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Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

by Scott Kacsmar

No matter which players are voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, several deserving candidates are always kept waiting each year. Logic and the numbers game guarantee it. Their wait can often be extended by the eligibility of a similar player. Sometimes the wait just makes no rational sense to many fans and analysts.

Last year, for the second year in a row, I predicted 13 of the 15 modern-era finalists. Paul Tagliabue and Zach Thomas did not make the cut, but Morten Andersen (a kicker) and Tony Dungy (a first-ballot head coach) surprisingly did. I correctly picked four of the five modern-era inductees. Choosing two wide receivers was nuts, but at least Andre Reed is out of the room after eight years as a finalist. Tim Brown waits, and in the spot I reserved for him is Aeneas Williams.

Congratulations to the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame class: Derrick Brooks, Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams.

We'll enjoy their ceremony this weekend, but we're already trying to figure out who will follow this class next year.

The First-Ballot Nominees

No class since 1970 has had more than three first-ballot selections, but we have a pretty strong group this year of players who last played in the 2009 NFL season. The following list includes the most notable names (players in bold are ones I feel confident will be in the Hall of Fame some day).

  • Isaac Bruce (WR)
  • Daunte Culpepper (QB)
  • Ahman Green (RB)
  • Torry Holt (WR)
  • Edgerrin James (RB)
  • Jevon Kearse (DE)
  • Ty Law (CB)
  • Jamal Lewis (RB)
  • Kevin Mawae (C)
  • Muhsin Muhammad (WR)
  • Orlando Pace (OT)
  • Junior Seau (LB)
  • Kurt Warner (QB)

There are plenty of lists out there for grouping Hall of Famers, but I have never seen one that groups players by their first year of eligibility. Seven players who last played in 2009 sounds pretty high. Some will even say Edgerrin James deserves the honor, but I think his ACL injury in 2001 moved him from the Hall of Fame to the "Hall of Very Good" with backs like Tiki Barber, Fred Taylor, Corey Dillon, Ricky Watters, Eddie George and Clinton Portis.

The Greatest Show on Turf

Marshall Faulk is about to get some company as Canton may need to build the Rams their own wing for the Greatest Show on Turf. That was clearly one of the best offenses in NFL history, so they deserve recognition. The Rams were the first team to score 500 points in three consecutive seasons (1999-2001). All four players should get in eventually, but we know Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are going to have to wait due to the wide receiver logjam. Marvin Harrison and Tim Brown are already waiting, and only five modern-era receivers have ever gone on their first ballot. Holt and Bruce aren't up to that caliber, but they belong.

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Bruce ranks seventh all-time in receptions (1,024), fourth in receiving yards (15,208) and 10th in touchdown catches (91). After this season he will rank lower in catches and touchdowns, which is why he needs attention for other achievements. His breakout season in 1995 was phenomenal: 119 receptions for 1,781 yards (still the third-highest season total ever) and 13 touchdowns, with Chris Miller and the ghost of Mark Rypien as his quarterbacks. Bruce did not receive a Pro Bowl nod that season, which was the pass-happiest in history to that point. Still, that just goes to show how ridiculous the process can be. Most people will admit a five-time Pro Bowler sounds better than a four-time Pro Bowler. Yet adding the label of "Pro Bowl season" to Bruce's 1995 does nothing to make it better than it actually was on tape (or in the numbers). Bruce made the Pro Bowl in 1996 after leading the league in receiving yards. He made three more Pro Bowls in 1999-2001 when he finally had a top quarterback in Kurt Warner. If you're into the "signature play" argument, then Bruce has you covered. His 73-yard game-winning touchdown, including a great cut to pick up 35 yards after the catch, won Super Bowl XXXIV for the Rams.

Holt only played 11 seasons, but he was more dominant than Bruce. He gained at least 722 receiving yards in all of his seasons, including eight in a row with at least 1,188 yards. He wasn't a physical receiver, but he ran smooth routes and had great hands. He didn't scare defenses as much as Randy Moss or Terrell Owens, but few ever have. Holt was one of the best of his era, and his peak should serve as a great crux to his argument.

Most Receiving Yards Thru Year X
Thru Year Player Seasons Receiving Yards
1 Bill Groman 1960 1,473
2 Randy Moss 1998-99 2,726
3 Randy Moss 1998-00 4,163
4 Randy Moss 1998-01 5,396
5 Torry Holt 1999-03 6,784
6 Randy Moss 1998-03 8,375
7 Torry Holt 1999-05 9,487
8 Torry Holt 1999-06 10,675
9 Torry Holt 1999-07 11,864
10 Jerry Rice 1985-94 13,275
11 Jerry Rice 1985-95 15,123
12 Jerry Rice 1985-96 16,377
13 Jerry Rice 1985-97 16,455
14 Jerry Rice 1985-98 17,612
15 Jerry Rice 1985-99 18,442
16 Jerry Rice 1985-00 19,247
17 Jerry Rice 1985-01 20,386
18 Jerry Rice 1985-02 21,597
19 Jerry Rice 1985-03 22,466
20+ Jerry Rice 1985-04 22,895

St. Louis' best chance of getting a player in this year is left tackle Orlando Pace, the first pick of the 1997 draft. He was part of a great era for left tackles with Tony Boselli (1995), Jonathan Ogden (1997) and Walter Jones (1997). Those players are the reason people talk about drafting a franchise tackle and having him lock down that position for the next decade. Ogden and Jones were selected on their first ballot, and Pace should be the same way. Leading the line for one of the best offenses ever (balanced with running and passing too) gives him a push over Ogden and Jones in my view.

Then there's Warner, who we covered in great detail on Wednesday. I feel good about Warner's chances this year, but I also thought the prosecutor in the Casey Anthony trial nailed his case, and we know how that one turned out. You never know what will happen once people start deliberating, but at least there will only be a few Florida residents in this process.

It would not come as a surprise to see Warner have to wait three or four years. Some will keep a hard line against his first-ballot induction. Some voters seem to have this weird thing about not putting in players from the same position in the same class, so how dare Lord Favre share the stage with any other quarterback in 2016, especially Warner, a former practice squad backup (1994) of his. Canton also has been unofficially the "NFL Hall of Fame," so Warner's induction into the Arena Football Hall of Fame or the fact that he led all quarterbacks in yards and touchdowns in NFL Europe (1998) won't carry any weight.

There hasn't been a quarterback inducted into Canton since 2006. The last eight put in were all first ballot, so maybe that will continue here. A record-setting, championship-winning quarterback with an incredible story like Warner should be very tempting.

Junior Seau

This first-ballot case is a slam dunk. Seau made 12 consecutive Pro Bowls, six first-team All-Pro selections, the 1990's All-Decade Team and is universally regarded as one of the best linebackers in NFL history. He was the main attraction in San Diego. My earliest memory of Seau is the 1994 AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh. Some still exaggerate that he had 20 or 25 tackles that day, because it felt like he was in on every play. He had 16 official tackles and the Chargers pulled off the upset. He had an All-Pro season on the 1998 Chargers. That year Seau led a defense that allowed the fewest yards in the league, ranked second in DVOA and was the best at forcing three-and-out drives and punts. No one noticed because the terrible offense, led by you know who, put Seau's unit in the worst average starting field position that year.

Unfortunately, Seau's story has already met a tragic ending. He committed suicide in 2012 at the age of 43. Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of chronic brain damage we're becoming more aware of after the concussion lawsuits against the NFL. Posthumous inductions are always tough to watch, but Seau's will be especially somber.

Ty Law

If Law doesn't thank Peyton Manning during his future Hall of Fame induction speech, then that's just poor manners. In his career Law intercepted Manning nine times -- four more than any other player has against the five-time MVP. Five of those picks came in the postseason, including three in the 2003 AFC Championship Game. Manning has two playoff games with at least three interceptions, and Law was the opponent in both. No one defended Manning to Harrison better than Law. After the Patriots' roughhousing of Harrison and Indianapolis' receivers in that championship game, the league made an emphasis on illegal contact in 2004. Mel Blount may have the origin story for the "Blount Rule," but Law had the "Ty Law Rule" in his day.

He did more than just defend the best better than anyone. Law made five Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro selections and is a member of the All-Decade Team for the 2000s. He intercepted 53 passes, which is impressive in this era when they're harder to come by. When not terrorizing Peyton, he also made one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history: a pick-six off Kurt Warner to lead an upset win. Most observers of that game will tell you Law, not Tom Brady, deserved to be Super Bowl MVP. That might have put him over the top for Canton, but if we acknowledge his impact on New England's Super Bowl wins in 2001 and 2003, then we're looking at a Hall of Fame cornerback. He was also a starter on the 1996 Super Bowl team.

Law won't be first ballot, because defensive backs have to have absurd resumes to get that honor.

Kevin Mawae

Hey, it's an eight-time Pro Bowl, three-time All-Pro center. Let's make him wait 19 years! Okay, maybe the process hasn't been that unkind to interior linemen, but you do pause when it's one of them. There are only nine centers inducted, and that includes Bruce "I'll play anywhere on the line" Matthews.

Mawae did not particularly play on great offenses or in many memorable games, but he was one of the best centers of his era. He had solid media visibility when he served as president of the NFL Players Association. His tenure extended past his 2010 retirement as a player and he was there for the players during the 2011 lockout. He also had ridiculous longevity with 238 career starts and succeeded with multiple franchises.

Unless your name is Jerry Kramer, Mick Tingelhoff or Dick Stanfel, the Hall of Fame has been very kind to interior offensive linemen with Mawae's number of Pro Bowls and All-Pros on their resume. Mawae has the fourth-most Pro Bowls for a center. He'll likely get in, but no one's going to be in a rush to make it happen. Will Shields (OG), a finalist the last three years, should have more priority than Mawae.

The Recent Finalists

There are several new names to consider, but looking at the past six years of finalists can help us determine who has the best odds for 2015. Names in caps and yellow were inducted that year. Names in red are still not in the Hall of Fame. Senior nominees have an asterisk in front of their names. Names in gray are only eligible to be senior nominees in the future as they have been retired for more than 25 years. The number in parenthesis is the number of times that person was a finalist.

We also have data on who made the cut from the top 15 to the top 10. This isn't always helpful. Cris Carter originally made it to the top 10 in 2008-09, but didn't survive the first cut in 2010-11. Then again, Andre Reed made the top 10 the last four years before finally getting through.

Perhaps this will be a telling fact: Tim Brown has been a first cut every time in the last five years, but Marvin Harrison made the top 10 on his first ballot. That gives us reason to think the voters value Harrison more, which they probably should. Harrison's eight-year peak (1999-2006) was just absurd. He averaged 103 catches, 1,402 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns per season. The presence of Peyton Manning, a Belgian handgun, and an embarrassing postseason history make for rough edges on Harrison's resume, but he has the best case of any receiver in the queue.

Jerome Bettis has crept up to the top 10 the last two years, but the first-ballot guys may push him to the back of the pack. A player to watch is Charles Haley. He's been a finalist the last five years, and he's been in the top 10 the last three years. Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan were better choices the last two years, but Haley might be the pass-rusher of the 2015 class. Eddie DeBartolo has been a finalist the last three years, but he's also been a first cut. With all the first-ballot nominees this year, DeBartolo should be an easy omission from the 15 finalists in 2015.

Tony Dungy surprised me by making the top 15 on his first ballot, because head coaches historically get no love from the voters. Not even Vince Lombardi and Bill Walsh made it on their first two ballots. Bill Cowher and Mike Holmgren, who have similar resumes to Dungy, can't even crack the top 25 semifinalists. Dungy recently received a lot of criticism for his remarks about Michael Sam, so it will be interesting to see if his campaign takes a step back.

Senior Nominees

My hardline stance: until Jerry Kramer and Ken Anderson are put through, I refuse to worry about any other nominee. Punter Ray Guy is finally in, so maybe they can turn their attention to getting the best available guard and best available quarterback enshrined.

2015 Hall of Fame Predictions

Here are my projections for the 15 modern-era finalists:

  • Morten Andersen (K)
  • Jerome Bettis (RB)
  • Tim Brown (WR)
  • Isaac Bruce (WR)
  • Tony Dungy (Coach)
  • Kevin Greene (LB)
  • Charles Haley (DE)
  • Marvin Harrison (WR)
  • Torry Holt (WR)
  • John Lynch (S)
  • Kevin Mawae (C)
  • Orlando Pace (OT)
  • Junior Seau (LB)
  • Will Shields (OG)
  • Kurt Warner (QB)

I thought I could keep Andersen out this year, but needed one more name. Maybe Guy's induction will keep kicking specialists in vogue. Law could have been a choice for my 15th guy, but I recalled the similar case of Aeneas Williams, who was only a semifinalist in his first two years of eligibility (2010-11) before becoming a finalist the last three years. These things take time.

Without further ado, my predictions for the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class:

  • Jerome Bettis (RB)
  • Marvin Harrison (WR)
  • Orlando Pace (OT)
  • Junior Seau (LB)
  • Kurt Warner (QB)

For the first time since 2007, it's a class with only one defender, but they can make up for that with the senior nominees. Bettis was my last choice and that's the only one I really struggled with. I wanted Haley, but there's no way they're going to have a class with Haley, Seau and Harrison. So Bettis, a nice guy from Detroit, it is.

Next year, we'll get our popcorn and tobacco ready for Terrell Owens and Brett Favre. In an ideal setting, 40 percent of that class is already filled, but these things rarely go as planned.

Comments

164 comments, Last at 27 Feb 2015, 7:04pm

6 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

The hat may or may not be made of cake.

Fine, I see your point, but I would suspect most of the football geekerati are probably pretty shocked somebody as accomplished as Shields is still twiddling his thumbs, so I'm presumably preaching to the choir in general here. I just . . . Jerome Bettis? The guy averaged over 4.0/ypc four times in his career. Career average is 3.9. Sure, really likeable guy, but . . . Jerome freakin' Bettis? He would instantly become the singly least-deserving player in the HOF.

Popularity really matters that much? Statistically, his case is patently awful, and it's not like people spent the better part of the decade saying, "Wow, Bettis this weekend, we totally have to stop him first."

10 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Jerome Bettis is a slightly-richer-than-usual man's Mike Alstott in a bigger market and a full-time starting role. I mean, I'm a Bucs fan, and I think Alstott is the most overrated player in franchise history. A big, limited-skills guy who excelled at short yardage (and therefore picked up lots of TDs) who is largely only known because Chris Berman liked to make stupid noises during highlights. How is this radically different than Bettis?

The good news is I would instantly stop making fun of Art Monk and Andre Reed's HOF membership, as I'd have much better things to rave about.

11 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Bettis would never be the worst, because the bar is already so low at RB. Look at Floyd Little, Paul Hornung and Doak Walker (my three whipping boys I'd throw right out of Canton).

Think we had the Bettis discussion last year (with Craig & TD) in my first FO article: http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2013/terrell-davis-peak-vs-longevity

I'm not going to complain if Bettis never gets in, but I do think people are underestimating how different he was due to his size. How many 40-yard runs is Tomlinson going to have if he was Bettis' size? They let a fat guy with asthma be a workhorse back for a lot of one-dimensional offenses. That's worth consideration.

15 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Um, thank you. Bettis doesn't belong, but lets forget the hyperbole - Floyd Little is going to be very difficult to beat as the worst HOF'er ever. My favorite is how his election was won on the basis of such things as - he was hit behind the line on 35% of his runs, read it, seriously, people in the room quote that back 1) does anyone actually have film breakdown of every run the guy had - gee that would make game charting AFL pre merger easier for FO than charting 1987 l or did they use coaches numbers, the same ones that say Randy Gradishar had 286 tackles one year, 2) Context, context, context - how many times was Walter Payton hit in the backfield, Jim Brown, Jerome freaking Btiis, a number avoid of context is meaningless, sounds good to me but I have no idea if that actually is.

My view on HOF voters is like congress, throw all the bums out.

22 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

I feel like people only remember the last few years of Bettis' career and forget what a terror he was in the early years — both in his rookie year and after his rebirth in Pittsburgh. In this way, his longevity works against him. There are a lot of memories of those 1-yard plunges in the years when most RBs would have long since retired. I don't think his case is "statistically awful" - he IS sixth all-time in rushing yards, and Adrian Peterson seems like the only guy with a good chance of passing him at this point. As that past article shows, it's a longevity vs. peak battle.

Not to mention Bettis' uniqueness — what other big backs had his sort of career? There's no one really like him who did what he did for so long at that size. It was FUN to watch him bowl guys over. You may not be able to recall many Bettis runs, but I can think of a bunch. Let us not ignore the simple joy of a huge RB plowing through tacklers for years and years. It's memorable. That matters.

25 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Bettis had a genuinely excellent rookie season and that's the only year I'd say he was HOF worthy.

He was terrible for the next couple of years, then he "miraculously" rebounded while running behind Dermontti Dawson for a couple of years, then he became average again.

Bettis' career is proof that Dawson belongs in the Hall of Fame, not Bettis.

Running backs are just absurdly overrepresented in Canton, and Bettis would only add to the list.

38 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Those Rams' teams Bettis was on were really bad. By '95 (when Isaac Bruce broke out), Rich Brooks was trying to turn Bettis into a FB.

You're telling me his first two seasons with the Steelers weren't HOF level?

Yeah, he rebounded when he was placed back at his rightful position and not running behind a below average line. Sue the guy.

Due to FA departures (Yancey Thigpen, John Jackson), injuries (Dawson) and Kordell Stewart not progressing at QB like the Steelers envisioned, Bettis became the only player on the Steeler O that teams really had to worry about for much of the 1998-2000 period.

By 2001, the team was ready to seriously contend again and Bettis was leading the league in rushing when he injured his groin early in a week 11 game vs. the Vikings. Real shame. If he doesn't get injured, he probably ends up with around 1,500 yards or so and nobody says he doesn't belong in the HOF. As it is, he's 6th all-time in rushing and it's quite possible that it's a long, long time before a back of his type puts up that kind of a total.

Even in his later seasons when he was more a backup, he was still valuable to the team. In 2004, he finished with nearly 1,000 yards after taking over when Duce Staley got injured despite only starting six games. And of course there was the game in the snow vs. the Bears that started off the Steelers' SB run in 2005.

Anyway, my prediction is Bettis, Greene (or Haley), Harrison, Seau and Shields

Pace is deserving, but I think they wait a year on him due to the time he missed to injury + Shields waiting longer. Warner waits until 2017 with Favre being the only QB in the 2016 class.

45 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

If you compare Shaun Alexander to Bettis, just on paper, he's the better rusher. Yet no one even pretends that Alexander will make the hall. Jamal Lewis' career also looks eerily similar to Bettis, without as many plodding years. There's nothing about Bettis' career that screams out of the ordinary to me.

51 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Alexander looks better than Bettis on raw numbers. 100 td vs. 91 and only 29 fumbles vs. 38. Moreover, he was a better receiver, with a three-year peak over 40 receptions each year while Bettis maxed at 31. Also a far better peak year, higher career ypc. And I agree, I don't think Alexander is HOF material. Is the argument here going to be that Alexander's line was that much better than any line Bettis ran behind?

DVOA is more mixed on this comparison. Bettis had 2 peaks, 1996 and 1993, both of which DVOA says were a smidge higher than Alexander's peak. He was also prone to serious down years in his career, 1994-5 and again in 2003. DVOA picks Bettis, but not by a huge margin. Of course, DVOA says Corey Dillon is twice the back Bettis was...

52 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

You guys are forgetting the eye test. Alexander was known as "The Tiptoe Burglar" because he avoided contact. He did have a great line with two likely HOFers (Jones and Hutchinson), though I don't hold that against every RB. What was out of the ordinary for Bettis was his size. We're used to seeing guys that big blocking for RBs, not being the workhorse RB.

73 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Re: #51

I could see Dillon getting a closer look one day. That said, his resume isn't more impressive than Bettis'. Bettis had eight 1,000+ yard seasons (and nearly a ninth). Dillon had seven. Bettis had three seasons where he finished in the top five in rushing. Dillon had two. Bettis is tenth all-time in rushing TDs. Dillon is seventeenth. And Bettis has around 2,500 more career yards. With rare exception, the benchmark for RBs is now 12,000 career yards and Dillon falls short of that.

His numbers are impressive (particularly given that he spent the majority of his career on lousy Bengals' teams), but not overwhelming. When your numbers fall in that category, it helps to have not had outside issues galore like Dillon has had.

74 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

I'd give a slight edge to Dillon because of the 0.4 YPC extra, and the 50% less fumbling. But it's really close.

In 3 full seasons - 42 games - more, Bettis only had 5 more touchdowns.

Interestingly enough, Pro Football Reference lists Bettis and Dillon as eachother's closest career comp. Floyd Little is next for both of them.

I'd say both are HOVG.

91 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Yup. Very good players, all of them ...well, I don't really know about Little, never watched him play... but certainly not more deserving than, say, Warner, Tim Brown, Shields, Seau, Haley, M. Harrison and a few others. So Bettis did well for his size, fine, but he could've gone on a diet had he wanted to, it shouldn't be a HoF argument.

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Who, me?

100 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Because "fat" or "big" or "physical" running backs don't have the careers that Bettis did. Even the great ones, like Earl Campbell, would get hurt and be done after eight years. When Bettis retired, he was FIFTH in career rushing yards, and that was in a era where the run was being de-emphasized. (He's since fallen to sixth.) And since he could be caught from behind, what would have been 70-yard touchdowns for the skinnier guys around him on the rushing list were merely 30-yard gains for him, so he had to grind his yardage out more than those other guys.

Remember how Cowher's teams were 100-1-1 when they had a 10+ point lead in the second half? The ability to ride the Bus with those leads, even as defenses knew what was coming, had a lot to do with that success.

How many guys have come along who were supposed to be "another Jerome Bettis", and how many of them had any success, let alone sustained it? Bettis had a unique career, ended up with a rushing total that's put everyone who's come close to it into the Hall, and was a productive player on some good teams. That strikes me as a Hall of Famer.

102 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

I understand all that, and on my subjective HOF RB rankings, the line falls between Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis, so I think he's a borderline case, but it seems that if you put Bettis's career in a 5'10, 215 lb body, the HOF push largely goes away. It seems we should credit him for being XL, as if he invented a new position.

104 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

My point is he was a big, fat, physical RB because that's what worked best for him. If he'd been better off being slimmer, he would have slimmed down. Sure it might have cost him yards to be big, but what about all those TDS? Would he have scored that much had he been small? If we give him points for not breaking the long ones, are we giving small RBs points for not scoring TDs? And how about putting guys like Zach Thomas in the Hall because if he'd been faster and more athletic he would have been Ray Lewis? How does that make sense? And yeah, Flutie.

It doesn't work like that. It's not the Hall of Sympathy or the Physically Limited. Or the Hall of the Resilient, either. Earl Campbell belongs because he was a monster, he could break the long ones or run over you. Being big was never a disadvantage for him. Then you have guys like Steve Largent. He was very unathletic, even got cut once, but that didn't stop him. He didn't get voted in because he was so slow, he got voted in despite it. Same thing for Zach, or Bettis or anyone else. There's no case where your shortcomings should work in your favor.

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Who, me?

105 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

It's not an argument to put Bettis in the HOF because he was big-boned and had asthma. It's just context for his stats. I bet if we tracked things like broken tackles for Bettis' career, he'd look really good. We can track short-yardage success, and at least for 1999-05, Bettis converted over 70% of the time. That beats Marshawn Lynch, who wasn't even at 60% last time I checked.

He was a different kind of back.

113 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

I disagree with this idea of context for this particular purpose. For HoF purposes I would only consider the context of the teams he played with, who he played against, the historic situation, how he was used. If he had to overcome a lot of obstacles that would help me value him from a human-interest viewpoint, but not as a potential HoF.

I don't doubt what you're saying about his numbers, but I'm honestly not looking very closely at stats on this one. I'm just going on what I remember from watching him play. He didn't stand out to me compared to other good RBs. He was more of a symbol of the way the Steelers liked to do things -no turnovers, win with defense- than an unforgettable player in his own right.

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Who, me?

114 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Here's some context:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/leaders/rush_yds_career.htm

Note that everyone close to Bettis who's eligible has a + by his name. The discussion of styles isn't about sympathy; it's about pointing out that Bettis reached this level of production differently than the limited number of guys at his level. Scoring touchdowns when a runner is behind the defense at the 50 is a good thing. Putting up 13,000 yards without that ability is also impressive.

117 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Here's a few more anti-Bus arguments:
Second worst yds/att of the top 20 career rushers (only Riggins is worse, and he played in an era of tougher defenses and was a FB)
Fewest total receptions of the top 20 rushers and easily the fewest receptions/game
For all his alleged TD prowess, when compared to HoF RBs in the top 20 rushers, only Thurman Thomas (playing in the pass-happy K-gun), Dorsett and OJ (from the offense-depressed, 14 game season 70's) have fewer TDs. Only Thomas has fewer TDs/game. He was not, despite his reputation, a TD machine.
Despite having the third-most # of games among the top 20, only one RB has a fewer percentage of starts (Marcus Allen)

It can be argued that Bettis is the Art Monk of RBs. Nobody thinks he was bad. He was very, very good. I've yet to be convinced he's HoF material. (I still think Monk doesn't belong either.)

126 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Bettis' greatest talent seems to have been somehow getting the opportunities.

No player of his size in the history of the NFL has done less with as many opportunities.

Literally. Of all players with a BMI over 30 (Bettis was 35.2), 1000 career atts, and at least 18 att/g, Bettis is dead last in Y/A.

If you lower threshold to players who got at least 16 A/G, he's fourth-worst all time, only beating out Natrone Means, Rodney Hampton and Cedric Benson.

109 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

I don't like the point you're trying to make here. It really hurts my HOF argument that any run I have in the NFL that goes for a loss of 8 yards and a fumble plus 5 broken bones WOULD have been a touchdown if I'd been as fast as Chris Johnson and as powerful as Jim Brown.

112 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

As mentioned above, once you let Bettis in, a lot of good to very good but not hall of fame caliber running backs will start to be able to have an argument. Correy Dillon and Warrick Dunn, Jamal Lewis types. Hell, if CJ2k has one bounceback year, his career will be argued as worthy of the hall.

121 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Dillon, maybe. Dunn and Lewis, no. If CJ runs for 1,500 yards this season, that would put him at 9,400 for his career. Still pretty far short of HoF level.

With rare exception (example - If AP had to retire right now I think he'd have enough), a RB that's played in the last twenty years or so needs 12,000+ career yards for serious HoF consideration.

127 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Sure he's a different kind of receiver. But he's still a receiver. Not looking at any stats and off the cuff thinking about it I wouldn't vote for him in the HOF.

I'm sure there are stats out there that make him look great and I could be convinced. But I don't feel like part of a convincing argument should be: "Wes Welker was a great receiver with a lot of catches. If he had been as big and strong as Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall his stats would be even better and therefore HOF worthy".

153 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

First you need to stop talking. You are a Moron and you are wasting air for children need to breath! YOU have one stat that's it? Really ?

He should have gone in last year PERIOD! He is in the top rushing in many categories and was the best player on a NO PASS OFFENSE! You hold him back on that stat? you and whom ever voted against him going in, are MORONS!

4 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

I doubt you'll see four wide receivers among the fifteen finalists, even though Holt and Bruce are worthy. There will be pressure to thin the WR field a little bit. I think Law will be a finalist.

I generally agree with your comments about who should get in. I still think the Hall has been too tight in recent years, since its acceptance rate has not kept up with the league's expansion. As for who will get in: I hope you're wrong about Bettis, but I wouldn't put money on it. Seau is a lock, and Pace should be, too.

66 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Could be wrong, but I think Law has a wait ahead of him. Would the voters put him in before Bailey and Woodson (and possibly Barber?) I don't see it. One thing that'll probably be used against him - Belichick plugging in street FAs like Hank Poteat at CB after Law's injury in 2004 and the D not seeing much of a drop off.

5 Re: Predicting the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

For reference, here's a look at the semifinalists for the last four years:

https://twitter.com/FO_ScottKacsmar/status/494925683513368576/photo/1

I'd like to see Terrell Davis finally crack the finalists, but I doubt that will happen. George Young, Paul Tagliabue, Don Coryell and Roger Craig have all been that far before. Maybe they won't go 4 WRs in the top 15, but it's hard to choose more deserving people from this list. I'd rather see a Holt/Bruce than DeBartolo.