The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Biggest Snubs

An updated version of this article is available as of 2012.

Five Quick Hits

* The Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal keeps getting worse, but by now I'm used to the idea that Vick forced pit bulls to tear each other to pieces, and that he beat poor performers to death by repeatedly slamming them into the ground.

* What's upsetting me just as much at this point are the reactions of people like Clinton Portis, Emmitt Smith, and Deion Sanders, who really seem to sympathize with Vick and feel like he's being treated unfairly. How big a dog-fighting problem does the NFL have?

* Animal rights groups like PETA have been effective using Vick's dog-fighting problems to highlight this kind of atrocity, but it's time to stop going after Vick — let the league and the feds handle it from here — and focus instead on strengthening states' anti-dog-fighting laws.

* Daunte Culpepper to the Raiders: good move by Oakland, who might be getting a great QB, and at worst have picked up a reason for JaMarcus Russell to hurry up and get into camp.

* Culpepper to the Falcons made a ton of sense. I don't know why Atlanta didn't make it happen.

***

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted six new members over the weekend, filling some noteworthy absences in Canton. Thurman Thomas, who should have gone in on the first ballot, was enshrined. Gene Hickerson, a half-century snub who should have been in ages ago, finally made it. Roger Wehrli's induction helps bring the Hall closer to giving defensive backs the credit they deserve. But there are still gaping holes in the Hall's membership. The most obvious way to find these holes is by noticing the makeup of the Hall's membership.

The PFHOF has 249 members. Of these, 47 played before the Modern Era (1946-present), on both offense and defense. Another 21 are coaches, and 17 are what the Hall calls "contributors" — mostly owners, with a few league officials and general managers thrown in. The other 164 are Modern Era players. Of these 164: 23 are quarterbacks, 25 are running backs, 18 are receivers, 7 are tight ends, 32 are offensive linemen, 25 are defensive linemen, 16 are linebackers, 17 are defensive backs, and 1 is a placekicker.

Let's start by examining offense. An NFL offense typically uses one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, and five offensive linemen. Given that QB is a uniquely important position, it seems reasonable that quarterbacks would be over-represented in Canton. Looking at the 105 Modern-Era offensive players in the Hall:

* 22% are quarterbacks
* 24% are running backs
* 17% are wide receivers
* 7% are tight ends
* 30% are linemen

Quarterbacks make up 9% of the offensive players on the field. RBs are 18%, but one of those is the fullback — for the last 25 years a blocking position, where no one has been enshrined or even gotten to the semifinals of the voting process (the last fullback voted in was either John Riggins, who retired 22 seasons ago, or John Henry Johnson, whose last season was 1966.) Wide receivers and tight ends combine for over 27% of the offense. Linemen are almost half (45.5%).

What this tells us is that running backs are over-represented in the Hall of Fame — too many are in — at the expense of receivers and linemen.

Wide Receiver

Now that Benny Friedman, Hickerson, and Thomas are in, the biggest HOF snub remaining is Art Monk. Monk is the only eligible Modern-Era player ever to hold the NFL record for career receptions who is not in the Hall of Fame. It's not just Monk who's being left out, though.

Bob Hayes was among the NFL's top ten in both receiving yards and receiving TDs six times. His 73 career TDs put him ahead of both Michael Irvin, who was enshrined over the weekend, and Monk. Hayes was the leading receiver on the Cowboys' 1970 and '71 Super Bowl teams, as well as the great Cowboy teams of the late 1960s, including the one that faced Vince Lombardi's Packers in the Ice Bowl. Hayes is in the Seniors pool now, and was voted down as a Seniors candidate in 2004, the only Seniors candidate turned away in the last ten years.

The voters just don't like enshrining receivers. Besides Monk and Hayes, consider Pittsburgh's Hall of Fame receiving duo of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, who were turned away a combined 20 times before getting in. James Lofton, who retired with the most receiving yards in league history, couldn't get in until his third season of eligibility. Henry Ellard, who is among the all-time top 15 in both receptions and receiving yards, has never made it past the first round of voting.

The recipe for the Hall to fix this problem: Cris Carter, who becomes eligible this year, should get in easily. But the voters also need to induct Monk and Hayes, with consideration of Otis Taylor, Drew Pearson, Cliff Branch, Ellard, and Andre Reed.

Offensive Line

The Hall has done a good job recently of voting in deserving linemen. In 2000, there were only 26 offensive linemen in Canton. The top candidates for inclusion, some of whom are in the Seniors pool, should include Mick Tingelhoff (center, Vikings), Bob Kuechenberg (guard, Dolphins), Russ Grimm (guard, Washington), Joe Jacoby (tackle, Washington), and three recently eligible candidates: Dermontti Dawson (center, Steelers), Randall McDaniel (guard, Vikings), and Gary Zimmerman (tackle, Vikings and Broncos). It's a travesty that of the Hogs — the famous offensive line that led Washington to four Super Bowls in the '80s and early '90s — none have made it to Canton. Grimm seems to have more momentum right now than Jacoby, but both should be in.

Defense

Of the 164 Modern-Era players enshrined in Canton, only 58 (35%) primarily played defense. Of those players, 25 are defensive linemen, 16 are linebackers, and 17 are defensive backs. What this means, right off the bat, is that the Hall needs more linebackers and DBs. But all of those positions can be broken down further — defensive tackles and ends on the line, inside and outside linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties in the secondary. Safety can even be sub-divided into free safety and strong safety. Here's the most glaring problem: Canton only has five outside linebackers.

Linebacker

Outside linebackers constitute 18% of a defense. They make up 8.5% of defensive players in the Hall, and just 3% of all Modern-Era players. A list of great outside linebackers excluded from Canton includes — in alphabetical order — Maxie Baughan, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection; Joe Fortunato, who was overshadowed by Hall of Fame teammates Bill George and Dick Butkus; Kevin Greene, who ranks third all-time in sacks; Chris Hanburger, who played in nine Pro Bowls; Chuck Howley, a five-time all-pro who was the MVP of Super Bowl V; Dave Robinson, who won three NFL Championships with the Packers; Andy Russell, who went to seven Pro Bowls with the Steel Curtain; Derrick Thomas, who holds the NFL's single-game sack record; and Andre Tippett, the best 1980s OLB this side of Lawrence Taylor and Ted Hendricks. I like Fortunato, Greene, Hanburger, and Howley, but you can make an argument that all of those guys should be in.

Inside linebackers have had better luck, with 12 players in (if you count Chuck Bednarik and George Connor, both of whom also played other positions), but the leading candidate is Randy Gradishar, who anchored the "Orange Crush" defense in the late '70s and early '80s. I've expressed ambivalence about Gradishar in the past, but I do believe he should be in.

Defensive Line

Defensive linemen fare better at selector's meetings than their other defensive teammates, but that doesn't mean they're fairly represented. Chicago's Dan Hampton is the only defensive tackle inducted in the last 12 years, and of soon-to-be-eligible DTs, only John Randle seems to have a good chance of enshrinement. The most glaring omission from the interior defensive line is Curley Culp, who effectively created the position of 3-4 nose tackle.

A number of defensive ends have been HOF finalists or semi-finalists recently, but the selectors don't seem to agree on which ones are deserving. The most successful candidates recently have been Fred Dean, the 49er Dynasty's most dynamic defensive player other than Ronnie Lott; Richard Dent, the MVP of Super Bowl XX; L.C. Greenwood, a six-time Pro Bowler for the Steel Curtain; Charles Haley, the only five-time Super Bowl winner in NFL history; and Claude Humphrey, who made six Pro Bowls with Atlanta in the 1970s. I'm not certain I would vote for any of them, but I'm least supportive of Greenwood, who already has four defensive teammates in Canton, and Haley, who was a fine player but whose main claim to fame was being on the right teams at the right times.

He has generated little support in the past, but it's worthy noting that many people — including two giants of NFL history, Steve Sabol (of NFL Films fame) and Paul Zimmerman (a.k.a. Dr. Z) — consider Rich "Tombstone" Jackson the best player at any position not to have a bust in Canton. What hurts Jackson is a short career of only seven seasons, with only three Pro Bowls and no championship appearances.

Another defensive end I support is Chris Doleman, who officially ranks fourth all-time in sacks. Doleman was a six-time all-pro and eight-time Pro Bowler who is one of only five players to record more than 20 sacks in a single season (since 1982, when the NFL began tracking the statistic). If he hadn't played at the same time as Reggie White and Bruce Smith — all three began their NFL careers in 1985 — Doleman would be considered the greatest defensive end of his era, and maybe one of the best ever.

Defensive Back

Wehrli's induction last weekend marked the first time a defensive back has been enshrined since Ronnie Lott in 2000, and the first for a cornerback in ten years. Hopefully, Wehrli's induction will open the door for Raiders CB Lester Hayes, who made five Pro Bowls and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1980. Darrell Green, who becomes eligible this season, should be a first-ballot cornerback entry.

Safety, and strong safety in particular, poses a larger problem. Count me among the backers of Cliff Harris, a hard-hitting free safety who played in five Pro Bowls and three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, but has now fallen into the Seniors pool, from which only two candidates per year can be enshrined. At strong safety, I support Steve Atwater, who went to eight Pro Bowls; Kenny Easley, the Seattle DB who won Defensive Player of the Year before his career was shortened by injury; and LeRoy Butler, the best strong safety of the 1990s.

Atwater and Easley have generated little support, and Butler was ignored in his first year on the ballot, but Hayes may have a chance. He'll have to contend, though, with some legendary DBs, and it's unusual for the voters to pick more than one DB per year (the last time was 1989). Green (2007), Rod Woodson (2008), Aeneas Williams (2009), and Deion Sanders (2010) all become eligible soon, and all but Williams are locks.

Special Teams

Even more than defense, special teams are being snubbed by Hall selectors. It wasn't always like this. Detroit safety Jack Christiansen led the NFL in interceptions twice, but he also led the league in punt return TDs four times. He's in as much for his returning as his defense. Christiansen's teammate Yale Lary recorded 50 career interceptions, but he's also one of the greatest punters ever, and probably wouldn't be in Canton without his special teams contributions. Lou "The Toe" Groza was a fine offensive tackle, but he was also an exceptional placekicker. Gale Sayers wouldn't possibly have gotten in without his returning accomplishments. The list goes on.

Today's selectors, though, ignore special team contributions. This is true both for pure special teamers such as Tommy Davis and Steve Tasker, and for great players whose contributions came partly on special teams, such as Herschel Walker, who added 5,000 return yards to his 13,000 yards from scrimmage.

And let me put in a pre-emptive complaint for Brian Mitchell, the greatest returner since Sayers, who will become eligible after next season and probably will never make it to the voting finals, as well as placekicker Gary Anderson, who has a better chance but may have to wait.

Coaches

There are two glaring omissions: Clark Shaughnessy and Don Coryell. Neither had a dazzling résumé as head coach, but both were innovators who changed the game. Shaughnessy only spent two seasons as a head coach — which is why the Seniors committee never picks him — but as an assistant to George Halas, he helped frame the game of football as we know it. Coryell was an assistant on Sid Gillman's legendary Charger teams during the AFL glory years, and he amassed over 100 regular-season victories as head coach of the Rams and Chargers. More than the wins, though, Coryell's contribution was to revolutionize passing offense. The "Air Coryell" Chargers, as they were known, led the NFL in passing offense four seasons in a row, an accomplishment never equaled in the Modern Era.

Miscellaneous

Another category of snubbed players is those from bad teams. Winners are over-represented in Canton. It's appropriate for dynasties to be well-represented, but probably not to the extent that Lombardi's Packers should have 11 Hall of Famers, with three others — Jerry Kramer, Ron Kramer, and Dave Robinson — sometimes mentioned as snubs. The Steel Curtain already has 10 HOF members, not including L.C. Greenwood and Donnie Shell, both of whom have been finalists.

Good players on great teams have a better chance of being enshrined than great players from bad teams, and while winning is the goal of the sport, Hall induction is an individual honor. Over-inclusion of certain teams and positions is part of what keeps deserving players out, and the selectors need to be aware of the biases they and their predecessors have shown. Having said that, recent dynasties have been more moderately represented in Canton.

One player from a recent dynasty who should be in is Daryl "Moose" Johnston. Unquestionably the finest fullback of his era, Johnston has gotten no support from the Hall voters, but his lead blocks were just as important to Emmitt Smith's success as were those of the offensive line. No position should be ignored by the voters — especially one as critical as fullback was for the 1990s Cowboys.

The All-Snub Team

Having acknowledged that some positions actually have too many members in the Canton, here is my All-Snub Team, listing the best eligible player not in the Hall of Fame at every position.

First Team

QB Ken Anderson
RB Terrell Davis
FB Daryl Johnston
WR Art Monk
WR Bob Hayes
TE Todd Christensen
C Dermontti Dawson
G Russ Grimm
G Jerry Kramer
OT Gary Zimmerman
OT Joe Jacoby

DT Curley Culp
DT Alex Karras
DE Rich Jackson
DE Chris Doleman
OLB Chuck Howley
OLB Chris Hanburger
ILB Randy Gradishar
CB Lester Hayes
CB Lemar Parrish
FS Cliff Harris
SS Kenny Easley

K Mark Moseley
P Tommy Davis
ST Steve Tasker

Coach Clark Shaughnessy

Get ready to beat the NFL odds this season by signing up early for the picks offered by the BetFirms handicappers.

Comments and Conversation

August 8, 2007

ekgraider:

Punter is Ray Guy no question.

August 8, 2007

DH:

3 Raiders have been snubbed.. cuz they’re Raiders?

RAY GUY
JIM PLUNKETT
CLIFF BRANCH

August 8, 2007

Tim:

Brad:

I’ve been arguing for years that Chris Hanburger is the most overlooked Hall-of-Fame candidate in NFL history. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 9 times, selected All-Pro 5 times, and selected as the Defensive Player of the Year in 1972. He was also the defensive signal caller for 5 years for George Allen’s Redskins defense, one of the best defenses in the NFL during that time period. There is not one player with similar credentials who is not in the HOF. He needs to be voted in this year!

August 9, 2007

the stare:

Michael Vick’s involvement in dog-fighting is disgusting and he should be denied Hall of Fame status. He should pay a HUGE FINE & GO TO JAIL! I watch Animal Planet on a regular basis and have seen these poor animals and their conditions. Many states have laws against this practice. I’d like to know how many offenders actually went to jail. And scr*w his supporters. stare

August 9, 2007

bachslunch:

Excellent article on Hall of Fame snubs, better thought out and researched than most. Got some comments:

1. there are no shortage of snubs from the 1960’s and later, but one can go back further in time and find more puzzlers, including Lavie Dilweg (end), Verne Lewellyn (back), and Duke Slater (lineman, hurt equally badly by race exclusion as Fritz Pollard) from the 1920’s, Al Wistert (lineman) from the 1940’s, and Les Richter (LB), Dick Stanfel (G), Billy Howton and Billy Wilson (WR), and Abe Woodson, Jim Patton, Bobby Dillon, and Jack Butler (all DBs) from the 1950’s-early 1960’s. Of these, it amazes me that Abe Woodson gets absolutely zero mention despite 4 first-team all pro selections, 5 pro bowls, and being arguably the best kick returner between the time of HoF-ers Jack Christiansen and Gale Sayers — and he was also a terrific cover man, as this interview with Ray Berry suggests:

http://www.profootballhof.com/history/release.jsp?release_id=637

And Art Monk isn’t the only Modern Era player to hold the NFL record for career receptions who isn’t in the HoF. Billy Howton also holds that distinction — he’s a classic example of a great player stuck on rotten teams (and had some problems during his career related to his NFL Union activism) who has been totally forgotten by the HoF committee. It perhaps didn’t help his cause that Berry passed him in catches the next year.

2. agreed that LB (especially corner LB) is badly underrepresented here. Your snub list actually has a glaringly huge omission, however, in Robert Brazile. He has 5 first team all pro selections, 7 pro bowls, and a berth on the all-70’s team. He was also the prototype for all the pass rushing corner LB’s of later decades, essentially Lawrence Taylor before Lawrence Taylor came into the NFL. And while I’ll agree that Chris Hanburger should also get in, note that Maxie Baughan’s 2 first team all pro/9 pro bowl profile is identical to Hanburger’s. They seem very similar, so making a case for one over the other wouldn’t make sense to me.

3. of your DL snubs, I’d plead most strongly for Claude Humphrey (4 first team all pro, 6 pro bowls) and a great player on some wretched Atlanta Falcons teams.

4. your WR snub choices are all good ones, though I’d suggest that Harold Carmichael, whose stats and post season awards are similar to those of Cliff Branch and Drew Pearson, should be there as well. And one can make a case for Pete Retzlaff at TE also.

5. the choice of Mark Moseley for snubbed K pales to my way of thinking compared to Nick Lowrey, who has both the big counting stats and according to one well prepared study I’ve seen, was the most accurate K in NFL history. Why he has been neglected is a real puzzler.

6. mentioning Kenny Easley, Cliff Harris, and Steve Atwater as DB snubs makes excellent sense. However, Joey Browner has post season awards comparable to these folks and should be included. And thank you for mentioning Lemar Parrish (3 all pro, 8 pro bowls, also top kick returner), who has been apparently utterly forgotten by Bengals fans up in arms about the omission of Ken Riley.

7. Jerry Kramer’s omission from the HoF is an interesting case, and the reasons voters have passed on him may include only 3 pro bowls, his having missed half of 1961 and most all of 1964 due to injury, his authorship of the tell all book “Instant Replay,” his inclusion in an all first 50 years of the NFL team roundly criticized by insiders as a botch job, and the perception among some HoF voters that he was no better a player on his own team at his own position than Fuzzy Thurston and Gale Gillingham. Not sure if I agree here, but that may be the thinking.

8. for offensive linemen, one might make a strong plea on behalf of some old AFL players, especially Jim Tyrer (T) and also G’s Walt Sweeney and Ed Budde. And another startling snub, as you noted, is Mick Tingelhoff (C) who has 6 all pros and 7 pro bowls; the one rap against him is that he supposedly came up small in the Vikings Super Bowl appearances.

9. of the two “Hogs,” Russ Grimm has the better HoF argument, with 4 all pros and 4 pro bowls despite injury problems. Joe Jacoby also went to 4 pro bowls, but surprisingly was a first team all pro only twice.

10. Tommy Davis does have excellent punting stats and he was perhaps the most accurate PAT kicker in history. The only quibble I can see for him is very ordinary FG percentage, though perhaps he deserves extra credit for having to kick primarily in SF’s notoriously windy Candlestick Park and Kezar Stadium.

11. a few folks listed here are ones I have a harder time getting on board with. Besides Jacoby, this would include Richard Dent (one all pro selection, 4 pro bowls) and Alex Karras (suspended for a year for gambling on NFL games — I’m also not much in favor of Paul Hornung’s HoF inclusion for the same reason).

August 14, 2007

Brad Oremland:

bachslunch,

Thank you for your thoughtful and well-researched comment.

1] Agreed that there are some earlier snubs as well, but not as many. The early years of the NFL, when there were 10 or so teams instead of 28 or so, are overrepresented as far as proportion of players who are in. I am sympathetic to some of the players you mentioned, and Abe Woodson is a great example of a player hurt by the recent notion that special teams play — such as returning — shouldn’t factor in HOF voting.

2] You’re right, I should have mentioned Robert Brazile. As far as Hanburger and Baughan, though, I disagree. Baughan made 9 Pro Bowls in an NFL with 14 teams, earning 1 first-team all-NFL selection and 5 second-team honors. Hanburger made 9 Pro Bowls in a league with 26 teams, winning 3 first-team all-pro selections after the merger. And stats aside, Hanburger was simply the better player.

3] I’m sympathetic to Humphrey, too. I’d take Culp, Jackson, and Doleman first, but Humphrey should be in.

4] Carmichael doesn’t excite me, and I feel the players to whom you compared him are borderline as well. I do like Retzlaff, but there are a lot of tough calls at TE, including Christiansen, Ron Kramer, Jerry Smith, and Mark Bavaro.

5] I don’t particularly feel that either Moseley or Lowery should be in, but I wanted a kicker. It’s a close call between them.

6] I always liked Joey Browner as a player, but I don’t think I’d support him as a Hall of Fame candidate.

7] Agreed, Kramer’s a tough call.

8] AFL linemen have some decent representation in guys like Ron Mix and Jim Otto and Billy Shaw, but I do think Tyrer should be a strong candidate for Seniors consideration. I like Tingelhoff, too, and I don’t think one bad game should ruin his chances for induction (he was destroyed by Culp in Super Bowl IV).

9] It’s true that Jacoby didn’t earn many postseason honors, and I think that’s one reason the selectors have been more sympathetic to Grimm, but during his career, Jacoby was generally regarded as the best offensive tackle this side of Anthony Muñoz. Washington won Super Bowls in 1987 and ‘91, and right now exactly ZERO players from those teams are in. Jacoby (and Monk and Grimm) were also starters on the ‘82 and ‘83 Super Bowl teams which are currently represented only by John Riggins and head coach Joe Gibbs. The offensive line was the heart of those teams, and I believe Jake deserves enshrinement.

10] I mention Davis for the first two points you make.

11] I’m also lukewarm on Dent, but I don’t like holding Karras’ gambling suspension against him. I think he’s more deserving of a bust than Hornung, actually, though I don’t feel strongly about his case.

Thanks again for reading and commenting.

August 17, 2007

bachslunch:

Brad, thanks for the helpful and well-reasoned reply. Had a couple of thoughts on it:

1. the idea that Chris Hanburger should get notable extra credit for having similar postseason honors to Maxie Baughan while doing it when there were twice as many teams in the NFL is in fact an excellent point to make. Mea culpa, and thanks for pointing it out. My count on first team all pro selections for these players when looking again at this source:

http://www.hickoksports.com/history/allnfl02.shtml

shows two first team all pro selections for Hanburger (1972 and 1973) but actually three for Baughan (1964, 1966, and 1967), so I miscounted against the latter. Nevertheless, your original point still holds.

2. I had brought up Harold Carmichael because Branch and Pearson were mentioned in your article, and the three of them (all pretty much contemporaries of each other) seem very similar in postseason awards and career statistics. Depending on where one wants to draw the line, they all could be HoF-ers or a bit short of that standard. And even if they’re deserving, they’ll likely cancel each other out anyway. Wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened.

3. there is precedent for non-statistic-compiling players getting in the HoF with very little postseason recognition (what I think of as the “Ray Nitschke exception”), but it’s rare and always seems to encompass someone who was overshadowed by another player who routinely got the postseason recognition. Nitschke and Sam Huff are the best examples, MLBs who were routinely beaten out in postseason awards by Bill George, Joe Schmidt, and Dick Butkus. Making a case for Bob Kuechenberg and Joe Jacoby as latter-day Nitschkes would be an interesting, perhaps even necessary thing to do. Without this, it’s admittedly tougher for me — a layman with no access to film who values tangibles much more than unquantifiable observation (“he was the greatest pulling guard I ever saw” doesn’t get my juices flowing) — to see the case for either. And oddly enough, one might wonder if Richard Dent looks better with such an argument, as one could say he was consistently stuck behind Reggie White and Bruce Smith — hard to say.

4. Conversely, it’s hard to understand why Joey Browner (3 all pro, 6 pro bowls) doesn’t belong in while Kenny Easley (4-5), Steve Atwater (2-8), Leroy Butler (4-4) and Cliff Harris (4-6) do. Myself, I think they all belong in.

5. regarding the ’80s Redskins Super Bowl winners: Darrell Green isn’t eligible yet but I’d bet will be favorably viewed by the voters; his all pro/pro bowl numbers are 3-7, he has a lot of interceptions (54), he was a noteworthy KR, and he had a remarkably long career. I’m all for Art Monk getting in, and can see the case for Russ Grimm. And Gary Clark wouldn’t be the worst choice either, but he’s more a borderline case.

6. Thanks for mentioning TE Jerry Smith, who wasn’t even on my radar screen but should have been. Pro-rated to games played, his numbers look comparable to or in some cases better than those of his contemporaries John Mackey and Jackie Smith. Bavaro, Christensen, and Kramer all have short and/or injury plagued careers, which clearly hurts their chances.

August 21, 2007

Brad Oremland:

bachslunch,

It’s always nice to discuss these issues with someone who is knowledgeable and cares about the issue. To address your points:

1] My all-pro statistics cite Associated Press selections. Baughan was first-team all-NFL in 1964, with five second-team honors. Hanburger was first-team all-pro in 1972, 73, and 75, with second-team selections in 1974 and before the merger in 1969.

2] True, I brought up Branch and Pearson, but I think they (and Carmichael) are borderline candidates who should probably be left out. I’d rather see the best receivers of the late 80s and early 90s get a little more credit.

3] I don’t think Dent is really a Nitschke-type case, but your point about being “consistently stuck behind Reggie White and Bruce Smith” is part of what makes Chris Doleman’s omission startling to me. Both White and Smith were active throughout Doleman’s entire career, but the guy still made 8 Pro Bowls and four AP all-pro squads, twice on the first team. Besides White and Smith, the competition in the first half of Doleman’s career included Dent, Haley, and Howie Long. When those guys retired, it was White and Smith, plus Neil Smith and Michael Strahan.

4] Easley’s case is unique, because he had a very short career due to injury. While he was active, though, Easley tore the league apart. He was a much better player even than the other worthy cases we’ve been discussing.

I give Atwater extra credit for his sustained productivity and his leadership on Denver’s defense. Butler was the best safety of the 1990s, and its absurd that none of them should be in. I’m also sympathetic to these players because strong safeties are badly under-represented in Canton. Both all-pro voters and Hall of Fame selectors tend to favor free safeties. That’s part of why I don’t support Browner, who was a very good but not transcendent free safety.

I also think Harris may have been occasionally passed over for honors because enmity towards the Cowboys was so prevalent during his career.

5] Green will certainly get in, and it will be surprising if he has to wait beyond the first ballot. Monk and Grimm should have been in years ago, and the same is probably true for Jacoby. I do not think that Gary Clark has a strong case. He was a very good receiver, but from his own era he’ll have to wait behind Monk, Reed, Ellard, Irving Fryar, Sterling Sharpe, and Andre Rison, not to mention Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, and Michael Irvin.

6] I’m not ready to put Jerry Smith ahead of Jackie Smith or especially Mackey, and it’s important to keep in mind that he played in a passing offense, but it is a bit mystifying that he’s rarely even mentioned as a potential snub.

August 24, 2007

Teo:

Andre Tippett should get in, he was the force that helped the Patriots went to Super Bowl XX,. and he also had the disvantage to play in bad teams towards the end of his career. Also, don’t overlook Randall McDaniel, he played in 12 Pro Bowls, 11 as a starter and should’ve inducted this month if Bruce Matthews wasn’t in the ballot.

August 31, 2007

bachslunch:

Teo, Andre Tippett sits in a logjam with a bunch of other LBs of his era along with Karl Mecklenburg, Chris Spielman, Clay Matthews, Cornelius Bennett, Charles Haley (also DE), Wilbur Marshall, Sam Mills, Rickey Jackson, and Kevin Greene. All have anywhere from 1-3 all pro selections and 3 to 6 pro bowls. The only meaningful thing I see separating them from each other are the appearances of Tippett, Greene, and Bennett on all decade teams. Distinguishing between them in HoF worth doens’t strike me as easy.

November 29, 2007

richard turner:

Just out of curriosity, can anyone tell me why the hall of fame is really hard on letting in wide receivers. And please dont tell me that it is because of the pass happy offenses of the modern era. You cant blame a guy for the era he played ln.

December 2, 2007

bachslunch:

Agreed that WR gets relatively short shrift at HoF time, especially compared to the other offensive skill positions such as QB and RB. Thoughts on some of these snubs:

40s-early 50s WR Mac Speedie has a flashy but relatively short career, much of in the AAFC, and would have to be nominated as a Senior, where there’s a colossal back-up. His peers already in include Tom Fears, Elroy Hirsch, teammate Dante Lavelli, and Pete Pihos.

50s WRs Billy Howton and Billy Wilson would also have to be nominated as Seniors. In addition, they got very little post-season exposure (Howton played on nothing but awful teams and Wilson’s were generally iffy-to-good). Their peers who are in include Fears, Hirsch, Lavelli, and Pihos for the first part of their careers and Ray Berry, Tommy McDonald, and Bobby Mitchell for the latter part.

For the 60s, Bob Hayes has a relatively short but flashy career. There are some AFL WRs too, including Otis Taylor and Lionel Taylor, and AFL players haven’t always gotten as much love as their NFL counterparts because of a perception that their competition was weaker. Peers already in include Berry, Mitchell, McDonald, Lance Alworth, and Don Maynard.

There’s a host of 70s WRs in this category, all in a logjam: Cliff Branch, Harold Carmichael, Isaac Curtis, Harold Jackson, and Drew Pearson. It’s not easy to distinguish between them and voters seem to be leaving them all out as a result. More-or-less peers already in include Fred Biletnikoff, Charlie Joiner, John Stallworth, Lynn Swann, Charlie Taylor, and Paul Warfield.

Form the 80s on, the problem seems to be ever-rising statistics, which the HoF voters don’t seem to be able to sort out well in terms of HoF worth. Michael Irvin, Steve Largent, and James Lofton are the only ones in so far, which so far leaves out a bunch of players as diverse as (in likely descending order of worthiness) Art Monk, Henry Ellard, Andre Reed, Sterling Sharpe, Irving Fryar, Andre Rison, Herman Moore, Gary Clark, Mark Duper, and Mark Clayton to choose from — the cutoff point being arguably between Sharpe and Rison.

January 11, 2008

stoney:

All of this could be settled by creating a Hall of Pretty Damned Good…they could build it in Cleveland, whose citizens love football so much that they’d make recipients feel just about the same as making the real hall…they could give them brown jackets…here are some bubble players for the HOPDG (assuming of course that all of the bubble players listed above are shoe-ins here).

Will start with QB and RB, and stick to 80s to mid 90s for now…feel free to add from here…
QB - Jim Everett, Rich Gannon, Steve Grogan, Joe Theismann, Danny White, Neil Lomax, Joe Ferguson, Bert Jones - man there are more, but I’ll let you all dish it
RB - George Rogers, Earnest Byner, Herschel Walker, OJ Anderson, Curt Warner, Roger Craig, Chuck Muncie, James Brooks, again, so many more, have at it…

January 11, 2008

stoney:

I suppose I should amend might submission slightly - I realize that Gannon (while this is his territory) played more prominently and successfully in the early 2000’s…and on the other hand Bert Jones is more mid/late 70s time period…not enough coffee. Let me replace them with Ron Jaworski and Bartkowski - isn’t this very above average world sort of exciting!?

March 17, 2008

Barry C:

I want to make a case for Curley Culp who excelled at NT for the Chiefs and Oilers. The great Jim Otto of Oakland Raider fame claimed that Culp was the strongest man he ever playe against. Steeler great Mike Webster had alot of trouble with Culp early on but later Webby started to really dominate an aging Culp in 1978 and 79.

October 3, 2008

Billy:

Your discussions have certainly broughtup a numerous good points. My feelings on some of the players mentioned who get overlooked should include Irving Fryar Ben Coates, Mike Curtis, Phil Simms, and Coy Bacon

February 5, 2011

Will:

No mention of Tommy Nobis? He was a beast of a player, who had a HOF career. Unfortunately he was stuck on a pathetic Atlanta Falcons team. Also, where is any mention of Jim Marshall?

As far as Cowboys go….please do not disregard Cornell Green, Harvey Martin, or Everson Walls. All 3 are HOF worthy. I love that Pearson, Harris, Howley, and Moose were mentioned. One more player from the 90s Cowboys I would like to include is Darren Woodson.

While I feel Punters should not be in the HOF, Ray Guy is an exception. He most definitely should be there. No punter in the history of the game is held in such high regard across the league as Ray Guy. Get him in the HOF already.

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