Devin Hester, First-Ballot Hall of Famer?

Chicago Bears KR/PR Devin Hester
Chicago Bears KR/PR Devin Hester
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Super Bowl - Devin Hester sounded like the longest of the Pro Football Hall of Fame longshots among the 15 finalists in the 2022 class until I spoke to a few of the actual voters last month.

"In my mind, the closest thing to a lock is Devin Hester," one voter told me, prior to the annual Hall of Fame selection meeting a few weeks ago. "I am very bullish on him. I'm going to vote for him all the way through. I think that he's one of the most electric players that I ever watched."

Wow. But that's just one voter. Others rely more heavily on the testimonials they solicit from their contact lists of old players, coaches, and executives.

"It shocks me how much support Hester is getting," a second voter said. "He has earned an enormous respect among folks who played the game."

Gosh. So should we brace for a truly shocking announcement this week: the enshrinement of the PFHoF's first-ever full-time return specialist?

Not so fast. "I think he will get in at some point," the second voter cautioned. "But I will be 100% absolutely shocked if he gets in on the first ballot."

Hester's support among all-time great coaches and players—which carries enormous sway among voters—may be artificially inflated by the way most folks think of the Hall of Fame. Like fans, an old coach might see three linebackers on the ballot and select one to be "his guy." Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne, and Andre Johnson? Pick your horse. That same coach then sees Hester's name and thinks, "Wow, he was amazing!" without considering how his accomplishments might stand up to others at the same position or at other positions.

Hall of Fame voters, on the other hand, are forced to make exactly those considerations.

The second voter, again: "When you step back for a moment you think: Devin Hester, greatest return man of all time, amazing player. But was he better than Torry Holt? They tried to make Hester a wide receiver. He couldn't do it. They tried to make him a cornerback. He couldn't do it. How do you reward that? If we made Steve Smith a return man for his entire career, how phenomenal would he be?"

A persuasive argument, but it won't necessarily sway everyone. "I think Hester was a more impactful player than the receivers on this list," the first voter said.

It seems as if the Hester debate among the voters on this year's Zoom call sounded a little like the Hester debate on the Football Outsiders comment threads, on Twitter, and anywhere else such things are discussed.

One thing is certain: none of the voters laughed off Hester's candidacy.

A Wide-Open Ballot; A Solemn Oath
Normally, I dial up seven or eight voters each January and chew their ears about the finalist class. But this year, the folks in charge of the voting changed the procedures: voters left the Zoom call knowing the names of this year's enshrinees. (In the past, the final ballots were tabulated after voters left the physical conference room.) As such, voters were sworn to absolute secrecy, and I canceled many of my calls, lest I ask a friend or colleague to violate omertà.

Still, I was able to chat with a few voters before the Cone of Silence fell. Also, I have been doing this for years, giving me a backlog of past opinions to draw from.

As usual, it sounded like this year's voters entered the chat with relatively open minds, a belief that most or all of the finalists deserve enshrinement and no clue how things would turn out.

"This is going to be one of the big mystery years," one voter told me.

"It's the wildest, most wide-open race I've ever seen," another said. "There's no clear runaway top guy. But it's wide-open with a caveat: it's a great cleanup year, so guys who have been sticking around a while will probably get in."

"Anyone who has paid attention to the process for a number of years would be able to look at this ballot and say: 'I can see who's actually going to make it,'" that voter continued. "But to any Joe Fan who doesn't pay attention to the process, it looks more wide open."

In other words, my gut instincts are likely to be correct, and this will likely be a clearinghouse year for several longtime finalists, starting with Tony Boselli.

One voter: "Boselli made Derrick Thomas disappear. He drove Bruce Smith to insanity. He made Jason Taylor look like a child. But he had to wait behind guys who he was every bit as good as, if not better, because they all played longer. They all deserved to get in ahead of him. But after a while, you have to recognize pure greatness."

Another voter is less optimistic: "This is a big year for Tony Boselli. How many times is he going to get knocked off? At some point you say, 'you know what? We're not voting for Boselli, so let's move on.' Kevin Mawae and Alan Faneca [who, along with Steve Hutchinson, split the offensive line balloting with Boselli for many years before each was enshrined] basically killed Boselli. And they both deserved to get in. But maybe this year a bunch of people will say, 'hey, Willie Anderson's career was twice as long as Boselli's.' Who knows?"

Speaking of Anderson, Boselli's candidacy will have a direct impact on the first-time finalist. "If we don't get Boselli off the list, Willie Anderson might never make it," one voter said, noting a potential split ballot at tackle. "Willie Anderson should be praying right now that Boselli gets in."

"I voted for Willie Anderson to reach the finals," said another voter, speaking before the wild-card round of the playoffs. "He was a really good player for a sh*t franchise. I'm not sure if he belongs, but I'd like to hear his case."

Longtime finalist Zach Thomas, like Boselli, may benefit from the arrival of Patrick Willis on the ballot. Willis is not a strong enough candidate to leapfrog Thomas, but he is strong enough to spur the committee to start processing linebackers. "Is Willis a more menacing, prototypical middle linebacker than Zach Thomas? Yes. Was Thomas a better overall player because he did it for 15 years? Yes. So Willis will wait, and 49ers fans will scream. But that's how it works."

Along the same lines, Bryant Young could be the player who pushes Richard Seymour over the top. "I've had a lot of people call about Bryant Young. I get calls from people who I never hear from, which tells me a lot about how good he is. But I've got Richard Seymour on the ballot. So it's hard to envision Young jumping over everybody "

One voter said that either Torry Holt or Reggie Wayne is likely to get in this year because of Andre Johnson and the backlog of solid receivers (Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, others on the way) growing in the semifinalist pool. But I sense another logjam coming at wide receiver.

"I'm more bullish on Andre Johnson than Reggie Wayne or Torry Holt, even though he's not as impressive numbers-wise," our first voter told me. "We have to look at receivers well beyond statistics at this point. We have to ask, who was really a dominant player? Who was a handful?"

Again, not everyone is as bullish. Another voter: "Andre is just Andre. As a little bit overrated as he is, Andre is still Andre."

And then there are the edge rushers.

"People have to determine how significant sacks are. When someone gets to X sacks, is it like 500 home runs? Is there a magic number of sacks that gets DeMarcus Ware and Jared Allen in?" We discussed this very concept in Walkthrough back in summertime.

Another voter: "DeMarcus Ware is the closest of the first-year guys to being a first-ballot selection, but he's not really close. Bill Parcells drafted him, and he's a player out of a Parcells wet dream. He's the guy who gets off the bus and everyone says, 'Holy shit.' And he lived up to that rep. But he's not Bruce Smith."

And so it goes.

It does not sound like Sam Mills has the support to pierce this ballot. Mills has been a fringe finalist for years, and his case will soon be remanded to the seniors committee. Ronde Barber's name has barely come up in conversations over the last two years, which is a bad sign for his candidacy. One voter warned me that LeRoy's Butler's support among old-timey legends is not as strong as his support on Twitter: Butler may get processed through as a longtime finalist like Boselli and Thomas, but he's lower on the priority queue.

Seniors finalist Cliff Branch, coaching finalist Dick Vermeil, and contributor's finalist Art McNally are in, as the main committee's main role in their enshrinement is ceremonial.

Beyond that, there's a sense that the voters were more eager to discuss Hester and Anderson for the first time than to rehash old Boselli stories again. "I have a feeling that some voters want to get some different candidates and cases in the room," one voter said.

Whether that means the voters wave the Boselli-Thomas group through in a year with no Peyton Manning to deal with or washes their hands of them is a closely guarded secret. But I am guessing it's the former: the committee has been unofficially queuing players as a survival strategy for dealing with the backlog of qualified candidates for over a decade, and it would be strange for them to suddenly draw the line now.

Walkthrough's Ballot (If I had one): Tony Boselli, LeRoy Butler, Sam Mills, Richard Seymour, Zach Thomas.

Walkthrough's Prediction: Jared Allen, Tony Boselli, Torry Holt, Richard Seymour, Zach Thomas.

Around the League

It has been quite a week in NFL news, and Walkthrough was dodging raindrops in Mobile for the Senior Bowl (check out some coverage here and here) or drying out in the home office for much of it. Let's catch up, briefly.

Jaguars hire Doug Pederson as Head Coach
Here's former Packers exec Andrew Brandt on Pederson:

Many folks who followed the Eagles closely during Pederson's tenure would agree that Pederson is a good coach/better person. The Jaguars might have tried to hold out for a better coach/better person. But of course they are coming off Urban Meyer, a horrendous (NFL) coach/irredeemable person. And Pederson must offset general manager Trent Baalke, whom the Jaguars might be locking in one of those safe houses that Tony Stark built for Bruce Banner for everyone's protection.

Pederson's presence means agents will once again pick up the phone when Baalke calls. Beyond that, Pederson is a delegator who relies on his assistants. The Jaguars could be a serious playoff contender in two years if Pederson assembles another 2016-2017 Eagles coaching dream team. Even if Pederson settles for the 2018--2020 Eagles coaching leftovers, the Jaguars will climb back to respectability but may struggle to go much further.

Vikings Hire Kevin O'Connell as Head Coach
As McVay-Shanahan clones go, he's very clonetastic.

Jim Harbaugh Nope's out of Vikings Head Coaching Search
Harbaugh reportedly believes that he was more enthusiastic about the Vikingsthan they were about him. That may be most Vikings thing ever. Hold yer horses there, Mister. We don't wanna generate too much excitement with a former Super Bowl coach, don't ya know? Just tell us your plan to get us to second place in the NFC North and the second wild-card berth, ya?

It's also likely that Harbaugh thought for two nanoseconds about becoming the first coach hired after the Brian Flores lawsuit dropped and figured: You know what, I'll hide out here in the NCAA and live like a feudal archduke with zero consequences for a few more years instead.

Ravens Hire Sashi Brown as Team President
He has risen, Sashifarians!

Brown remains a hero to a fringe group of analytics extremists because of the purity of his, ahem, rebuilding philosophy with the Browns. Brown was ousted from the NFL and exiled to the NBA, where "let's stink on ice for three years" is dogma rather than self-flagellating, counterproductive asceticism. But you know the old bumper sticker: Heaven didn't want him, hell was afraid he would take over.

Brown replaces Dick Cass, who was never really a front-facing member of the Ravens' football operations. Per the Ravens' press release, Brown will be responsible for "overseeing every area of the organization, including player and staff personnel, coaching, corporate sales, operations, communications, and business ventures." In other words, while general manager Eric DeCosta will answer to him, Brown will have to diffuse an administrative role to engineer any galaxy-brained Brock Osweiler trades.

(And before you leap into the comments to cape for the Osweiler trade: spending millions of dollars, cap space, and starter's practice reps on an objectively terrible quarterback in exchange for a future second-round draft pick makes as much sense as buying an expensive lemon on purpose and driving it for a year in exchange for a rebate on your next car.)

Anyway, Brown is somehow still under the analytics tent, as somehow am I, so best of luck to him. He could turn out to be a beneficial voice in the room, so long as he is not THE voice in the room.

The Washington Commanders
There's a trope in sci fi/fantasy/superhero storytelling that characters named "Captain" tend to be heroes—Captain America, Captain Marvel, etc.—while characters named "General" tend to be evil, like General Zod or the many generals who are always chasing down the Hulk or the X-Men. There are exceptions, such as Captain Boomerang or General Leia Organa (notice that honorific never resonated for her character), but we typically equate captains with leading the troops or ship bravely into battle, while generals remain safely in the rear echelon, un-heroically ordering others to do their dangerous bidding.

As for "Commander," few memorable fictional characters have held that title unless it was their explicit military rank (i.e., Riker) and a role as sidekick/runner-up was integral to their characterization. That's because "commander," ironically, does not denote anything particularly commanding. From a marketing/connotation standpoint (not to be confused, please, with an actual military standpoint), they might as well have named the team the Washington Functionaries Working Their Way Up the Chain of Command.

Walkthrough is gonna keep calling them the Washington Football Team for a few more months.

The Brian Flores Lawsuit
OK, let's keep this brief:

  1. Implicit racial bias in the NFL's head coaching and executive hiring practices has been prevalent, obvious, and damaging for decades.
  2. The details of Brian Flores' lawsuit are almost certainly true, though the "Stephen Ross offered me a bonus to tank" thing was probably more of a nod-wink than it is being framed as. (Flores may have been offered a bonus to rest starters or play rookies, for example).
  3. Item 2 does not appear to come within an area code of proving (or even providing a preponderance of evidence for) Item 1 in any meaningful legal sense.
  4. The end result of this lawsuit will likely be a settlement and an astronomically high thinkpiece-to-actual-impact ratio, not some Curt Flood watershed moment.
  5. Wishing really hard that Item 4 were false will not make it any less true.

Super Bowl Shuffle

Covering a typical Super Bowl is like attending a grueling corporate convention and a destination wedding simultaneously. You are expected to work hard and party harder, with the lines blurring between the two. By the time of the game itself, you feel both privileged and inconvenienced, exhausted yet exhilarated. The typical Super Bowl is a once-in-a-lifetime event that many NFL writers are fortunate enough to experience once per year.

The last two Super Bowls have been anything but typical, however. There will be much less hoopla this year than when I last covered the Super Bowl from Miami after the 2019 season. "Media Night" has now been replaced by a virtual fan experience, perhaps permanently. In-person player interviews will not occur until Friday. Radio Row might not be a ghost town, but there would be little payoff for a small potato like me to haunt its cramped warrens. Walkthrough will be reporting live from the big game on Sunday, but we aren't flying out until Thursday. If you see me on our Football Outsiders podcasts or hear me on the radio, it will probably be from the home office.

That's fine. There's no reason to burn money and energy chasing stories that aren't there. And frankly, I'm still searching for my pre-COVID travel legs. Reporting "Live from L.A." sounds more prestigious than it is, anyway: two hours on a shuttle for 10 minutes in a gaggle around Trey Hendrickson, long nights in hotel rooms hoping for two quotes to add to a story that doesn't need them, three hours at a sponsored cocktail party (when you are DONE with drinking) to get 30 seconds of face time with an agent who might let you interview their client next summer ... it's all useful, but it's also inessential.

(Listen carefully and you can hear me talking myself into something.)

Long story short, look for a midweek Walkthrough live from South Jersey, then a Super Bowl Walkthrough after the game itself, plus some podcasting glory and plenty of chatter on the @MikeTanier Twitter feed. I promise to provide all the sights and sounds from Sofi Stadium and other glamorous locations, like the media hotel. And rest assured that I will be having a wonderful time, wishing you were there, and looking forward to a time when Super Bowl week is once again a sprawling, tiring, bloated week of extreme excess (if not access). Because by the time that happens, I should be ready to plunge headfirst into it again.

Comments

118 comments, Last at 21 Feb 2022, 12:13am

#10 by Joey-Harringto… // Feb 07, 2022 - 11:47am

Good call on Cobra Commander.  From the wikipedia page: 

"...rules with an iron fist and demands total loyalty or allegiance"

"...an ingenious hustler with visions of grandeur"

"..in love with the sound of his own voice,"

Sounds a lot like Daniel Snyder.

Points: 0

#11 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 07, 2022 - 11:53am

also: Not as intelligent or effective as his more-popular sister (Baroness), nor as his calmer, more intelligent arch-rival Destro.

Cool suit, though.

Points: 0

#20 by rpwong // Feb 07, 2022 - 1:47pm

Despite his failings, Cobra Commander may have been the first person to predict this pandemic and wear a cloth facemask, while also mandating them for his troops. He doesn't get enough credit for that.

Points: 0

#2 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 07, 2022 - 10:38am

One voter warned me that LeRoy's Butler's support among old-timey legends is not as strong as his support on Twitter: Butler may get processed through as a longtime finalist like Boselli and Thomas, but he's lower on the priority queue.

It's unfair.

Zach Thomas and Boselli preferred over Butler by old timey guys...they're literally telling on themselves.

Points: 0

#15 by Tutenkharnage // Feb 07, 2022 - 12:31pm

Or—and bear with me for a minute—you, as a Packers fan, might be telling on yourself and your ignorance of how good Boselli and Thomas were. Just a thought.

Points: 0

#17 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 07, 2022 - 12:38pm

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

Boselli has less all pros and Thomas retired years after Butler was eligible

But yeah ignorance. You got riled up when I didn't even attack the quality of the players but the voters. Thanks for telling on yourself in their defense though!

Points: 0

#23 by Tutenkharnage // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:09pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

And the other one is me. 

Points: 0

#28 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:21pm

You called me ignorant on how good the players were when I didn't mention how good they were.

Back track all you want but you clearly had hurt feelings for calling out the voters.

Points: 0

#34 by Tutenkharnage // Feb 07, 2022 - 3:32pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

You basically said the voters were incorrect to think Thomas and Boselli were better than Butler, which is equivalent to saying you think Butler was better. You also made a thinly veiled accusation that they're racist to think so. I suggested a simpler alternative: that you, as a Packers fan, might not know how good Boselli and Thomas were. I'm gonna stand by that statement. I don't pretend to know which player is most deserving, or which ones are deserving at all, but you are pretending. You should probably stop, though.

Points: 0

#35 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 07, 2022 - 3:43pm

In reply to by Tutenkharnage

Riled up. 

You may not know but just because you don't doesnt mean others don't. I know how good they were. You can look up the original discussion if you're that offended. But you are clearly aware of the panels demographics.

But Butler is long overdue. Shouldve been in before Lynch, half the all pros, jumped the line. Deal with it. Others don't have to "pretend" like you. 

Points: 0

#36 by Tutenkharnage // Feb 07, 2022 - 4:00pm

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I'm riled up by your ignorance masquerading as the opinion of an expert, sure. "Butler had more All-Pros than Boselli and a longer career, therefore he should get in first" is a pretty weak argument, given that Boselli had four All-Pros to his credit (one fewer than Butler, despite the shorter career). A good analog for Boselli might be Terrell Davis, who had a similarly short career, also made the 1990s All-Decade Team (as did Butler!), and got into the Hall of Fame. But oops, there goes your forced racial narrative. I mean, c'mon. If you can't understand why "old-time" coaches might view a middle linebacker and a left tackle—players who were in the trenches all the time—as more appealing than a safety, you need to think about it harder. I've already come up with three: the trench angle, your Packers-tinted glasses, and sure, we can throw racist lenses onto the pile. But I'm not going to jump on one of these without proof, and that's the difference.

Anyway! Rich Bisaccia has arrived. Cheesetown isn't doomed to repeat the same failures forever. Hallelujah, amirite?

Points: 0

#37 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 07, 2022 - 4:09pm

Got in your feelings again. So yeah riled up.

But yeah I'm the ignorant one that thinks they were personal attacks against the players when it's just about the order and not their general level of play.

Terrell Davis has ringz and an MVP lol. Now you're trying to bring up "appeal?" 😆.

"Without proof", forgetting John Lynch, et al...and the whole literal reason you're this upset. Oh and it's not like the league is under investigation for similar reasons. "Oh that's silly! They aren't biased here!!" Lol🤣

Points: 0

#38 by Tutenkharnage // Feb 07, 2022 - 4:25pm

I couldn't care less. Thomas rarely impressed me, and I saw him twice a year against the Bills, but that's obviously a small part of his career. Boselli, to me, has a case very similar to Davis, Gayle Sayers, and other players with very short but bright careers. I honestly couldn't care less who gets in when, whether so-and-so is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, etc. It really doesn't matter.

Back to you, though, you're claiming Lynch's selection "proves" racism, but you have no proof; you have your feelings, and that's about it. Similarly, you're going on feelings when you claim I'm "pretending" that it's not the case. You're also drawing an equivalence between the Flores situation, which is largely about ownership, and HoF voting, which largely isn't. You're then trying to tar with the same brush, which is really effing ignorant on your part. You have a demonstrated habit of posting nonsense like this, and I think the most telling thing here is that no one else here is coming to defend your contention that the voters are "telling on themselves," which is what sparked this waste of time in the first place. Bring some receipts, and I'd be happy to listen. Failing that, you're just some Packers fan ranting because you think Butler has been getting shafted, and support for Boselli and Thomas somehow proves this. Those aren't receipts; they're just tissues.

Points: 0

#39 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 07, 2022 - 4:52pm

All this because they, themselves, chose those two over Butler.

You're clearly very sensitive to casual accusations. But hey my track record has shown im not afraid to question while the rest of the board stays strictly to their made up "no politics" rule. You wanted proof but just like Flores, it'll never be enough.

No is "defending" me, as if i care, just like they aren't defending you! 

But keep crying for the voters. Not that Tanier is a Packers fan.

Points: 0

#116 by raregokus // Feb 12, 2022 - 8:11am

Hey man, you're being a massive jerk for no reason. Please stop that.

Points: 0

#117 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 12, 2022 - 7:55pm

Yeah, I'm the "massive jerk for no reason" because yall are sensitive to a throw away acqusation and hate thinking there might be bias in your beloved sport. But I'm definitely the one that started off by calling someone else ignorant. 

Yall lame. And this noob account isn't tricking anyone.

Points: 0

#42 by theslothook // Feb 07, 2022 - 10:18pm

I didn't watch much pre-Pats Colts AFC East, but Dr. Z thought well of Zach Thomas and he was definitely well regarded for a Miami team that had good talent on defense. I think being notable as a player despite the team being largely forgettable is something to be lauded. To make a name for yourself when your team is an also ran with little in the way of fanfare beyond Dade county says a lot.

I feel the same way about Kyle Williams in that respect too. 

Points: 0

#3 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 07, 2022 - 10:56am

Butler seemed like one of those guys who I always heard about because I had relatives who lived in Wisconsin. I mean, I also heard about Don Majkowski, so... I tend to derate Packers like I derate Cowboys -- their general overexposure, both in the media and in the Hall (everyone who received a paycheck at Lambeau in the 1960s is now in the Hall) means I tend to regard most of them as less good than their fame suggests.

You don't hear much about Carnell Lake, do you?

Boselli is one of those guys other linemen, OL and DL, speak about in hushed tones. 

Thomas has been heralded as underappreciated for so long he might be overappreciated. He and Taylor made a good team, though, huh?

Points: 0

#41 by dank067 // Feb 07, 2022 - 5:28pm

I don't think the '60s Packers-style argument (which I understand) applies to Butler's candidacy. First, John Lynch and Steve Atwater were contemporaries and have both been inducted in recent years - Butler's resume looks just as good as theirs do, if not better. Second, while 3/4 of Butler's first team all-pros came in '96-'98 during the peak of the '90s Packers media exposure, just look at his stats in those seasons - 13 interceptions, 13.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles. That's crazy productivity from a safety. (And he actually intercepted one more pass in the three seasons prior to that.) Plus there's the famous Mike Shanahan quote that they game planned around Butler in Super Bowl 32.

Points: 0

#85 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 08, 2022 - 1:15pm

He created the Lambeau Leap! The most famous TD celebration! That's the cherry on top for his Hall of FAME resume. 

Points: 0

#87 by justanothersteve // Feb 08, 2022 - 1:48pm

Some people consider it a gimmick and a negative. There were a lot of negative feelings generated among some fan bases when the Lambeau Leap was excluded from the Excessive Celebrations penalty. I don't agree; I'm still puzzled Butler hasn't been inducted yet. Just pointing out that not every voter will consider the Lambeau Leap a positive. 

Points: 0

#88 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 08, 2022 - 2:02pm

We're doomed. It should be the sprinkles and if someone hates sprinkles outside of cost and time, they should give their vote to me.

Points: 0

#111 by Wifan6562 // Feb 09, 2022 - 9:05am

I don’t disagree with anything you said. However, can we all just take a moment to remember how the NFL went “you know what’s hurting this sport? The players are having too much fun. Let’s create a 15 yard penalty to prevent players from having fun. I’m sure people would prefer to see players having no fun rather than players having lots of fun.”

Points: 0

#89 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2022 - 2:06pm

Now I remember why I derated Butler.

Points: 0

#90 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 08, 2022 - 2:28pm

when you said

so... I tend to derate Packers like I derate Cowboys -- their general overexposure, both in the media and in the Hall (everyone who received a paycheck at Lambeau in the 1960s is now in the Hall) means I tend to regard most of them as less good than their fame suggests.

But yes, respond to me instead of the actual reply so you can get snark in. 

Not that the OP wasn't a not so sly reply to mine right above in the first place

Points: 0

#4 by barf // Feb 07, 2022 - 11:11am

I'd offer that Commander James Bond is somewhat well known. 

Points: 0

#7 by mehllageman56 // Feb 07, 2022 - 11:16am

But I thought his title was Bond.... James Bond.

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#8 by bravehoptoad // Feb 07, 2022 - 11:33am

...but not by that.

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#21 by barf // Feb 07, 2022 - 1:49pm

Just giving an example of someone with the title Commander - which Bond was called *many* times throughout the history of the franchise. 

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#43 by theslothook // Feb 07, 2022 - 10:27pm

/

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#44 by theslothook // Feb 07, 2022 - 10:27pm

I will forever think of this scene. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_44MTHVlAw4&t=330s

For some of us, we still live vicariously through James Bond even if we were granted more than we deserved when it comes to our spouses!

Points: 0

#5 by Pat // Feb 07, 2022 - 11:14am

The Jaguars could be a serious playoff contender in two years if Pederson assembles another 2016-2017 Eagles coaching dream team.

If the Jaguars are a playoff contender in 2 years, it has far, far less to do with Pederson than it does Baalke (and the reverse, if they're not, has very little to do with Pederson).

Pederson walked into Philly with an extremely solid front office. The roster had 3 Hall of Fame level talents on it. Usually that's an exaggeration, but in Philly's case it isn't - Cox won't make the Hall (mainly thanks to Donald), but Peters is a lock and I will go on a damn rampage if Kelce doesn't get in. And 2 of those 3 talents were home-grown. And that's just the super-high end talent - Johnson, Brooks, Graham, and Jenkins were all Pro Bowl level talent as well, a combination of home-grown and smartly acquired. Pederson's main job in Philly was to not screw it up.

The Jaguars are much more limited, and the front office is also heavily reorganizing. They don't need someone to not screw up a good team, they first need to get a good team. That's not a two-year job, regardless of how good the coaches are.

Points: 0

#14 by serutan // Feb 07, 2022 - 12:30pm

Agree it's not a 2 year job, even assuming Baalke magically turned competent.  But the way things are these days + how unlikely it is that Baalke has changed his stripes means Pederson won't get the time he needs.

Points: 0

#22 by Pat // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:08pm

I mean, it depends. I could see the Jaguars being a borderline playoff team in '23 if Lawrence is solid, and who knows, maybe that's what Mike meant, although that's not what I would call a serious playoff contender (the Eagles and Pittsburgh were not, in fact, serious playoff contenders, for instance). A solid QB goes a long way.

But I think the problem is that with Baalke I can't see them getting past that "borderline" part. Baalke's got a reputation for a reason. Honestly it'll be interesting just to see how Baalke and Pederson get along, period. So you could get to this situation where they're like the Browns where people keep pegging them to be a serious playoff contender, doesn't happen, tempers flare, people get fired, etc. and the whole thing blows apart.

Points: 0

#25 by Harris // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:13pm

It's kind of weird that Doug is going into another situation with a meddlesome GM who isn't nearly as smart as he likes to think he is. Especially after Leftwich passed.

Points: 0

#6 by mehllageman56 // Feb 07, 2022 - 11:15am

(And before you leap into the comments to cape for the Osweiler trade: spending millions of dollars, cap space, and starter's practice reps on an objectively terrible quarterback in exchange for a future second-round draft pick makes as much sense as buying an expensive lemon on purpose and driving it for a year in exchange for a rebate on your next car.)

First, the trade was more like a tax shelter than a rebate on a car.  The worth of a 2nd round pick is huge.  And if it was such a bad trade for the Browns, why did the NFL implement rules not allowing trades like that in the future?

Points: 0

#13 by Pat // Feb 07, 2022 - 12:18pm

First, the trade was more like a tax shelter than a rebate on a car.  The worth of a 2nd round pick is huge.

It really isn't - the Browns seriously overpaid for that 2nd round pick if that was the goal of it. Scuttlebutt at the time was that the Browns were trying to re-flip Osweiler (at a lower contract value) to add more to the haul, but couldn't find any takers. That nominally makes sense because Osweiler didn't look that bad in 2015, which is why the Texans signed him to a large contract in the first place, and the Browns at the time were analytics-heavy. But Osweiler's reputation around the league with scouts was really, really bad.

$16M for a second round draft pick is really high.

And if it was such a bad trade for the Browns, why did the NFL implement rules not allowing trades like that in the future?

Those trades were already illegal in spirit - by the CBA you can't give up a player for nominal considerations in return. That's why the Osweiler trade actually had a returned pick from the Browns, such that they could claim it was balanced due to future year draft pick devaluation. As in, the Broncos moved up in the draft in 2017 by giving up Osweiler+a second in 2018.

The rules tightening up (which... I'm not sure they actually did) had nothing to do with that trade being good or bad, it had everything to do with the Browns finding a loophole in the CBA language. That trade itself was pretty terrible, but the loophole would've opened the floodgates.

Points: 0

#26 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:17pm

It turned out to be the 35th pick! That's premium! And they got a good player (granted it was a RB, but Chubb is good) and they got a 6th rounder, 188. All for a 4th round pick, 142. 

It's not like they were going to be good. They were coming off 0-3 Josh Mccown, 0-8 Cody Kessler and broken 1-4 RG3. Then traded for SB champ. Hardly mattered that they took a look. Not like Houston was some powerhouse. Maybe if they became one then there would some risk but hardly such a big deal. Worth a shot if you're a deadbeat Cleveland team that needed a lot.

Points: 0

#9 by nat // Feb 07, 2022 - 11:39am

It’s also a role or position: Wing Commander, tank commander, post commander, etc. It’s only a rank in a few services. No doubt, that is the sense intended for the WFT.

At least it’s not as confusing as Captain on a ship, where Captain outranks Commander, except on board some vessels, where a Commander might outrank a Captain (because the Captain might be a Lieutenant, for instance) although the Captain (i.e. the Lieutenant) would still be in command of the Commander for purposes of ship’s operations. 

I think I got that right.

Points: 0

#12 by CorriganBlake // Feb 07, 2022 - 12:11pm

... is even worse than Football Team. And I say that as a fan (I guess) of the franchise for 5 decades now.

Points: 0

#16 by theslothook // Feb 07, 2022 - 12:33pm

These HOF comments bother me and are cringe inducing. 

"Andre is Andre. A little overrated". "DeMarcus Ware is no Bruce Smith". "Hester is the greatest return man in history but Tory Holt and Reggie Wayne are more valuable"

"Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning. A little overrated but still Peyton Manning". Overrated how?? I, you, and the rest of us would love to know but don't expect more to go on than this.

Valuable eh? If we're forced by the rules of logical consistency, then Ray Guy and every owner is more valuable than all of the borderline candidates who failed to get in or who have had to wait forever.

And of course, Drew Brees is no Tom Brady, so how deserving of a first ballot is he?

Tanier has defended the voters for working very hard when deciding on candidates. And I don't deny they work very hard. But when people come in with loopy premises and questionable assumptions, you have to wonder what value all that hard work results in. And clearly, perceptions are playing a big part into what should be a very academic exercise.

Points: 0

#29 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:31pm

And of course, Drew Brees is no Tom Brady, so how deserving of a first ballot is he?

This exact argument will probably trip up Ben Roethlisberger.

And clearly, perceptions are playing a big part into what should be a very academic exercise.

Why? It's not the Hall of Accountancy.

Seeing players in person has a different bias, but also a different basis of comparison.

 

As an aside, it's interesting to see who other players respect. Players tend to put a large premium on other players who could embarrass them, whether or not their larger career numbers were there. It's an interesting and different perspective.

Points: 0

#30 by theslothook // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:38pm

My point is, when it's not academic and becomes a matter of feelings... That's when the hall loses credibility, because you are now introducing favoritism into this discussion. It's about what these players did on the field in as close to a vacuum as possible. Obviously that's very difficult to do, so there is a lot of subjectivity when it comes to context adjustment. But those comments above introduce a lot of other noise that really doesn't belong. 

 

The best example is the Devin Hester commentary about value. Given that special teams players have already been inducted, this argument has no merit whatsoever so it's beyond baffling that it's being brought up. 

Points: 0

#61 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 11:23am

Given that special teams players have already been inducted, this argument has no merit whatsoever

No, the argument totally has merit. The current voters just disagree with it. People aren't really necessarily talking about who will get in, they're also talking about who should get in.

Points: 0

#63 by theslothook // Feb 08, 2022 - 11:42am

Why should value factor into these discussions, especially when cross comparing different positions? And value becomes an impossible to define standard once you have departed from a quarterback. 

Who is more valuable, Randy Moss, Deion Sanders, Anthony Munoz, or Bruce Smith? I don't think this question can be answered independent of roster construction.

Points: 0

#67 by Will Allen // Feb 08, 2022 - 11:56am

Anthony Munoz running 9 routes, on the other hand.....

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#72 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:22pm

He's 6'6", 280-lb. Harold Carmichael is in the Hall, isn't he?

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#66 by Will Allen // Feb 08, 2022 - 11:55am

Individual player value being affected by overall roster construction is an often overlooked reality.

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#69 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:11pm

 And value becomes an impossible to define standard once you have departed from a quarterback. 

It's not impossible. It's just not going to be exactly the same for every voter. There's already an idea that you just can't get in at certain positions. No one's ever going to get voted in as a holder, or long snapper. Or backup quarterback.

The only reason kickers and punters get in is because they have measurable stats.

Points: 0

#71 by theslothook // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:21pm

"The only reason kickers and punters get in is because they have measurable stats."

I don't think this is the reason and Aaron Brooks explained why quite well below. You can replace the holder and long snapper in a pinch and unless it's James Harrison you are using, you can probably get away with it. 

Punters and Kickers are true specialists that have material impact to winning and losing on the snaps they do play.

 

And I would argue it is impossible to answer if roster construction is unknown. That doesn't stop people from pretending anyways, but then I regard that as a pretense of knowledge that savvy, long time voters should absolutely not fall prey to.

Points: 0

#77 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:36pm

You can replace the holder and long snapper in a pinch 

I've seen teams replace kickers and punters in a pinch, too, or deal with their losses. It's not a huge effect. Replacing long snappers often results in as much of a comedy as replacing a punter or kicker. Sometimes more!

Points: 0

#79 by theslothook // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:41pm

are you arguing that Punters and Kickers should not be in the hall of fame?

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#80 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 1:01pm

Less than they are (OK, kickers, punters already are essentially discounted). The first kicker was inducted in 1991. The second in 2017, and the third will likely be in the late 2020s. Let's say it takes Vinatieri 3-4 years. At that point kickers are between 1 every 10-20 years. Which seems way too high to me.

Points: 0

#103 by DGL // Feb 08, 2022 - 5:14pm

Once you're above the bar of "good enough to stay on an NFL roster for at least one season", there isn't all that much variance across kickers and punters (or, to take an extreme example, long snappers).  So to be worthy of a HoF induction, a specialist has to be way, way better than average, in terms of both ability and longevity.

What would it take for a LS to make the HoF?  Would a robo-LS, who put every single snap he ever made directly into the punter's or holder's hands with the laces up regardless of the weather, got downfield and made every tackle on punt coverage that wasn't made by a gunner, and played in the NFL longer than George Blanda make the HoF?

Points: 0

#112 by Pat // Feb 09, 2022 - 10:34am

Yup, and if you couple that with the fact that they play so few snaps, basically unless you're way outside the norm, you're essentially just getting in on luck. Vinatieri's obviously going to get in (totally based on the luck of who he played for), and depending on how things go I'd say Tucker might have a shot too - Tucker probably deserves it more than Vinatieri based on ability (one thing the new XP distance is good for is easily separating kickers by ability).  And when you're talking about a kicker every ~15 years or so, that's not "way, way better than average", that's just normal "best in the league" - maybe even less than that, considering kicker career lengths.

 

What would it take for a LS to make the HoF?  Would a robo-LS, who put every single snap he ever made directly into the punter's or holder's hands with the laces up regardless of the weather, got downfield and made every tackle on punt coverage that wasn't made by a gunner,

Forced fumbles would probably do it, but the kickoff/punt return rules pretty much prevent that. Although I'm actually constantly surprised that supposed special teams aces don't manage to do it more often, there are still plenty of ways around the rules (blocking a guy into a returner's the easy workaround).

Points: 0

#73 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:22pm

Or backup quarterback.

Somewhere, Steve Young's ears are burning.

Points: 0

#81 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 1:01pm

I super-guarantee you that Steve Young did not get into the Hall of Fame for being a backup quarterback.

Points: 0

#18 by Pat // Feb 07, 2022 - 12:41pm

 

It does not sound like Sam Mills has the support to pierce this ballot. Mills has been a fringe finalist for years, and his case will soon be remanded to the seniors committee.

I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you. It's just so surprising that a guy who never hit the semifinalist level until 19 years after his playing career was over (and then even once) and then suddenly got a swell of support in his last few available years didn't make it.

I mean, I would be shocked, if it didn't happen over (Clay Matthews), and over (Everson Walls) in the past few years.

I honestly want Devin Hester to go in as soon as possible just to get him off the ballot. Showing up as a finalist this early is a guarantee he's going to get in, so just friggin' do it, lest we have Kuechenberg's Revenge and 24 years of seeing Devin Hester on the finalist's ballot.

Points: 0

#19 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 07, 2022 - 1:07pm

"Commander" is also what the game calls the player character in the Command & Conquer game franchise.

Special mention goes to "Red Alert 3," where some of the best-looking D-list actresses of the late-2000s do it in the campiest way possible https://youtu.be/0IsQ4952ig4?t=979

Points: 0

#24 by Harris // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:11pm

Whoever makes the Hall, it's important to remember that the guy from your favorite team is a bum who doesn't deserve to be enshrined.

Points: 0

#27 by BroncFan07 // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:18pm

I don't pretend to know all of the nuances in play, but I've been rather surprised at the descriptions of DeMarcus Ware. I always thought he was one of the most highly regarded defensive players during his career, or at least the peak years. Or maybe "highly regarded" is not the same as "don't have to think very long about his HoF qualifications." Bruce Smith level is a lofty goal, but being a tick under Bruce Smith is still a pretty outstanding player. 

Points: 0

#31 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:38pm

Looking at their overall numbers, it's scary how similar Ware and Allen are.

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#51 by Will Allen // Feb 08, 2022 - 9:34am

In my biased opinion Jared Allen's peak value as a pass rusher was slightly higher (he had twice as many passes defensed as Ware), and he was a bit more stout against the run.

Both are deserving, and have no idea when they both make it. Just hope neither get Howleyed.

Points: 0

#62 by theslothook // Feb 08, 2022 - 11:37am

This time last year when there was a debate about Jared Allen, I was absolutely flummoxed that people didn't have the same view that I did about Jared Allen.

Sometimes there are checkered candidates with enough context adjustments that makes their case a bit murky. I love Dwight Freeney. As a fan I will fight to the death that he's a Hall of famer. Trying to be unbiased about it, I think he's still a Hall of famer but I can understand the hesitancy.

I just don't think someone like Allen deserves any such qualifiers. Sometimes a guy is just a no brainer even when he's not Lawrence Taylor or Bruce Smith. It's frankly baffling if he waits any longer than he has to.

 

Points: 0

#64 by Will Allen // Feb 08, 2022 - 11:50am

In a 10 year span he had 128.5 sacks, 51 passes defensed (and again, he more than doubled Ware's passes defensed), 160 tackles for loss. He's obviously a Hall of Famer.

Points: 0

#45 by theslothook // Feb 08, 2022 - 3:12am

I will go ahead and say it. Its a bullshit line with bullshit reasoning. I would understand if some axe to grind Giants fan held this view. Or a similar eagles fan. I might even forgive an old timer who holds everyone to the Lawrence Taylor standard. But for an NFL hall of fame voter to have this view??? I mean, wtf???? These people should be ashamed of themselves and I don't use that statement lightly. I have respect for their hard work and dedication, but when all of that effort leads inexplicably to the conclusion that someone like Ware is a maybe candidate...your work was in vain. Seriously get a clue.

Ware is a no brainer hall of famer to me. He is as no brainer a candidate as Marvin Harrison or Michael Irvin would be. He has pretty much everything you could want. Longevity. A DPOY worthy season. A ring if that does something for you. And on and on. I really can't understand the skepticism and thus its an interesting peek into the hall of fame judgement process or lack thereof. 

I would love for Tanier(no sarcasm implied at all) to offer up some justification for why this contrarion view holds any water whatsoever. Because if all you can drum up is...well Ware wasn't among the 2-5 best defensive players who ever lived across any era; then this is just a pathetic waste of time. 

And for the record, I say this as someone thinks Ware > Allen and I regard Allen as a no brainer, fall on your chin drunk but still cognizant enough to know the guy is a hall of famer. Sometimes, we really are just overthinking this whole process. 

Points: 0

#99 by mehllageman56 // Feb 08, 2022 - 4:30pm

Joe Klecko WAS NO LAWRENCE TAYLOR!!!!!

After all, Klecko had 20.5 sacks in 1981, while Taylor won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1981 for his..... 9.5 sacks.

Points: 0

#55 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 10:15am

I have respect for their hard work and dedication, but when all of that effort leads inexplicably to the conclusion that someone like Ware is a maybe candidate...your work was in vain. Seriously get a clue.

These are the same people who somehow voted a guy one of the 2 best at a full-time, normal (not special teams) starting position in the entire league 5/12 seasons (Kevin Williams) and yet somehow think running backs and wide receivers that they never voted as the best are more deserving candidates.

The more insane thing is that both Allen and Ware are stat positions, so in those cases you can't even invoke the "voters forget the actual game as time goes on" thing.

Points: 0

#56 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2022 - 10:26am

Interior DL is hard to evaluate if you aren't a mutant like Aaron Donald. There's a difference between space eaters and line-pushers, but it doesn't necessarily show up in the stats, visually, and isn't obvious in live situations.

This is an era where I tend to defer to reputation among their contemporaries. Guys who interior OL feared should probably be in.

I know we chuckle about specialists, but Justin Tucker should probably be in. He changed how we conceive of kickers.

Points: 0

#59 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 10:37am

So if they suck at evaluating interior DL when they're voting for All Pro, why do we believe they suddenly become better when it's Hall voting time? It's many of the same people!

Guys who interior OL feared should probably be in.

That's a pass-rusher centric view. OL don't fear guys that are just walls. They just get pissed at them. It doesn't diminish Allen to say that part of his success is due to Williams, because Allen's success is wackadoodle high.

Justin Tucker should probably be in. He changed how we conceive of kickers.

Justin Tucker did not change my view that kickers play less than 1/10th the snaps of interior linemen, and only get attention because they have measurable stats.

Points: 0

#68 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:02pm

Kickers are sort of between starting and relief pitchers in baseball. They are on the field less, but their leverage when they do play is enormous, and it's incredibly difficult for a different position to replace their value.

(Although I have pointed out that position players are better pitchers than pitchers are position players -- pitcher batting is unconscionable.)

Aside from the actual points they generate, a great kicker shifts expected points per drive, effective yards, and the value of field position. I don't know they are all that dissimilar from a home run threat WR.

Randy Moss had about 1800 touches in 16 season, generating 950 points. Justin Tucker has had 1600 touches in 10 seasons, generating 1360 points. Is that actually less of an influence than Randy Moss? Even the distance they advanced the ball was similar. Because lord knows, Moss wasn't functionally on the field if he wasn't going to be targeted.

 

I never actually said they were poor at evaluating interior line play. I said it was difficult, but it's hard to see and doesn't separate on a statistical basis. Guys don't like being bossed. Sacks or no sacks, a NT who trucked centers was something guys didn't like facing. No one wants to be assed on live TV.

Points: 0

#70 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:13pm

I never actually said they were poor at evaluating interior line play. I said it was difficult, but it's hard to see and doesn't separate on a statistical basis.

My point is that it's many of the same voters who vote for All Pro candidates that vote for Hall of Fame candidates. If they think a guy's absolutely epic while he's playing and then suddenly after he's done they're like "eh, it was all Jared Allen," they're either senile or not actually good at evaluation.

Points: 0

#75 by theslothook // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:27pm

Or like most football fans, they have a huge blind spot for players who touch the ball.

The all pro votes mandate you pick players who don't touch the ball. The HoF has no such explicit mandate, so much like the top 100 player rankings, you will get a bias.

Points: 0

#78 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:37pm

Or like most football fans, they have a huge blind spot for players who touch the ball.

Right! Like I said - not actually good at evaluation.

Points: 0

#60 by Will Allen // Feb 08, 2022 - 10:44am

When a guy has 50% more of something as significant as passes defensed, than the 2nd place holder at that position, and can't make the semifinalist round, it's safe to say that the issue is the selectors' utter ignorance, and not the position being difficult to evaluate.

Points: 0

#58 by Will Allen // Feb 08, 2022 - 10:36am

Hell, these dopes don't even have that excuse. Kevin Williams is the all time leader in passes defensed by defensive linemen, 27 more than the next defensive tackle on the list. He didn't make it to the semifinalist round.

I mostly ignore the Pro Football Hall of Fame now. Once or twice a year I get reminded, in detail,  of how poorly it functions.

Points: 0

#32 by wgm.3756 // Feb 07, 2022 - 2:56pm

Mr. Spock was a commander.

Scotty a lieutenant commander

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#33 by Bill Walshs Ho… // Feb 07, 2022 - 3:10pm

I'd like to nominate Commander Luke Skywalker (see Empire Strikes Back)

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#40 by DGL // Feb 07, 2022 - 5:19pm

and his Lost Planet Airmen

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#94 by Bill Walshs Ho… // Feb 08, 2022 - 4:02pm

I believe you are referring to Commander Cody

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#113 by Mike B. In Va // Feb 09, 2022 - 4:58pm

As an aside, Bill Kirchen (who played that iconic riff) used to play in a little dive every Wednesday down the street from me in the '90s. I asked him about that song he said "25 years later and it's still a b*tch."

Points: 0

#46 by David // Feb 08, 2022 - 3:43am

This is an overly snarky comment, I realise, but the HoF articles from Tanier are somewhat ironic on this site, as they are as inside football as it is possible to be.

The article isn't about who SHOULD be in the Hall, or any kind of statistical analysis of the players, but about who is projected to make the cut from talking to the voters.  It's analysis of the process, not of the thing.

Personally, I frickin' hate this stuff - it's second order thinking.  The article doesn't talk about who the best players are, or who is deserving of post-career honours, but instead discusses what other people think about who the best players are and what those people think is deserving.  This is not only annoying, but it's also lazy - if I cared that desperately about what those other people thought - I can just wait a week.  They'll tell me.  In fact, they'll not just tell me, they'll make a big event out of telling me.

I understand that providing a different viewpoint, one based on statistical analysis and objective measures (y'know, the things that FO is normally interested in) can feel like shouting into the wind.  It's just one more opinion in a world that can feel full of them - but it is at least something that FO is equipped to do - much more so than guessing about things I will definitely know in less than a week.

---

PS - I realise that this is now third order analysis, so I'll put something about the actual players in a separate post, so at least I'll have contributed something useful here

Points: 0

#48 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2022 - 7:52am

Modelers often hate that annoying validation step where their sexy graphs and renders have to match some annoying slop called reality.

Points: 0

#47 by David // Feb 08, 2022 - 4:16am

Rather than talk about just five, let's start by dividing the list into three tiers - great players who fall short of the HoF standard, those on the bubble, and those who are definitely worthy

Great

  • Cornerback Eric Allen
  • Wide receiver Anquan Boldin
  • Running back Eddie George
  • Offensive tackle Willie Anderson
  • Wide receiver/kick returner Devin Hester
  • Defensive end Robert Mathis
  • Linebacker Sam Mills
  • Wide receiver/special teams Steve Tasker
  • Running back Fred Taylor
  • Wide receiver Hines Ward
  • Wide receiver Reggie Wayne
  • Safety Darren Woodson
  • Wide receiver Torry Holt
  • Running back Ricky Watters

The greatest of apologies to Holt, Boldin, Wayne and Ward.  All great receivers, but none of them with that extra little je na sais quoi that's needed to differentiate receivers in that weird interstitial period that they all played in.  Taylor and George are similar - fantastic players, top five while they were in the league, but rarely the consensus best (one season for George aside).  Watters is a what-if conversation, which means he isn't worthy.  His skills as a receiver would be much more highly valued now, but he didn't play now.  Woodson and Allen don't move the needle for me, and I'm a little young for Mills' heyday (if continually falling just short of the playoffs is a heyday) to really judge.  Let's not talk about the special teamers.

    HoF

    • Offensive tackle Tony Boselli
    • Wide receiver Steve Smith
    • Linebacker DeMarcus Ware
    • Linebacker Patrick Willis

    Eek, I've nearly filled out my ballot already.  Boselli was amazing - I'm going to value peak over career value.  Smith was unbelievable - the playoff win over the Bears as a true illustration of his peak value.  Ware was the best at his position for several years, and never out of the top five until the very end of his career.  Willis has the same knock as Boselli (short career) but I'm at least consistent in taking peak over career value.

    Bubble

    • Defensive end Jared Allen
    • Safety LeRoy Butler
    • Cornerback/safety Ronde Barber
    • Wide receiver Andre Johnson
    • Defensive tackle Richard Seymour
    • Linebacker Zach Thomas
    • Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork
    • Defensive tackle Bryant Young

    First things first - I can't judge the play of Seymour, Wilfork and Young.  As a 49ers fan, I think Young is a little underrated, but I can't really tell what's happening in the muck of the middle, so let's leave that all alone.

    I'm strangely unconvinced by Allen.  I can't tell why.  His stats are better than I think they are, but in my mind, he's just a little underwhelming.

    Conversely, I'm higher on Barber than the consensus seems to be.  He was a key part of one of the greatest defenses ever.  Got to be in consideration.

    Thomas wasn't as good, but played longer than Willis.  He was great, and his skillset was more valuable in the era in which he played than it is now.

    Johnson did have that special something that elevated him over Holt, Boldin, et al. above.

    Butler was great, but didn't really elevate himself above other safeties playing at the time.  They (Lynch & Atwater are mentioned above) are in the actual Hall, but that doesn't mean I'd put them there.  Unconvinced.

    I'm not going to argue against anyone on this list making the Hall - though I'm guessing that not all three of the DTs are equally deserving.  Similarly, if anyone here doesn't make your list, I'm not going to tie myself in knots trying to convince you of their worthiness.

    If I'm filling out a five person ballot, I'll pick one of the three DTs - for personal reasons, since I don't know who was actually better, I'm going to choose Young.

    Points: 0

    #53 by Will Allen // Feb 08, 2022 - 10:02am

    I know you didn't say this explicitly, but Jared Allen was not a compiler. 128.5 of his sacks, 51 of his passes defensed (and he had double the number of passes defensed as Ware) came in just 10 seasons. He was never a 1 dimensional pass rusher, and was stout against the run.

    Points: 0

    #57 by Pat // Feb 08, 2022 - 10:29am

    Butler was great, but didn't really elevate himself above other safeties playing at the time.

    Sooo... when he was voted the best at his position (by the same people voting for the Hall!) for 40% of his full starting career - that was what? A mistake?

    Points: 0

    #86 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 08, 2022 - 1:29pm

    What safeties would be put in?

    And since they overlapped more, Lynch had twice the amount of AP 1st team All Pro considerations, more total AV from 90-99 (the time they spent together) and not just because he played 5 more game. >3x the amount of sacks, 15 more ints, 2x as many FF, more FR, more TD and return yards.

    Not sure what people want. I guess they want some mysterious "Dr.Z" to watch the film for them. 

    Points: 0

    #109 by David // Feb 09, 2022 - 3:57am

    No, not a mistake, but it's not like the distinction is one guy was an all-pro, and everyone else was a scrub.  There's only two slots for safeties on the all-pro ballot but it's not like every year there were two guys who were much better than everyone else.  For me, there are a whole bunch of very good guys, and which ones got the all-pro nod each year was basically a crapshoot.

    That's my subjective opinion, but since this isn't going away, let's do some research.

    Butler played from 1990-2001 - which is helpful that his career is basically the 90s - what does the All-Decade team say - that he's one of the four best with Atwater, Lake and Lott.  If you want to take the position that Butler was significantly better than Lott, you carry on, but I won't be joining you on that particular hill.

    His later career overlaps with Lynch and Dawkins - again, if you're saying Butler's significantly better, go ahead, but feels to me like he's around the same level as those guys.

    Good for Butler that he got that nod four times, but you can also read that as 60% of the time there were at least two players at his position better than him.  Seems to me that while he was clearly in the top tier, he wasn't standing out from his peers quite as much as you seem to recall.

    None of which is to say he doesn't deserve to make it in - just to say that he isn't in the 'automatic' group for me

    Points: 0

    #110 by ImNewAroundThe… // Feb 09, 2022 - 8:22am

    There's only two slots for safeties on the all-pro ballot but it's not like every year there were two guys who were much better than everyone else.  For me, there are a whole bunch of very good guys, and which ones got the all-pro nod each year was basically a crapshoot.

    All 4 of his years were unanimous. It's been 20 years since he's been retired, it's never been "automatic." This isn't a class with Peyton and Woodson. What's the argument for five people jumpin him? Lynch and Atwater were never 6th in DPOTY voting either. 

    Points: 0

    #74 by theslothook // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:25pm

    To me, you can still make the hall if even if you fall just below that threshold of obvious Hall of famer, but you need to do so with longevity.

    That's why I think Big Ben is a hall of famer. And why Wilson may end up being a hall of famer even if neither won many all pros or mvps.

    Points: 0

    #49 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2022 - 7:55am

    The difference between Ware and Allen is Ware looked like Tarzan and Allen looked like Jane.

    Points: 0

    #54 by Will Allen // Feb 08, 2022 - 10:13am

    I will also note that Kevin Williams may have been more deserving of HoF recognition than any of the defensive linemen who are finalists this year, and he didn't make the semifinalist list.

    The Pro Football Hall of Fame functions poorly.

    Points: 0

    #76 by IlluminatusUIUC // Feb 08, 2022 - 12:35pm

    The Hall of Fame would interest me more if they maintained a 53 man "All-Time" roster with positional balance roughly equivalent to whatever a current NFL roster looks like, along with a Starting 22.

    To me its less interesting to argue whether someone like Jared Allen gets in than to argue if you'd take him on your 53 man roster over somoene like Deacon Jones, or put him in to start over Bruce Smith or Reggie White.

    For Tom Brady to come in and do something like punt Joe Namath out of the hall would be the final, hilarious burn on the Jets.

    Points: 0

    #84 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2022 - 1:13pm

    You'd really need 2.

    A two-way starting 22 and a free-substitution 53.

    \Don Hutson might still make both

    Points: 0

    #100 by mehllageman56 // Feb 08, 2022 - 4:36pm

    For Tom Brady to come in and do something like punt Joe Namath out of the hall would be the final, hilarious burn on the Jets.

    I'd be fine with that if Joe Klecko gets put in to keep Seymour out.

    Points: 0

    #91 by Legion // Feb 08, 2022 - 2:28pm

    Anyone calling Hester a first ballot Hall of Famer needs to explain how Eric Metcalf is not a Hall of Famer at all.

    14 career punt return TDs is 1st ballot, but 10 career punt return TDs is not HOF at all?

    Factor in that Metcalf did much more on offense than Hester.

    You can like Hester more than Metcalf, that’s fine. But how exactly is that line drawn such that Hester is a lock and Metcalf is a never-gonna-happen?

    Points: 0

    #104 by JonesJon // Feb 08, 2022 - 5:16pm

    Eric Metcalf vs Hester career on punt returns

    • Metcalf: 351 returns, 9.8 yds/return, 10 TDs
    • Hester: 315 returns, 11.7 yds/return, 14 TDs

    Eric Metcalf vs Hester on kick returns

    • Metcalf: 280 returns, 20.8 yds/return, 2 TDs
    • Hester: 295 returns, 24.9 yds/return, 5 TDs

    Answer is much the same as the answer to the Steve Smith question, Metcalf was a good returner but Hester was a lot better. He scored 7 more TDs on 21 fewer career returns

    Points: 0

    #114 by Legion // Feb 10, 2022 - 2:34pm

    Sure, Hester was better, but again, we’re talking about someone supposedly being a first-ballot candidate versus a guy that doesn’t reach the semifinalist list.

    If kick/punt return production like Hester’s is enough to be first ballot, how is kick/punt return production like Metcalf’s not enough to even make it as a barely-gets-in guy?

    If Hester is the Jerry Rice of returning, who exactly is the Moss, the Fitzgerald, the Owens?

    Points: 0

    #115 by Bryan Knowles // Feb 10, 2022 - 3:11pm

    Billy "White Shoes" Johnson.

    In fact, there's an argument that Johnson was a better returner than Hester -- one I share, though Hester has the benefit of doing it for longer thanks to avoiding injuries.

    Points: 0

    #92 by young curmudgeon // Feb 08, 2022 - 2:39pm

    If you think there are injustices in the Hall of Fame in Canton, drive an hour north and check out the Hall of Fame in Cleveland...now THERE are some dubious judgements!

     

    Points: 0

    #96 by TomC // Feb 08, 2022 - 4:09pm

    They can put whoever the hell they want in that one, because the idea of a rock and roll hall of fame is an abomination and anathema to the spirit of actual rock and roll.

    Points: 0

    #97 by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2022 - 4:16pm

    Getting famous and sticking it to your rivals is absolutely in the spirit of rock and/or roll.

    Points: 0

    #98 by Will Allen // Feb 08, 2022 - 4:18pm

    It's beyond ridiculous, ain't it? I won't knock anybody who shows up to accept the induction, because, hey, business is business, and The R&R HoF is effective marketing, but kudos to those that passed.

    I also really hate award shows for music and movies.

     

     

    Points: 0

    #101 by mehllageman56 // Feb 08, 2022 - 4:37pm

    I don't know, it might be worth it only for a place for all to see the letter Johnny Rotten sent back to them written in crayon.

    Points: 0

    #102 by JonesJon // Feb 08, 2022 - 5:08pm

    Smith returned punts for the first 4 full seasons he played. Here is how he stacked up to Hester's first 4 years

    • Smith: 160 returns, 9.7 yd/return, 4 TDs
    • Hester: 145 returns, 11.3 yd/return, 7 TDs  

    Smith returned kicks for the first 2 seasons he played. Here is how he stacked up there to Hester's first 2 years

    • Smith: 82 returns, 24.4 yd/return, 2 TDs
    • Hester: 63 returns, 23.3 yd/return, 4 TDs

    Steve Smith was a very good returner but the answer to how phenomenal he would've been if he returned punts and kicks his whole career is almost certainly not as phenomenal as Hester was

    Points: 0

    #105 by Eddo // Feb 08, 2022 - 5:44pm

    Right.  There are plenty of arguments against Hester making the Hall of Fame(*), but "Was he really that good a return man?" isn't one of them.  Eric Metcalf and Brian Mitchell were great, and Dante Hall and Josh Cribbs has amazing peaks, but I think the only player who has a combined peak plus career length argument over Hester is Cordarelle Patterson.

    A far better argument against Hester is that being the greatest return specialist ever isn't nearly as valuable as being the 25th greatest defensive lineman ever (to pull a random positional rank out of my ass).

    (*) I'm a huge fan, and I'd love to see him go in, but I also make an argument he should make it over at least 10-15 other candidates currently eligible.

    Points: 0

    #108 by jheidelberg // Feb 09, 2022 - 1:35am

    I can not value Hester in today's game because I do not know what his salary would be.  However, I do know that Justin Tucker makes 5M per year.

    If we go by market value, we come up with Nick Foles and Andy Dalton having more market value.

    Do we really want the Hall of Fame to be the Hall of QB's with a sprinkling of defensive players, offensive lineman, and wide receivers or do we want to recognize players for being the best ever or the best of an era at their position?

    Clearly Hester and Tucker are outliers, but I would sure like to see both of them in the Hall of Fame some day, and leave out more "valuable" players such as Kirk Cousins or the 100th best pass rusher of all time.

    Using a less extreme position on the field, I must have players such as Anthony Munoz in the Hall of Fame.

    Now having said that, yes, it sounds like you need robo-perfect long snapper to get in the hall of fame, and I think that we can live without the modern fullback in the HOF.

    I know that no one is advocating that Cousins make the Hall of Fame, but if you use the value argument, you will get a very position centric Hall of Fame.

    I've made this argument many times this year, with no resistance, if you want to see who is valuable look at the injury report.  The Colts line went wild when Wentz was suspected to be out with COVID, you would not see such a movement of the line if historic season Cooper Cupp were out nor Jonathan Taylor, nor Trent Williams.

     

    Points: 0

    #107 by seesau // Feb 08, 2022 - 11:52pm

    Thank you for making this point.  It seems dumb to assert without evidence that there's lots of 'better' returners but they just didn't do it because they were too valuable as RB's/WR's/DB's.  If teams had players who were as good as Devin Hester at his best at returning kicks and punts they wouldn't let the fact that they were a decent slot receiver or the change up back keep them from doing it.

    Points: 0

    #106 by medelste // Feb 08, 2022 - 10:03pm

    Vincent V, can you update this? https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2007/how-good-devin-hester

    Points: 0

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