Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

by Scott Kacsmar

Congratulations to the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class: Edward DeBartolo Jr., Tony Dungy, Brett Favre, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Ken Stabler, and Dick Stanfel.

Parts of this class go back to some of my earlier days of watching the NFL. I have been looking forward to the speeches from Harrison and Favre for a while. Fittingly, the quiet Harrison will open Saturday night's ceremony, hoping to finish in record time before some attendees even find their seats. We rarely get to see a superstar of Favre's caliber get inducted, so of course he is going to close the night, which means either a last-minute victory or soul-crushing defeat. I vividly remember watching Greene's flowing locks when he was with the Steelers in the '90s. I also remember taunting him from the stands -- I had great seats after winning a pair of tickets in a grocery store raffle -- about his WCW wrestling career during a 1998 preseason game when he was with Carolina.

In my fourth year of making Hall of Fame predictions, I was finally able to correctly pick all five of the modern-era inductees. There was also a substantial amount of consideration for Stabler as a senior nominee following his death, which happened just a few weeks after Stanfel passed at age 87 last June. It is sad that a player sometimes has to pass away before he is recognized with this prestigious honor.

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

Tracking the Recent Nominees

A reminder of how the selection process works. A player becomes eligible five years after his last playing season. Nominees are first listed on a preliminary list that usually has at least 100 names. Since 2004, that list has been whittled down to 25 modern-era semifinalists, or sometimes 26 or 27 given ties. Since 2007, 15 finalists have then been chosen to go along with the senior/contributor nominees. This is the group that gets voted on just before the Super Bowl in February. Voting results are available for the reduction vote that brings the group down to 10 nominees, and then finally the last cut down to the five candidates who will ultimately be inducted.

When looking at the last 36 modern-era players inducted, 18 of them were chosen on their first or second ballot. Kevin Greene's 12-year wait is the second longest among recent inductees behind only Russ Grimm (14 years of eligibility). Most players inch their way forward in the process before getting inducted, but sometimes a step gets skipped. Tim Brown never survived the first cut of finalists in his first five years, but last year he was selected over Marvin Harrison, who made the top 10 on his first two ballots.

Studying the process for recent semifinalist players should help with predicting this year's class. Here are the paths of the 23 players who have been semifinalists since 2004 and are still eligible. "N/A" is for years we lack data, and "UNL" means the player was not on the preliminary list that year.

Terrell Owens should produce more heated debate this year, but it is worth noting he did not make the cut to the top 10 last year. After two straight top-10 finishes, I feel as confident about Kurt Warner getting in as much as anyone not named LaDainian Tomlinson. In a good year for highlighting Broncos, John Lynch has made a steady rise, and Terrell Davis continues to get closer. Joe Jacoby, a famed member of The Hogs, is starting to run out of chances as a modern-era nominee, but there was a good push on his 18th ballot to get him all the way to the top 10 after never having been a finalist. Given what else is out there to vote for, this may be the year to push Jacoby out of the room and into the Hall of Fame.

The First-Ballot Nominees

No class since 1970 has had more than three first-ballot selections, and we should only see one such player next year. First-time eligible players last played in the 2011 NFL season. The following list includes the most notable names, many of which you will see on the preliminary list of 100-plus names that comes out soon. The players in bold are most likely to at least be a semifinalist in the future, if not make it all the way to Canton.

LaDainian Tomlinson: The Lock

Is the one first-ballot lock not obvious here? It has to be LaDainian Tomlinson, who was great enough to take a nickname (L.T.) from a legend (Lawrence Taylor) and make it his own. Tomlinson made San Diego relevant again. He was more than just the fifth-leading rusher (13,684 yards) in NFL history. We'll remember the visor, the high-scoring days in the powder-blue jerseys, the seven touchdown passes he threw, the four 200-yard rushing games, the 18-game touchdown streak (2004-05), the 100-catch season (2003), the single-season record 31 touchdowns in 2006's MVP campaign, and the only back-to-back rushing championships (2006-07) of this century.

Tomlinson rose to prominence in an era that became a golden one for passers. He was a throwback, one of the last of the dying breed of the do-everything, workhorse back. (Adrian Peterson may be the last, unless Todd Gurley is.) The career numbers are undoubtedly there: fifth in yards from scrimmage (18,456) and third in total touchdowns (162). Those rankings will not change for quite some time. Tomlinson also sustained excellence over a long period of time, had a high peak (five top-five finishes in rushing DYAR) and was named a first-team All-Pro three times. Tomlinson is the only player in NFL history with eight consecutive seasons with over 1,500 yards from scrimmage, and he did it in his first eight seasons. Tomlinson is the only player with at least 10 touchdowns in each of his first nine seasons, and only Jerry Rice (10, 1986-1995) had a longer streak of double-digit scoring seasons.

Yes, we'll also remember some of the disappointments in the playoffs, where Tomlinson's teams went 5-5 and he averaged 3.57 yards per carry with one 100-yard rushing game. Out of the top 30 players in Pro-Football-Reference's career weighted approximate value, only Tomlinson and former San Diego quarterback Dan Fouts did not play in a Super Bowl. It's still hard to believe the 1994 Chargers, with Stan Humphries and Natrone Means in the backfield, are the only San Diego team to reach a Super Bowl.

For some, what Tomlinson did in the biggest game of his career (2007 AFC Championship Game in New England) will be too hard to overlook. While quarterback Philip Rivers gutted it out on a torn ACL, a sprained MCL limited Tomlinson to two carries for 5 yards. He spent most of the afternoon sitting on the bench, his face concealed by the visor and his body engulfed by a large coat as San Diego fell 21-12 in a winnable game.

But anyone holding a lack of postseason success against Tomlinson for the Hall of Fame doesn't understand this game. It wasn't L.T. when Nate Kaeding missed a game-winning field goal in overtime against the 2004 Jets, and it wasn't L.T. who fumbled Tom Brady's interception in 2006, in what was Tomlinson's best playoff game. This is also not that uncommon, as Barry Sanders had poor playoff success with Detroit, and O.J. Simpson rushed for 49 yards in his lone playoff game. The Vikings are 1-4 in the playoffs with Adrian Peterson, who has averaged 3.55 yards per carry and has more memorable fumbles than impactful touchdowns. Not everyone can be Terrell Davis. Even Jim Brown (3.65 yards per carry and a 1-3 record) and Walter Payton (two scores in nine games; 3.51 yards per carry) were usually not effective in the playoffs despite each winning championships.

Similar things can be said of Marshall Faulk, who never rushed for 1,400 yards in a season, yet these backs really have not seen their legacy take a hit from their postseason struggles. Maybe some use that to knock down a player like Tomlinson on the list of greatest running backs ever, but that's not a reason to keep him out of the Hall next year. When it comes to that list of all-time running backs, most people start with some order of Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders. Emmitt Smith's durability deserves respect, and Eric Dickerson was probably the best right out of the gate. But once you get past those five, Tomlinson is right there with the likes of Faulk and Simpson. It does not seem credible to keep him out of the top 10, and when you're talking about a top-10 player of all time at a position Canton loves, you are without question talking about a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

The Defense Rests

The probability is high for Jason Taylor and Brian Dawkins to make the Hall of Fame, but it's also likely that it will take a few years to happen. I have some bias since I attended the same elementary school (Barrett) as Jason Taylor, but it's not biased to expect him to go in soon. Taylor ranks sixth in sacks (139.5), was a three-time first-team All-Pro selection, made the 2000s All-Decade team, and was the 2006 Defensive Player of the Year. Though it's not a well-tracked stat, Taylor's 40 forced fumbles from 2001 to 2011 are a very high amount. He played on a lot of Miami teams that disappointed in the end, but those were defensive-led teams and Taylor was the best player.

Dawkins was a major factor on those Philadelphia teams that kept coming up short in the NFC under Andy Reid. His biggest hurdle is the fact that he was strictly a safety, because the Hall of Fame has only selected seven pure safeties in its history. With Ed Reed (2019) and Troy Polamalu (2020) coming up for eligibility, Dawkins may get pushed aside for several years, but the nine-time Pro Bowler should eventually get there. Believe it or not, Reggie White (1985-1992) is the last Hall of Famer to play multiple seasons for the Eagles. Dawkins and a short stint from Terrell Owens may go down as the only Hall of Famers from the Reid era, but don't expect the quarterback to ever get in.

Donovan McNabb: Hard Pass

Donovan McNabb's Hall of Fame case really fell apart after he was traded from Philadelphia to Washington in 2010. He could have solidified it with a strong performance away from the Eagles, but McNabb struggled in Washington, once getting benched for Rex Grossman in a two-minute situation due to "cardiovascular endurance." There was some evidence throughout his career that McNabb couldn't come through in such situations with the game on the line. Some of it was captured on video, and some of it, like his alleged puking in Super Bowl XXXIX, was not true. But there was a definite sluggishness to that Super Bowl performance, for which teammate Terrell Owens famously called McNabb out years ago.

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In his final playing season, McNabb was benched for Christian Ponder in Minnesota before eventually calling it a career. Despite playing in a West Coast offense that favored screens and short passes, McNabb had just one season ranked in the top 10 in completion percentage. His low interception totals were more of a product of the way he scrambled, his high sack percentage, and his Earthworm Jim-killing ground balls that no human could catch. McNabb had multiple turnovers in all seven of his playoff losses with the Eagles.

Randall Cunningham has yet to crack the top 25 semifinalists in 10 ballots, so why would McNabb fare any better in the process? He was less of a rushing threat than Cunningham, and his peak passing season (2004) was not as good as Cunningham's peak (1998). The latter also nearly resulted in a Super Bowl appearance, but we know Gary Anderson missed that big field goal. McNabb's lone Super Bowl season came in what was one of the weakest seasons (2004) on record for the NFC as two 8-8 teams made the playoffs. Atlanta was the No. 2 seed and only ranked 17th in DVOA that year.

McNabb was a pretty good quarterback for about a decade (2000-2009), but he never did enough to lock up a spot in the Hall of Fame. We're still going to remember the shortcomings of his career, and some of the goofiness like not knowing an NFL game could end in a tie. It would be very surprising to see McNabb as a semifinalist, which is uncharted territory for quarterbacks you expect to see in his tier (Cunningham, Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms, Joe Theismann, and Steve McNair). Good, but rarely great.

Hines Ward: Here We Go Again, Pittsburgh

The latest entries to the wide receiver logjam have a strong AFC North (or AFC Central) flavor. Derrick Mason was a dependable receiver, but he'll never garner any serious consideration for Canton. Chad Johnson, or Ochocinco, was once such a star in this league that he made himself a future Hall of Fame jacket.

Sorry, Chad, but between Carson Palmer's declining play in Cincinnati and your inability to grasp New England's offense, your case closed. Johnson may have been Ryan Tannehill's leading receiver for the 2012 Dolphins, but an August arrest for domestic violence that played out on Hard Knocks officially ended his time in the NFL. Johnson was legitimately great from 2002-07, but this would be like asking to induct Andre Rison. It is not going to happen.

Hines Ward is going to spark a ton of Hall of Fame discussion, and I would not be surprised if we are still talking about him eight years down the road from now a la the cases of Art Monk and Andre Reed. Ward got the discussion started himself this year when he questioned the Hall of Fame's criteria. "I don't know because I don't know what the criteria is," Ward told the Tribune-Review. "Is it stats? My stats are OK. Is it MVPs? I got a Super Bowl MVP. I got two Super Bowl rings. I really don't know the criteria. I don't know what is really expected to get in."

Ward is not alone in that sentiment, and Pittsburgh wide receivers have had an especially strange history with the Hall of Fame. John Stallworth needed 10 ballots and eight times as a finalist before he got in, which came a year after Lynn Swann got in on his 14th attempt as a finalist -- still a record to this day. The troubling part: Ward smashed their records and was considered the best receiver in team history when he retired after 2011. However, in the time leading up to Ward's eligibility, Antonio Brown has gone on an incredible run that could make Ward second rate in Pittsburgh's annals.

No, it's not really fair to use what Brown is doing in a later era against Ward, but there are other issues. Namely, the careers of Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Torry Holt, Anquan Boldin, Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson ,and so on. Where does Ward distinguish himself from his peers? Like it or not, but the two rings, Super Bowl MVP, prolific playoff stats, and the (unquantifiable) reputation as "the best blocking wide receiver in the NFL" all certainly help.

Ward has remained in the media spotlight, even though his halftime analysis scenes for NBC rarely exceed 20 seconds of airtime. We do not have to get deep into Ward this year, because trust me, this one won't go away any time soon. He is not a priority for voters over Terrell Owens yet, and he won't be one over Randy Moss next year, but he is definitely on par with Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Do not be surprised when Ward is a semifinalist on his first try.

(Ed. Note: Derrick Mason is the most underrated player of the 90s and if I ever make it onto the Hall of Fame committee, he's someone I certainly would fight for. -- Aaron Schatz)

Senior Nominees and Contributors

The 2017 class reverts to choosing two contributors and one senior nominee. By now, you should know my stance on the senior nominees: Jerry Kramer or Ken Anderson would be more than appropriate. As for the contributors, there is only a five-year period (ending with the 2019 class) where there could be two in a given year, but it seems like Ron Wolf and Bill Polian were pushed in last year without giving much thought to what really makes a general manager Hall of Fame worthy. That could set a bad precedent for future cases, but at this point, I'm not sure why coaches (and famed coordinators a la Buddy Ryan and Wade Phillips) are not just moved to the contributor category to allow for more player selections and an improved contributor category.

Wouldn't it be great and logical if coach Don Coryell only had to compete with former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue or George Young (five-time NFL Executive of the Year), instead of trying to earn a spot against Alan Faneca and John Lynch? Even when it strictly goes to one contributor per year in 2020, the well is going to dry up rather quickly after eight selections from 2015-19. In a decade we'll be debating official Ed Hochuli for Canton, and that's not even a joke.

2017 Hall of Fame Predictions

Each year I have gotten 12 or 13 of the 15 finalists correct, and that probably will happen again as I try to gauge how the room feels about the newly eligible players. Last year, Jimmy Johnson took a step back from finalist to semifinalist, and I was too strong on Kevin Mawae and Ty Law, who were passed over for longer-waiting veterans such as Joe Jacoby and Steve Atwater, both first-time finalists in 2016.

Here are my projections for the 15 modern-era finalists in 2017.

  • Morten Andersen (K)
  • Steve Atwater (S)
  • Don Coryell (Coach)
  • Terrell Davis (RB)
  • Brian Dawkins (S)
  • Alan Faneca (G)
  • Joe Jacoby (OT)
  • Edgerrin James (RB)
  • Jimmy Johnson (Coach)
  • John Lynch (S)
  • Kevin Mawae (C)
  • Terrell Owens (WR)
  • Jason Taylor (DE)
  • LaDainian Tomlinson (RB)
  • Kurt Warner (QB)

Last year's final cuts included Don Coryell, Terrell Davis, Joe Jacoby, John Lynch and Kurt Warner. With Tomlinson as my only first-ballot choice, I see this as a good year to catch up on some old omissions before we get into some strong first-ballot classes in the next few years.

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Without further ado, my predictions for the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame class:

  • Don Coryell (Coach)
  • Joe Jacoby (OT)
  • John Lynch (S)
  • LaDainian Tomlinson (RB)
  • Kurt Warner (QB)

As much as I wanted to put Davis in, I can't see a class with two running backs, an offensive-minded coach and no defenders holding up. While fans of Brian Dawkins will scoff at Lynch going in first, it's all about who has been waiting longer in this case.

That's not my logic. That's just my prediction of how the voting process will play out.

Comments

148 comments, Last at 19 Aug 2016, 4:55am

1 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Hines to me is not a hall of famer. At no time did I consider him an elite receiver. And the chasm between him and antonio brown is important. If you think antonio brown blows away hines ward in nearly every dimension but the unquantifiable and team based accomplishments(rings), then hines is not a true hall of fame receiver.

Pretty harsh review of Mcnabb. I think he was better than what's being described here and a lot better than what the media has largely written his career as. People probably already put Cam Newton and Russell Wilson as better qbs than Mcnabb. Hell, my 49er friends thought the same about Kaep during his second season. In a few seasons, you might even here arguments that Alex Smith and Andy Dalton were better than Mcnabb(if you don't already here that).

Frankly - Mcnabb's numbers are ok, but context is important here too. His receivers were really awful for most of his career and it was on the backs of one TO season and bryan Westbrook that accounted for the notable skill talent he did get to play with. His career also ended right about the time teams started exploiting the short pass game and middle of the field stuff the way everyone seems to now. It may seem strange to say this, but the uptick in passing didn't just happen in 2004. There was a big spike in 2010 and continued again thereafter.

2 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I feel similarly about Ward to how I feel about Rod Smith. They are both sure-fire membera of the Hall of Very-Good, and, partly because of how they played - blocking, and leadership and making the most of their abilities - I'd happily see them on the Hall Of Fame of only because they made their teams better in more ways than just catching footballs.

However, with the logjam for HoF membership I don't see how that kin do player gets in under current rules. Maybe wait to the seniors. At which point Ward's continued work in the media side of the game will probably not hurt and keep him in people's minds.

Part of me would like to see something like every team being asked to nominate a couple of players who have been passed over who would be put into a separate class with no limits on how many could get in if voted for. Just to clear the past, and maybe rebalance the position distribution as well. Maybe it is time to suggest the NFL do something like a supplementary class for the league 100th anniversary in 2020?

64 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Ok, but it's not a hall of famous players, if you're going to be a pendant, look up the mission statement.

http://www.profootballhof.com/mission-values-vision/

Mission:

Honor the Heroes of the Game

Preserve its History

Promote its Values

Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE

Values:

Commitment

Integrity

Courage

Respect

Excellence

Vision:

It's not just the past, it's the future; It's not just about Canton, it's the world; It's not just a great museum for football, it's a message of excellence EVERYWHERE.

45 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

"Frankly - Mcnabb's numbers are ok, but context is important here too. His receivers were really awful for most of his career and it was on the backs of one TO season and bryan Westbrook that accounted for the notable skill talent he did get to play with."

Receiving talent aside, it was still a very friendly offensive system. His receivers were no worse than Alex Smith's, and he's put up career best numbers with the same coach.

3 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I've never understood the idea of why there can't be two players at the same position (Tomlinson and Davis) being inducted at the same time, when we saw it in 2006 at quarterback with two guys who shouldn't have been first ballot guys.

The HoF should be about the best players available on the ballot getting in first no matter what position they played or what side of the ball they play on, so with that in mind here are my five: Tomlinson, Warner, Alan Faneca, John Lynch and Terrell Owens

4 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

will print this out and read tongith when have time.
of first time eligible,s L. Tomlinson highly deserving. best Raiders killer ever? certainly in mix.

Jason Taylor and B. Dawkins also
deserving.

Not into H. Ward much. But there is such a steelers HOF bias, he probably gets in. D. leBeau supposedly in as Loin player but really got in as Steelers asst. coach. Ke. Greene best years as Ram btu watch this weekend it will semem like played bulk of career as Pitter.

11 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I thought Tomlinson was an easy pick. He was in my eyes the last one of the idea that runningbacks could do it all.
Hines Ward was an amazing receiver and a more than amazing blocker and locker room influence.
He might even be underrated because of his blocking.
We might even see some "he was so good at blocking that he's overrated as a receiver".
As a receiver he was good enough to win those 2 super bowls.

5 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Looking at the receiver logjam of Bruce, Holt and Ward I tend to side with Ward, whose career resembles that of Michael Irvin's.

Irvin - 12 years, 5 Pro Bowls and 1 All-Pro team in 1991. Finished top 10 in catches/yards/TD catches a combined 15 times and won 3 Super Bowls. Versus the competition of his era ('88-'99) Irvin ranked 5th in catches, 2nd in receiving yards and tied for 6th in TD catches

Ward - 14 years, 4 Pro Bowls , 3 second team All-Pro honors (2002-2004). Finished top 10 in catches/yards/TD catches a combined 10 times and won 2 Super Bowls, including SB 40 MVP. Versus the competition of his era ('98-2011) Ward ranked 2nd in catches, 6th in receiving yards and 5th in TD catches.

7 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

According to this site, Irvin was probably the best receiver in the game from 1991-1995, right in the middle of Jerry Rice's prime (well, more accurately, just slightly past Rice's absolute apex, which would probably be from 1987-1990). Ward never struck me as quite that good, although I'm sure he'll eventually get in

/Jimmy Smith is the most underrated wr of his era, imo, and he won't get close to making it

6 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Stabler was 69 when he died, not in his 80s. I agree that they won't put TD in in the same class as LDT, but they should have put him in years ago, and they wouldn't have had this problem . Would be thrilled if you're right about Coryell. It's too bad they can't seem to get it right while these guys are still alive (Bob Hayes and Stabler are other prominent examples). Never thought I was watching a HoFer while watching Lynch, and they have traditionally been crazy-strict about electing safeties, but he better get in before the Polamalu-Reed generation becomes eligible, or he will suffer in comparison. I think Ward will be like Art Monk- he'll have to wait, but he'll eventually get in. Like with TD, I'm more impressed by Warner's high peak than bothered by the mediocre filler seasons his career is missing that would've made him a 1st ballot type of guy. It seems weird to me that it's taken so long for some of the Hogs to get in (though, to be honest, at the time everybody agreed that the Cowboys offensive line was the driving force of their dynasty, but none of those guys is going to make it- Larry Allen was only on the '95 champs, so he doesn't really count)

9 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

No other safeties are coming up though.
Safeties are corners who understand defenses now because their role is marginalized into cover guys who can tackle maybe, but not too hard - it's illegal now.
After the death of Sean Taylor, how many safeties did you see come to rise?
Maybe Earl Thomas. Who am I missing.

16 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Thomas is the obvious one. Chancellor also has a shot, as will Matthieu if he has another couple of strong seasons. Sanders didn't last long enough. Not so much new candidates, but guys like Atwater, Harrison, Easley, and Cliff Harris all would've been in at another position and have stronger cases than Lynch

47 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Many potential HOFers have to rally fans to get over the hump. Owens has the opposite problem. He has many fans, but he has to get past a sizable camp who will consistently vote so as to prevent his ever entering the Hall.

Owens might have a hard time moving that second camp, and he will always garner a lot of No votes.

15 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

If there's a safety dilemma, Steve Atwater is the guy that likely gets hurt the most. He'll keep getting passed over by all the great players about to be eligible in the next few years. But overall, there's not a big safety problem, unless you look at it this way: 7 safeties in the HOF, two waiting (Lynch and Atwater), three on the way (Dawkins, Reed, Polamalu). Are they really going to get all 5 in the next few years after putting in 7 in over five decades? But the strange part is that I don't think the snubs are all that big here. We're talking Kenny Easley, Darren Woodson, LeRoy Butler, Johnny Robinson, Donnie Shell and...? I think we can do without honoring Darren Sharper, as much as Peter King disagrees.

I also agree with Ward > Holt and Bruce, but I can admit I'm biased there. Just can't ignore that the Steelers did not throw the ball as much, and Ward was annually the long-time leading receiver for one of the league's more successful runs in the SB era. He didn't get outplayed by his own teammates as much as Charlie Joiner (Chandler, Jefferson) and Art Monk (Clark) did.

I wouldn't be bothered with a Rod Smith bust down the road either. They can swap out Floyd Little for him.

23 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

"Just can't ignore that the Steelers did not throw the ball as much,"

I fact-checked this, and it's actually an understatement. From Ward's first year as a starter in 1999 to his last in 2010, the Steelers were last in the league at 29.9 passes per game. Rams were No. 1 at 35.9, and the median was 32.5. So yeah, you could easily guesstimate Ward's numbers would have been 10 percent higher on another team. And that would mean he'd be fifth in receptions instead of 13th right now, 16th in yards instead of 23rd, and 12th in touchdowns instead of tied for 15th.

24 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Ronnie Lott is the only safety elected to the All-Decade teams of the 80s/90s/00s inducted in the HoF as it stands. The latter decade for obvious eligibility reasons.

70s has Ken Houston and Larry Wilson inducted, but Cliff Harris and Dick Anderson still await.

80s has Kenny Easley, Deron Cherry, Nolan Cromwell, Joey Browner.
90s has Steve Atwater, LeRoy Butler, Carnell Lake.

00s has Dawkins, Reed, Polamalu, Sharper.

NB Lott made both 80s and 90s but also played his first 2-3 years as a CB.

37 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

They could get all five in if they're efficient about about it (seniority). Besides these, agree with Easley, Woodson, Butler, and Robinson, and also would add Bobby Dillon, Jimmy Patton, Eddie Meador, Cliff Harris, Deron Cherry, and Joey Browner. Maybe Shell also, and definitely include Dave Grayson if you consider him a safety.

43 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I do wish Floyd Little hadn't had so much energy spent getting him into the hall. If people wanted a passed-over Bronco then Randy Gradishar is vastly more deserving. Atwater and T. Davis are both looking like they might be too. (I'm speaking as a Bronco's fan from 84 on, so didn't see Gradishar or Little play).

I think Little is an exemplar of the kind of player who (through no fault of their own) make a big name on poor teams and simply don't have the résumé to justify a place on the NFL Hall of Fame (but deserve every plaudit they get from their fans and team). I guess that is perhaps the Archie Manning class of player, vital to the long term fandom of the league, but not Hall Of Fame calibre.

I reckon players like Rod Smith are on the bubble between the two - having some impressive stats, though not overwhelming, but along with a good story (and in Smith's case still having the yards and TD records for an undrafted receiver).

20 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

One case against Jason Taylor is how absolutely zero traction his partner Zach Thomas has gotten despite having all the credentials of a HoF player. Taylor does benefit post-retirement from being bigger in the media.

I certainly hope Taylor gets in but the fact Thomas is ignored so makes me more than a little sad.

32 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Both Thomas and Howley are 5 time 1st team All Pros. Thomas probably also gets hurt, unfairly, by having the poor judgement to be on a team which didn't have a lot of post season success. Howley shares Thomas' poor judgement in being a linebacker.

The real outrage is that players like this are looking in, Howley for decades, while the morons who run the place induct the likes of Eddie DeBartolo. You cannot make this sh*t up.

34 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Zach was extremely productive, as the Pro Bowls/All Pro teams would show, but playing in the same period as Lewis, Brooks and Urlacher, you had to be special AND win in the playoffs. Lewis/Brooks did, while Urlacher got to 2 conference title games and 1 Super Bowl appearance.

Zach? 3 of the 5 playoff losses his team's had saw them give up 200+ yards rushing and another 140 to the Raiders in 2000, not to mention his teams failed to make the playoffs in each of his last 7 seasons.

49 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

davis one less season of quality play than G. Sayers. aklthoguh, if count playoffs (whioch I do like to do), then Davis has equal number of great seasons as Sayers as basically Davis's playoffg ames add up to a full season.

however, Davis does not havbe the kick returning that sayers had and did not capture country's imagination the way sayers did. Sayers more famous, in other words.

51 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Just asking this because returns were brought up....

Hester is getting in, right? As someone who's interest in the NFL really peaked around 2006-2008, he was breathtaking to watch, and while it helped to be in that Bears Special Teams machine, he was truly incredible.

I realize he was a complete one trick (or two trick - punt and kickoff) pony, but the guy had too many memorable special teams TDs to not make it. And his overall return numbers even when he wasn't housing it were phenomenal.

53 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Terrell should. His peak value was ridiculous, and he did it for long enough in my mind.

I am interested to see if we re-set the expectations for RBs for Hall of Fame with this next generation though. Peterson seems like a lock at this point, but beyond him I can't see any active player with a good shot if we use historical comparisons.

RB usage is just so much less now, and with more 2-back systems, and even shorter careers, no one is really putting up historically good numbers.

Would guys like Lynch, with high peak value but limited career / longevity value get in?

134 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Don't forget the 20 game mess in Los Angeles in 1988-89.

Shanahan has zero chance of making the HoF primarily because there's a long list of others waiting to get in ahead of him.

Even if there was no-one else waiting, I'm ambivalent at best about putting him in. Certainly brought things together at the end of the 1990s for Denver but then didn't really achieve much. His record looks very much like a Jeff Fisher / Tom Coughlin state of averageness.

Heck might as well consider Dan Reeves as much as Shanahan

57 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

You can, but you probably need to put him in with the kickers.

Bob Hayes is probably the crappiest offensive player who made the hall based in large helping on their return prowess. Bob Hayes was a pretty outstanding receiver. His AV is about twice Hester's.

Hester can get some consideration after the hall gets its first full-time punter whose doesn't have an award named after him. Hester's AV is less than that of the Andersen twins.

55 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

He has an MVP, a Super Bowl MVP (won despite a migraine), a 2000 season, and he carried Elway to his two titles.

Career-length aside, that's a pretty large helping of Fame to leave out of the Hall.

Now we add in his full playoff career. He's 5th in playoff rushing yardage, and 4th in TDs. Everyone ahead of him has played in at least twice as many playoff games. He averaged 5.6 yd/rush and his playoff career pro-rates to a 2280 yard season.

He's a better John Riggins.

I'd take him over LT.

58 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

well, T. Davis would amek my personal HOF (the Raiderjoe Hall of gam,e), so am not against him. just tried above to give the anti=-Davis argum,ent. would take Davis over Ribgins. Do prefer Toml;inson over Davis, though. Flip flop the teams and does Tomlinson have an outrageous coupel of season for Broncos? probably. does davis score 31 TDs that one season with Chragers? maybe. Tomlinson also more prolific as pass receiver.

69 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I wonder if Terrell Davis's case might get stronger in the future due to the lack of feature RBs in recent times.

Ten years ago, Emmitt Smith, LT, Curtis Martin, The Bus, Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders even Marcus Allen were still a close memory.

But Adrian Peterson is about the only HOF-calibre back in recent times. Some would say Marshawn Lynch.

72 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Agreed he is a great performer and his 5.5yd per carry avg is best ever but dropping. He's going to need to build on that 7,220 yds or have a spectacular postseason to begin to get in the conversation for the HoF.

But Charles aside, do you think TDs case will begin to look better in the future due to lack of feature backs?

75 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

In a baseball context, Davis is the Sandy Koufax test.

Koufax had a very short career for an elite pitcher. He played 12 seasons, but only 10 as a starter, and was only a premier pitcher for six.

But his peak was enormous and his had great playoff success. Koufax is generally regarded as the greatest left-handed pitcher in MLB history and was a 1st ballot HOFer (despite some shaky grey ink, due to his lack off longevity).

He basically has the same case as Davis.

83 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

It's a baseball-reference term. It's basically peripheral or accumulation stats.

Koufax is twice as good as the typical HOFer in terms of peak stats (black ink), but actually sub-par in terms of accumulation stats (grey ink). He's the opposite of Bert Blyleven -- who has fantastic grey ink, but subpar black ink.

Anyway, another decent RB comp I forgot about is Earl Campbell. Campbell has Davis's career, with less playoff success and one more season of average production. Campbell was a 1st ballot HOFer.

I'm fine w/ keeping Davis out, so long as we retroactively remove Sayers and Campbell, too. After all, replacement-level stat accumulation is important. We need more guys like Emmett Smith who churn along for three years too many to squeeze in front of Walter Payton.

86 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I also think this is an oversimplification. Hall of famers don't just produce peak seasons and average one's(and there is still value in average seasons). They also produce good/productive seasons as well.

He produced three great seasons then was gone. Yes injuries were the culprit, but that's still a very short career.

87 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

An era adjustment favors Davis. This isn't a running league any more. RBs are replaced more easily and have fewer carry opportunities.

Sayers and Davis' careers were ended by the same injuries, so an era adjustment has no effect on that -- double ACL/MCL tears will still end an RB's career. Campbell didn't have a significant injury -- he simply retired due to accumulating wear and tear. That was a consequence of his style, as opposed to Sayers and Davis, who had comparatively freakish and random injuries.

So Davis put up similar numbers with a better peak in an era less friendly to running backs, and did it despite improved medicine offering no benefit to his particular injury circumstances. Want to try another argument?

88 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

"double ACL/MCL tears will still end an RB's career."

This is false. Look up Marshawn Lynch.

"RBs are replaced more easily and have fewer carry opportunities."

In 1966 Bill Brown lead the league with 17.9 rushes per game.

In 1980, Earl Campbell lead the league with 24.9 rushes per game, (5 more than 2nd place Walter Payton!), Tony Dorset was 6th with with 18.5.

In 1998, Karim Abdul-Jabbar was 15th in the league with 18 rusher per game. Jamal Anderson lead the league with 25.6.

79 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

"He basically has the same case as Davis."

I disagree. Davis only had 4 seasons with more than 200 carries and only 5 with more than 100. He basically has 4.5 seasons, and he was truly dominant for only 2 of them (1997-98). Also, a RB's performance is so much more team dependent than a pitcher's, and Denver continued to be a top 10 rushing offense without Davis and with mediocre backs. When they had another very good back (Portis), the rushing attack was again dominant. Davis was very good and a blast to watch. But for me, there's just not enough of a peak there and not enough evidence that he should get sufficient credit for that short peak to justify putting him in.

82 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I think the continuance of Denver's rushing game is somewhat overstated. In broad strokes, when TD was healthy, he got around 2000 total yards per season.

When Portis was around, he got around 1600 total yards per season.

When it was an average back (with apologies to Mike Anderson's 1500 yard season), they got around 1200 total yards.

TD was worth about 400 yards a season more than even a Hall of Very Good guy, and was about 800 yards better than a replacement-level back.

The rebuttal to Davis is Chris Johnson, but his peak season seems like an aberration (same for Jamal Lewis), whereas with Davis, there's a sharp line between when he was healthy and when he wasn't, and even in his aborted last season, his per-game and per-rush totals were pretty good. He was just a glass cannon.

96 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Except their career shapes are exactly opposite. Davis' case lies completely in his 1st four seasons, Koufax' in his final five. (In 1961 he was good, but way below 62-66.) One career ended with injury-caused mediocrity, the other with a monster season despite an ailing arm. (One writer said, near the end of Sandy's run, "One of these days he's going to throw that left arm all the way to home plate.") Always works better to end well.

If anyone cares: "Black ink" denotes leading the league in that category; "gray ink" means finishing in the league's top 10.

74 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

do not believe t. davis's case would look better or worse based on future events. nevr get into that stuff,. it is like a. monk. monk great while played, thought of by many as HOF. from like mid-80s to early 90s, I thought only rice and sharpe were better. then monk retuiredf and he got treated as mediocre ho-hum receiover because people started comparing him agaisnst herman moore and holt and Harrison and all other receivers with fancy stats.

28 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

If I were voting, I'd probably go: Atwater, Jacoby, Owens, Tomlinson, and Warner.

I just don't get the fascination some people have with Lynch. I saw them both for their entire careers, and I think Atwater was substantially better. In fact, I'd rather see a guy like Joey Browner get in ahead of Lynch. Same for Kenny Easley.

36 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I truly don't get the John Lynch debate. I never thought at any time I saw Tampa play that he was HoF material. The stars of that defense were Sapp, Barber, Brooks, and Rice. He was very good in that defense, but as many have pointed out this isn't the Hall of Very Good. It was also a defense that covered up his weaknesses. If you asked any knowledgeable fan who they'd rather have between Lynch, Dawkins, and Atwater in their primes, I'd wager most would pick Atwater or Dawkins. I think if you tossed Leroy Butler in there, he'd even get more votes than Lynch, and I don't hear many outside of Wisconsin calling for Butler in the HoF.

84 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Career AV disagrees.
http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&hint=John+Lynch&player_id1_select=John+Lynch&player_id1=LyncJo00&hint=Steve+Atwater&player_id2_select=Steve+Atwater&player_id2=AtwaSt00&hint=Brian+Dawkins&player_id3_select=Brian+Dawkins&player_id3=DawkBr00&hint=LeRoy+Butler&player_id4_select=LeRoy+Butler&player_id4=ButlLe00&hint=Rodney+Harrison&player_id5_select=Rodney+Harrison&player_id5=HarrRo01

That suggests that Dawkins is the best, Butler and Lynch are pretty close, and Harrison is a clear 5th.

Lynch might have been overrated, which accounts for his 9 PBs, but only two All-Pros. But it's also possible that Harrison and Butler were boom/bust guys -- their only PB seasons (2 and 4 respectively) came in All-Pro seasons.

By any measure, Dawkins performed at a higher level than Lynch. That one isn't close, but Lynch has solid arguments against Butler and Harrison.

93 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I'm clearly a huge Bucs fan, and I'm pretty befuddled by John Lynch being a serious HOF candidate; I have so many memories of Sapp, Brooks, and Barber utterly taking over games, and I pretty much remember John Lynch hitting people and then jumping around. I will argue Ronde Barber's HOF candidacy until my head explodes, but even I just don't see how Lynch was a dominant player.

29 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

"But anyone holding a lack of postseason success against Tomlinson for the Hall of Fame doesn't understand this game." It wasn't held against Marvin Harrison, at least as far as being an individual contributor.

33 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Scott - out of interest do you know if the Selection Committee will change with the Rams moving from St Louis to L.A? And therefore they'll need to add/remove representatives from those cities.

42 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

You could, if you had nothing better to do, look up how the committee has handled moves in the past. For the Hall's purposes, they want someone who watched Hall-eligible players in Rams games, which will be St. Louis for at least five years. Now that the committee consists of more than one voter per team, both cities can be represented. If you told me LA's had someone for all these years, I wouldn't be shocked.

61 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

If Jamaal Charles can come back from his latest knee injury at a similar level as before, and play another 2-3 years, he's got a good chance at the HoF. He's the best all around back since LT. And it's not really very close. Overall highest rushing average per carry in NFL history. Can run WR routes and make guys miss in space. Dude's a beast.

78 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

You may be right, but it would denote a significant lowering of the bar. With all but the best of the best RBs being marginalized in the current game, the next 10 years is a perfect time to get those linemen and defensive backs in. For too long, the HoF has been tilted towards "skill" players. I'm fine with LT and AP being the only current/recent RBs who get in. I can't think of anyone else I'd vote for. MJD? Lynch? Gore? James? Taylor? Barber? Fine players, but not in my HoF. To me, Corey Dillon was more talented than any (and I wrote as much before his Patriot career), but he falls short also.

94 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I like your list, even with my reservations about John Lynch. Lynch actually strikes me as a guy who could benefit from the "Jerome Bettis Effect"; a guy with less-than-impressive credentials who gets in in part because they're really likeable guys who have always been very good with the media.

All I can say is it's well past about damn time Don Cornell got in.

95 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Lynch will get in, simply because he is a nice man who *everyone* recognizes on the FOX broadcasts. Of course, we wouldn't want to remember his career for what it mostly was- playing in an era where blindsiding WR's was legal and, more importantly, encouraged.

Davis is fringe for me, simply because his peak value was so short, yet the Broncos won two Super Bowls. Others have mentioned his enshrinement could pave the way for a guy like Marshawn Lynch, which I disagree with for one reason: Likability. Lynch never pandered to the media and there are those (cough cough Peter King cough cough) who will hold that against him. Hell, it got Tony Dungy in the Hall, even though I've never been sold on him being that great of a coach.

99 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

55 guys have coached over 150 NFL games. 4 of them have a better winning percentage than Dungy. He did it with half his career with a team which was mostly a laughing stock for the 20 years before he arrived there. When I tell people this after they dispute Dungy's worthiness, they always tell me about Peyton Manning and the great defensive players in Tampa, as if there is some wing of HOF coaches without great players. So what are people saying, that Dungy has to be in the top 3 of winning percentages to be worthy? Number 1, or he is unworthy? Frankly, it is ridiculous.

100 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I agree that Dungy absolutely belongs in there. People reference the greatness of the Tampa D as if Dungy had nothing to do with it, or with the 2006 Super Bowl team's playoff defense.

I've personally made a similar case for Marty Schottenheimer, whom I maintain is the single most underrated coach in NFL history.

102 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

The problem I have with Dungy is that he was pushed so quickly through the process while Mike Holmgren, Marty Schottenheimer and Bill Cowher can't even sniff the semifinalists. That's really his tier, yet Dungy was a finalist all 3 years of his eligibility. He got in quicker than Bill Walsh (4), Joe Gibbs (4) and Paul Brown (5) did. Hank Stram (20), George Allen (24) and John Madden (27) all had to go through 20+ years of eligibility and make it as senior nominees.

103 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

So your contention is that unless Dungy was in the top 4 for winning percentage for guys who have coached 150 or more games, he needs to wait longer? I get your point, but I think it just illustrates the utter and complete irrationality, and lack of credibility, of the group of doofuses (doofi?) who select the inductees, and make up the rules for induction.

I don't know what the solution is, other than to completely clean house. To say the institution needs new blood is like saying Matt Millen was a little too devoted to drafting wide receivers in the 1st round.

104 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I think the general thought that there's no rush to get a coach in unless he's Don Shula or Tom Landry/Chuck Noll is a good one. Dungy isn't one of those guys, and there are several players I would have sooner elected than him, which is why I think coaches need to be moved to the Contributor category.

As for Dungy's general case, I can't take the win% at face value. If you used Win Probability Added or came up with your own WAR-type stat, Peyton Manning from 2003-2008 did more than any player ever to increase his team's win%. He was still in that prime when Jim Caldwell took over too. I understand your point about HOF coaches and great players, but it is true that TB drafted two HOFers in 1995 (rarely ever happens) before Dungy got there. It is true that the Colts had Manning, Harrison, Edge and Wayne in place before Dungy was hired. He did a good job, we know there's an elephant in the room that helped accelerate his case, but I just don't think he's that more deserving than Holmgren/Cowher/Schottenheimer. In the rare cases those guys had HOF-caliber QBs, the results were great.

105 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Yeah, I think with coaches in particular, getting out the finely calibrated deserve-o-meter, to pin down what shall be the proper order of induction, is mostly a waste of time. There are zero coaches in the HOF without multiple HOF players, we really haven't the sample sizes of draft picks by anybody needed to have a lot of confidence that anybody's drafting acumen is consistently superior to the norm. Make enough draft picks, and the thought to be great drafter will start to look increasingly ordinary. We really don't know whose drafting success was the recult of skill, and whose was the result of good fortune, nor do we know how much weight to assign to those two values for anyone's drafting.

This is before we get to the extraordinarily dubious nature of assigning large value, in terms of evaluating coaching careers, to the outcomes of close games in a one and done tournament. Bill Walsh isn't any worse coach if Lewis Billups catches a floater, and the Niners likely lose Walsh's third Super Bowl. Change about 5 plays that have nothing to do with coaching performance, and most people evaluate Belichik very differently. What happens to the Parcells, Belichik, Levy canon, if Norwood is better by a couple feet? Of course, if Roger Craig doesn't get sloppy with the ball at the end of the conference championship in January 1991, there's a very good chance that Seifert never gets fired in San Franciso, retires with 3 or more rings, and the highest winning percentage in history, is a shoo-in for the blazer, and many call him GOAT. However, Craig put the ball on the ground, and Seifert's never getting in, wrongly, in my view. Playoff w-l records are really of minimal value in evaluating coaching performance, if you are interested in an empirical measurement of coaching quality.

If you win a high enough percentage of your games, you belong. The greater number of franchises you do that with, the more credit is deserved. The more games you coach, while maintaining that winning percentage, the more credit is due. I'd prefer to simply make a binary choice, in or out, not have coaches and gms competing with players, and get rid of owners' induction possibilities altogether. If a guy is worthy, give him the blazer and be done with it, and drop the conceit of precision with regard to our ability to make fine discernment with regard to the proper order of being deserving. In other words, stop the bullsh*t.

107 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

"There are zero coaches in the HOF without multiple HOF players"

Will - your quote which I generally agree with, creates an interesting question in my mind.

How many of the Patriots players who've played under Belichick will make the HoF?

- Tom Brady of course.
- Junior Seau is in there but that's not really down to Belichick.
- Randy Moss will get in there and that's partly down to his 2nd act with the Patriots. If he'd retired after his Raiders effort, I suspect he'd have got in but we'd be talking about longevity etc, etc.
- Darelle Revis got his ring with the Patriots. He'll probably get in.
- Adam Vinatieri? Stephen Gostkowski? Not many kickers in the HoF.
- Gronkowski - a Terrell Davis-like argument if he retired tomorrow but if he continues to play like he has done - I'd guess he'll be in.

108 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Soft Balls Bardy, Regis and Gronkowski will make pfhof even, if all three never play again.

Vinatieri will pro ably get in becausuee of super bowl winning kicks, tuck rule game winning kick and longevity but morten Anderson,and Nick lowery were better kockers.

Gostkowski! Who knows, career still going,on and easy to,kick this era. Not ball of tamer to me.

Moss.,seau- yes,,easy ins to both

115 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Forgot about Ty Law ... eligible since 2015 ... out at the semi-finals / last 25 both times

Will - I agree about Richard Seymour. Think in the non-salary cap era, he'd have been able to stay at the Patriots for at least 2-3 more years and enhance his HoF chances. Probably that's true of a lot of players around the league. And I don't put it past BB to have traded him to get some value rather than let him retire a Patriot.

141 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Manning to the superbowl with 4 different head coaches and to the playoffs with all 5 coaches he played with. Winning the sb is probably too difficult a question to assert, but I think Manning helped Dungy a lot more than the reverse.

I say this as someone who loves Dungy and thinks he should be in the hall for his innovative qualities. Still, I'm not overly impressed with his coaching resume as a first ballot hall of famer. Seifert's work with the panthers should provide and instructive example of how much context can influence a coaching resume.

Bill Belichick proved the contrary. He wins without Brady being a hall of famer or Brady even being on the roster.

145 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Given that changing just a handful of plays that have nothing to do with coaching has a gigantic impact on the playoff w-l record of Belichik, and the playoff w-l record of Belichik has a lot to do with how people rank him, I'm not so confident that Belichik's reputation survives if somebody drafts Brady in the 5th round. Don't get me wrong, I think he is among the best ever, but without Brady, I think there is a pretty decent chance that he is not recognized as such. Do they get championships trying to make do with Drew Bledsoe? That's far from guaranteed, and then what happens if they don't?

111 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I get your point, but that says more to me about the absurd politics of the HoF than it does about how deserving any of the candidates were. As much as people (well, other writers) like to lionize them, the beat writers were as petty and egotistical as anybody they covered, and and it shows up in the HoF voting in all the leagues.

As ridiculous as it may sound, I think the internet age has made the voting more transparent and the voters more accountable than they had been in the past; anybody not voting for Belichick in his first year of eligibility is going to have a lot of explaining to do.

112 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

When it comes to that list of all-time running backs, most people start with some order of Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders. Emmitt Smith's durability deserves respect, and Eric Dickerson was probably the best right out of the gate. But once you get past those five, Tomlinson is right there with the likes of Faulk and Simpson. It does not seem credible to keep him out of the top 10, and when you're talking about a top-10 player of all time at a positi

As much as I hate admitting it, I think the double-murderer was actually the best RB of that lot.

114 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

When you factor how poorly he was utilized in his first 3 seasons, due to incredibly incompetent coaching, the murderer really does metntion with anybody, with the possible exception of Brown and Payton.

I don't think people fully appreciate what Jim Brown was 61 years ago, when he was a rookie. A 6 foot 2 inch, 232 pound guy, who may have been as fast as anybody. Imagine Adrian Peterson at 280 pounds, as fast and as shifty as he is now, and you begin to get some sense of it.

117 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I totally get Jim Brown's dominance and importance, and won't argue with anyone who says he's better.

I just think that in the context of both his era and his godawful teams, Mr. Double Homicide is at the very least Jim Brown's peer. Scott puts him into the next (still rarefied) tier, which I disagree with most vehemently.

140 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

The double murdered came into conversation today at my work. People simply had no idea just how amazing a player he was. If we factor in college career, I submit that no player ever played football better than OJ simpson.

Without the murder conviction and languishing in buffalo, he's probably a top 5 all time player in my book.

126 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Well for me, Al Davis was the youngest coach in history, served as general manager, served as Commissioner, bought the team, and was the Raiders for 50 years or so. He was an innovator and builder, and was largely responsible for integrating the league. There is no doubt he belongs. There are few people more qualified to be recognized as a builder.

Jerry Jones? Made a fortune in oil, bought the Cowboys as a vanity project, and has been mismanaging it horribly ever since. His sole value to the NFL has been working to increase revenue streams. Now if I'm an owner, that's very important.....but as a reason to put someone in the Hall of Fame? He hasn't even been a part of it all that long.

136 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

"His sole value to the NFL has been working to increase revenue streams. Now if I'm an owner, that's very important.....but as a reason to put someone in the Hall of Fame?"

What other reason is there to put an owner in the Hall? I'm okay with the guys who kept the league and game going before television, but since franchises became licenses to print money, it's about the revenue. Period. Davis' primary legacy was fighting the league in court for the right to move his franchise wherever he wanted. (Yeah, he had some good teams on the field. So did Jack Kent Cooke.) Jones' "contribution" is indeed revenue-related, whether it's Jerryworld or signing his own deals with sponsors. I agree with Will's comment below about how there should be an owners' wing of the Hall where they can celebrate themselves without bothering the rest of us. But until then, it's about making the rich richer.

137 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Er, No. No, not even close. You're missing quite a lot from Al Davis' legacy:

1. As commissioner of the AFL, he made it an economically viable competitor to the NFL. Unlike the USFL a few decades later, Davis ran and promoted the AFL as an independent entity rather than seeking a merger from the start; they merged because they didn't have to merge.
2. He was a driving force in integrating the NFL. He actively recruited from historically black colleges, hired & promoted black coaches and executives, and paid black players as much as whites.
3. He was a pioneer of vertical offenses throughout the dead ball era.
4. As owner and GM, he built and sustained a championship contender for over two decades. He has a better record as a GM than Bill Polian (who also deserves to go in).

143 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Davis was AFL commissioner for all of four months in 1966. He spearheaded a drive to sign NFL quarterbacks that brought about the merger, at which point the office of commissioner was abolished, and Milt Woodard became AFL president until the league disappeared in 1970.

He did make Art Shell the first black head coach, which certainly counts, but I don't remember the Raiders being recognized as particularly progressive on racial matters.

He had an on-field philosophy that served him well for a long time, but that he stuck with after the league passed it by.

He got control of the team by voting with another general partner while the managing partner was out of the country.

And, ultimately, he was a guy who willing to abandon his fanbase when he thought he had a better deal elsewhere. Twice.

148 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Flores was 2nd ... Tom Fears coached the Saints from 67-70.

But the point stands that Davis didn't care whether someone was black, white, male, female. All he was interested in was whether he believed that person had the skills to make the Raiders better.

Whether he you can call him progressive I'm not sure. I'd have said that in his head he saw himself stealing an advantage over the competition by being willing to hire people they wouldn't. His theme was being a rebel and dissing the establishment.

Davis was doing what was best for his team - I'd say he was innovative than progressive. To me, Dan Rooney is progressive in getting the NFL to adopt the "Rooney Rule" because in so doing it he changed the landscape for everybody.

127 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Al Davis, for the first half of his very long career in pro football, managed rosters brilliantly. 20-plus years of brilliant roster management makes a guy worthy.

Jerry Jones bought a team, made one good head coach hire, managed to completely alienate that good head coach, because Jerry Jones is a loudmouthed drunk, thus nipping what should have been perhaps the best NFL dynasties ever in the bud. He then mismanaged that team year, after year, after year, with a brief respite when Parcells lent some competence. I didn't
think the morons who run the HOF could get any worse, but they have proved me wrong again. That office chair sniffing doofus Peter King has already proclaimed that it is only a matter of time before they induct Jerry Jones. What. A. Joke.

128 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

agree 100% opn the j. jones stuff.

A. Davis much better arguemtn for HOF induction. would not evben have Davis in personal Hall of Game as mien would only have players and coaches in it. of course, Davis was Raiders HC short period o ftime but not enoufh for hll induiction.

but, the way hof works, yes, Davis belongs in. as do mara and rooney and some of the other owners already in. Jones should not be in. Jerry Jones could buy the HOF probably and induct himself.

138 Re: Predicting the 2017 Hall of Fame Class

I'd prefer the jerks just have an owner's wing, with every owner automatically inducted, with, of course, full blown giant sized statues, instead of mere life size busts, so every one of these welfare loving, money grubbing, antiturst violating, A-holes has a 40 foot version of themselves in bronze. Instead of mere yellow blazers, like the lowly players, they can give their induction speeches wearing....

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lbfbkwgAzQ1qaasg9.jpg