pm

If you have an extraordinarily accurate quarterback on short throws and Wes Welker on your team, and you don't adjust your offense to take advantage of this, as a coach you are failing at your job.

Welker as a HOFer never once crossed my mind before today, but this "more valuable to the Patriots than he would be to other teams" line of thought gets way too much play. If Welker was a Falcon or Giant or Chief, he'd be just as valuable. He's more valuable to the Patriots because, up until the conclusion of the Super Bowl, he was a Patriot.

by theslothook :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:42am

Does anyone else agree welker is a bit too one dimensional a receiver? I know this argument feels really flimsy, but, again, if welker were in an offense that were medium throwing or didn't have a qb or system that accentuated the short attack the way pats do, would welker be what he is? As great as he has been, i still feel like he does the damage he does because there are more frightening miss matches defenses key on, Moss& Gronk. If the hall is about rewarding the very best at their positions, is welker really better than harrison, holt, bruce, carter, etc? Maybe on the patriots, welker is, but for the majority of teams, i would say no in the same way sproles is super valuable on certain teams and maybe relegated to situational player on the majority of others.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:40pm

I know he's white and short, but please, enough of this.

I'm strongly reminded of the discussions about Steve Largent. Sometimes white receivers really are very good.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:15pm

The only person going on about him being white is you. He could be blue for all I care, it wouldn't stop me pointing out that his career average YPC is below 12.

by sn0mm1s :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:18pm

The difference being that Largent was able to score TDs. TDs are the mark of a great WR. They either have to be able to beat a defense deep (meaning they possess great speed or elusiveness once the ball is in their hands) or they have to be very good at creating separation (by route running or leaping ability) when the field is shortened and the D doesn't have to worry about a deep ball.

Welker doesn't get as much respect as other WRs because he doesn't score much. He racks up tons of receptions but only where receptions are easiest to pull down. Out of the top 100 all time WR/TE reception leaders Welker is 99th when looking at how often his receptions turn into a TD. He averages a TD every 20 receptions. Only Frank Sanders is worse.

Here are the top 15 in TD/Reception

Randy Moss
Lance Alworth
Nat Moore
Mark Clayton
Terrell Owens
Don Maynard
Harold Carmichael
Harold Jackson
Stanley Morgan
Fred Biletnikoff
Antonio Gates
Jerry Rice
Bobby Mitchell
Steve Largent
Charley Taylor

7 are already in the HOF and I think most of us agree Moss, Owens, and Gates deserve to be in there as well.

Here are the bottom 15

Johnnie Morton
Marty Booker
Jeremy Shockey
J.T. Smith
Eric Moulds
Ike Hilliard
Al Toon
Jason Witten
Brian Blades
Brett Perriman
Troy Brown
Frank Wycheck
Jeff Graham
Bobby Engram
Wes Welker
Frank Sanders

Not exactly HOF caliber.

by JimZipCode :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 3:15pm

Surprised to see Al Toon in the bottom 15. I remember him from my teens as a deep threat, a speed merchant.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 7:35pm

Al Topn good deep thrwat 1985, 1986. Then K. O'Brien turn into crap 1987 and Toon never deep thrwat again. One season did not even score.

by Dean :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 7:42pm

Didn't Toon have concussion issues?

by Shattenjager :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 9:06pm

Yes. They led to his retirement at 29.

They probably had something to do with his diminished production after 1988 as well.

by theslothook :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:25pm

this has nothing to do with welkers stature or his race. It has everything to do with how he is utilized. I totally disagree that the giants and falcons would be dim if they traded their best receiver for him. Again, i think you can't just look at raw receiving production and assume it translates to any offense. Welker is a short route runner. That isn't my opinion, its more or less a fact. http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/Articles/11_5322_Super_Bowl_Hangove... that sums it up quite well.

All this to say welker is a fantastic player. He really is, but you have to put him in proper context. Its not just welker who fits the patriots, the patriots fit welker. They throw short and hes great at short so the marriage produces excellence. I doubt the falcons or giants would utilize welker's skillset nearly as much as new england does nor do i think they could get anywhere near the same production from him as new england can.

by Independent George :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:46pm

He's one-dimensional in the same way that Chris Carter was.

Honestly, I don't think Welker is currently HoF-worthy, but will be with another 3 seasons at this level. He's got 2-All Pro 1st Team selections, which count for an awful lot to me; three years of high production on top of his existing body of work, and he's definitely a HoF WR.

by sn0mm1s :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:19pm

Cris Carter wasn't one dimensional - not by a long shot.

by nosoop4u (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2012 - 2:29pm


by nojo :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 3:58pm

The other part is that in his best stretch, Brown was 10% worse than Welker in his worst stretch. So, no, Brown isn't Welker-esque.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 5:00pm

Even if they were throwing the ball 10% less?

by Ryan :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:24pm

As a tennis/football hybrid fan, I have to complain about the opposite situation in tennis's Hall of Fame. Oh, you won a mixed doubles Slam in '82? Career high ranking of number 3? We'll start sculpting that bust now. I mean, Pam Shriver!

As a Colts fan, I worry about Marvin's chances. (And yes, I am writing this with my head buried in the sand, and this sand is in a bucket outside a Philadelphia car wash, and this bucket may or may not once have contained a handgun that may or may not have been owned by Marvin.) Is WR just too glamorous a position for all these fuddy-dud good-ole-days voters?

Maybe the test should be this: we project an image of the potential HoFer to a select group of old white men. If upon seeing this image, they all nod and intone, "now THAT is a Football Player," then we'll know he's a lock.

by RickD :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:50pm

Marvin Harrison should be a HoF lock based on his on-the-field performance (and that's all the NFL HoF uses, right?)

My vague understanding of the logjam at WR is that the Cris Carter supporters, although they outnumber the Tim Brown supporters and Andre Reed supporters, have not found a way to work out an induction order. Apparently some people really don't like Cris Carter (who should be in already, IMHO).

And yes, Marvin Harrison will just liven that up. The Dwight Dixon story is scary and will definitely influence the debate, even if the rules say it shouldn't.

by Ryan :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:52pm

Not to mention the obvious "Peyton makes 1,000-yard receivers out of piles of old phone books" argument.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:03am

This. The insane greatness of Peyton Manning forces us to be a little bit skeptical of every Colts offensive player he played with, and his coaches and GM.

Harrison sits alongside Bruce and Holt (probably just behind Bruce and just ahead of Holt) on my "maybe" list. I'm fine with it if he gets in, but I'm not bothered if he doesn't.

by Tim R :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:08pm

I think they should probably all make it. Bruce was very good before the greatest show on turf and retired, I think, 2nd all time in yardage. Holt had 6 consecutive 1300 yard seasons and is 3rd all time in yds/game. Harrison is the hardest because Manning's so good but I think he probably deserves to get in due to the lack of Manning face aimed his direction. But all of them should wait until Carter's in.

by Independent George :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:56am

I think without question, Marvin Harrison is the single most dangerous receiver in the entire history of the NFL.

by Travis :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:39am

Rae Carruth, Tommy Kane, and Brian Blades might disagree.

by Independent George :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:50pm

I'm not familiar with the Kane or Blades cases, but compared to Carruth:

1. Marvin does his own dirty work (allegedly)
2. Marvin got away with it (allegedly)
3. I care more about comedy than a real analysis of their criminality.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:02am

Pete Pihos might beg to differ.

He landed at Normandy and served under Patton.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:04am

Call me crazy, but I'd rather piss off a war veteran than a gang lord.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:35am

I'll give you credit, you're consistently wrong-headed in your opinions.

You'd rather take a gangbanging shooting at unarmed people over a Patton vet who is experienced not only at shooting at people who are actually armed, but can also take and survive return fire? This explains why you value Moss so much over Welker.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:56am

I'm not proposing to get in a fire-fight with them. I think that if I make a Normandy veteran angry (back in the late 40s or 50s, say), he may be liable to punch me in the nose, which I would not like. If I make a crime lord angry, I may be liable to get shot in the face by one of his lackeys as I get off a bus, which I would like a lot less. The most dangerous man in the world is Vladimir Putin, not some special forces guy.

by Independent George :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:54pm

I think it's a matter of being less likely to inadvertently piss off a war veteran to the extent that he's willing to kill you than the guy who apparently killed someone in cold blood following a seemingly inconsequential altercation.

Put another way, would you rather share a subway car with a heavyweight MMA fighter, or an escaped mental patient? The former could hurt you way worse, but I'd say the latter is more dangerous.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:27pm

I feel the need to point out that most mental patients are not actually dangerous.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:33pm

I like to think of it as being an angry Chihuahua versus a sleeping tiger.

The Chihuahua is more likely to bite, but the tiger more likely to be capable of grievous harm.

by Never Surrender (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:46pm

Glad to see Tanier is one of the good guys with respect to Art Monk's HOF bid. The anti-stat journalist contingent was bad enough, but I was really disappointed when (following Monk's selection) the cranks came out of the woodwork even here on FO. Majority opinion seemed to be that he didn't belong.

Or maybe I was just oversensitive to the issue after watching him get snubbed for so long.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:12am

I still don't get the case for Monk, and I don't think I'm "anti-stats".

Years in the top 5 for receiving yards: 2
Years in the top 10 for receiving yards: 3
Years in the top 5 for receptions: 3
Years in the top 10 for receptions: 4
Years in the top 5 for receiving touchdowns: 0
Years in the top 10 for receiving touchdowns: 1
Years leading the NFL in a major statistical category: 1 (receptions in 1984)
Pro bowls: 3
AP first team all pro: 1
Other first team all pro: 3
Guff about blocking: plenty

His case is similar to, though slightly better than, Hines Ward's. I say absolutely not to Ward, and a slightly less virulent no to Monk. Plenty of production, not enough dominance.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:34pm

He also lead the league 1 year in receiving yards per game, which is significant. The strongest case I can make for him is that he wasn't a true WR and was really a WR-TE hybrid who looks weak in comparison to WRs but amazing in comparison to TEs. And I don't just mean that he was a great blocker. I mean he was often on the field with 2 other WRs (much more so than Hines Ward) and was often held in to block (also much more than Ward). Again, not because he was a bad catcher (he was great) but because that was what would help the (run-heavy) team the most. The HOF voters also knocked him for having low YPC totals because they are stuck in the 70s when all receivers were deep threats and they don't understand the value of a reliable possession receiver like, say, Carter. Or Harrison, for that matter.

Here, read this:

by Dan :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 2:59pm

Tomlinson is not going to have any trouble making the Hall. He's had the best career of any RB since Sanders & Smith, almost beyond debate. The "compiler" argument is transparently ridiculous, given that he holds the single-season touchdown record. Players who are widely regarded as the best in the NFL at their position during their careers, who have a high peak and a long career, and who rack up a bunch of postseason awards (Pro Bowls and especially 1st Team All-Pros) get into the Hall. Especially at a glory position like RB, where there have been about 4 Hall of Famers per decade.

Reed: 89 AV, 8 PB, 5 AP
Strahan: 121 AV, 7 PB, 4 AP
Tomlinson: 124 AV, 5 PB, 3 AP
Welker: 55 AV, 4 PB, 2 AP
Gonzalez 102 AV, 12 PB, 5 AP

For comparison, Carter: 98 AV, 8 PB, 2 AP

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:14am

I prefer Faulk, but they're both no-brainer first ballot for me, and the only RBs of their era I would enshrine at all.

by theslothook :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 3:11pm

I hate to disagree with tanier...but i disagree. Ed reed should really be a shew in. Defensive mvp, loads of all pros and probowls, listed on the nfls top 100. I mean, i can understand if he was in an obvious batman to robin type of position like say if he were another linebacker or an opposite d end. But hes in the backfield with enough of a degree of separation and enough name recognition of his own that i think lewis' candidacy won't hurt him.

The other would be welker as many have stated above. I have always been of two minds about welker. Hes fundamentally the best short receiver of his generation and yet, as steve smith in nyg showed, if your team isn't based on a certain style of offense, that wideout can be rendered useless. In many ways, welker is the antithesis of desean jackson or mike wallace- who each might also be useless if they were paired with a team that didn't throw deep regularly.

All that to say, if the hall was generous enough with receivers, niche type receivers like welker and jackson would probably merit discussion, but since they're basically slamming the door on anyone and everyone, i doubt welker would nor should he make it.

I think the better argument should discuss around harrison. Harrison's statistics rival moss' and To's and he was part of a prolific and consistently great passing offense. However, he faces obstacles on two fronts: he never did anything in the postseason(save for one game against the broncos), and he played with manning. As a colts fan- when he left there were people who openly wondered how it would affect the colts and really, it didn't do much. Now certainly, harrison was an upgrade over garcon or blaire white, but the point was, manning like all great qbs, evolved just as the patriots evolved once moss' skills/persona wore down and they moved in a direction that allowed them to remain effective. Does that in the end diminish harrison? I'd like to think his career will speak for itself, but sadly, i think the peyton manning effect will be too much to bear.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:05pm

Re: Harrison

His numbers in his peak was easily that of Moss or TO. His career wasn't as long, and he probably deserves to go in after them, but he should be a HOF easy. I don't think the Manning effect will be too much to bear for Marvin (I think it will for Wayne, who's probably never going to have the numbers to merit that discussion anyway). Personally, I think it is ridiculous to say that Harrison put up numbers just because of Manning because some of his best years came early in his career when Manning wasn't really the 'Peyton F. Manning' that he was from 2003 on. It's not like TO and Moss had a litany of bad QBs (Garcia, McNabb, Romo for TO, Cunningham (at his best), Culpepper (again, at his best), Kerry Collins, Brady). Sure, that's not Peyton Manning (other than Brady), but that's not exactly Jake Delhomme (a big reason why I think Steve Smith will eventually get in). Now, Moss is probably a level above TO and Harrison in the way he is regarded (which, to me, is fair), but I don't think TO is all that much more worthy than Marvin.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:30pm

Cris Carter had significant years with Sean Salisbury, a broken down Jim McMahon, Rich Gannon before he knew how to play QB, and Wade Wilson throwing him the ball. Thankfully, this was before cell phones that could send pictures, so Carter was never traumatized by any communications with ol' Sean.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:46pm

I wasn't arguing Carter. I think it is a travesty it is taking him so long. I was comparing Harrison to Moss and Owens, who did most of their production with good to great QBs (Harrison of course had Peyton and two years with Harbaugh). I totally agree with you on Carter. He should be in the HOF.

by SR (not verified) :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 3:19am

I've always personally considered TO far less worthy than Marvin simply because football is all about fitting in and being part of a team. Obviously in that regard they don't get much worse than TO. I would absolutely put Steve Smith in the Hall before Terrell, and I really don't think I could ever cast a vote for him if it was up to me. And yes, I am a lifelong Colts fan, but between the terrible teammate factor and TO's propensity for dropping very catchable passes I just see a lot of hype.

by SR (not verified) :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 3:21am

I've always personally considered TO far less worthy than Marvin simply because football is all about fitting in and being part of a team. Obviously in that regard they don't get much worse than TO. I would absolutely put Steve Smith in the Hall before Terrell, and I really don't think I could ever cast a vote for him if it was up to me. And yes, I am a lifelong Colts fan, but between the terrible teammate factor and TO's propensity for dropping very catchable passes I just see a lot of hype.

by JimZipCode :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 4:05pm

The interesting question about the Ravens defenders is who else is going in. Lewis & Reed will be automatics. Lewis is on the short list of players where you have to wonder for a second if he might be the best player of all time. (Not saying he is the best, just that you have to hesitate for a second.)

But will the Hall voters tag anyone else?

Of the current crop of Ravens, the most likely seem to be Ngata & Suggs. I feel like the D Player of the Year voters made an almost conscious decision this year to let Suggs into the Hall, vs giving the PoY award to Jared Allen. The award has a big impact on Suggs' candidacy.

Of past Ravens – well, Rod Woodson is already in from the Super Bowl defense. Siragusa & Sam Adams aren't going. Who else merits consideration? Boulware? McAlister?

by tuluse :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 4:19pm

List of defenders who started 32 or more games for the Ravens from 1998 to present, sorted by approximate value: http://pfref.com/tiny/Z7LwY

Lewis and Reed should be no brainers, I think Suggs and Ngata if he can keep going for a while make it.

I don't think McAlister makes it, only 3 probowls, and none of his career "similar players" are in the Hall.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 10:10pm

The Ravens awesome defense in 2000 is an interesting example of a great unit comprised of mostly very good but not all-time great players. Woodson and Lewis, obviously, but there probably won't be a third HOFer off that historic defense.

by Dan :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 3:20pm

Gonzalez, Tomlinson, Strahan, and Reed (everyone but Welker) were on the NFL 2000s All-Decade First Team. Players who make the All-Decade First Team almost always make the Hall of Fame. Here are the exceptions, since the 1970s:

WR Cris Carter (1990s)
LB Kevin Greene (1990s)
S Steve Atwater (1990s)
S LeRoy Butler (1990s)
OT Jimbo Covert (1980s)
S Kenny Easley (1980s)
WR Drew Pearson (1970s)
S Cliff Harris (1970s)

Which suggests that Gonzalez, Tomlinson, and Strahan have very good odds.

by JIPanick :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 11:23pm

"WR Drew Pearson (1970s)
S Cliff Harris (1970s)"

Hello, Anti-Cowboys bias.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:39am

Hello, pro-Cowboys bias.

Two explanations come to mind:

1) Hall of Fame voters are systematically underrating Cowboys from the 1970s.

2) The All-Decade voters from the 1970s were systematically overrating the Cowboys.

The All-Decade team had 5 Cowboys, 3 of whom have made the Hall of Fame. By way of comparison, only three Steelers made the All-Decade team, even though they won 4 Super Bowls to 2 for the Cowboys.

I don't think there's a particularly strong argument to be made that Drew Pearson should be in the Hall of Fame, and is a victim of anti-Cowboy bias. Well, that depends on how you feel about Swann and Stallworth being in. Swann is considered one of the weakest WRs in the Hall, and yet in the 1970s, the clear consensus was that he was having a stronger decade than Pearson was (and the all-decade voting backs this up). The only other WRs in the Hall who were primarily a 70s WRs are Paul Warfield and Fred Biletnikoff. There just wasn't as much passing then.

Don't have much to say about Cliff Harris. Except that it's nearly impossible to make the Hall as a safety.

by JIPanick :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:42pm

The clear consensus is moronic then, although I'll give you Harris-as-Safety rather than Harris-as-Cowboy.

Although Chuck Howley is a worse snub than either.

by Lance :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 7:33pm

"By way of comparison, only three Steelers made the All-Decade team, even though they won 4 Super Bowls to 2 for the Cowboys"

Fair enough, though let's be clear: Dallas wasn't some 70's pushover. They made the play-offs every year of the 70's except 1 (1974). The Steelers made all by 2 (1970 and 1971). Dallas won 105 games in the 70's, compared to the Steelers' 99. And yes, while the Steelers won 4 in 4 appearances, Dallas appeared in 5 and won 2. Moreover, they truly spanned the decade-- they were in SB V, played in 1971, and they were in SB XIII, played in 1979.

This is just to say that while we all like to call the Steelers the "Team of the Decade" for their SB wins, they were hardly the only dominant team of that (rather arbitrary) 10 year period. I'm hesitant to speculate on some anti-team bias in HoF issues, but the more I read about the process, the more I think that there are serious issues with the process.

And finally, as a complete Cowboys homer, Cliff Harris not being in the HoF is a crime. He's a 3 time first-team All Pro. If you're a starting Safety for 10 years, and half of the time, you're in the SUPER BOWL, you're probably something special. That he was All Pro 3 times suggest that others agree.

And I'll even go ahead and say that Darren Woodson should be in, too. Everyone talks about the "Triplets" and whatnot, but that Dallas team of the 90's features a number of great players. No one wants to give any credit to the Dallas OL besides late-comer Larry Allen, and that Dallas defense seems to be invisible in HoF talks. I'm going to guess that there were some key defensive elements in that Cowboys dynasty and Woodson was almost certainly one of them.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 11:01am

The AFC won 8 of 10 SBs that decade, and the argument can easily be made that the Steelers-Raiders-Dolphins (3-1 against Dallas) faced far harder schedules than Dallas, who primarily had to deal with Minnesota. Winning the AFC 4 times was a better accomplishment than winning the NFC 5 times.

by JIPanick :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 1:42pm

I don't think so. Minnesota and Los Angeles were "playoff challenged" but otherwise every bit the equal of all but the very best years of the AFC powers.

AFC winning 8 Super Bowls isn't that big a deal - they were 3-2 in blowouts (with the victims being the Vikings all three times) and 5-0 in competitive games. That's not a profile of dominance like the late 80s/early 90s NFC, that's evenly matched games all bouncing the same way.

Finally, Dallas proved themselves the equal of the Steelers twice and CRUSHED the Dolphins.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:42am

And really, looking at the list again, when you have a list of eight players, two of whom are Cowboys, and four of whom are safeties, isn't the latter fact more interesting?

by Bobby Dillon (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:29pm

Hmmm, the anti-safeties trend is interesting. Perhaps Reed is not as much a shoo-in as we would assume?

(The one case i know well, Butler, seems fair - his unfortunate early-career-ending injury just kept him from excelling for a long enough time.)

by Led :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:00pm

I appreciate that this column was a little bit tongue in cheek, so in the spirit of entertainment....Mike T. has been taking some crazy pills again! There's zero reason to believe (and zero evidence offered here) that Gonzalez, Tomlinson, and Reed won't be HOFers, all of them probably on first ballot. Strahan is probably a lock as well. Welker is an interesting question, as evidenced by the comments above.

The problems with the HOF are (1) too few slots are available each year and (2) there's no easy way to value WRs because their individual stats are so context (era/scheme/QB/other teammate) dependent. There's a reason the HOF is struggling with WRs from this era -- none of the top 50 seasons for number of receptions pre-dates 1995. Doesn't it make sense to be wary until you know what the new baselines are?

Carter may deserve to be in, but his stats do need a little unpacking. For example, how do you value his 1995 season (122 catches w/ Warren Moon at QB) when it wasn't even top 10 in DYAR (and was 40th in DOVA). You throw a decent receiver 200 balls, he's going to get a lot of catches. Isaac Bruce was killing it that year catching balls from Chris Miller, plus the immortal Hermann Moore had 123 catches for a lot more yards and Brett Perriman had 108 catches for more yards playing with Scott Mitchell. Something funky was definitely happening in 1995 and you don't need to be a cigar-chewing, grey haired stat-o-phobe to raise an eyebrow at Carter's numbers that year.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:16pm

Carter belongs in yesterday, if for no other reason, that he ranks 4th in TD receptions, and the guys ranked 2nd and 3rd played a large chunk of their careers after the rules favoring receivers, and hindering dbs, were even more strictly enforced. The only guy in the top 100 of receiving tds who might eventually pass Carter is Larry Fitzgerald, and he is still 57 short.

by Led :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 5:12pm

He's not in the current top 100, but Megatron also has a shot. As to Carter, however, is there evidence that catching TDs is a different skill from being a WR generally? If not, Carter's high TD number is probably either a function of heavy usage or a distribution anomaly or a combination of both. I'm sort of playing devil's advocate here because I think he should be in the HOF (for his overall performance), but sort of not because I'm not moved by the TDs much.

Keep in mind that Carter was probably thrown more passes than any other receiver in history other than Rice. (Can't confirm that; I'm deducing it from Carter's unimpressive catch percentages for the years FO has it.) Career targets actually would be an interesting stat to have. FO could do it for the DVOA era, but I don't think there's any way to get that info without the play by play data.

by tuluse :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:08pm

Since you are playing devils advocate, here's a counter argument. The receivers who get thrown at the most, are such because they're the best receivers on the team. If the Vikings had a more reliable way to score TDs than throw at Carter, they probably would have done so. Instead they identified him as more likely to score than a their running attack or another receiver.

That's one reason I don't like DYAR/DVOA for receivers, it gives the receiver credit or blame for the QB's ability to identify who is open.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:18pm

I don't think much of DYAR/DVOA for receivers either. Being a guy who is really good at fighting for the ball, thus being the guy who the qb slings it to when he is under pressure, or when nobody else is open, shouldn't count as a negative.

by Led :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:25pm

I totally agree that you have to be a pretty good WR to be thrown the most (or 2nd most) balls in history. It;s also true, however, that when you're thrown 197 balls in a season but are 40th in DVOA, then your otherwise impressive 122 catches has to be chalked up to overuse.

by theslothook :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:08pm

i don't like qb dyar/dvoa either tho. If you run a regression for qb dyar versus the team's pass dvoa, the correlation coefficient is close to 96 percent. Does that then imply that a qb is 96 percent responsible for the team's passing dvoa? I think qb dyar is just another stat that is a composite of qb and supporting cast performance.

by tuluse :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:18pm

I don't think FO pretends that it is anything else.

That said, the fact that QB DVOA correlates to team passing DVOA isn't evidence of anything wrong. Correlation does not imply causation.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:42pm

If QB DVOA didn't strongly correlate with team passing DVOA, I would never come to this site.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:31pm

No, it implies that he's responsible for 92%, you have to square it ;) Actually what it implies is that 92% of the variation in team passing DVOA can be accounted for by the variation in QB DYAR, which as you noted is not exclusively dependent on the QB himself.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:23pm

Well, as a matter of logic, having great speed forty yards downfield doesn't mean much when the offense is on the opposition's 10 yeard line, so I think we can say with a high degree of confidence, in regards to catching tds in the red zone, that such a skill set doesn't exactly match the skill set of great receiver play generally.

by dryheat :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:37pm

I agree with this. There are lots of guys in the history of the NFL who have a abnormally high TD per catch rate. Usually they either have a skill set that is more effective within the 10 yard line or the playbook has a large number of plays designed to go to him in the end zone. Plaxico Burress, for example, is unstoppable in those situations, because given a well-thrown ball, there's no way for a cornerback to defend the end-zone fade to a guy 6'6" with leaping ability. I wouldn't call Plax one of the game's best receivers though.

Steven Baker had another high percentage of catches go for touchdowns, and I'm convinced that it was because he was afraid to take a hit in the middle of the field and either break off his route or alligator-arm the ball, but could catch the ball and immediately go to ground in the end zone.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:39pm

Plaxico Burress, for example, is unstoppable in those situations, because given a well-thrown ball, there's no way for a cornerback to defend the end-zone fade to a guy 6'6" with leaping ability.

Rodgers-Cromartie is not only 6'2", he had a 40.5" vertical.

Some DBs can leap with even tall WRs. Remember, they need not actually catch the ball, merely get their hand high enough to prevent the catch.

by dryheat :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:58pm

He's got a much better chance than a shorter cornerback to make the play, but still, a well-thrown ball is going to be a touchdown if it isn't dropped. Granted, throwing a good pass in this situation is easier said than done.

40 inch verticals are great at the combine, but it's not the same as leaping while running on grass or turf wearing football gear with your head turned watching the ball.

I guess the answer is to have Randy Moss defend in that situation, but then I'd expect an audible to a run.

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:56pm

Obviously "unstoppable" was hyperbole. You don't even need to jump to stop the pass, just get yourself read and nail the receiver as hard as possible as soon as the ball touches his finger tips.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 5:55pm

The way you do it is to pick a fixed % at each position and use that as a guide.

X% of all WR snaps played should be HoF snaps. Than use that as your guide. Makes the process pretty obvious once you decide on the %. you will have 1 hard border case on the edge, instead of the inconsistent mess you have now.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:08pm

I realize that this column wasn't you saying you don't think these guys are worthy, and you are placing yourself into prospecting the mind of the voter, but still I'm surprised you put Ed Reed on that list. To me, he's a lock HOF today. I've never heard anyone in the media say anything otherwise, either. Most regard him really highly, and most even above Polamalu. I don't think he'll be overshadowed by Lewis, because I think people realize just how good Ed Reed has been.

Same with Tomlinson and Gonzalez. I think they both fly in first ballot. If Curtis Martin took just two ballots to get in, Tomlinson better take only one. I don't think Tomlinson end of career will hurt him (just as Jerry Rice's end of career hurt him - obviously Rice was better, but Tomlinson's consistency was scary from 2002-2007). Gonzalez is almost openly regarded as the best TE of his era and arguably the best receiving TE era.

I gather from what he is saying that he things all of these guys will go in, but just not as quickly and easily as we assume, and that could be the case, but they all seem like first ballot guys (3 of the like what 9 or so active players that were on NFL Network Top 100 of All Time list).

by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 5:48pm

I am willing to bet a steak dinner that if Gonzo ever retires, he will not get in on the first ballot, and several major media voices will express doubts about his candidacy using the phrases "never won a playoff game" and "pumped up wide receiver who never blocked."

And again, not Whitlock, but people who still claim to know something about sports.

And to clarify, he should be in on the first ballot, because as the greatest player ever at his position, by a considerable margin, he deserves to make someone else wait.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 5:53pm

I don't doubt that there will be people in that room that will try to make those arguments, but to me I think the pro-Gonzalez crowds wins out. Of course, I'm sure most would have said the same thing about Parcells, but I think Gonzalez doesn't have as many people that dislike him. I never considered the "didn't win a playoff game" aspect, and I think the longer he stays in the league the worse off his chances get since he's further removed from his peak (on the other hand, his volume stats get that much better), but I have to think he'll get the requisite votes.

BTW, come 2018 or whenever, I am going to find a way to hold you to that bet.

by tuluse :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:05pm

Man, I thought for sure he won one with Falcons. What a shame.

by ctrell2 :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 7:32pm

I'm a lifelong Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas Jayhawk fan and it's not often you get to read about Tony Gonzalez and John Riggins in the same piece. It was great, as always. But seeing Tony Gonzalez's name top your list bummed me out. I didn't expect Gonzalez to have any issues getting in. I'm clearly biased but I agree with your assessment that he's the best to ever play the position and I just assumed that anyone who watched him play could see that he was pretty special.

Thanks for being the voice of sanity.

by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:11am

I'll take that bet. I would have agreed with you if he retired a couple of years ago, but now there's two things in his favour.

1. With the way tight ends are going, and him getting there before most of them, someone can play the "revolutionised the position" card for him. Despite it not really being true, the people who "you'd be surprised how much they don't know" will probably be swayed by someone saying "without Gonzalez, you'd never have seen guys like Gates or Gronkowski".

2. His numbers are just far too ridiculous. I can't be bothered to check the actual stats, but I think he has approximately 80,000 more yards and 4,000 more catches than the next tight end. I might be overstating that a little. But if someone argues against him because "he's just a bulked up wide receiver", someone else can just say "fine, judge him purely as a wide receiver then, and I'll even let you ignore the fact that being a poor blocker for a tight end still makes him at least an average blocker for a receiver" and you'd still have a really difficult time arguing that he doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:13am

I think the biggest thing hurting Gonzalez is the explosion of TE receiving numbers during his career.

The subsequent bloom of Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and occasional appearances by Vernon Davis and sane Kellen Winslow (the lesser) take some of the shine off Gonzalez' numbers. That said, he's also a better version of Shannon Sharpe, and he's in the hall.

by Dean :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:07pm

If the anti stat brigade leads to more offensive linemen in the hall, then at least there’s one side benefit.

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:22pm

Can't wait 'til Mike gets around to the Eagles. Two of the best we've ever had will have come under Reid's watch and he STILL won't run the ball.

by Dean :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 4:53pm

Obviously 36 is one. But who is the second? You don't mean McCoy already do you? Duce, I could understand - and probably is top 5. Maybe you mean McNabb?

I'm going to beg Mike to include Ran-Doll as one of the Eagles top 5 RBs.

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:58pm

McCoy is that good. As great as Westbrook was, he sometimes struggled when they tried to get him between the tackles. McCoy has no weaknesses IMO.

by Dean :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 7:52pm

McCoy is that good - for one season. That doesn't put you on an all time list.

by theslothook :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:05pm

isn't it fair to question how good mccoy really is? Every time a team employs a running qb like vick, the running backs tend to perform better. How do we know mccoy is that great versus the beneficiary of the scheme and style of qb he plays with?

Personally, i'd rather have westbrook any day over mccoy.

by Dean :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:55pm

The old potential vs. performance question. Right now, so would I. In a year or two, I reserver the right to adjust that opinion, and I suspect you probably do, too.

But the question is, right now, is McCoy one of the all time top 5 RBs in Eagles history. And the answer is no. He's got about as much claim to one of these spots as Peyton Hillis has in Cleveland.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:22am

In Houston, he'd be second . . .

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:14pm

1. Steve Van Buren
2.. wilbert Montgomery
3. Brian Westbrook
4. Timmy Brown
5. LeSean McCoy

by Dean :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:36pm

It pains me to say it, because I'm messing with my own childhood here, but Westbrook was a MUCH more dynamic player than Montgomery ever was. You nailed Van Buren and Timmy Brown - no surprise. But I'll take Duce Staley's 6 solid years over McCoy's one. And even if he's not a RB, I'd be sorely tempted to take Cunningham. I wouldn't mind seeing Tanier make a case for Clarence Peaks, but that's admittedly a stretch. McCoy does, of course, already surpass Ricky Watters and journeymen like Tom Sullivan, Charlie Garner and Tom Woodeshick.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 11:27pm

Is fair to have staley over l. mccoy becusuase careeer length. Maybe bettwr to discard McCoy till do this list in 2015 or later.

Yes, BW nore dynamic WM but went witj Montgomery because more of bellcow and had reallh good rushing seasons some seasons .also good pass rwceiver. Wetsbrook good receiver too

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:09am

Which one rocked the gameday sweats harder? I think the answer is clear.

by theslothook :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:07pm

I think gonzo will make it, but not on first ballot for the simple fact that tight ends are becoming more morphed into the receiver category than in years past. And because of that, gonzo's comparisons will be against receivers not as a tight end. And for that reason, i think he breaks through, but only after the would be shoo ins like carter, moss, and to get in first.

RE re harrison. As was mentioned, i think for receivers, writers just ignore a receiver played with good not great qbs and it really doesn't affect their judgement(even tho it clearly should). On the other hand, the played with hall of fame qbs does come back to hurt you and thats one reason i suspect that mike irvin wasn't voted in first ballot. Harrison is absolutely going to get the manning treatment and i suspect it will also fall onto freeney as well(who i feel is absolutely a first ballot hall of famer).

This leads to an interesting discussion. As the passing game has become more prolific, i think the sack numbers have also followed and i believe there will be a future logjam at de end. Im curious, of the current crop, who eventually makes it in?(include all 3-4 and 4-3 attack sackers).

For me, the no brainers are: Ware, Freeney, Allen. I think Peppers has somewhat of an Astrix as inconsistent(though honestly, i think he should be a no brainer). Then what about others like taylor, suggs, & harrison? I think none of those three will make it.

by tuluse :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:14pm

I've only consistently watched Peppers since he's been a Bear, but I think he should absolutely be in the Hall. I doubt there is a current end better against the run than him (he regularly beats double teams get running backs for a loss), and he's excellent rushing the passer (if not lighting fast like Tuck/Freeney/Allen).

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:15pm

DEs age well usually so I think there will be, as you said, a logjam of deserving 4-3 DEs adn 3-4 OLBs. I agree that Ware, Freeney and Allen are all pretty sure bets. I think Jason Taylor (I assume that is who you meant) will make it in. He has the stats that put him in line with some of the other HOF DEs. He was well liked. All-Decade team.

Suggs is an interesting case. I know Tanier was talking in jest about Ed Reed getting his case overshadowed by Ray, but it could happen to Suggs. What is scary is Suggs in just 29, and players at his position, especially the greats, usually can be productive well into their 30s (Taylor, Strahan). He's coming off of his best year in terms of sacks. He definitely needs to pile up some more, but if he gets another 50-60 (possible in the next 5 years) he is right there with the others.

Peppers I don't think will get in, but you can easily say that he has had no worse a career than Freeney. Harrison started to late. Woodley has a chance if he keeps up his production for another 8 years or so.

by InTheBoilerRoom :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:09pm

Weird, I would think anyone would put Peppers above Freeney. I've seen plenty of both of them, being a Panthers fan (therefore somewhat biased) that lived in Indiana for six years. They both came into the league at the same time. Freeney has always been a bit of a one trick pony (pass rush specialist) yet still only has 2.5 more career sacks than Peppers. Peppers has always been far better in run stopping as well as occasionally dropping back in coverage. Peppers has significantly more tackles than Freeney. Freeney has forced five more fumbles than Peppers, but Peppers has eight career interceptions, and Freeney has zero.

At no time have I ever felt Freeney was a better player or more deserving to be in the HOF than Peppers, subjectively. And now that I've double checked their career stats, I also see little argument to support Freeney ahead of Peppers. Both have played in the Super Bowl and multiple Conference Championship games. I think both should be in, but I would absolutely take Peppers over Freeney.

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:07pm

I haven't watched much of Freeney, but I've often wondered why he is treated with such awe. He's a great player, but he thrived as a pass-rushing specialist on a team that usually played with the lead and didn't worry about the run. I don't see what he does that guys like John Abraham or Osi Umenyiora don't do - and nobody talks about them in the HoF - except with a little more consistency and on the team with a 4-time MVP and face of the league for almost a decade.

by JimZipCode :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 4:31pm

I posted this elsewhere in these comments, but I think this season's DPoY award was transformative to Suggs chances of getting into the Hall. I'm not sure Suggs was the most deserving of this year's award – Jared Allen in particular has a case, among others – but once Suggs won the award, it changed his credentials for the Hall. After the season and before the award was voted on, I would have said that Suggs will probably fall short of the Hall.

After the award, I think that Suggs is clearly on a Hall track, and only needs a few more good seasons to get in. Good as in 40-50 tackles, ~9 sacks, ~5 PDs and a couple FFs: normal Suggs seasons. He'll need fewer seasons if the Ravens get another championship and he's the key defensive figure.

by theslothook :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 6:23pm

the trouble with taylor is he might suffer the carter effect too...his numbers are great but as we see de numbers start to become more abundant and prolific, we will forget about taylor and his lack of superbowls or playoffs wins will essentially render him a great player without a compelling story.

Btw, i think peppers was the best defensive end ive ever seen but that won't stop people from labeling him however they want to. Sometimes, stupid labels stick no matter how many great seasons that player has.

As for suggs, i think hes not there yet but could be. But i agree, i think the ray lewis ed reed effect will hurt him more so than ed reed being hurt by lewis. we group front seven much more than back 5 and the degree of separation between lewis and suggs is not very large. BTw, i still feel this was suggs' first real explosion year. Most of the time, on the ravens defense, i think the headlines begin with lewis and go to reed, then ngata, then suggs.

But honestly, strahan will probably get it but then the logjam will start. harrison won't for sure, not enough years and horrific reputation and attitude. Woodley could suffer from the harrison and steeler effect. Despite the superbowls, tuck never had an elite year so he won't get in either. And then who knows with the future crop of ends. The hall is really going to need to reevaluate its standards or there could be real hell to pay.

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 7:29pm

Tuck has all the old-school intangibles that the voters love. Plays through multiple injuries, understated leadership, championships. Still, his injuries have made him too inconsistent, and he'll always be in Stray's shadow personality-wise.

A sleeper at DE is Trent Cole - he's a monster, and he's very consistent. 10+ sacks almost every year, and great v. the run. For some reason he doesn't get the respect of guys like Jared Allen or Freeney, maybe because he doesn't have a signature move or have crazy hair.

DeMarcus Ware is first-ballot obviously. And I'm a homer on this one, but JPP is flashing HoF-level talent.

I think Peppers will not get in, because of consistency and "motivation" issues.

Panthers Steve Smith is really interesting. If he does what he did this year for a few more seasons with Cam, he has a compelling case. He's actually kind of similar to Peppers, besides both being drafted by the same team. Freakish athletes, inconsistent dominance, but in the right situation are just ridiculous. Imagine SS with Brady in a Welker role...he might have broken 2000 yards. They both need a few more great seasons.

Suggs needs 3-4 more seasons at this level of production, because of the Ray Lewis effect.

I don't see the selectivity of the football HoF as a huge problem, I think it makes it mean much more than the basketball HoF, for instance, when you have marginal guys like James Worthy and Robert Parish making it.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:08pm

I just don't get why Peppers gets dogged for consistency issues. His sack totals by season are:

12, 7, 11, 10.5, 13, 2.5, 14.5, 10.5, 8, 11

So once in his career he had less than seven sacks. Strahan had less than seven sacks six times. I think the criticism of Peppers dates back to the 2.5 sack year in the penultimate year of his first contract when the Panthers weren't sure whether or not to give him a long term deal because he hadn't produced that well that year. I thought it was pretty silly at the time, he was the only decent player on the defensive line and was double teamed on every play. He's also one of the better run defenders among the premier pass rushers of his generation, he should be a slam dunk for the Hall.

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:16pm

Yeah, I agree with you. I think there is a little of the Wilt/Lebron "everybody hates Goliath" stigma on him - he's a guy that when you see him play, you are immediately in such awe of his physical gifts, that if his team isn't winning the title every year you suspect there's something mentally wrong with him.

by Independent George :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:10am

Steve Smith is interesting. Currently, he doesn't have the longevity or the consistency (due mostly to poor QB play) to be in the HoF... but I also think he's one of the greatest WRs I've ever seen. At his peak, he was as good as, if not outright better than, any of his contemporaries.

One of the reasons I remain bitter about the 2005 MVP vote (look no further for evidence that NFL writers are idiots) is that it unfairly takes Smith out of the HoF debate, and unfairly puts Shaun Alexander in.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:29am

Seconded. Smith losing out to Walter Jones or Brady that year I could have lived with. Smith losing out to Alexander was just a freakin' joke.

by Thok :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 7:53pm

I'll start pushing for Wes Welker for the Hall of Fame once he has a clearly better career than Sterling Sharpe.

Which basically means I think he needs another two NFL All-Pro seasons. Maybe only one if you think Welker's special team play is a significant net positive.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:48pm

Thank you. That was the argument I was going to make.

by Arnie Herber (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 2:41pm

Hey, thanks for the Sharpe reference! And I also agree with this. Welker's been great for a number of years, but his resume isn't long enough yet.

Plus, he's 2000 yards behind Johnson and Fitzgerald in career yards - a guy his age, and a guy who is younger - so when they all retire, he's going to need more to prove he belongs as a great from this era. Which he might do, but we'll have to wait and see.

Big picture on this issue seems to me: there are so many receivers with so many impressive yards - and yet, if receivers are going to be roughly the proportion they are on the playing field (at best 1/7, if we go with 3 WR sets), not all can make it. I think the Hall voters would be justified in making Carter, Reed etc. wait a few years, to see where the numbers of the current crop go. (If Carter is 14th in career yards 10 years from now, falling behind people who played shortly after he did, his numbers won't look quite so impressive.) Its a tricky issue, and i think this might be a position where waiting might help make some better assessments of who belongs, and who doesn't.

by JimZipCode :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 4:35pm

Sterling should be in. Period.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 5:01pm

No he shouldn't. Period.

by JimZipCode :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 10:57pm

Yes he should.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 12:49pm


by JimZipCode :: Mon, 03/12/2012 - 2:05pm

I was hoping Karl would reply back, so I could ask "Why not?"

by theslothook :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:01pm

At least in basketball, individual accomplishments can be somewhat accurately depicted with stats, rather than requiring vague notions about leadership, intangibles, and other mumbo jumbo that nfl analysis has become. The problem with the hall is it uses too much of those criteria and frankly, how do we know the writers are objective football historians using a mosaic of criteria, rather than a bunch of mike wilbon's using bleeding heart sensationalism to form theirs. As long as the rings=greatness triumphs over logic and statistics, a great number of lesser worthy players will be ushered in long before the cris carters of the world will. Hence, why the comments focus more on who will get in rather than who deserves to get in.

by Alaska Jack :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:25pm

* NFL rookie-season record for most combined yards gained, with 2,317 (1988).
* NFL record 10 consecutive seasons with at least 75 receptions
* Shares NFL record for consecutive seasons with at least 5 touchdowns scored (11)
* NFL record for most consecutive games with more than one reception (147 games, 1993–2002)
* NFL record for being the oldest player with 12+ receptions in a single game - (36 years, 97 days): 10/27/02 @ KC Chiefs, 13 receptions, 144 receiving yards
* NFL record for consecutive starts by a wide receiver: 176
* #2 in NFL history for receiving yards
* 3rd in receptions
* 3rd in Touchdowns
* 5th in total yards
* No super bowls, but plenty of clutch receptions.

Tim Brown had Gannon for a few years, but this wasn't Jerry Rice going from Montana to Young. Most of Brown's career was spent with the likes of Jay Schroeder, Don Hollas and Billy Joe Hobert. The competent Jeff Hostetler was the best of the rest.

Also, supposedly a nice guy, where I've read that Carter was almost universally considered a complete jerk.

Now, you can say, "sure, but by that time it was becoming a passing league. These numbers don't mean as much as they used to."

OK, but even in an inflated era, SOMEONE has to come out on top. If getting to the level of Brown and Rice was so easy -- why didn't anyone else do it?

Alaska Jack

by theslothook :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:32pm

whats happening to brown is what is happening to carter and reed and sure to happen to all the rest of the receivers...the leagues trend toward passing has created a backlash against the passing game and made everyone wonder who is good or great anymore. No one cares if brown did before it was in vogue, its just all getting lost amidst one giant bias. Brown should be in. CArter should be in. Reed maybe too. But who knows if they ever will. Honestly, i only think moss is the absolute lock. To faces real backlash for attitude and doesn't seem to command the universal respect that moss seemed to(despite his antagonistic ways). Thats it, 1 sure fire first ballot receiver. The rest are all toss ups. Thats just the way things have shaken these days. And sadly, i expect hines to actually get in before so many other deserving receivers because i think there's this attitude that hines did it the "right away". The story will revolve around his blue collar style and his eschewing the personal stats in favor of workman like contributions that directly led to superbowls.(as if catching passes and accumulating yards is somehow selfish and detrimental to a team's superbowl aspirations).

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:54pm

No TO? If Moss didn't have the TD record, I would consider TO a stronger candidate. Seeing as he does, I think they both get in fairly easily. Nobody has ever questioned TO's work ethic or effort, which strike me as larger sins than the QB controversies he got involved in. Moss has the "quitter" label, which is usually HoF poison.

by theslothook :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:20pm

The real difference between moss and to when it comes to off the field stuff is that for whatever reason, moss keeps receiving glowing comments from ex teamates, while just about every team to has left has universally blamed him as a terrible malcontent. Now with TO being broke, its like affirmation that he is petulant and immature. Will that be enough to deny him? Hey, the hall is pretty out there as far as judging criterion so who knows. I personally feel like off the field stuff has nothing to do with how a player played so he should be in.

I almost guarantee that oj would never be in if the trials had come first. And btw, i know this will sound awful, but even if oj were a child molesting murderer, it doesn't nor should it change the perception of how he was on the field. He is a hall of famer regardless if he were charles manson or Mr. Rogers

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 11:30pm

Yeah, that's a good point. I just re-watched his "I'm gonna ask my own questions" press conference, and he seems like a really decent guy, where as almost everything TO does oozes self-aggrandizement and imagined victimization.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:03am

Wow...how are TO and Moss different types of head cases? This is an interesting question...I think you'd have to bring in the experts here.

The biggest knock on Moss is that he quit on the Raiders. I think that has to count against him.

TO never quit as a player, and indeed gave a great effort during his last season on the Bengals, when he was quite productive in a terrible situation. I also think he'd have won the Super Bowl MVP if the Eagles had managed to beat the Pats - and that was a near thing.

OTOH, TO seems to have had major difficulties interacting with his teammates on several teams. He called Jeff Garcia gay and seemed to call McNabb a choker. And then he was driven to tears in defense of Romo? On the whole, a weird sequence.

Probably at some point we need an Irrational TO-Moss Who Was Crazier? thread.

I think by numbers alone both should be in the Hall, but I suspect writers hate them both and that'll be a problem.

by Podge (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 6:25am

I think Moss was a crazier player and a more likeable man.

I think TO was a more likeable player and a crazier man.

Moss seems very well liked by most ex-teammates and coaches, but almost all of them also seem to acknowledge that he only plays when he wants to.

TO seems fairly disliked by most ex-teammates and coaches, but all of them also seem to acknowledge that he always played his absolute hardest.

I think as a player, Moss is better. I guess part of it is the baseball base running analogy - you've got two guys who run the bases at the same speed, but one who has terrible form and one who has perfect form. The terrible form guy is better, because he can improve. That's how I feel about Moss V TO. Moss did all that and all you think of is what he could of been. TO seemed to basically be exactly the maximum of what he could be.

For the HoF? I dunno, I don't think TO has a chance, but I think Moss does, depending on what the class looks like when he comes eligible. I think he's got a better shot if he stays retired now than if he tries to come back this year.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:39am

The thing about Moss is that, as well as being erratic and lazy (and incredibly productive) he was transcendent. When Moss was on, he made everyone else look ludicrous, leaving a wake of flailing DBs and spectators with hypoxia and dislocated jaws. Even the best players generally look like they're playing a difficult game really well by virtue of being very good at it. Moss looked like he was out for his morning jog. Magic is rare in all sports, and rarer in football than most, but Moss had it, and that matters.

by Dean :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:21am

I wouldn't pretend to be a Randy Moss expert (but who among us really can make that claim), but it strikes me that the major difference between him and most diva WRs (and TO specifically) is that I think Moss is probably an introvert by nature.

From what little information there is about him as a person, he strikes me as the type who likes the game of football, but not the cult of celebrity that goes with it - whereas most WRs like the celebrity aspect and use football as a vehicle to achieve it.

While Moss has certainly had off-the-field blemishes, you never hear about him having a posse, hanging out in clubs, etc. I get the impression you're most likely to find him out in the middle of nowhere with a fishing pole, a beer, and possibly some herb. Even in the locker room, I get the impression that he's liked, but ultimately a loner. Remember, when the Vikings all got in trouble for the party boat mess, Randy Moss's name was nowhere to be found (and I'm reasonably sure he was still on the Vikes at the time, but someone (Will Allen?) can certainly corect me if he wasn't).

Even among divas, Moss breaks the mould. I get the impression that he wants to play and play well, but does it for his own reasons which don't seem to include screaming "look at me!" to the world.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:48pm

No, Moss was gone by the time the Vikings set sail on the Stripper of the Seas. Your larger point is mostly right; Randy Moss is a long, long, way from Pacman Jones, in terms of loving the night life, or from Owens, in terms of seeking out media attention to the detriment of his teammates and coaches. I would differ with you in this regard. I really don't think he loves playing football. He loves the money, and he loves having 80,000 people cheering when he catches a touchdown pass. The rest of the game he kind of strongly dislikes, I think, which is why he quits when things are not going well.

He is easily the most talented receiver I've ever seen, however, and the only receiver I've ever seen who makes offensive gameplanning kind of superfluous. When he was in his prime, a team could be extremely productive while literally having nothing more sophisticated than, "Send out a few guys into patterns, go max protect, and then toss it in the general area of Moss."

by theslothook :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:41pm

From a personality standpoint, I still felt like moss was a mercenary to the end. He tried when he felt like it, I don't think ever really listened to coaches(no matter how many plaudits bellicheck and brady give him), but was universally respected for being an amazingly gifted athlete. I don't know if it was spotlight he craved(really, who doesn't love attention?), but i feel like his aim was just to work on his terms.

To, by contrast, was such an selfish glory hog that i wonder if his whole aim was to sell the TO persona and have his jersey worn by every fan. His attraction to the media probably led to many of his famous meltdowns and pot shots and i think thats what rubbed most of his former teamates the wrong way.

Moral of the story- i think you can tolerate a hot dogger like moss so long as he does things no one else can and isn't throwing you under the bus. For to, when you go against the fraternity of nfl players, you draw the ire of an entire lockeroom.

Moss' flaws are more tolerable because despite his less than 100 percent effort, his exploits on the field were still spectacular so it evened out. TO contributions, on the other hand, felt undermined by his persona and it affected teams' records literally(again, this is going to be the opinion of the hall i suspect). And in that sense, that difference will probably get To left out.

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:51pm

Yeah, hard to remember now, but there were the "Randy Rules" for defenses when he was on the vikings. Allegedly, the coaching staff made it a policy to throw at least 40% of all passes to him.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:56pm

If Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin had never happened then Brown would have been the best receiver in the NFL for about seven or eight years. He was the best receiver in the AFC for quite a while, he should be in the Hall.

And with a name like Alaska Jack you should have your own brewery.

by Alaska Jack :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:36pm

OH! I almost forgot -- didn't Brown do 90 percent of this AFTER coming back from a serious knee injury? RaiderJoe, help a brother out.

Alaska Jack

by PatsFan :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 8:51pm

Totally off topic...

Anyone going to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference tomorrow and Saturday?

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:25pm

Writer is drunk. Tomlinson and Gonzalez eben thkugh Chargers and chiefs guys belonf in Jall of Dame as skkn as elfible.
Also, E. Reed anx the other giy (not Welker) also instant HOFers. So of 5 guys Tanier write will ve Catered only one not loking like early ballot (1st 2nd or 3 rd year) hofer.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:31pm

Other guy M. Strahan. Gerat end. Qiality against run and pass. Rushed passer from strongaide most of time. Tougher to get sacks from thst side. Also has Super Bowl ring whixh make Hall voters horny.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 9:58pm

Even though I'm a Packers fan, the top 5 RBs I want to see are the Bears. Walter Payton. Gale Sayers. Bronko Nagurski. Red Grange. Who's #5? Neil Anderson? Matt Forte? Someone else? The Cleveland Browns will also be interesting as who follows Jim Brown, Marion Motley, and Leroy Kelly.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 11:40pm

5 for Befas
be Rick Casares. Tough good f

Galimore good but died in offseadkon before would have entrred prime

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 11:44pm

1. Btown
2 Motley
3. Kelly
4. Pruitt
5. Pruitt

Onyl quesion whicb Pruitt? Greg Pruitt or Mike Pruift (no relation)

by Dean :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:22am

Where do Mack and Byner fit in? I was wondering about the Browns myself and came up with those 7 names, but never decided upon an order for the last 4.

by BigWoody (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:12am

Agreed on Bears RBs. Tanier, disregard the word limit on Bears running backs!

by Mike Y :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:43am

yes, as a Bears fan I can't wait to read about the top 5 Bears running backs! I hope Neal Anderson makes it.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:10am

At an opposite extreme are the New England Patriots.

Somehow the team that still holds the record for single season rushing yardage is bereft of high quality RBs. The record is so pathetic that it's clear that Curtis Martin should be in top five, even though he played only three years for the team.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:27am

How about Atlanta, where it's completely viable that a QB will make the list?

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:07am


All hood RBs. Stanback, cain, pegram and soms others also had some nice seasons running fkr Falcs

by dryheat :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:16pm

Apparently I hold Cunningham, Nance, and Faulk in higher regard than you do. Yeah, Martin makes it on the basis of three years, but he averaged better than 1200/10 for those years, which is pretty damn good. He also was good enough that his ex-coach who was coaching a division rival created a unique poison pill RFA offer and handed over 1st and 3rd draft picks for his services.

by RickD :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 2:56pm

Cunningam gained less than 5500 yards over a 10 year career. He was a great FB but for the most part he wasn't the #1 RB on his own team.

Nance was a true #1 RB, but he had only two high production years.

And yes, I think these are two players ahead of Curtis Martin terms of contribution to the Pats. But really, if these are the top two RBs, they're nowhere near the level of Smith and Dorsett, or Sayers and Payton, or Jim and any other Brown.

Faulk also should be in the top 5. I never said Martin was the top of the lists. But after the ones you mention, you've got two seasons of Corey Dillon, and then your long list of middling RBs like Tony Collins, Craig James, John Stephens, Mosi Tatupu, Laurence Maroney...


Tony Collins is #3 on the team's career yardage list, and he only had one 1000 yard season. And he got to run behind John Hannah!

Curtis Martin left because Bob Kraft tried to keep him on a cheap contract too long.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:33pm

No love for Antowaine Smith?

by dryheat :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:47pm

Curtis Martin left because Parcells signed him to an offer sheet that was so ridiculous it was rendered illegal shortly thereafter. I don't know what Kraft or Bobby Grier could have done differently. Sign him to a new contract before his third season of his four year deal was over? That would have been unprecedented.

As a refresher (and I'm making approximations), the contract was something like 6 years for 40 million, with 35 million coming in the first year. The contract gave Martin the right to terminate the contract after the first year and become an unrestricted free agent. It also prevented the franchise tag from being used over the life of the contract.

Kraft/Grier made the right move by not matching, taking the 1st and 3rd, and drafting Robert Edwards in the first round to replace Martin. Unfortunately, we know how that turned out.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:48pm

or Jim and any other Brown.

Oh Marion Motley, how we've forgotten you.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:24am

How about Beattie Feathers?

by Dean :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:22am

Only if you include kickoff returns.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:16pm

Well now we know under what name Marc Purcell posts.

by BigWoody (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:20am

Also Tanier, when we get to top 5 middle linebackers, disregard the word limit on Bears... and maybe Packers too.

by sn0mm1s :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:12am

Torry Holt is going to be the guy that gets completely looked over. Carter and Brown are still waiting. Marvin Harrison is eligible the year before Holt. Isaac Bruce and Warner become eligible the same year as Holt. Then we might have Owens and Moss as guys that are eligible the year after Holt.

With the way things are going we could easily have Carter, Brown, Harrison, Holt and Bruce all eligible at the same time with Moss and Owens on deck the following year.

by Victor Trumper (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:51am

I am sorry but this post gets it all wrong

Sports is ENTERTAINMENT. it is not business, it is not war.
To rate the participants (players) purely on a measure of instrumental value rather than on their symbolic/entertainment value is to commit a logical fallacy and assume that sports IS business/war.

We need to put the players in who created the most entertainment.
I am a huge Pats fan. Hernandez is better than Gronk. use all the "advanced stats' you want, but when herndo gets the ball, my pulse rate rises far more than when gronk gets the ball. Why is that not a valid measurable?

Do we rank poets on output? No. We rank poets on quality, and sportsmen should be the same. There is still a huge place for the "old fashioned" voter, because sports is NOT BUSINESS and Return on Investment is not a sporting strategy

Many of you will laugh at me, but consider this: how absurd is it to base your valuation of a person's worth on how many yards he managed to advance while carryigng a football?

From a truly instrumental perspective, it's absurd. Art is the only valid measure.

Meyer has written more words than Hemingway, sold more, made more dollars, and is not as good as Hemingway.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:19am

in that case, Bo Jackson

by Mike Tanier :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:31am

Let me dare wade into this.

No player in NFL history made my heart race and opened my mind to the wonder of existence like Randall Cunningham.

Also, no player was more likely to ruin a Sunday afternoon, cause frustration, or make me decide that I don't want to watch football for a few weeks the way Randall could when he was on his magic mountain.

For the fan invested in football the way the lover of literature is invested in poetry, a player's emotional impact works all three ways: positive, negative, and no impact at all. For Randall, the negatives outweigh the positives. Breaking 50 tackles is amazing, but spending an entire offseason wondering why your quarterback could not read a defense in the first round of the playoffs, then hearing him talk about how he was some kind of new breed of superstar, was incredibly souring.

The problem with the "racing pulse" argument is trying to weigh two good years or 10 great plays against a decade of greatness that might not be easily summarized in a highlight package. And here is what always happens when we "think with our hearts:" we undervalue the less flashy choice, both for it's on-field merits and its emotional merits. We remember the catch at the end of the Super Bowl but forget the Sundays where the guy caught 8 passes per game, making a play every few minutes, giving us a reason to stay happy on our couches.

The best way to measure the emotional impact of these players is to put real effort into remembering what they accomplished. A big part of that is understanding their statistical records. If we want to put John Riggins in the Hall of Fame because he thrilled fans in the early 80s in ways that don't reflect in his 3.1 yards per run, I think there is merit. If we want to keep Cris Carter out because we want some magic moment on the beach in the moonlight, well, I think we may be getting too many memories from NFLNetwork promos and not enough from the parts of our brains that watched Vikings games week after week.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:46am

No player in NFL history made my heart race like CC Brown, although the only sense in which he came close to opening my mind to the wonder of existence was that he regularly tried to make my head explode.

by BigWoody (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:47pm

In other words, there are two kinds of entertainment value in sports. The great player making the exciting play and the great player making lots of good plays that win the game. Winning is also a "racing pulse" maker.

by silentrat :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 5:04pm

THIS gets to the heart of why a guy like Marvin Harrison is a no question about it Hall of Famer. I remember a year or two ago when Peter King wrote that he's not so sure about Marv due to the lack of a "signature catch". The ridiculousness of that statement notwithstanding, it made me laugh because I could immediately come up with about 5 catches that were very hard to even believe happened. Considering one of the incredible catches happened against the Pats in primetime, I'm going to assume PK was watching, and he's just more of a chin-dribbler than most people can even fathom.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 6:47pm

In the same vein, has Tom Brady had a signature 'throw'?

I mean, if we are going with highlights. What is the most known Brady highlight? Probably him "tucking" the ball against Oakland in the snow. I mean, is Tom a HOF with that as his most memorable moment?

Of course, this was in jest, but King's line of thinking that Marv is not a HOFer because he doesn't have a signature catch (even though he does) is just ludicrous, as much so as me questioning Brady's HOF candidacy because of his lack of a signature throw.

God, if PK, or anyone else in that room tried to use the idea if a player had a signature catch or throw as a criteria, that whole group should be immediately forced to cover squash.

by Alternator :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 12:54am

If a signature catch is all that important, David Tyree has to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 9:36am

Tim Tebow, Hall of Famer.

by Independent George :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 10:32am

John Kuuuuuuuuuuhhhhn.

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:03pm

You were probably joking, but I think this is actually a great example of what the original poster said. Tebow is, objectively, a terrible quarterback who shouldn't be sniffing the starting lineup, much less the hall of fame. But what history of the 2012 NFL season (and probably seasons to come) would be complete without at least a few paragraphs for him? Should "Fame" be decided purely by stats, or, in the case of Tebow, a guy who's cultural impact transcended the sport? Tebow is the poster child of all hat, no cattle, but in this one case the hype may be so great as to be a reason in itself for induction. If you accept that premise (and I'm sure many won't), then is it unreasonable to consider players who were somewhere in the middle?

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:09pm

I do think if Tebow continues objectively playing lousy and is a sure starter for like two years and then a career back-up/journey-man (definitely possible), overtime people forget about Tebow for 2012. Other than the fact that Tebow was as polarizing as he was, and there was a playoff game attached (and a playoff blowout), nothing Tebow did is all that different than Vince Young in 2006. The Titans that year didn't make the playoffs, but Young had a string of close wins that he supposedly won with his "clutch" play. That didn't last, and no one remembers it anymore.

I think 2012 will be remembered for Aaron Rodgers season and the general ridiculous pass numbers that the league had all-around.

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:09pm

Luckily we don't have to debated about famousness. The HoF has a mission statement, http://www.profootballhof.com/hall/missionstatement.aspx.

To honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to professional football

To preserve professional football’s historic documents and artifacts

To educate the public regarding the origin, development and growth of professional football as an important part of American culture

To promote the positive values of the sport

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 11:56am

I don't think this is the real Victor Trumper, though such a stylish player would have agreed with your premise.

I don't, by your measure Craig Heywatd would be a HOF runner because he was hilarious.

Should Afridi make a Pakistan Hall Of Fame on the back of two innings ten years ago?

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 12:15pm

Afridi's a really, really good limited overs bowling all-rounder. There have certainly been times in his career where he had a strong case for inclusion in a World XI in ODI, T20 or both. I probably would put him in a Pakistan Hall of Fame (though not a world one). Also, he is awesome.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:00pm

I forgot about Boom Boom's bowling. He was throwing it up too much in the last two T20s though.

I was really referring to the way the Pakistani fans responded when he was at the crease as if he was going to win the game when he has never really been that consistent game winner with the bat many thought he would become.

by theslothook :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 3:50pm


football IS A BUSINESS. And winning is ultimately what gets you fans and people in the seats of your games. Now, there are exceptions and tim tebow is one. I think lots of people have a bleeding heart for tebow and im sure tons have their pulse rise when tebow does absolutely 0 for 3.5 quarters before finally doing some last minute scrambles and throws. But guess what? the broncos were still 8-8. They still had a pathetic anemic passing attack and lost in all that was the broncos defense and kicker bailed out the offense far more than most are willing to acknowledge.

So while your argument is certainly sentimental and has appeal, it really has no basis frankly. You go with the best players based off of their production. You take the less exciting qb if it means your passing offense is better. You take the pesky welker if it means 3rd down conversions and sure handed catches(most of the time heheh).

Sorry but, the nfl is a cold heartless business and while spectators can marvel and go "oo and ahh", franchise scouts and gms do NOt and neither must we if we are trying to objectively codify a player's value.

by rich31689 (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:08pm

Why should the admittedly cold-hearted, results-based decisions of scouts and GMs be all that is taken into consideration, with no room for the sentimentality of the fan, without which the BUSINESS would be quickly abandoned?

by tuluse :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:11pm

There is room for this, but it should be used to promote players not cut them down.

by theslothook :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 4:31pm

because, unfortunately, sentimentality too often clouds judgement and is way too subjective. You see in politics all the time. I won't turn this into a liberal vs conservative forum, but lets just say both sides scream about things that they feel are unfair or corrupt when it if you really dig deeper, it often boils down to basic economics.

the same is true for football. Sentimentality is fair as long as you are a spectator and you live in the realm of fandom. When your objective instead, is to build a winning team or bestow the best players in the nfl the honor and recognition of being the best, thats where sentimentality(which btw is very much an individual type of thing) really has no place. I mean, people will remember tyree in the superbowl and hardly anyone even 5 years from now will remember welker had over 100 yards. But, honestly, based on just that game, you would choose welker hands down even if his contributions fade from memory. That doesn't make his contributions less impactful, just not as sentimental.

by Victor Trumper (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 5:40pm

But the problem is this:
Why do you want to win?
Sports, at its core, is about entertainment. "Winning for its own sake" is pointless. It isn't war, and it isn't business. You might say "winning = money" or "winning=happiness" and those are fine, but then I could say "HOF players should be those who made the most for their teams, or who earned the most themselves."

At the core of ALL sports is a simple truth; they have no inherent value. Their value lies in what they provide us in terms of entertainment. Sure, we've accreted layer upon layer onto that, with professional players and all the rest, but all of that doesn't change the foundation: entertainment.

No pro team in any sport, no matter how successful, can maintain sustained support if the product isn't entertaining

And I'm not saying a single play should be enough, but I'm also of the belief that for as much as I love Welker, the net happiness generated by his endless 8 yard option routes is probably less than that generated by Herndo's ankle-breaking moves or Moss' deep heroics.

"Better", in sport, isn't a simple thing to understand, because sport is not instrumental.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:33pm

"Winning for its own sake" is pointless.

On a sufficiently long time-scale, everything is pointless.

by Victor Trumper (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 8:32pm

If you want to get all existential, sure

But I think we can separate sports from war/business - in the latter two, success is its own reward - in the former, success is merely an element in what really matters (the creation of utility via entertainment)

by theslothook :: Wed, 03/07/2012 - 12:18am


I can understand where you are coming from so i'm not trying to be disrespectful. With that said, winning is ultimately the key because to everyone outside of the fans, the nfl is based on a paycheck. Owners make more money when they win. Coaches keep their jobs so long as they are winning. Coordinators and position coaches earn promotions/preserve their jobs when they win. Ditto for every player in the nfl roster who works hard to be good enough to join a team to help them win. Love for the game, respect for one another, entertaining the crowd are all secondary to the notion of trying to earn a spot on a team that is ultimately trying to win for the sake of higher dollars and more revenue. As long as that remains the primary motive, winning is king.

by JonFrum :: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 9:01pm

I'm laughing at you.

by ChrisFromNJ :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 5:49am

"but we will come face-to-face with .... Tuffy Leemans"

Well, we can now guess three of the Giants for sure with this clue. Mainly I'm curious as to whether Rodney Hampton will squeak in or not- I remember he was a pretty popular workhorse in the early '90s when I first started watching, but in retrospect he was three yards, a cloud of dust, and not a whole lot of value.

by Dr. No Spoilers Here (not verified) :: Fri, 03/02/2012 - 1:06pm

I'm really looking forward to the top five Steelers RBs. Bettis or Franco? FWP versus JHJ? How do you evaluate Mendenhall's ongoing career, Rocky Bleier's Vietnam service, Barry Foster's one-year wonder, and Bullet Bill Dudley's Hall-of-Fame numbers from the 1940s? Do the down-years heroes of Pollard, Hoak, Abercrombie, and more-famous-as-an-analyst Merril Hoge get a mention? Oh, by the way, we had an All-Pro rookie who left the team to go to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship; he went on to be a Supreme Court justice.

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Sat, 03/03/2012 - 8:33pm

Name The Book Contest happening. I'm writing a novel about some guys forming a football league out behind the barn, and if you help me name it, you'll win --- well, not a thing. But you will have my undying gratitude. Until I die, that is. Thanks!

by Raiderjoe :: Sun, 03/04/2012 - 8:33pm

Barn Boys
Footballin' Behind the Barn
Te Barn Lleague
Pigskins and Cowhides
Cover 2 Cowss

by Michael19531 :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 2:17am

I'm fairly confident that Strahan will get in the HOF on the 1st ballot.

If I was in Mike's shoes and came up with a list of potential HOF snubs, I would replace Strahan with Philip Rivers. As good as Big Ben and Eli have been since 2004, Rivers has better stats. His 2008-2010 passing (not running and passing) performance compares very favorably to Steve Young's from 1991-1994.

by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 3:58pm

The unbelieveable thing is that Moseley won the NFL MVP for 1982, which has to be one of the most pathetic MVP selections in any major sport. OK, maybe not as bad as Andre Dawson 1987.

by dryheat :: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 4:11pm

Worse. At least you could look at Dawson and say that he had a very good year for a last place team. Granted, that's enough to disqualify a player from MVP status for a lot of voters. But Mosely? A kicker who didn't kick off getting MVP for kicking 20 field goals and 16 extra points (missing three) for the 12th highest scoring team in the league? I mean, even if the Redskins were the only team in the league, why not give the MVP to the quarterback who led them to 8-1...or the WR who caught 8 of the 13 touchdowns the Redskins scored...or one of the leaders of the #1 ranked defense?

If I live to be 1000 I won't understand how that happened.

by Anonymous187 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/08/2012 - 10:51am

This sentence: "Dolphins running back Andra Franklin finished second in the NFL in rushing (Riggins was 15th, Tony Dorsett led the league)..." is a bit off.

It was Freeman McNeil who led the league in rushing in 82, not Dorsett (2nd) and Franklin was 3rd.

by FootballOutsidersIsForMorons (not verified) :: Sat, 03/31/2012 - 7:57pm

Wes Welker is the most overrated football player - check that - ATHLETE, in the history of mankind.


Yeah, it's quite easy to get 110+ catches every year when they throw you 50 wide receiver screens every year and 30 wheel routes where you are running against linebackers.

The guy came back from a torn ACL and limped around the field for 80-something catches (of course, averaging under 10 yards/catch)...you would think that would tell idiots something. I guess not.

For his career, Welker's average distance from the line of scrimmage at the point in which he makes the catch is 5.3 yards. Just think about that for a minute. Most receivers average about TWICE that. Just a few names:

Vincent Jackson: 14.1
Mike Wallace: 12.8
Robert Meachem: 12.7
Brandon Lloyd: 12.6
DeSean Jackson: 12.2
Plaxico Burress: 12.2
Randy Moss: 11.7
Victor Cruz: 11.3
Chad Johnson: 11.1
Isaac Bruce: 11.1
Sidney Rice: 11.1
Calvin Johnson: 10.8
Larry Fitzgerald: 10.2
Santonio Holmes: 10.2
Greg Jennings: 10.0
Julio Jones: 9.9
Roddy White: 9.8
Jordy Nelson: 9.8
Keyshawn Johnson: 9.8
Reggie Wayne: 9.7
Hakeem Nicks: 9.6
Terrell Owens: 9.5
Marques Colston: 9.5
Titus Young: 9.5
Donald Driver: 9.2
Miles Austin: 9.2
Santana Moss: 9.1
Dwayne Bowe: 9.0
Andre Johnson: 8.9
Dez Bryant: 8.9
Steve Smith: 8.6
Stevie Johnson: 8.2
Brandon Marshall: 8.1
Anquan Boldin: 8.0
Michael Crabtree: 7.7
Harry Douglas: 7.3
Jordan Shipley: 7.2

Wes Welker: ..... 5.3

It takes a special kind of receiver to.......Troy Brown: 6.3

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sat, 03/31/2012 - 9:42pm

And yet he still gets open constanty and gets yards for his team. He makes that offense. You want overrated? Look at the man throwing him the ball.