Hall of Fame Debates: Julius Peppers and the Sack Pack

Carolina Panthers ER Julius Peppers
Carolina Panthers ER Julius Peppers
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Julius Peppers is a surefire Hall of Famer. I'll stop short of calling him a "first-ballot Hall of Famer," because folks who understand how Pro Football Hall of Fame balloting works rarely throw that term around. But Peppers won't have to wait long, if at all, after he becomes eligible in 2024. We're not really here to debate about him today.

Instead, let's discuss the logjam of pass-rushers queuing up behind Peppers. Jared Allen was a first-time Hall of Fame finalist on the 2021 ballot (last year's ballot, to be clear). Robert Mathis and DeMarcus Ware become eligible this year. Dwight Freeney becomes eligible on the 2023 ballot, Terrell Suggs in 2024. All of them played similar defensive roles during the same era and posted similar statistics. That will make sorting among them difficult, and it is almost certain to cause lots of "snubs" and hard feelings in the years to come.

The Sack Pack

Let's start with a quick tale of the tape to demonstrate just how similar Suggs, Ware, Allen, Freeney and Mathis are, according to the leaderboards and the stars-and-crosses test:

Peppers and Other HOF-Candidate Edge Rushers
Player Sacks Rank All-Pro Pro Bowl 10+ Sacks
Julius Peppers 159.5 4 3 9 10
Terrell Suggs 139.0 8 1 7 7
DeMarcus Ware 138.5 9 4 9 8
Jared Allen 136.0 12 4 5 8
Dwight Freeney 125.5 18 3 7 7
Robert Mathis 123.0 19 1 5 5

Sacks became an official statistic in 1982, and the sack leaderboard only recently matured to the point where the top is not loaded with active and recently retired players. The four players besides Peppers with 150-plus sacks—Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Kevin Greene, and Chris Doleman—are all in Canton. It's dangerous to think in terms of statistical plateaus when discussing the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but 150 sacks feels safe, especially since active sure HoFers Von Miller (106.0 sacks) and J.J. Watt (101.0) are unlikely to approach it.

Things get trickier as we move down the top 20. John Abraham (133.5 sacks), Leslie O'Neal (132.5), and Simeon Rice (122.0) have similar statistics to the sub-Peppers bunch listed above but never mounted serious Hall campaigns. So there's precedent for finishing in the top 20 or higher on the all-time sack list and not getting enshrined, (or, in Kevin Greene's case, waiting forever). That's especially true if a pass-rusher's portfolio, from a historic perspective, boils down to "lots of sacks and not much else."

That said, all the members of our Sack Pack have more to offer than just strings of double-digit sack seasons:

  • Allen led the league in fumble recoveries and tackles for a loss and recorded four career safeties, in addition to leading the league in sacks twice.
  • Freeney was named to the Hall of Fame's All-2000s team, played for a Super Bowl winner, forced 47 career fumbles (third on an all-time list that only dates to 1999) and possessed a legendary spin move that provided many of the "signature moments" some voters look for.
  • Mathis forced 54 fumbles, making him the all-time leader. He led the league in forced fumbles three times.
  • Suggs was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, helping the Ravens win the Super Bowl the next year. He also played for a legendary defense, which could work for him or against him.
  • Ware led the NFL in tackles for a loss three times and helped the Denver Broncos win a championship, recording a pair of sacks in Super Bowl 50. (See: "signature moments.")

All of the awards and accomplishments beef up the portfolios of our Sack Pack, but no one tumbles into the "overwhelmingly qualified" category. In fact, Super Bowl rings, forced fumbles, and awards just make Allen, Freeney, Mathis, Suggs, and Ware look more similar to one another. That's a problem, because it's very likely that five solid Hall of Fame-worthy edge rushers will get stuck Three Stooges-style while trying to walk through the door to Canton at the same time and end up keeping each other from being enshrined for years.


A logjam occurs when three or more players with similar portfolios reach the finalist stage of the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot at the same time. Such players inevitably split the ticket, resulting in none of them getting in for a year or three, followed by most of them trickling in over the course of many years once the jam is unclogged.

Offensive linemen Tony Boselli, Alan Faneca, Steve Hutchinson, and Kevin Mawae were stuck in a logjam recently. Faneca, Hutchinson, and Mawae in particular had similar resumes: interior linemen with long careers as Pro Bowlers for multiple teams. Based on my conversations with voters, nearly everyone agreed that all four players are worthy, but each voter prioritized them slightly differently. Mawae was enshrined in 2019, Hutchinson in 2020, and Faneca this year; Boselli is still waiting for his knock on the door.

Steve Atwater, LeRoy Butler, and John Lynch were stuck in a safety logjam for years, which was exacerbated by the fact that better-qualified safeties such as Brian Dawkins, Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, and Charles Woodson kept getting shunted in front of them. Atwater is a member of the Class of 2020, Reed 2021. Butler, like Boselli, has a very strong chance of getting enshrined in 2022.

The most infamous Hal of Fame logjam was the Tim Brown/Cris Carter/Art Monk/Andre Reed fiasco of the mid-2000s. Each year, some combination of these receivers cancelled each other out on the final ballot. Carter got trapped in finalist purgatory from 2008 through 2012, Reed from 2007 until he was finally enshrined in 2014. That logjam was complicated by attitudes among some of the older voters of that era about modern receiving statistics; there was a lot of "these flag football receivers couldn't hold a candle to Paul Warfield" sentiment. Everyone eventually got in, but the selection committee took a lot of heat for taking so long on Carter in particular. This particular logjam coincided with the rise of the modern blogosphere, which gave hometown fans and gadflies like me lots of forums to publicly vent our frustrations.

Voters have told me that they do not really conspire to clear up logjams: "I'll vote for my guy this year if you promise to help my guy next year" is rarely if ever a thing. They also cannot tell by the tone of the committee meeting how a vote will go. Faneca was singled out as a player who would get glowing reviews in the group discussion, then end up sixth or seventh in the final vote. Some voters try to prioritize players who have been waiting for years, others stick with the players they think were the best of the group, which of course just clogs things up more. The committee meeting vote narrows the finalist list from 15 to 10 before whittling the list down to the five inductees, creating another instance where the voting method impacts the results. Sometimes, only one of the logjammed players cracks the top 10 and sails into the Hall of Fame. Other times, three of four of them clonk heads and fail to reach the top 10.

Logjams always result in local fans howling about "snubs." That's almost certainly what will happen when our Sack Pack starts to queue up. Someone with 125-plus sacks and lots of other accomplishments is going to wait many years before reaching the Hall of Fame. And one or two of them might not make it at all.

Take a Number

Here's my breakdown of how the Sack Pack will queue up:

DeMarcus Ware has the best portfolio of the group and may have the clearest path to enshrinement. Dallas voters don't have anyone better to focus upon right now, and Denver voters should be happy to pile on. Allen and Mathis are Ware's primary obstacles before others reach the ballot. Mathis will probably stall at the semifinalist stage this year, allowing the voters to either wave Ware or Allen (or both) through.

When I spoke to voters about the 2021 ballot in January, most simply said "not this year" when Jared Allen's name came up. With Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, and Charles Woodson on the docket, there were only two available slots and lots of John Lynch types who had been waiting forever, so it was easy to pass on Allen. This year, the committee will have to take his case more seriously. I think Ware was a better player with a better case.

Dwight Freeney's peak was not as high as Ware's or Allen's, but he played on more memorable teams. "Innovator of the spin move" could actually be a big deal to many voters, both because it marks him as someone who redefined his position and because it captures the imagination.

Freeney could get in on his first ballot, though that ballot will be stacked with Joe Thomas and Darrelle Revis, as well as potentially teammate Mathis, Allen, and/or Ware and lots of others. If Freeney gets held up, he's likely to get blocked by Peppers in 2024 and could end up the No. 6 guy on the final ballot for a few years, resulting in lots of "what the hell were they thinking?" takes.

Robert Mathis is the Reggie Wayne of edge rushers: overshadowed by a teammate at the same position, hampered by the fact that most of his signature seasons occurred after his team's peak. (I call players such as Wayne, Mathis, and Torry Holt "Sammy Hagar" candidates). He could be on the Kevin Greene plan of having to wait over a decade. It's possible that he never makes the cut.

Terrell Suggs reminds me of Simeon Rice in many ways as a candidate. By the time voters get around to him, the rest of the Sack Pack will be on the docket (or will have just cleared through), and voters may decide that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed tell the story of the great Ravens defenses without the need of a third voice.

It's worth mentioning that Mario Williams is on the ballot this year and James Harrison will be among the 2023 class. Williams is not a serious candidate. Harrison, on the other hand, has two Super Bowl rings, a Defensive Player of the Year award in 2008, and both a supersized tough-guy reputation and a signature Super Bowl moment. He wasn't included among the Sack Pack because his career shape is different: high peak, relatively low career sack total. Harrison is at least likely to end up among the finalists a few times and could squeak past Mathis and Suggs in the minds of voters, who have a soft spot for larger-than-life characters (who were also awesome for several years). At any rate, Harrison will keep the logjam well jammed for the next decade or so.

The impending bottleneck of edge rushers illustrates just how high the Pro Football Hall of Fame bar is, and how the voting rules and practices inevitably force qualified candidates to wait years longer than they should. The order in which Allen, Freeney, Harrison, Mathis, Suggs, and Ware enter Canton (if all of them enter) will have less to do with their accomplishments, or even what year they retired in, than with who they share the ballot with and the vagaries of a voting procedure that's almost purposely designed to create split tickets.


183 comments, Last at 10 Jul 2021, 1:31pm

#61 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 8:15am

I watched his entire Panther career, over 40% live, and all of his playoff games. He padded his sacks on the worst of the worst, and laid down when the game mattered. I travelled to Oakland to see his 4 sack game vs the #31 oline. In his only SB, he didn't touch Brady in single coverage. His last Panther playoff game, he got a tackle when the Cards rb tripped over him laying on the ground, and his first Bears playoff game, he laid on the ground watching the Aints rb that just trucked him gallop for the game winner. 18 playoff games = 6.5 sacks, 37 tackles, 1 int, and zero other pertinent numbers. You guys are just looking at his total numbers, instead of where they came from. It's like saying Emmit Smith is the greatest rb because he played long enough to get the most yards. (same with Eli, the garbage time king) I used to keep a log, the vast majority of his sacks up through the Bears came on the 25th or worst o line in the NFL when he played them. Yes, he will get in the HOF due to his artificially inflated sack total, nevermind that his playoff stats show how lazy he really was. They used to say he took off plays at UNC, at Carolina he took off entire games. (He was also the cause of the UNC fake classes scandal) He was also suspended for cheating, and when he bought a condo in uptown Charlotte, he demanded they give him the disabled vets parking space by the front door. Terrible character, and not as great a player as you'd like to believe. "If you want to crown them, then go ahead and crown them..... But we know who they are" ~Denny Green

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#64 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 22, 2021 - 9:00am

This take is absolutely wild in every single way

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#69 by Will Allen // Jun 22, 2021 - 10:13am

Words are inadequate to describe the lack of wisdom in plucking out 18 games, out of 258 starts, to evaluate career performance. That's before we get to evaluating 6.5 sacks in 18 playoff games. Do you understand that a dispoportionate % of stats are compiled against bad teams? 

As to the silliness involved in judging complete strangers as human beings, with parking spot behavior used as a proxy, in making judgements about performance on a football field, well, that's quite literally insane.

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#87 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 6:10pm

What makes you think I'm a complete stranger? I was on tv prolly 25 times wearing my cat in the hat and blue beard, lived a half mile from the stadium in Dilworth and went to practices a couple times a week as well as training camp. I was basically a fringe insider. Kerry Collins dwi on East Blvd was basically in front of my house, (I saw the lights, didn't know it was him or I woulda walked out and had him sign something on one foot) as well as Jarrod Cooper getting busted for his Cooper Jarrod fake id, Lol. Peppers used to go to the Texaco on the corner of E Blvd and S Blvd with bloodshot eyes getting candy bars at 3am. Sorry to burst your bubble, but Peppers screwed over a vet in a wheelchair because he was too lazy to walk 20 ft. Too lazy to walk 20 feet = too lazy to show up in big games... AND 18 of his most important games = 2 tackles a game and 1/3rd a sack, real hof numbers huh? 

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#98 by Will Allen // Jun 22, 2021 - 8:28pm

Anybody on this planet who you.have not spent hundreds of hours in close contact with, in bad times and good, is a stranger. It is really, really, hard to know someone.

It is thus ill advised to pass judgment on people, good or bad, as to their ethical qualities. Can we pass judgement on specific observed value? Sure, but you are lying to yourself if you think you have adequate data, relative to other people, unless you have that depth and breadth of direct experience. You really don't know what you think you know. Yeah, I know O.J. Simpson's awful, but absent a similar mountain of evidence, I'll stay out of judging people's moral qualities.

Of course, it remains literally insane to use parking behavior to judge football performance, and if you actually think selecting 18 games out of 258 is a sound method of statistical analysis, you and I live in such different worlds that it's best for us to agree to disagree. That's o.k..




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#89 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 6:35pm

258 starts, zero sacks in 155 of them, and I don't think he ever sacked Manning unless it was towards the end and he got him. 18 games indeed lol. 

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#90 by theslothook // Jun 22, 2021 - 6:40pm

Sacking Manning is not a fair bar for any pass rusher. 

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#95 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 7:34pm

Lmao, not once in 17 seasons? I did have a screen saver my buddy took from the field of Pep slamming Eli to the ground in that 30 QB rating playoff game .😂 I wish I still had that log, as I recall most of his sacks came against Tampa, at least though the Panthers, granted 2 games a season... 

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#100 by theslothook // Jun 22, 2021 - 8:35pm

I just find it odd to single out a qb and be like..."see! hes a fraud!" When did that become the standard for judging players? Revis could cover 99 percent of the receivers he faced but if he got torched by Cole Beasley, he was an obvious fraud?

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#105 by mehllageman56 // Jun 23, 2021 - 12:49am

Actually, I take it back, he did worse against Ted Ginn.

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#143 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 6:04pm

Revis is another fraud, hyped by ESPN. Revis best season the jets d finished 28th AND they picked up Ty Law the secondary was so bad. Go check the qbr when Revis got destroyed by the entire NFC south. Cam had a near perfect rating targeting Revis. He was an island all right, deserted somewhere off the coast of Tampa...

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#144 by Will Allen // Jun 24, 2021 - 6:16pm

I also saw him use the HOV lane when he was the only person in the car!

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#91 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 6:46pm

258 starts, zero sacks in 155 of them, and I don't think he ever sacked Manning unless it was towards the end and he got him. 18 games indeed lol. So basically he bothered to show up 6 games a season for 17 seasons, vs the worst o lines he could find, and rarely showed up end of season playoff push OR playoffs. But hey, he got 155 sacks in 17 seasons, suspended for cheating, only three all pros voted by his peers, and zero rings. 👍 For perspective, his teamate Reggie White had 12 sacks in about the same number of playoff games. 

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#93 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 22, 2021 - 7:15pm

"But hey, he got 155 sacks in 17 seasons, only three all pros voted by his peers, and zero rings."

What? There is so much wrong with this.

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#94 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 7:30pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

You are correct, he shouldn't be in the HOF based on 17 seasons of inflated numbers vs the worst of the worst, while laying down in every game that mattered. But he will be unfortunately, just like Eli, the garbage time king. Only 25ish multi sack games in 17 seasons vs 25th or worse ranked o lines. 6.5 sacks, 35 tackles and 1 int in 18 playoff games. 

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#96 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 22, 2021 - 8:17pm

So strange.

First off it's 159.5. Literally right at the beginning of the article. Second, that's a lot of all pros. Third, all pros aren't voted on by peers...that's pro bowls if anything which, btw, he had 9 of, which, btw again, is a lot. 

Do you even know how those numbers are compared to others? Not that multi sack games is anything ANYONE cares about (he had 29 2+ and 37 1.5+ sack games, not that it really matters). Using "ish" out here with incorrect testimonies already pointed out. Have no idea where you get your OL rankings from but based on your other posts...

How can someone be so fixated on <7% of his career? No one is putting Willie McGinest in the HOF because he has the most playoff sacks. 

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#99 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 22, 2021 - 8:29pm

Peppers must flipped him off or something. Didn't know how one could be so strongly against him.

Sure is something though.

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#129 by Joey-Harringto… // Jun 24, 2021 - 11:05am

Just finished reading through the thread, and wow.  A lot to unpack.  My guess is either Peppers stole his girlfriend, or it was his parking space that Peppers demanded to have.

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#152 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 7:48pm

Peppers stole my and a lot of other Panther fans dreams of a SB. He was so sorry, I gave his $250 jersey to a Stealer fan that liked the blue, a few weeks later, another Panther fan tried to give me his Peppers jersey. He just got back from Afghanistan and came to some Panther games, and was disgusted by how bad Peppers (his former fave player) was. You guys seem to forget Peppers quit on the Panthers, then went to the Bears. Oh, that's right, you're only looking at stats, you didn't actually WATCH Peppers stink it up in the majority of his 165 Panther games unless they were playing a crappy team with a crappy o line. This is how bad players like Namath and Bradshaw (242 tds, 240 turnovers) get in the hof... Oh wait, they have SB rings, unlike Peppers, because they stepped up when it mattered instead of padding thier stats to get a yellow jacket... 

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#145 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 6:26pm

Pro bowl = popularity contest voted on by drunk fans, just like SB mvp, how do you think Brady and Eli got them? Did you forget Dallas fans stuffing the ballot box with 14 players the year they were below 500? And YOU'RE basing his career on 15% of his games vs crappy o lines, (while ignoring he sucked the other 85% vs decent o lines) I'm basing it on that 15%, AND the 7% that really mattered, playoffs. Yeah, I got a couple of Names wrong in a 4 am fog from 20 years ago, but my numbers are on point. Ish means I'm not gonna toggle back to double check and lose what I already typed. Did he do something to me? Yeah, he let me down game after game when it mattered and was a big reason the Panthers never made the SB again in spite of Steve Smith balling out with crappy QBs. I remember sitting at the pro bowl (Jerry Richardson bought me tickets) with some old dude wearing a Stealer SB ring, who was calling peppers a lousy bum. I'll trust an old school player that's won a ring or 4 on who's lazy and who isn't, over someone brainwashed by ESPN and loaded stats that didn't watch Peppers play (or not) in 175 + games. "If you want to crown them, then go ahead and crown them .... But we know who they are" ~ Denny Green

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#154 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 24, 2021 - 8:00pm

You just said voted by peers...which the players do have a portion of that process but not for All Pro. And no I don't remember Dallas fans stuffing. Maybe be more specific because your memory has shown to be a little faulty. Especially with those specific numbers. So do you not value peer voting in the PB or only care about a panels voting of All Pros? Hmmm

Regarding SB MVP: "The winner is chosen by a panel of 16 football writers and broadcasters, and, since Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, fans voting electronically. The media panel's ballots count for 80 percent of the vote tally, while the viewers' ballots make up the other 20 percent." The fans have small portion of influence. 

No, I'm basing it off 100% of his career. And guess, what, multisack games aren't the only ones that count! Wow! Numbers aren't on point. Also imagine this statement. "Julius Peppers is the reason they never made another SB because Steve Smith balled out (less All Pros than Peppers btw) with the unimportant QB position that was crappy." LOL like...do you hear yourself?

But yes trust (which) Jerry Richardson. Doesn't matter which one because none made an All Pro or even Pro Bowl! Not that that makes them credible. Don't know what "Stealer" ring means. The only Jerry Richardson that won a SB played for the Ravens. You're memory is pretty bad. But hey "only" 3 AP 1st team All Pros just like HOF Jason Taylor! But yes! Only can make it if you get 5+ sacks every game! But please go ahead and tell me how multisack games are the only one that matters!

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#166 by RaiderCat // Jun 25, 2021 - 12:04am

Jerry Richardson was the Panthers owner, HE won the 1958 NFL championship and invested his $500 bonus in Hardee's, and turned that into enough money to become the second player to own a team. As far as you dissing Smitty, name all the other triple crown winners with 15000 + yards with a crappy QB. The best QB he ever had was Joke, and borderline Scam, that falls off to such luminaries as Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore. As far as the guy I was sitting with wearing a steroid Stealers SB ring, didn't ask his name, it wasn't important, we were having too much fun booing Peppers. HE called him a lousy bum, I merely agreed with a 4 time sb winner. And for me to not know what was going on, the Panthers owner thought I was insider enough to buy me Pro Bowl tickets in replacement for a SB ticket when Joke refused to throw the ball to Smitty in the Seahags NFC champ game, after the week before in Chitown when Smitty got 218 yards in triple coverage. Smitty was so mad he made them let him return a punt, which he took for a td. Wow, you stand up for a lazy bum that padded his stats on the worst of the worst and dis the best player the Panthers ever had, that amassed his Hof numbers catching from the worst of the worst, amazing... 

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#167 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 25, 2021 - 12:25am

Wasn't a diss but apparently you missed the point. You're blaming a DL for not making multiple SBs and not the proclaimed most important position that YOU called crappy. Such a disconnect from reality it seems. I'm not the one that thinks 3 1st team All Pros is bad. I'm not the one that thinks peers vote for for all pros. I'm not the one that thinks fans have a big say in SB MVP. I'm not the one that thinks Revis best year was in 08. I'm not the one dissing the best cover CB of all time. I'm not the one calling the guy with the 4th most sacks of all time a lazy bum. 

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#74 by JimZipCode // Jun 22, 2021 - 10:39am

They used to say he took off plays at UNC

I never noticed that in baskeball!  He was on a really good team – finished first in the ACC reg season, lost the ACC Tournament Final to Duke.  They disappointed in the NCAAs, lost in the round of 32; but during the year they beat my Terps a couple times, who went on to make the Final Four.  Jason Capel, Brendan Haywood, Ron Curry.  I was shocked when Peppers went to the NFL instead of the NBA.

It's like saying Emmit Smith is the greatest rb because he played long enough to get the most yards.

The thing that impressed me about Emmitt was, when it was the 4th quarter and they were running out the clock with a big lead – when everyone in the stadium knew he was getting the handoff – he still managed to churn out those yards and keep the chains moving.  Also he had a real nose for the end zone.

Emmitt would have still made the HOF if he retired after say 1999.  He didn't need that last ~4400 yards to cement his case.

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#77 by theslothook // Jun 22, 2021 - 10:54am

One of my best friends is a die-hard UNC tar heels fan. When I asked him about how peppers was as a basketball player, he said the dude didn't have much skill but his sheer athleticism was such that it didn't really matter.

Addressing the comment above, I didn't watch much of the Panthers so I can't comment to all of that. 

I will say that some of the games I watched peppers in were super memorable and really showcased how dominant he could be. He single-handedly dismantled the 2009 Vikings offense because he was such a mismatch.


There was a game the Panthers lost in 2004 I believe to Michael Vick. I think Kris Jenkins was hurt that day, but basically peppers was the only thing from stopping Michael Vick from running for 300 yards instead of 200 or whatever it was. The guy was just so physically talented and wasn't lazy that day.


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#153 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 7:56pm

Peppers should have stuck with basketball, he was much better at it. As much as I hate the cheating heels (like most Carolinians), Peppers was a monster on the court, and was never accused of taking plays off like he did in football. And you are correct, there were 35 multi sack games Peppers went off, but most of them were vs teams like Duhmarcus Russell Raiders, where all 4 QBs played and got one first down total when Tuiasisopo ran for one. Pep feasted with 4 sacks. I watched all the Panther games, I assure you, it was 1-2 great games vs 14-15 lame or semi lame ones a season. 

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#117 by CHIP72 // Jun 23, 2021 - 8:16pm

Based on things I've read over the last 5-10 years, I think people who are too young to remember Emmitt Smith's career severely underrate him and don't understand how important he was for his team.  The guy was the most important player on a team that was the most dominant team of its era (1991 to 1996).  Yes, Smith benefited from playing behind an excellent offensive line and other really good offensive skill players such as Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin.  But Smith was also the focal point of the Cowboys' offense.  If your team's defense could shut down Smith, you had a very good chance of beating the Cowboys, even with Aikman, Irvin, and other good players (like Jay Novacek and Alvin Harper) able to potentially pick up the slack.  It isn't a coincidence the 1993 Cowboys, coming off a Super Bowl win the previous year, started 0-2 when Smith held out and then went 12-2 the rest of the regular season (and 3-0 in the playoffs) once Smith returned to the team.

Like a lot of people, I've compared Emmitt Smith to Barry Sanders (who I've long thought was overrated) many times over the years.  There's no doubt Sanders was a flashier, most dangerous running back on a play to play basis; probably no running back in pro football history could hit the home run big running play like Barry Sanders.  But Sanders could be neutralized a lot more easily too IMO and seemed to not do a lot in many of the biggest games of his career, especially playoff games.  Yes, some of that was due to the players around him relative to the players surrounding Smith.  But some of that was due to his boom or bust running style too; sometimes he'd turn a play that looked like a loss into a big gain while other times he'd turn a play that looked like a loss into a bigger loss.  By contrast, Emmitt Smith was probably a more reliable and ultimately valuable player for his team; there's something to be said for consistently gaining 4-5 yards per rush and having only a small number of negative rushing plays (as well as a few 15-20 yard runs) mixed in.  IMO, Sanders was more talented than Smith, but Smith was more valuable than Sanders, and that value ultimately made Smith a better player when both players were in their overlapping primes.

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#118 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 23, 2021 - 10:21pm

Really? Couldn't disagree more. Flip Smith and Sanders I don't think you're saying the same thing. Cowboys just had a vastly better team, and it wasn't remotely close. And despite that Sanders average 0.8 more YPC. That's a LOT. Despite always dancing around and trying to hit a home run. 

Sanders also had 2 more Bert Bell Awards, 1st team AP All Pros and PBs (despite playing less in the same conference). As well as an OPOTY Smith didn't get.

Sanders just couldn't overcome his woeful teams (partly due to playing a less impactful position, even at that time but whatever, they were just that much worse than the Cowboys). And (again lol) despite playing on worse teams Sanders had 149 AV in 153 games while Smith had 168 AV in 226. Give me Sanders on a neutral team any day over Smith (not to slander Smith, I'm fine with him in the HOF and everything). 

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#120 by Joey-Harringto… // Jun 24, 2021 - 8:32am

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I'm a Sanders stan as much as anybody (shocked to hear someone call him "overrated"), but saying his teams were "woeful" is overstating it a bit.  For most of the 90's they ranged from mediocre to above average.  Yes, the Cowboys had a much better roster/coaching, and blow the Lions out of the water in DVOA comparison (interestingly the Lions were 3-1 against Dallas, including their only playoff win, during that time), but let's not pretend Sanders was stuck on the Millen-era Lions.  A quick perusal of PFR says the non-Sanders Lions in the 90's have 20+ Pro Bowl and 8 All-Pro selections among them (I didn't do a count for the Cowboys, but I assume it's more).

I do agree with you overall.  Sanders on the Cowboys would have been otherworldly, and Smith on the Lions would have probably had a Curt Warner or early Frank Gore type career (fine, but not great).  But Sander's proponents tend to exaggerate their case by arguing that he had a bunch of tomato cans for teammates. 

Does this really matter for the sake of this argument?  No, nobody is arguing that the Cowboys were a far better situation.  But as a Lions fan I feel the need to defend players associated with their (very) limited success.

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#137 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 24, 2021 - 12:35pm

Just a hyperbole for comparison

Sanders had 5 different teammates make at least one 1st team AP All Pro, 12 make a PB.

On the other hand Smith had (with just the 90s Cowboys, so not 2000s and AZ) had 9 and 20 respectively. 

Could break it down more but take that as you will. 

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#139 by Joey-Harringto… // Jun 24, 2021 - 1:02pm

"Just a hyperbole for comparison"

Fair enough.  Also thanks for counting up the # of Pro-Bowlers/All-Pros.  The difference scans with my general impression of relative roster quality (not accounting for the Lions having a huge, gaping hole, at quarterback)

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#155 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 24, 2021 - 8:11pm

Didn't mean to be so harsh. It's fun looking back at historic stuff. Otherwise it's a bunch of hearsay with...faulty memories like this fella so against Peppers...and now Revis?!?!? Cool to layout all the info without being bogged down with a lot subjectivity (although there will always be some, which is fine). 

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#160 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 9:41pm

Lol, my "faulty memories" are based on getting a players and a teams NAME wrong at 4 am from 20 years ago. The game logs back up my numbers. If you want to know how good Revis really was, check his numbers when he was in the NFC south playing real qbs (even Scam had over a 150 qb rating vs Revis) instead of the Bills and Fins 4 games a year, and "pulling his hammy" when he's got 6-7 top ten wrs left on the schedule. His "island" was somewhere off the coast of Tampa watching QBs throw tds. To boot, Revis "best" season, the secondary was so lousy they picked up Ty Law and still finished with the #28 d. Great corners like Roger Wherli didn't have ints, because QBs didn't throw at them. Deion had a pile of ints, yet y'all forget if he didn't get the int, he gave up a TD because he refused to tackle anyone, and if he did get the int he instantly ran out of bounds. No competent qb was afraid to throw at Revis or Deion, they knew the odds of a TD or big gain was far higher than an int... 

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#163 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 24, 2021 - 10:10pm

You've got a lot of stuff wrong as pointed out already. With no sources to boot. 

But yeah Revis didn't spend 8 years playing against one of the GOAT QBs at all. Jets never played Tom Brady whatsoever. 

Have no idea why you keep mentioning Ty Laws one year with Revis. Nor why you think 08 was his best year...in anything (faulty memory popping up again). 

Now you're going after Deion...Sanders? 100% a troll confirmed with vendettas aplenty. 

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#168 by RaiderCat // Jun 25, 2021 - 12:28am

Try pro football reference.com. Do you think they have a vendetta when they post the honest stats that back up everything I've said? My two mistakes were a players name, only been a couple hundred thousand NFL players to confuse someone's name, and I got a team wrong 20 years later, but not the fact Pep laid on the ground watching the TD scamper after he got trucked. Stop believing hype based on total numbers, and go read the game logs that show you EXACTLY who those 35 multi sack games came from, and the 150 or so games he got half a sack or less. None of that excuses that he didn't touch Brady in single coverage in the biggest game of his career, or that he only got 6.5 sacks and one int in the other 17 biggest games of his career. 

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#175 by SandyRiver // Jun 25, 2021 - 3:45pm

"Didn't touch Brady"
Carolina recorded zero sacks in that game.  The box score from PF Reference doesn't have QB hits for that game so I don't know if anyone laid a hand on #12.  Maybe Scarnecchia and the OL just outfoxed the Cats.

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#178 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 25, 2021 - 6:19pm

But yeah one play and a guys out of the HOF! Coming from the guy that thought SB MVPs and All Pros were voted entirely by fans and peers respectively. 

Still going on about multisack games. Because if you don't get 2+ sacks in 100+ games like...nobody! You SUCK!!! But keep crying about <7% of his career! I'm sure someone will finally reconsider it 99% of his career!

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#169 by RaiderCat // Jun 25, 2021 - 12:58am

Now you deny Deion refused to tackle and ran out of bounds when anyone got close to him? Jim Brown never ran out of bounds, that's why he's the goat and Deion is just another modern day selfish player ESPN told you was great. Go watch some Roger Wherli or Mike Haynes games, and get back to me on Deion. Oh wait, espn didn't tell you those guys were great. Hey, at least he doesn't have CTE unlike the guys that actually lowered thier heads and went for more yards so the team could win... Look at me! I'm primetime! I'm Revis island! I'm the greatest cornerback that ever played the game! (Sherman). Great corners let the game film prove they were great, not thier mouths and espn hype. 

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#179 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 25, 2021 - 6:27pm

Where did...anyone...mention his tackling? You think THAT'S the important part for CBs? Lol. I saw the game tape. Weird how he really is the GOAT COVER CB. But yes, I'll go watch some guys that got less All Pros (you still care about those after thinking they were peer voted? hmm weird), less SBs, less DPOTY awards. Just got back watching them all. Deion is a HOFr! Wow! The tape doesn't lie! Deion was better in coverage! Wow! Thankfully I didn't listen to ESPN! Oh and look 08 wasnt Revis best year! Wow! I bet you'll dodge that one too since your faulty memory wont remember being called on it MULTIPLE times because you wont acknowledge it each time it's brought up! Just like you cant acknowledge Revis 15 games vs Brady! But yeah, all he played were bums until he was old and in Tampa! Nope! No good QBs until he joined the NFC South! 

Some weird Raider fans here.

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#173 by Joey-Harringto… // Jun 25, 2021 - 8:03am

"To boot, Revis "best" season, the secondary was so lousy they picked up Ty Law and still finished with the #28 d. "

"...instead of the Bills and Fins 4 games a year, and "pulling his hammy" when he's got 6-7 top ten wrs left on the schedule."

I have no idea what you're on about here.  You're conveniently leaving out 2009-2011, when the Jets had a run of being a top 3 pass D, which includes shutting down Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the 2010 playoffs.


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#172 by Joey-Harringto… // Jun 25, 2021 - 7:46am

Hey no worries, man, I didn't see it as harsh.  Since at least the 70's, the Lions only seem to be memorable when they're bad, so I don't blame anyone for forgetting about the times that they weren't so bad.  I've had so little in my 3+ decades of Lions fandom, I feel the need to stick up for the rare mini-runs of competence, even if those runs only reached the heights of the Marvin Lewis-era Bengals.

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#180 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 25, 2021 - 7:16pm

Imma count up all the total All Pros and Pro Bowls on their teams while they were both in the league (90-98) to get another measure while I'm here and curious.


Sanders had:

26 Pro Bowl teammate years from 10 unique players

9 AP 1st team All Pro teammate years from 5 unique players

Smith had:

55 Pro Bowl teammate years from 19 unique players

17 AP 1st team All Pro teammate years from 9 unique players


People can interpret that how they like but Smith having the same amount of unique All Pro teammates has Sanders had straight up total years is certainly fascinating. 

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#146 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 6:35pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I'll agree with that, and I wasn't dissing Emmit, he was the second best RB in Cryboy history behind Dorsett, I'm just pointing out if Peppers played a 10 year career like most d line, he would have 100 sacks and wouldn't be in the HOF discussion. His sack total is from playing 18 years and stepping up when it didn't matter against terrible teams... 

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#157 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 9:00pm

While we're talking about Dallas, Peppers had 7 sacks vs Quincy and Deadslow, yet lost every Dallas game he played during his first Panther stint, 7 games, 4 zero sack games. Once again, feast on the worst, and lay down when it mattered. 7 sacks don't matter when you lose every game, unless you're trying to get in the hof and know people don't bother to look at WHERE the numbers came from. Bottom line is Pep didn't care about winning, just his personal stats. (Insert Peppers goofy grin here)

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#122 by Will Allen // Jun 24, 2021 - 8:44am

It's a helluva lot easier to "neutralize" any running back when he has mostly mediocrities blocking for him, and Rodney Peete, Scott Mitchell, etc. passing, compared to having a top 2 or 3 offensive line, and Troy Aikman passing.

Swap the two guy's teams, and I'm very confident the Cowboys would have not have missed a beat. 

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#123 by Joey-Harringto… // Jun 24, 2021 - 8:52am

Lomas Brown and Kevin Glover were underrated players, but yea, the others were JAGs.  The Cowboys' line on the other hand...

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#125 by Will Allen // Jun 24, 2021 - 9:41am

Such a swap is an interesting thought experiment, almost as intriguing as tradind Bradshaw's and Archie Manning's teams. It may have resulted in a substantial boost to Aikman's and Irvin's yardage, as defenses loaded the box from the Cowboys first to last possession.

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#135 by Joey-Harringto… // Jun 24, 2021 - 11:46am

When I re-watched the 1991 NFC Championship game recently, I found it striking that the Lions were trotting out 3 or 4 wide receivers on every snap, yet the Redskins were so worried about Sanders (and unimpressed with the Lions passing offense), that they played in their base defense for the vast majority of the game.

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#126 by CHIP72 // Jun 24, 2021 - 9:43am

...the Lions didn't have many other skill players that were any good, or that the Lions offensive line was poor.  I suspect guys like Herman Moore and Lomas Brown would like to have a word with you.

I personally believe that if Barry Sanders was on the Cowboys, Dallas would have probably been more of a passing team than they were because they wouldn't have been as effective as a ball control running team.  Sanders would have still been great but I'm not as sure the Cowboys as a team would have been as great as they actually were.  They still would have been a top team, but I suspect they would have won fewer than three Super Bowls in their 1991 to 1996 heyday.

Interestingly considering the site where we are posting our comments, Emmitt Smith actually has more impressive DVOA and DYAR totals than Barry Sanders during both players' prime years.  More specifically (or accurately), when Smith was at his peak, the Cowboys were a great team and when he wasn't, the Cowboys weren't as good, while Sanders' totals don't correlate as well with the Lions' success.  Here's each player's DVOA and DYAR totals from 1990 to 1998 when their careers overlapped (ranks among qualifying players in parentheses:

1990: DVOA - Smith: 4.3% (19), Sanders: 21.7% (3); DYAR - Smith: 131 (16), Sanders: 330 (1) (Cowboys 7-9, Lions 6-10)

1991: DVOA - Smith: 8.9% (13), Sanders: 8.7% (15); DYAR - Smith: 266 (2), Sanders: 254 (5) (Cowboys 11-5, Lions 12-4)

1992: DVOA - Smith: 15.5% (6), Sanders: 0.3% (23); DYAR - Smith: 416 (1), Sanders: 93 (19) (Cowboys 13-3, Lions 5-11)

1993: DVOA - Smith: 22.0% (2), Sanders: 0.7% (20); DYAR - Smith: 377 (1), Sanders: 70 (22) (Cowboys 12-4, Lions 10-6)

1994: DVOA - Smith: 19.4% (1), Sanders: 18.5% (2); DYAR - Smith: 461 (1), Sanders: 348 (2) (Cowboys 12-4, Lions 9-7)

1995: DVOA - Smith: 21.5% (2), Sanders: 6.8% (12); DYAR - Smith: 505 (1), Sanders: 200 (7) (Cowboys 12-4, Lions 10-6)

1996: DVOA - Smith: 0.9% (23), Sanders: 22.7% (2); DYAR - Smith: 142 (14), Sanders: 380 (2) (Cowboys 10-6, Lions 5-11)

1997: DVOA - Smith: -0.6% (18), Sanders: 25.3% (2); DYAR - Smith: 84 (17), Sanders: 447 (2) (Cowboys 6-10, Lions 9-7)

1998: DVOA - Smith: 9.9% (5), Sanders: -6.4% (28); DYAR - Smith: 257 (4), Sanders: 16 (28) (Cowboys 10-6, Lions 5-11)

Many people (correctly) point out the Lions improved after Sanders joined the team; they went 3-9 with the regular players in 1987 and 4-12 in 1988 before Sanders came to Detroit, then improved to 7-9 in 1989 and 6-10 in 1990 in Sanders' first two seasons before becoming a regular playoff contender the rest of Sanders' career.  But the Cowboys also improved, even more dramatically, after Smith joined the team.  Dallas went 3-13 in 1988 and 1-15 in 1989 before Smith came to the Metroplex, and then improved to 7-9 in 1990 and started their excellent six season run in 1991, Smith's second season.  Some of that improvement was due to the Cowboys' other then-young players maturing, but some it was likely due to Smith joining the team too.

There are a couple other items related to Barry Sanders worth pointing out that are semi-negative marks against him.

1) While Sanders didn't play on as good of teams or in offenses that were as good as the offenses Smith played with in Dallas, there WAS one year of Sanders' career when he was surrounded by a very explosive offense and standout quarterback - 1995.  That team had four Pro Bowl players on offense - Sanders, WR Herman Moore, LT Lomas Brown, and C Kevin Glover; Moore and Brown joined Sanders as 1st Team All-Pro selections.  The team also had Scott Mitchell, who had a genuinely excellent career year, throwing for 4338 yards and 32 touchdowns, big numbers for the era.  (By FO measures, Mitchell also stood out; he finished 4th in the NFL in DVOA and 2nd in DYAR.)  Somewhat amazingly, the 1995 Lions scored more points in a single season (436 points) than the Cowboys did in ANY season between 1991 and 1998.  (The Cowboys' highest total was 435 points, 1 point fewer than the Lions, in the same 1995 season.)  With an explosive offense around him to pick up the slack, one would have figured Barry Sanders would have had one of his best seasons.  Sanders had a good season but not a great season; it was actually his poorest season between 1994 and 1997.

As I noted above, Sanders' personal statistics only correlate marginally well with the Lions' overall success.  He had great seasons when the Lions were not good (such as 1990 and 1996) and decent but unspectacular seasons when the Lions were a stronger team (such as 1993 and to a lesser degree 1991 and 1995).

2) Contrary to what a lot of people believe, the Lions did NOT fall off immediately after Sanders retired before the 1999 season.  They maintained their same, general level of 1990s quality for two more seasons after Sanders' retirement, finishing 8-8 in 1999 (and sneaking into the playoffs) and 9-7 in 2000 (while missing the playoffs).  If Barry Sanders genuinely carried or was the only real standout player on the Lions near the end of his career, the Lions wouldn't have been as successful immediately after he retired.

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#127 by Will Allen // Jun 24, 2021 - 10:03am

It defies reality to put the Lions' blocking anywhere close to the Cowboys', on the basis of one lineman, Lomas Brown. The Cowboys o-line, nearly entirely comprised of HoF or Pro Bowl caliber blockers, would simply dominate games. Hell, Larry Allen, would break from the huddle, and as he trotted up to the line, give his opponent the old-style semitruck horn tugging motion and sound, and say "Balls comin' right through you!", and 5 seconds later it would. This is before we get to a detailed comparison of the pros and cons of having Troy Aikman run your huddle and line of scrimmage, vs. Scott Mitchell. 

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#131 by CHIP72 // Jun 24, 2021 - 11:08am

...based on the statistics I provided that the Cowboys' team success DIDN'T track pretty closely with Emmitt Smith's personal success, while that wasn't as true with Barry Sanders and the Lions.  Yes, Smith had great players around him that made his job easier.  But I think most people who remember watching the early to mid-1990s Cowboys would agree that he was the #1 focal point of the offense, and was the most important player on a team that won three Super Bowls in four years.  He had massive value to his team, and his team won in part BECAUSE he was so good in his peak years.

All of what I said in my previous comments isn't meant to imply Barry Sanders isn't a Hall of Famer, isn't an inner tier Hall of Famer, or that he wasn't one of the greatest running backs of all-time.  You won't get any argument from me on any of those things; he was/is an inner tier Hall of Famer and one of the greatest running backs of all-time.  But that doesn't mean truly great players, even all-time great players like Sanders, can't also be overrated at the same time.  Regardless of the team around him, shouldn't Sanders' personal success track better with the Lions' team success during his career?  The goal in football and all other team sports isn't for players to put up huge stats; it is for teams to win games and ultimately championships.  Sanders DID make his teams better but in my opinion he didn't make his teams better to the degree Emmitt Smith made his teams better.  I don't hold it against Sanders that never won or even appeared in a Super Bowl; many, many great NFL players in the Super Bowl era never played in a Super Bowl.  The Lions teams around Sanders weren't good enough to make the Super Bowl, and Barry Sanders had no control over which other players the Lions had on the team.  But I do hold it against Sanders that he didn't have big games in most of the playoff games in his career, and that there were seasons where the Lions were very good independent of Sanders but could have been even better, possibly even legitimate Super Bowl contenders, if Sanders had one of his great seasons rather than average or merely good seasons.

One final thought - had Barry Sanders rather than Emmitt Smith played for the 1990s Cowboys, I think the Cowboys play more of a West Coast Offense style that would have suited Sanders' skill set better.  It is possible Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones hire different offensive coordinators besides Norv Turner and Ernie Zampese to run the offense.  The Cowboys almost definitely use the I formation less and single back or H-back sets more.  Their offense would have played differently.

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#134 by Will Allen // Jun 24, 2021 - 11:27am

In a game with 44 starters, not including special teams (which contribute 15-20% of team success), in a game where coaching plays a larger role in the outcome compared to any other major team sport, any assertion/question which begins with the phrase "Regardless of the team around him, shouldn't...." ought to be taken with a very large grain of salt.

We agree that only an idiot would run the Cowboys exactly the same with Barry Sanders as with Emmitt Smith, and Jimmy Johnson was no idiot, but instead a HoF coach.

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#147 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 6:45pm

This is what I'm trying to say about Peppers most of you are missing blinded by his padded stats on the worst of the worst. Peppers worried about his stats, not winning playoff games or getting to another SB. He was lazy and self centered, not a team player in a team sport. "But I do hold it against Sanders that he didn't have big games in most of his playoff games" Peppers in a nutshell...when it mattered, he laid down and let rbs trip over him ... 

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#128 by Joey-Harringto… // Jun 24, 2021 - 11:03am

Correlating individual success with team success starts to get into the difficulty of entanglement and interdependence, which is fraught enough for quarterbacks, but for running backs?  Forget about it.  I know rushing in the '90s was more important than it is now, but not that much more important.

I'm not surprised that DVOA likes Smith better, because, as you pointed out, Sanders was pretty boom or bust, which DVOA has a dim view of.  Would he have been less so behind the Cowboys line?  Probably IMO.  At the very least we would have seen far fewer highlights of him having to juke a defender 3 yards behind the LOS

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#132 by Will Allen // Jun 24, 2021 - 11:14am

In some respects I dislike these debates, because it inevitably results in somebody imagining that I'm minimizing how great Emmitt Smith was, despite the fact that I think Smith was tremendous. It's just that even people who are really smart about football tend to lose sight of the fact that there are 44 starters in a game, not including special teams, and that coaching plays a larger role in the outcome than in any other team sport.

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#133 by CHIP72 // Jun 24, 2021 - 11:21am

...would have still created a relatively high number of negative running plays even if he played with the 1990s Cowboys rather than the 1990s Lions.  He was always looking for something when there was nothing, and when Sanders and players like him do that, sometimes they do end up with something and sometimes they end up with less than nothing.  Running backs like Sanders are in some ways not unlike quarterbacks who frequently scramble to keep plays alive.  Sometimes those scrambles result in big passing plays and sometimes they result in more sacks and bigger yardage loss sacks.

The 1990s were the last time in NFL history when a running back could be the focal point offensively for a Super Bowl champion-caliber team; Terrell Davis was the last such player.

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#156 by JimZipCode // Jun 24, 2021 - 8:55pm

Jim brown was never tackled for a loss, wrap your brain around that

Is that true?!?  That can't be true.  Can it?

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#162 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 10:04pm

Lol, it's not my memory, it's the Hall of Fames. I'm old, but not that old. I did have the honor of meeting Jim, but only watched film of his domination. First Rbs I remember watching show out was Sayers (vaguely) and OJ, then Sweetness. Y'all also ignore Dorsett ran for 1000 every year in HS, every year in college, and every nfl season except the strike year, when he still got over 800 yards. (Until the end)

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#164 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 24, 2021 - 10:19pm

Again with the faulty memory! Tony Dorsett had 745 yards (aka closer to 700) despite leading the league in rushes. 

Wait, why are you rambling incorrectly about Dorsett now? Either way anyone that believes Brown never had -1 yards or worse on a carry on 2359 regular season and 66 playoff carries...I have a bridge to sell ya! 

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#161 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 9:51pm

It's on his Hof resume, never tackled for a loss, never ran out of bounds, 105 yards per game, 1.1 tds a game, over 5 yards a carry, and threw 3 TD passes. My "faulty memory" has Sweetness at 88 yards a game and Barry at 99. I love Barry and Sweetness, but they were no Jim Brown. 

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#181 by SandyRiver // Jun 29, 2021 - 11:33am

In the run-up top the NYG-Colts "Greatest Game" the Giants had to beat Cleveland in the regular season's final week to force a playoff.   The 1st play from scrimmage was Brown's 65-yard dash to the end zone.  After that the Browns managed only a FG and Summerall's late 49-yarder in the snow decided the 13-10 game.  The next week the Giants won 10-0 and IIRC, Brown was held to 12 yards on 10 carries.  Maybe no losses but a whole lot of no gains?  (And I still hold that he's easily the GOAT of RBs.)

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#182 by SandyRiver // Jun 29, 2021 - 11:46am

Checked PFR about that 10-0 game.  The giants had 211 yards rushing to 24 by the Browns. Jim Brown is listed as having 7 carries for 8 yards, with a long gain of 20 yards (which looks to me like a typo - 2 yards would be more sensible.)   Whether 2 or 20, it's hard to amass that 7 for 8 without being tackled for a loss at least once.  I thought maybe he might have recovered an errant QB backward toss on a sweep and lost big yards running down the ball, not his fault.  However, the box score lists zero fumbles. 

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#140 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 24, 2021 - 1:31pm

But, like my reply to Joey above, it wasn't really comparable. Think we have different definitions of value too.

You're thinking here seems to rely on "ball control" which is around about way of saying running the clock out with less efficient down to down plays. Which I'm just not down with. Just pick up yards and score. Deion Sanders (GOAT CB, agree or disagree?) can handle a few extra snaps a game. If Sanders makes them more of a passing team, even back then, that's not a bad thing when you have future HOF QB Aikman (some debate on him but nonetheless still solid) throwing to HOF WR Michael Irvin (less debate). Think they'd be fine. Especially on the notion they're throwing more because Sanders provides more of a threat aka more in the box. Completely fine with that. I'm sure HOF HC Jimmy J would've figured it out. I just can't seem them doing worse with what you already admitted was a more talented RB. Same absolutely and probably slightly better too. 

All those are stats are with Barry on a worse team. You don't see how that could influence it to the degree where they're flipped if they flipped teams? Smith was more important because...the Lions went .500 without Sanders in 99?? I'm not seeing your explanation for why he was more impactful outside of...making the Cowboys...not pass as much? 

Let's look at the time they were in the league together to keep rules, etc. the same; 1990 (Smiths first year) to 1998 (Sanders last year): 

Sanders 5 ypc vs Smith 4.3 ypc. Pretty significant. But maybe it's a sample size issue. 

Sanders 13,799 yards vs Smith 12,566. Seems close enough. But maybe it's the attempts.

Sanders 2,782 vs Smith 2,914. Oh...so 1,233 more yards on 132...less carries. Yeah that's significant. And he's doing it behind a worse line (right?)? Wow. Maybe Sanders averages like 5.5 ypc in Dallas behind that line with Irvin and Aikman taking pressure off him. You really see Smith averaging even 4.5, let alone 5, behind that Detroit OL? I don't see how Dallas skips a beat with Sanders instead of Smith. 

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#80 by SandyRiver // Jun 22, 2021 - 4:00pm

I recall reading shortly after SB38 about how Belichick and his OC (Weis?) outcoached Carolina with a scheme that neutralized Peppers.

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#85 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 5:45pm

I watched that sb 25 times. The Peppers scheme was put Light on him. Dan Morgan got 25 tackles, Mike Minter 19 with broken ribs. Peppers played his normal "game when it matters" of nothingness. 

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#88 by SandyRiver // Jun 22, 2021 - 6:14pm

Vrabel?  The guy who had 6 tackles and 2 sacks, one a strip sack that led to the game's 1st score?  (And caught a 1-yard pass for a 4th quarter TD.)  Maybe you meant Matt Light?

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#92 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 7:12pm

You are correct, I'm still awake and groggy counting sacks from game logs, Vrabel should have been MVP. I changed it, ty for correcting my errors. Looks like Pep only had 25-30 multi sack games in 17 seasons. I'm going to sleep, hit me up if you find more no sleep 20 years ago memory errors. 😃👍. Best part of all of this is all y'all can find me wrong on is a team name and a player name. My numbers are on point. I'm still trying to figure out why he's credited with two tackles in the Cards playoff game when he only got one. 


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#101 by theslothook // Jun 22, 2021 - 8:39pm

I am going to be honest. Your anecdotal evidence(even with the authority you are using here) is going to be met with a ton of skepticism unless you do a careful film study and provide some evidence that his performances are all worth dismissing.

As I wrote above, I didn't watch a lot of Julius Peppers, but the few times I did I was amazed by him. I also can accept that he didnt play well in the superbowl or in some playoff game or maybe did worse against a particular opponent. Even if that is true, that's not good enough of to dismiss him. 

Charles Woodson got light up by Arizona in 09.  I saw Revis get burned by Randy Moss after calling him a slouch. I saw Urlacher get juked by Tom freaking Brady of all people. And I saw Ogden look downright foolish against Freeney.

And yet I think all of those players are easily hall of famers. 

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#106 by mehllageman56 // Jun 23, 2021 - 12:57am

When did Randy Moss torch Revis after Revis called him a slouch?  Moss had 5 catches for 34 yards and 1 TD in the 2009 rematch; Welker is the one that destroyed the Jets that day.  Moss beat Revis for a long touchdown the next year, but then Revis pulled a hamstring and Moss proceeded to get shut down by Cromartie in a Jets victory.  The Pats cut Moss a couple of games after that.  The 45-3 game was all Gronk and Hernandez.

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#151 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 7:18pm

Go look at all the top ten wrs upcoming on the schedule when Revis suddenly "pulled a hammy" 🤣

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#171 by Raiderjoe // Jun 25, 2021 - 7:37am

Revis did miss the two games rihgt after that Pates game. He missed bvs Miami and Buff. would have faced Brandon Marshall and Stevie Johnson. for your arugment to hold any water,t hen D. Revis had to have come up wityh fake injuries to avoid facing those temas later in seaodn. He did not fake inuries. He faced Marshall. Look at Marshall's targets, catches, yds, sttats vs Jets in 2010 in game with no Revis and in game with revis.


Johnson was a guy who fared better vs Revis than maybe anyone else for whatever reaosn (I did liek him at Kentucky and was sujrpriosed he did not get drafted several rounds earlier than he did). He had 12 targets vs Jets and caught 5 passses althoguh there as a touchdown. Revis on coverage for all 12? nto sure. 


but again fo yoru argument to holfd up, Revis needed to coem up with crack in butt or turf toe or hangnail or whatever and then sit vs Miami roudn 2 and Buff round 2


Also, Jets defense miuddle of pack in 2008. Ty Law came to Jets late in season due to other C B being stinky.


as for Jim Brown take, did see him go out ofbounds . know i have seee n it on film. i dont' just ahve highlights. i have full gaames on dvd even coaches film from brown's era . do nto have particular year, game,quaretr when Brown did tihs, but i have seen it


Racist Drew Brees?- not evidence engouh for someone to go there.     

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#107 by SandyRiver // Jun 23, 2021 - 7:37am

I think Brady still chuckles at the ridiculousness of that move.

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#149 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 7:04pm

Revis got burned by everyone. His best season the jets had to pick up Ty Law and the d still finished 28th. Espn tends to hype players that scream they are the greatest (Richard Sherman anyone?). It helps the NFL sell jerseys to people that don't understand lots of ints means the QB isn't afraid of him. They don't post the stat "Tds allowed" or Revis, Law, or Sanders wouldn't be Hof. Joke Delhomme burned Law for three tds in the SB, but I'll bet most of you don't believe that until you go back and watch again, because espn was too busy telling you Brady choking on the last drive (where was Peppers?) and Vini winning him another ring somehow made him MVP. Brady = 85 qb rate, 3 tds Delhomme = 112 qb rating, 3 tds. Who was the MVP again? 🤔

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#165 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 11:00pm

Yes, you saw those hall of famers suck a couple of games. I saw Peppers suck over 100 games. One of my fave games I attended was the Panthers d getting seven sacks on the Rams, Pep got zero but stood on the sidelines with that goofy grin while everybody else did the work. 

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#83 by Eddo // Jun 22, 2021 - 4:53pm

"and his first Bears playoff game, he laid on the ground watching the Aints rb that just trucked him gallop for the game winner"

While Peppers was on the Bears, they never played the Saints in the playoffs.  If you're going to make a "trust my memory" case, it's best to remember things correctly.

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#86 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 5:54pm

My bad, I wrote this at 4 am, that would be the Packers 2 tackle game, not the Aints, I had them on my brain from an earlier conversation about racist Drew Brees. One other thing, someone added a tackle to that cards game, he only got one, not two. 

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#150 by RaiderCat // Jun 24, 2021 - 7:15pm

The best part is you don't deny Peppers was laying on the ground watching the winning TD score after getting trucked, your problem is the wrong team was listed. That's why overhyped players get in the hof. You only pay attention to what espn tells you to believe, instead of bothering to find out where those numbers really came from. 

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#51 by Raiderfan // Jun 21, 2021 - 8:49pm

Another week, of great content…displayed miserably on my iPad.

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#48 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 21, 2021 - 7:27pm

All seem worthy. Mathis seems kinda lacking though. Although Richard Dent is in with the same amount of AP 1st All Pros and one less PB. Although is the 2nd SB that much more important?

IDK. Maybe they all get in. Fred Dean and Elvin Bethea are in and also lower on the PFRs HOFm than Mathis. Dean 1 less PB. Bethea 1 less AP and SB. Guess it depends on the ballot.

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#37 by takeleavebelieve // Jun 21, 2021 - 3:32pm

What happened to Peppers in 2007, anyway? Was he playing hurt? It’s really the only blemish on a great resume.

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#50 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 21, 2021 - 8:16pm

" Before the season started, Peppers suffered from an undisclosed illness and lost weight which is assumed[by whom?] to have played a part in his down season. Peppers also missed the final two games of the season with a sprained MCL in his right knee."

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#63 by RaiderCat // Jun 22, 2021 - 8:49am

It's called laziness, read my post at the bottom and be informed by someone that was there.

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#31 by t.d. // Jun 21, 2021 - 2:31pm

I think every single guy mentioned in the headline gets in, the only question is how long they'll have to wait

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#23 by MJK // Jun 21, 2021 - 1:20pm

Mentioning Miller and Watt highlights the problem with just keying on sack totals, because different positions have different opportunities.

Watt is a 3-4 DE, I think (correct me if I'm wrong) who occasionally lines up at DT, and who sometimes has to take on big bodied guards and center-guard double teams off the line, and sometimes longer-bodied tackles.

Freeney was a pure 4-3 end who had exactly on job--get around the tackle or TE on his side and get to the QB.

Miller was an outside linebacker that usually rushes the passer, but sometimes would have to cover eligible receivers (a least, more often than a guy like Freeney or Watt).

And so forth. Obviously, each of these guys will have different opportunities to rack up sacks, and the ones that offer more than just QB rushing capabilities will have few opportunities per game because they're bringing other things to the table that aren't tracked by stats.

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#49 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 21, 2021 - 8:14pm

Yes they can all play slightly different roles (like safeties) but still pretty comparable (although you're right about Watt, still played the Edge in that scheme though, he could cover a lot because he's that good). 

But yeah raw sack totals, just like year to year, isn't the best to base everything off of. 

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#13 by T.Kothe // Jun 21, 2021 - 12:39pm

The edge rusher situation, as jammed up as it'll get, won't have anything on the WR logjam in a few years. HOF candidacy for WRs might end up getting redefined and the bar raised just to help clear that up. To tie the subject back to a conversation from earlier this offseason, you could almost subtitle this article as "Why Julian Edelman will not make the Pro Football Hall of Fame".

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#60 by Mike Tanier // Jun 22, 2021 - 7:01am

I am also touching on Edelman in 2 weeks in this space here. 

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#81 by SandyRiver // Jun 22, 2021 - 4:03pm

As a Pats fan since the early 1970s, I've greatly enjoyed Edelman's ability to get open and willingness to make catches over the middle.  His signature moments, especially the "levitation catch" in SB51, will remain bright for decades.  That said, he shouldn't sniff the semifinal list.

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#6 by andrew // Jun 21, 2021 - 11:23am

I kind of remember something  happening between camps for Jack Youngblood (2001) and Carl Eller (2004), I think I remember reading they worked out a deal to get the Youngblood faction to back Ron Yary (also 2001) in exchange for the Eller faction dropping their opposition to Youngblood, IIRC neither faction felt the guy was undeserving, they just wanted their guy before the other.   All three waited longer than they should have.   I'm basing most of this from memory of a radio interview with Jack Youngblood who was trying to explain to some radio show host who was incredulous on why it took so long.

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#4 by theslothook // Jun 21, 2021 - 11:01am

Among the players mentioned by Tanier. I think freeney, ware, peppers and Allen are all deserving Hall of Fame candidates.


I'm probably in the minority who views suggs as a borderline and probably a bit overrated. His personality along with his presence on a perpetually great defense's gave him a bigger spotlight than he would have playing in Cleveland. 

I think Mathis is a no and I say that as a huge colts fan.

Freeney was probably the best pure pass rusher of this group but his liability in the run game combined with his very favorable circumstances for pass rushing means I can understand him not being a first ballot guy or having to wait a bit.

And finally if the league is going to reward Terrell Davis a Hall of Fame jacket then James Harrison should be in as well. No I don't think Terrell Davis deserved a Hall of Fame jacket, and James Harrison in a more sane world would probably be a questionable candidate as well.

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#9 by Pat // Jun 21, 2021 - 12:20pm

 His personality along with his presence on a perpetually great defense's gave him a bigger spotlight than he would have playing in Cleveland. 

Yeah, I basically agree - I think Mike said it well in that the Ravens defense was really Lewis and Reed, and when you've got those guys in pass defense, someone's gonna get the sacks. And after Reed and Lewis left, Suggs really only had one more year on a solid Ravens defense. Still feels like Suggs is being shortchanged though.

Mathis even being mentioned just makes it incredibly obvious to me how easy it is for guys with stats to get in. I mean, Patrick Willis is over there saying "WTF guys." 

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#20 by MJK // Jun 21, 2021 - 1:12pm

I agree with everything you say.  I don't see Mathis getting in, and I think Suggs will be viewed as overrated (which I agree with).  

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#29 by JimZipCode // Jun 21, 2021 - 1:57pm

TD is in for a short, dominating peak – not unlike Gale Sayers, in some respects – but an important part of the iceberg is hidden when you look at his main PFR page.  In 8 career playoff games TD rushed for another 1100 yards and 12 TDs. 

In the two seasons 1997-98, if you add in the postseason, TD had 950 carries for 4800 yards.  That's on top of his All-Pro season in 1996.

I understand the very good reasons why we usually don't pad a player's career with his playoff stats.  Just because a player was lucky enough to be on a good team, doesn't make him a good player.  TD was playing with Elway and Shannon Sharpe, along with Rod Smith and Fast Eddie McCaffrey – they also had some pretty good O-linemen, incl Gery Zimmerman & Tom Nalen – we might call that a "conducive" offensive environment.

But TD wasn't salting away leads in garbage time.  He led the offense.  He was averaging 150 yds-per-game in the playoffs (97-98), dragging his team to the SB, and being named SB MVP.  In "calendar" 1998 he was the reigning SB MVP and league MVP.  He was the greatest football player in the world.

And it ended quick, because obviously.  But are there any players who were both league MVP and SB MVP, and not in the HOF?  (counting locks like Brady, Rodgers etc as "in")

The playoff lens is particularly interesting.  Of the HOF RBs:

  • TD averaged 142.5 yds-per-game in the playoffs
  • John Riggins averaged 110.7.
  • Eric Dickerson averaged 103.4
  • Emmitt Smith averaged 93.3

No one else is over 85.  TD was dominating when it mattered most, and led his team to multiple championships.

I was a lot more impressed with the committee for recognizing TD, than for say Curtis Martin.

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#30 by theslothook // Jun 21, 2021 - 2:15pm

I have two big reservations against TD.

First - his career spans 4 seasons. 4. Of which 3 were hall of fame caliber. Sure his career got derailed by injuries, but that's just an absurdly short career. Longevity has to count for something and it just feels like 3 is too small a period of time.

Second - and this is partly in response to the playoff numbers - I would be more willing to support TD if the denver offense didn't churn out 1k running backs like they were nothing. I know TD outperformed them all. He was a better back for sure. But it cannot be denied that the environment worked out for these running backs. Portis, Geary, Mike Anderson, etc etc. IF TD gets put on an average offensive line/scheme, he'd still be really good but suddenly we aren't ok with three seasons of really good play. 


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#40 by JimZipCode // Jun 21, 2021 - 4:24pm

Yes, it's true that the system helped Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell rush for a thousand yards.  It seemed like they could take any reasonably talented, disciplined decision-maker and get a one-thousand yard season out of him.

Terrell Davis had a two-thousand yard season.  That is not the same thing whatsoever.  Clinton Portis et al were productive backs in that system; TD was unstoppable.  Dominating.  The difference between what the other backs did and what TD did is dramatic, and is itself an agument for TD's greatness.

If TD gets put on an average offensive line/scheme, he'd still be really good but...

If Joe Montana gets drafted onto Bum Phillip's Oilers or Ray Perkins' Giants, he doesn't have the same career accomplishments.  That's true, but it's not a valid argument.  (If Tom Brady gets drafted by Brian Billick's Ravens, he'd be ruined and out of football in 2 seasons.)

Every great sports accompishment is a confluence of talent + environment.  Records are set when a great talent thrives in a conducive environment.  Hank Aaron hit a million home runs while playing his home games in band-boxes like Milwaukee County Stadium & Atlanta Stadium.  Great hitter + small ballpark.  Aaron doesn't set the record if his home games are played in, say, the Astrodome.  That doesn't make him any less great, or the record any less real.

his career spans 4 seasons ... that's just an absurdly short career. Longevity has to count for something...

I agree with you.  TD's productive career is very short.  He's right at the razor's edge of what you could possible justify. 

But note that technically TD played seven seasons in the league.  He had the four good seasons, thousand+ yards; then two fairly "nothing" seasons with only 4 starts each and below 4 ypc; then a decent late-career season, 700 yds in 8 games.  He still had some of "it", but couldn't stay on the field.

TD's career looks more like an old-school career than a modern one.  Gale Sayers is the obvious comp, squeezing a HOF career into just 68 career games in the Super Bowl era.  Also look at Earl Campbell.  The Tyler Rose only had one more thousand-yard season than Davis did, and then limped to the finish line similarly. 

Going way back, there's Steve Van Buren, who made the Hall off an 8-year career in the 40s/50s.  Red Grange & Bronco Nagurski only played 8 seasons.  Marion Motley technically played 9, but one of those years he only had two touches.  Of those guys, only Motley won two champsionships while leading the league in rushing.  (Jim Brown did that four times.)

Davis absolutely does NOT have the resume without the playoff games, IMO.  But those playoff accomplishments are real: amazing; literally unprecedented.  It's hard to keep a league MVP and SB MVP and 3x All-Pro and 2000-yd rusher and 2x SB winner and all-time leader in playoff yards-per-game (I think) out of the Hall.  Maybe if he were missing one of those accomplishments; but that quintfecta is special.
(EDIT: "quintfecta" is wrong, I listed six accomplishments.  But I'm not thrilled with "sexfecta" in this context either.)

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#45 by theslothook // Jun 21, 2021 - 6:21pm

My point in bringing up the Gibbs Shanny system is it provides some context to suggest TDs production was at least in part due to something besides him. The same cannot be said for other hall of famers like LT and AP, who did not see their backups turning into probowlers. 


You pair that with the short career and that's my biggest issue. 

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#53 by JimZipCode // Jun 22, 2021 - 12:05am

I regret how stridently confident I wrote those last few comments.  It's not precisely how I feel.

Every HOF selection says something about "values", or something like that.  It's a statement about what the Hall stands for, what it means.  The last two RBs who went into the Hall before TD were Jerome Bettis and Curtis Martin.  Not to badmouth Martin, who was a very fine player for a very long time, but I was not in love with either selection.

Terrell Davis is the exact polar opposite of those picks.  A meteor. 

I loved what that selection said about the Hall is, what is means / what it stands for.  I like it a helluva lot more than the Bettis & Martin selections.

I concede every one of your arguments about how short his career is.  That's all valid. The committee looked at all that and still said this is a HOFamer.  MVPs and championships matter for RBs.  I like it.

I don't concede the other half of your objection:

My point in bringing up the Gibbs Shanny system is it provides some context to suggest TDs production was at least in part due to something besides him. The same cannot be said for other hall of famers like LT and AP, who did not see their backups turning into probowlers. 

Joe Montana & Jerry Rice's production was at least in part due to the system rather than their own gifts.  Hell, Montana's backup turned into an MVP and Hall of Famer.  When a coach invents or perfects something new, benefits accrue to the organization.  And just like Bill Walsh's offense took over the league, the Giibs-Shanahan running game is all over the league too. 

That's why I'm not so het up by the other thousand-yd rushers.  And the fact is, they weren't as good as Davis.  Olandis Gary & Reuben Droughns gained ~1200 yards at 4.x ypc.  That's a couple levels below what Terrell Davis did.  None of the other Denver backs made the Pro Bowl, except for Clinton Portis – and he was a hella talented back in his own right, later made the Pro Bowl in Washington.  Portis' two Denver seasons wouldn't look out of place in Terrell Davis' career stats.  But they wouldn't be his peak.

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#76 by theslothook // Jun 22, 2021 - 10:50am

For the record I don't think Jerome bettis and Curtis Martin deserve to be in the Hall of Fame either. 

In Jerome's case, it was particularly egregious... The Hall of Fame being swayed by contrived media narrative and a fairy tale like ending.

A similar comparison would be like Matt Ryan reliving the 2015 broncos super bowl run instead of Peyton Manning. As if that final run, where the quarterback was wheezing and coughing his way across the finish line, cements his HOF legacy. 

It's that line of thinking I find the laziest of all.

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#78 by Will Allen // Jun 22, 2021 - 11:03am

I'm gonna stick up for Martin here. He was a very productive guy who you could absolutely trust to never f*ck up, and he did it for a very long time. Games are lost more often than they are won, and never f*cking up is a severely underrated quality, when it comes to winning NFL games.

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#102 by mehllageman56 // Jun 23, 2021 - 12:40am

The thing about Martin is that he had the ability to never take a full shot, which is why he lasted so long.  When he finally got injured for good, he said that was the hardest he'd ever been hit, and the Miami linebacker (I think it was Zach Thomas) couldn't believe it, saying it was just a normal hit.  Martin also had a work ethic rivaling Jerry Rice and Tom Brady.

The thing about both Bettis and Martin is that they were the focal points of their offenses.  You can't say that about Lynn Swann, or to a lesser extent John Stallworth.  I understand the griping, I don't agree with it.  I do agree that players like Kevin Williams and Will Shields (who is in the Hall now) should be getting in before Martin and Bettis.  I loved Martin as a player, but I'm not sure he was better than Joe Klecko, much less Chuck Howley.

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#54 by JimZipCode // Jun 22, 2021 - 12:09am

By the way, I think it would be very difficult to construct a scoring/grading system, where Earl Campbell is solidly IN the HOF, and Terrell Davis is clearly OUT.

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#62 by SandyRiver // Jun 22, 2021 - 8:19am

Slightly OT:

 Hank Aaron hit a million home runs while playing his home games in band-boxes like Milwaukee County Stadium & Atlanta Stadium.

County Stadium didn't quite fit the "bandbox" definitions - 392' to the power alleys is somewhat above average for MLB parks.  Aaron hit 398 HR while the Braves were in Milwaukee and 190 came at County, 208 on the road.

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#42 by JimZipCode // Jun 21, 2021 - 5:10pm

Among the players mentioned by Tanier. I think freeney, ware, peppers and Allen are all deserving Hall of Fame candidates.
I'm probably in the minority who views suggs as a borderline and probably a bit overrated. His personality along with his presence on a perpetually great defense's gave him a bigger spotlight than he would have playing in Cleveland.
I think Mathis is a no and I say that as a huge colts fan.

PFR's Approximate Value and Hall Of Fame Monitor rank these players differently from how this article sees them.  Not Peppers: he's clearly ahead of everybody, just as Mike says.  But after that:

  • In Approx Value, Suggs is comfortably ahead of Allen & Ware
  • On HOFmonitor, Suggs is *just* behind Ware, 95 to 94, and the two of them are decently ahead of Freeney, well ahead of Allen.


  • Peppers – 183
  • Suggs – 152
  • Allen – 127
  • Ware – 125
  • Freeney – 104
  • Mathis – 86


  • Peppers – 119
  • Ware – 95
  • Suggs – 94
  • Freeney – 84
  • Allen – 68
  • Mathis – 45

Those are career totals.  The highest AV peak season is for Jared Allen (19 in 2008), then Peppers (18 in 2010), then Suggs (17 in 2011).  I also think Allen has the best "multi-year peak" among these guys, 2007-8-9 when he went 17-19-16 in AV.  Suggs didn't stack any of his great years "adjacent" to each other: his best consecutive-years pair is probably 2010-11, when he posted AV of 11-16.


The Ravens fan argument for Suggs is that describing him as a Sack Artist diminishes his value.  Some of the guys on this list were one-dimensional pass rushers, but Suggs was always a complete defender, a pass rusher *and* a great run defender.  That's reflected in his stats: Suggs has 200+ more tackes than any of these other players (175 more than Peppers), and notably more TFL too.  Freeney and Mathis were flat-out liabilities against the run.

Hell, Suggs also dropped into coverage sometimes, and he has more INTs and PDs than anyone on this list but Peppers.

I think Suggs is not lacking in "signature moments" either: the Steelers rivalry alone gives Suggs a boost in that area compared to most players.

Suggs played six Ravens seasons after Ray & Ed left.  He had double-digit sacks in three of those, a couple Pro Bowls, and another season that PFR's AV likes (2018).  Also he was a bit player on the Chiefs 2019 squad, collected a couple QB Hits and a PD in the playoffs to go with that second ring.


From looking at this stuff, I think Mathis is not a legitimate candidate at all.  The epitome of a one-dimensional player.

I'm also starting to think Freeney is borderline, and maybe on the wrong side of the borderline.

My sense is that Suggs has a better chance than Mike says.  He's light in All-Pro seasons, which is huge; but he also has Allen's DPOY award, and two ringzz.  (1-1/2?  Does he get credit for that 2019 one?)  The DPOY award suggests that the voters have some sympathy with the Ravens-fan "complete defender" argument, rightly or wrongly.  Just the right side of borderline.

In order of likelihood (not chronology!), I think it's:

  • Ware
  • Suggs
  • Allen
  • Freeney
  • someone who hasn't played in the league yet
  • Mathis

Even though Jared Allen was probably a better player at his peak than Suggs was at his peak.

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#43 by JimZipCode // Jun 21, 2021 - 5:49pm

I just took a look at Suggs PFR page, and I'm choking a little bit on that "one All-Pro season" thing.

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#47 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 21, 2021 - 7:13pm

He was an AP 2nd team in 2008. It counts! But nice detailed post regardless.

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#44 by theslothook // Jun 21, 2021 - 6:16pm

I'll agree that suggs was a better all-around player and has to do more things than someone like Jared Allen. But Allen was better at the most valuable thing you can ask for a defensive lineman to be. I think if suggs were the quality of pass rusher that Allen was he wouldn't be asked to do all those other things because it would be a suboptimal use of his talent, but there I'm just speculating.

I haven't looked in depth how Avi is calculated for defensive players, but I wonder how reliable it is when discriminating between two similar candidates. I mean how are you supposed to weight tackles, tackles for loss, pass deflections, and sacks? In any case, I maintain that I think suggs is a borderline candidate his AV notwithstanding. Allen to me is a no-brainer.

I will admit to having a heavy dose of bias when it comes to Dwight freeney, so if you feel like I'm speaking nonsense feel free to chalk it up to that. I maintain I think Dwight freeney was the best pure pass rusher of this group. One of the absolute highest moments of fandom was watching Dwight Freeney torch the indomitable Jonathan Ogden. It was like watching Mike Tyson lose to Buster Douglas. I get all of the caveats, they are all correct, but that colts run was one of the most successful runs of any franchise and I think Freeney defined that run as much as Marvin Harrison did.


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#57 by JimZipCode // Jun 22, 2021 - 1:12am

if suggs were the quality of pass rusher that Allen was he wouldn't be asked to do all those other things because it would be a suboptimal use of his talent

They played different positions.  Suggs wasn't a 4-3 DE, he was a 3-4 OLB, which gave him more varied responsibilities.  And of course, from Suggs' 3rd year on, the Ravens D philosophy was predicated on being "multiple" and including deceptive elements, yadda yadda.

Point being, Suggs being asked to do different things is not by itself evidence that he was a lesser pass rusher.  There's other evidence pointing that way; but Suggs' usage is not in that set.

I haven't looked in depth how Avi is calculated for defensive players, but I wonder how reliable it is when discriminating between two similar candidates.

It's not all that reliable at all.  It's one of the bluntest instruments.

I mean, I love AV.  It's tackling an absolutely impossible job, and it does fairly reasonably at it.  Hat's off.  But I'm not going to pretend to you that a point of AV here & there is ironclad proof of anything.

I think suggs is a borderline candidate his AV notwithstanding. Allen to me is a no-brainer.

My co-members of the Ravens discussion boards have been saying for years that Suggs is IN.  I think they're a little too sanguine – that's a serious lack of All-Pro seasons on the resume – but my own sense shifted over his last 2 or 3 Ravens seasons, that he'd moved from just below the cut to just above the cut.  Those last ~25 sacks (not counting 2019), and that last Pro Bowl berth at age 35.

Probably all three of these guys (Ware, Allen, Suggs) are HOFers.

One of the absolute highest moments of fandom was watching Dwight Freeney torch the indomitable Jonathan Ogden.

I remember that game.  Ogden was playing hurt.  :-)

that colts run was one of the most successful runs of any franchise

I remember what Tanier wrote in his piece about Peyton vs Unitas, how Peyton's string of ~4000 yds and 27-33 TDs is unrivaled in NFL history.  No down years!  Or at least, not until he broke his freakin neck at age 35.

...and I think Freeney defined that run as much as...

The weird thing is, even their DEFENSE was designed around Peyton Manning.  You don't need run-stoppers: Peyton is the run stopper.  He'll run up 30 points on them and take the RB out of play.  Just get a bunch of small guys and let them pin-their-ears-back and rush the passer.  Everything will work out.

I have an asterisk next to all those defenders.  I think their sack totals (and probably INTs) are inflated by the style of play that the Indy offense forced onto teams.  They also tended to be shitty run defenders (except for Bob Sanders).  I'm not super anxious to put any Indy defender into the Hall.

No, these aren't just the rantings of an old Baltimore fan still bitter about Mayflower moving vans from 1984, and whose Ravens never beat Peyton's Indy teams.  Why would you ask such a thing?

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#65 by David // Jun 22, 2021 - 9:48am

 have an asterisk next to all those defenders.  I think their sack totals (and probably INTs) are inflated by the style of play that the Indy offense forced onto teams

Context matters, for sure, but it's also worth saying that people can only do what they were asked to do.  Yes, Freeney doesn't have good run-stopping stats, but if he wasn't really asked to do that, for the reasons you outline.  He wasn't necessarily bad at it, and he was very, very good at the thing that he was asked to do.

I would argue that Freeney was so good at what the team wanted him to do, that this outweighs the fact that he wasn't very good at something the team didn't care about

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#70 by JimZipCode // Jun 22, 2021 - 10:18am

Context matters, for sure, but it's also worth saying that people can only do what they were asked to do.  Yes, Freeney doesn't have good run-stopping stats, but...

Of course you're right: and further I am being somewhat hypocritical by on the one hand dinging Freeney for his role while on the other hand championing Suggs for his role.  Or, for that matter, for making a system-doesn't-matter argument about Terrell Davis.

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#108 by David // Jun 23, 2021 - 9:12am

In reply to by JimZipCode

FWIW I would put both Suggs & Davis into the HoF - Freeney is borderline for me - if I had a vote, I would be voting him in, but I wouldn't disagree with anyone who took the position you did

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#75 by theslothook // Jun 22, 2021 - 10:42am


This was an absolutely delightful article to read for two reasons. First is that I learned Jonathan Ogden is a very talented writer. I have to admit I fell into the stereotype that all offensive lineman are big meatheads and so I never expected him of all people to write something so well. Of course I should have known better since Dr z used to say that offensive lineman were some of the smartest people at analyzing a game. Plus Michael Strahan when discussing John Ogden used to say, "the guy is a very sweet, very humorous kind of fellow all the while he's ripping your arm off and beating you over the head with it"

His section on Dwight Freeney was splendid but I think it both strengthened my argument and strengthened to yours at the same time. Freeney was a very special player but he was the kind of player who had skills that were amplified by the context he was put in. I have to admit traditionally I don't like such players. To me the very best players are scheme and context independent as much as possible. You get roughly the same value no matter where they go.

Here I'm biased but I'll also say it's not an accident Dwight Freeney wound up in Indianapolis. Just like it's not an accident that Robert Mathis wound up in Indianapolis. It's probably also not an accident that they were trained and conditioned for the roles they played. I also agree that the defense as much as the offense was designed around Peyton Manning. 

So to summarize, Dwight freeney's career when adjusting for context suggests he's a Hall of famer just not an upper echelon all time player. 






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#103 by mehllageman56 // Jun 23, 2021 - 12:45am

Polian knew what he was doing when he drafted Freeney earlier than everyone expected and took Mathis even though he was undersized.

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#159 by JimZipCode // Jun 24, 2021 - 9:37pm

I completely reverse my previous opinion on Freeney.  When JO says “I’m comfortable calling him the most dominant pass rusher of my era,” that's it for me.

Ha: JO's opening paragraphs remind me of something I read years ago.  It was a piece that collected several players talking about their "welcome to the NFL moment".  This corner (I don't remember his name) writes that his was: they were playing the Ravens and it was preseason, and the Ravens called a sweep toward his side of the field.  He comes up in run support like he's supposed to, and around the corner comes – Jamal Lewis.  The kid writes (something like), "I don't know if you've seen Jamal Lewis, but that's a large man."

Lewis was measured 240 at the Combine; is listed at 245 on his PFR page.


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#110 by Pat // Jun 23, 2021 - 9:52am


It's not all that reliable at all.  It's one of the bluntest instruments.

A lot of the problem is that the stats-based portion of AV isn't era adjusted, and people somehow think it is. I mean, it's not even close to era adjusted. It's based on historical drafting behavior (which has changed), and historical run/pass splits (which have changed). Even the Pro Bowl multiplier isn't era-adjusted, because there are dramatically more Pro Bowl players (in a typical year) now than 20 years ago due to the massive increase in injury replacements (which PFR for some insane reason counts).

It's funny because AV was intended to replace just "how many Pro Bowls/All Pros/championships" a player had, and... by now I'm not actually sure it does that any better. It certainly doesn't do it any better for guys like offensive linemen, where the split they get from team offense is dwarfed by Pro Bowl nods, which are horribly inaccurate.

Points: 0

#119 by armchair journ… // Jun 23, 2021 - 11:18pm

Fwiw (not all that much).. as a spectator, in the moment, I remember watching Freeney thinking he was a future hall-of-famer. He seemed both dominant and special, in that era. Never got that feeling from Suggs, great as he was. And Mathis was just a sneaky good IDP play in fantasy who racked up points under the radar. So much as the Hall is some mix of nostalgia, faded impressions, and, well, fame.. I’d be surprised if Freeney didn’t rise to the top of the pack.

Harrison is interesting. Legendary player. Literally never thought about his candidacy prior to this thread… but I don’t hate the idea. Can we swap him for Bettis? 

Points: 0

#2 by theslothook // Jun 21, 2021 - 10:53am

"there were only two available slots and lots of John Lynch types who had been waiting forever, so it was easy to pass on Allen." This statement annoys the hell out of me. Where is it written in the Hall of Fame bylaws that guys who have been waiting forever somehow get shoehorned ahead of others? John Lynch is a questionable candidate to begin with, which also explains a big reason why he'd been waiting forever along with the fact that it's not even clear he was the third or even fourth best defender on that bucs defense.

The other thing that annoys the hell out of me is the Hall of fame's bizarre criteria for rewarding players who have "signature moments". Great let's fast track David Tyree to the front of the line then! Not to irritate Steeler fans but watching Jerome bettis get thrown into the Hall of Fame while will Shields ( an infinitely better player at his position - just ask Ray Lewis what he thinks of will Shields) was forced to wait.


This is supposed to be a topic people take extremely seriously. Instead we're getting weird provisos and nonsensical criteria mixed into the system.

Points: 0

#5 by andrew // Jun 21, 2021 - 11:16am

part of the trouble is the Hall's rules where if you don't make it in certain number of attempts, you can't and have to go the seniors committee route, which eventually places pressure on getting the players waiting off the list.   Its a stupid rule IMHO.

Points: 0

#116 by CHIP72 // Jun 23, 2021 - 7:39pm

...is imitating the system the Baseball Hall of Fame has had for many years, and the BHOF has had many, MANY bad selections over the years, mainly by the Veterans Committee (particularly in the mid-1940s after all the no-brainer candidates were inducted and again in the early 1970s when 1920s player cronyism ruled the day).

To be fair, I don't think the PFHOF will ever induct truly unworthy players by the bucketful like baseball has, mainly because football has so many players who play regularly on a team.

One other, semi-related thought related to Clay Matthews - though I think he was good player (I remember much of his career) and obviously he played forever, putting him in the PFHOF would be a little like putting Harold Baines in the BHOF.  Any sport's Hall of Fame should have players who were great for at least 3-4 years of their career, even if they were good for a very long time, and I'm not sure Matthews was truly great or perceived as great at any point in his career.  (I'd much, much rather see fellow linebacker Randy Gradishar, who was considered to be legitimately great for a significant chunk of his career and was still an excellent player when he decided to retire after 10 seasons, get inducted over Matthews.)  If Matthews gets in there, then you open the door to potentially needing to look at potentially inducting other guys who had extremely long careers and were good for a long time, say like Jeff Van Note, the Falcons' good to very good offensive lineman, into the PFHOF.

Points: 0

#136 by Pat // Jun 24, 2021 - 11:49am

do not understand late 80s/early 90s linebackers in the Hall. Just don't get it.

* Rickey Jackson - in the Hall. 6/15 years as a Pro Bowl player. 0 AP1 nods.
* Clay Matthews - Hall finalist. 4/16 years as a Pro Bowl player. 0 AP1 nods.
* Cornelius Bennett - Hall semifinalist. 5/14 years as a Pro Bowler. 1 AP1 nod.
* Pat Swilling - never reached semis. 5/9 years as a Pro Bowler. 2 AP1 nods. 1 DPOY. 
* Greg Lloyd - never reached semis. 5/9 years as a Pro Bowler. 3 AP1 nods.

Plus of course you can go back earlier and include Gradishar, like you said. Incidentally, Swilling, Lloyd, and Gradishar all played 9 seasons, and bracketed a decade boundary. Is it really as stupid as that? None of them played primarily in 1 decade and so they got their votes split on All Decade teams or something? (I'm excluding Sam Mills because of the whole USFL thing.)

I mean, it's bizarre. They just elected Calvin Johnson and Terrell Davis, who are "short career high peak" poster boys, but God forbid you have less than a decade at linebacker. 

Points: 0

#138 by Will Allen // Jun 24, 2021 - 12:47pm

There's nothing rational, or even modestly consistent, about linebackers and the Hall of Fame. Chuck Howley, 5 time 1st team All Pro, 6 Pro Bowls, Super Bowl MVP for a losing team, would have been a reasonable choice for a 2nd SB MVP, this time for a winning team.

Never a HoF finalist, even from the veteran's committee.

Points: 0

#141 by Pat // Jun 24, 2021 - 3:07pm

Yeah, but that's at least a long time ago. An era where you could believe that media types just hadn't heard of the guy or something 15 years later. Plus the Hall's voting process changed over time, etc. etc. Guys from a long time ago, I can understand having slipped. I don't agree with it, but I get it.

It's the more recent stuff I don't get. And, really, the only way I can wrap my head around it is by admitting that it's really a popularity contest, regardless of what they want to say. Which I'm sure any of the Hall voters would come out and say "now that's not fair" to me, but, seriously. No one wants to seemingly admit that Hall voters basically can't say no to anyone and that the 5 players/year limit is a time bomb they've been trying to avoid for years. If they seriously think Clay Matthews is a Hall of Famer, that's fine. Change the freaking rules. You only get ~40-50 people per typical Hall career (trimming the ends), and you've got 22 positions/team. Doesn't take a genius to realize you've gotta say no more.

(edit: also, I'm apparently contractually obligated now to say "but centers have it worse")

Points: 0

#142 by Joseph // Jun 24, 2021 - 5:03pm

Jackson and his (lack of) accolades have a lot to do with competing directly against Lawrence Taylor (they were drafted the same year), then later competing against his own teammate Swilling. Jackson was much more of a run stuffer as well as a good pass rusher, whereas Swilling was definitely more of a "rushbacker" who did not play the run as well. As a Saints fan who grew up cheering on the Dome Patrol, Jackson was the leader of that defense. Of the 4 LB's on the Dome Patrol, it's definitely Jackson, then Mills, then Swilling, then Johnson. Mills obviously has his time in CAR to bolster his HOF case--b/c for NOR, he would definitely be a "Ring of Honor"-type guy, but not a HOFer.

On Swilling, in his DPOY year of 1991, he led the league in sacks, for a team that won their division, plus had a pick-6. That's a pretty common DPOY resume. His other AP1 is in 1992, but his stats look worse than those of Jackson's! (Also, by then, LT was winding up his career. He had 12 sacks in 23 games combined in 91 & 92).

Anyway, I think the biggest deal is how certain players end up losing out on some post-season honors b/c of their career overlapping with an all-time great. For example, think of how many SB's that Brady has appeared in compared with some of his all-time great peers. 

Points: 0

#174 by Pat // Jun 25, 2021 - 10:54am

Waitwaitwait - you're saying Jackson, who's a Hall of Famer, lost out on accolades because he was competing against his teammate - who won those accolades... but Jackson's clearly the more deserving Hall candidate? I mean... many of the guys voting for those accolades are the same guys who vote in the Hall of Fame. Sooo... it's like you get to the Hall voting and it's like "well, I mean, we thought this other guy was better, but... we were stupid then?"

I mean, this is kinda the issue I run into with the no-stat guys (and, I mean, it's not like these guys are totally no-stat guys). It's like the only way they get in is if they prove themselves in multiple places, which really just means they have to have a long career. But stat guys, screw it, they get in even with only a handful of good years. With linebackers it's wacko obvious at this point that if you've got a short career (under 10 years) you're screwed, regardless of how well you're regarded at the time.

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand the logic behind Jackson (and Mills, and even Matthews), it's just, to me, a total double-standard being applied relative to other positions. Which, when you've got a Hall that's way too restrictive in the number of people allowed in (which I think everyone can agree on) is a huge problem.

It's also not really surprising that this is becoming a more and more obvious problem (at least, to me) as you get farther and farther away from when the league was small.

Points: 0

#176 by Joseph // Jun 25, 2021 - 4:27pm

On the sportswriters point of view, I think you can have a player who is great for a couple of years, win some All-Star-type awards, but not be good enough for the Hall. At the same time, this player can have a teammate who was there before, during, and even after this good player leaves the team; be consistently good for a long time, and eventually make the Hall. Short career, high peak versus long career with consistent good play. (Terrell Davis versus Curtis Martin--although they weren't teammates and both are in the Hall.)

Jackson started in 81, Swilling in 86. So about the time Taylor was winding down (1990), Swilling was coming into his prime--and won the DPOY award (91). Anyway, my point is that Jackson was the best player on those Saints' defenses, and a small part of Swilling's success there was b/c offenses had to worry about Jackson rushing from the other side. Jackson was definitely the more consistent player--6 seasons of double-digit sacks, + 3 others of 9 or 9.5. Not sure if there's a way to check, but it wouldn't surprise me if he got AP1 votes, just never enough to be on the first team.

Swilling also has 6 double-digit sack seasons--but nothing else close. It also looks like Swilling fell off a cliff, so to speak, after leaving NO--two forgettable years in DET, and 3 in OAK--only one of which was any good (13 sacks, 5 forced fumbles--but still no Pro Bowl). In my book, if Swilling has even average seasons after leaving NO, he might be worthy of the Hall--but I don't expect that he will make it in.

Points: 0

#177 by Pat // Jun 25, 2021 - 6:13pm

(Terrell Davis versus Curtis Martin--although they weren't teammates and both are in the Hall.)

Yeah, your entire argument held a lot more water before guys like Terrell Davis, Calvin Johnson, and Kurt Warner were inducted. But once those guys got in, the whole "high peak, but not long enough career for the Hall" argument just got flushed down the toilet.

Like I said, there's a long list of linebackers with careers under a decade who either haven't gotten in or won't get in, even though their peaks are high.

 if Swilling has even average seasons after leaving NO, he might be worthy of the Hall--but I don't expect that he will make it in.

Well, I mean, he's a linebacker, so he's already starting off half-screwed.

Points: 0

#8 by Pat // Jun 21, 2021 - 11:59am

Not to irritate Steeler fans but watching Jerome bettis get thrown into the Hall of Fame while will Shields ( an infinitely better player at his position - just ask Ray Lewis what he thinks of will Shields) was forced to wait.

That's the life of any C/G/LB/DT. No stats, so you must not be important. Steelers fans still had to watch Faneca have to wait just as long, so at least it gets spread out everywhere.


Points: 0

#12 by Will Allen // Jun 21, 2021 - 12:37pm

Hell, Kevin Williams isn't being shortlisted for induction despite leading all defensive linemen in blocked passes.

Points: 0

#17 by Mike Tanier // Jun 21, 2021 - 12:55pm

The people involved take it very seriously. A person who reaches the Finalist level 5 or 6 times is almost certainly a worthy candidate whose case has been debated at length for years. At some point, they deserve induction ahead of someone who just entered the ballot and isn't Peyton Manning-level qualified. I submit that any of us commenting on this board, given an actual ballot and a mandate to vote from 15 to 5, would end up making similar compromises.

The "signature moment" thing is not official, universally applied or universally liked by voters. And of course, the David Tyree thing is a straw man. It's one of many rules of thumb some voters fall back on (or fell back on in the past) when trying to pick 5 greats from a group of 15 qualified candidates. 

Points: 0

#32 by Pat // Jun 21, 2021 - 2:49pm

I submit that any of us commenting on this board, given an actual ballot and a mandate to vote from 15 to 5, would end up making similar compromises.

Yeah, I disagree. I mean... the way you're describing it, it isn't actually a vote. It's more just like a "let's figure out how we get these guys in and the order we put them in." Basically every modern candidate that makes it to the finalist list makes it in. Yes, occasionally, 15 years after some guy retires someone throws out their name before they drop to the senior list. Whatever. Not talking about those guys.

And then to make it worse, basically no one ever goes down from the finalist list (or the semi list). In other words, there's no real difference between a "1 time finalist" and a "5 time finalist" so long as he took less than a decade to get there. Which means once John Lynch made the finalist list in '14, he had to be elected, otherwise he'd just stick at the finalist level for the next 12 years. And if there are more worthy candidates that just became eligible, oh well.

(to be clear, only 1 player in the past 10 years has gone from finalist back to semi - Bryant Young. And only 2 players have gone 'down' from the semi list - Simeon Rice, and Wisniewski. Rice's candidacy is just weird, and Young and Wisniewski play at screwed positions. It used to happen more often over 10 years ago.)

Points: 0

#34 by Scott P. // Jun 21, 2021 - 3:00pm

Yeah, I disagree. I mean... the way you're describing it, it isn't actually a vote. It's more just like a "let's figure out how we get these guys in and the order we put them in."

That's what happens when you have dozens of qualified candidates and only 5 slots per year. You could probably put in 50 next year and not have any of them be players where a substantial portion of the voters thinks they are not HOF-caliber.

Points: 0

#38 by Pat // Jun 21, 2021 - 3:40pm

No, every few years there are players nearing end of their 25-year eligibility who suddenly get a "burst" of interest or something. Those players aren't really qualified. They'd be big outliers if they did get elected. Everson Walls in 2018, for instance.

But more importantly, the number of players who ever go down from finalist (as in, they're a finalist one year, then a semi after that) is virtually nonexistent. It basically hasn't happened since Roger Craig in 2010. (Used to be more common).

But think about what this means - this means that when a player gets to the finalist stage, and someone makes his case, the Hall voters virtually never say "yeah, not a Hall of Famer." It's just question of when, not if. And that just means they aren't really voting on these players' cases.

Points: 0

#46 by Scott P. // Jun 21, 2021 - 6:21pm

But think about what this means - this means that when a player gets to the finalist stage, and someone makes his case, the Hall voters virtually never say "yeah, not a Hall of Famer." It's just question of when, not if. And that just means they aren't really voting on these players' cases.

I just don't get why this is so surprising. Roger Craig belongs in the Hall of Fame! And every player better than him, too! Pretty much every player who was ever a semi-finalist or finalist, even for one year, deserves to be in, plus maybe 50-60 players who never got that far.

Points: 0

#82 by Pat // Jun 22, 2021 - 4:20pm

Well, I mean, that's just a different bar for the Hall. That's fine. I have a higher standard, that's all. Not a big deal.

But... I mean, Fred Taylor's now been a semifinalist multiple times. He played straight-out through the period where I was very much paying attention to football, and holy crap I remember nothing about him other than "oh, that's the guy they kept pointlessly giving the ball to instead of Maurice Jones-Drew." That's where we're at? A guy who made one Pro Bowl?

I mean, I guess, okay, fine, but if that's our standard I've got a list of about 50 centers, guards, defensive tackles, and linebackers that have been incredibly neglected.

Points: 0

#19 by MJK // Jun 21, 2021 - 1:11pm

"Not to irritate Steeler fans but watching Jerome bettis get thrown into the Hall of Fame while will Shields ( an infinitely better player at his position - just ask Ray Lewis what he thinks of will Shields) was forced to wait."

Pat touches on this below, but the deck is stacked against players without stats (and these days, that don't play a role in Fantasy Football, sad as that is to day).  The fact is that more casual fans have heard of Jerome Bettis than Will Shields. 


...At least, they have heard that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit!

Points: 0

#25 by theslothook // Jun 21, 2021 - 1:40pm

Also I guess burned from collective memory is that Bettis was bailed out from one of the all time blunders in a playoff game. 

Points: 0

#26 by Pat // Jun 21, 2021 - 1:44pm

This is why I don't even think about Pro Bowl votes for non-stat positions. And even the All Pro stuff is frequently goofball. Most of my opinions on who the best players were at their position usually ends up coming from a combination of who gets replaced and who doesn't and what teams do better than you'd expect and which don't. So it usually takes a couple of years afterwards to even figure it out.

I mean, some part of me thinks the right way to handle those positions is to get the stat position Hall of Famers to vote on them, but I don't think they'd be willing to be (or capable of being) impartial.

Points: 0

#1 by Pat // Jun 21, 2021 - 10:49am

"When I spoke to voters about the 2021 ballot in January, most simply said "not this year" when Jared Allen's name came up."

I just wish someone could give me a reason why Allen was a finalist whereas Kevin Williams didn't even make the semis. More All Pro and Pro Bowl seasons than Allen, and you're talking about a position where it's harder to get recognition. I mean, am I missing something? Is there some weird thing where he like, secretly played in 2016 or something?

I just have this bad feeling that given that the Vikings had limited overall success, Allen's going to be the only one to make the Hall from that group. Which just... yeah, I'm speechless.

Points: 0

#3 by theslothook // Jun 21, 2021 - 10:55am

Alan is an extremely deserving candidate. Somehow that player of the year went to Terrell suggs over Jared Allen despite Jared Allen almost breaking the sack record that year ( PFF also had Allen ranked higher that year than Suggs if you're worried sacks are distorting the picture). He was a fixture among the best defensive players in the league during his period.

I do agree Kevin Williams deserves to be a Hall of famer, but I don't think it's obvious that he was a better defensive player than Alan if at all. And either way his candidacy shouldn't diminish Allen's candidacy.

Points: 0

#7 by Pat // Jun 21, 2021 - 11:40am

He was a fixture among the best defensive players in the league during his period.

So was Williams! Williams actually had more All Pros and Pro Bowls than Allen did. 

but I don't think it's obvious that he was a better defensive player than Alan if at all.

Williams was a better DT than Allen was a DE. That doesn't diminish Allen at all - but Allen had peers at the same time: Peppers, Taylor, Freeney. Williams was the best DT in the league in the late 2000s.

 And either way his candidacy shouldn't diminish Allen's candidacy.

I'm actually arguing it the other way around - I worry that Allen is diminishing Williams's candidacy.

Points: 0

#11 by Will Allen // Jun 21, 2021 - 12:32pm

In another statement of concurrence, the top 5 defensive tackles in Vikings history are Alan Page (likely one of the top 5 dts in NFL history), John Randle (HoFer), Henry Thomas (just shy of HoF quality), Keith Millard (on HoF path before his knee exploded at age 28) and Kevin Williams. I could make a really good case that Williams is 2nd only to Page.

Points: 0

#14 by Mike Tanier // Jun 21, 2021 - 12:46pm

To answer the initial question: I have never really talked to HoF voters about Kevin Williams, because Williams has never reached Finalist stage.

I am actually writing about Kevin Williams a little for the installment that is coming in two weeks. He has a very strong candidacy and should at some point cut through to the finalist stage. 

Points: 0

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