Hall of Fame Semifinalists
Blah, ridiculously behind on everything. Distracted while “watching” SNF, so it’s time for a post.
The Hall of Fame recently announced the list of 25 semifinalists for the Class of 2010. The following are my current quick takes on each of the 25 candidates:
Cliff Branch, WR – 1972-1985 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
No strong opinion. Wideouts are generally overrepresented. His career comps on PFR are a bunch of non-Hall of Famers, though #1 is Gary Clark, who probably deserves to be in the Hall more than his teammate Art Monk. No.
Tim Brown, WR/KR – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cris Carter, WR – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
Andre Reed, WR – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
Treating these guys together because it’s extraordinarily difficult to separate all the highly productive wideouts of the same general timeframe. My order of preference would be Carter, Reed, and Brown, with Reed and Brown virtually interchangeable. None of the three would be a poor selection, in my view.
Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers
I don’t really like pairing in coaches/contributors in with players. Coryell deserves it as much or more for his influence
as an offensive coordinator while as head coach of San Diego State in the early AFL days as for his service as a head coach. Playoff success as a head coach would’ve improved his chances.
Roger Craig, RB – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings
Very good player on great teams. Not a serious candidate if he’d been on lesser teams. Like wideouts, RBs are probably overrepresented.
Terrell Davis, RB – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos
Ridiculously dominant in a way that Craig wasn’t, but he just didn’t have enough career longevity for me to justify his selection.
Dermontti Dawson, C – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Hall of Fame HATES centers. Six times an All-Pro, and he’s not in? Yes, OL voting tends to be more static than voting for “skill positions”, but Dawson was a great player on a very good team and deserves enshrinement.
Richard Dent, DE – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
Chris Doleman, DE/LB – 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers
Kevin Greene, LB/DE – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
Ah, the pass rushers. Dent was somebody whose candidacy I used to be strong on, but then I learned more about his career and soured somewhat. SB XX MVP helps him, but Doleman was the biggest game-changer of these guys. Greene is helped by his career longevity, which probably gives him the edge over Dent in my book. EDIT: By that last, I mean that Dent wasn’t a very good player after about 1991, except for SF in ’94 as a nickel rush end, while Greene remained a very good player later in his career.
Russ Grimm, G – 1981-1991 Washington Redskins
No strong opinion. More OL should make it, and Grimm would be a good way to honor Washington’s excellent OL of the Gibbs Era v.1.
Ray Guy, P – 1973-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Hype, both in his day and more recently, surpasses his thoroughly average statistics. Don’t buy into it.
Charles Haley, DE/LB – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
Interesting candidate. The Super Bowl wins are impressive. Probably a better player than most people thought he was. I’m not sure where I put him compared to Greene/Dent, but probably ahead of both while still behind Doleman. More of a 3-4 OLB in my mind, though I’m not sure how much that can/should make a difference. Not a problem seeing him enshrined, though the SF/DAL pedigree makes my “BS hype” detector start flashing.
Lester Hayes, CB – 1977-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Before my time. Apparently well-deserving of enshrinement and stuck by the HOF’s anti-CB bias. Interceptions tend to be overrated, but holds modern NFL record with 13 in 1980, which garnered him DPoY. Apparently played at a ridiculously high level that season and in playoffs for Super Bowl winner, which does matter.
Rickey Jackson, LB – 1981-1993 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers
Another guy I should pair with the 4 edge rushers I’ve previously mentioned. The Saints LB corps of the late 80’s/early 90’s is one of the best ever, though it’s tough for me to say whether Jackson or Pat Swilling was the better player. It wouldn’t bother me to see him out or in. Tentatively, put him behind Greene and ahead of Dent.
Cortez Kennedy, DT – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
8 Pro Bowls, 3 All Pro, DPoY for a 2-14 team. Dominant inside pass rusher who could also play the run. If he was a wideout, this’d be a no-brainer.
Art Modell, Owner – 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2003 Baltimore Ravens
Important from a business sense, in that he really helped Pete Rozelle expand the NFL. I don’t think much of him as an owner-Paul Brown considered him a jock-sniffer, which seems accurate. Cleveland hates him, but I don’t care what Cleveland thinks. Fine as a contributor, but doesn’t deserve to get in over a player.
John Randle, DT – 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks
Dominant inside pass rusher who thought playing the run was optional. Not in my Hall of Fame.
Jerry Rice, WR – 1985-2000 San Francisco 49ers, 2001-04 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Seattle Seahawks
In the Hall of Fame if it’s only 20 people and you have to kick somebody out for each new enshrinee. Probably still in if it’s 15 people or 10, though probably not at 5. That’d be an interesting exercise.
Shannon Sharpe, TE – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
It’s almost impossible to make the Hall of Fame as a TE, and of his PFR comps, 7 are in the Hall of Fame and the 8th is Tony Gonzalez. Yes, he’s in.
Emmitt Smith, RB – 1990-2002 Dallas Cowboys, 2003-04 Arizona Cardinals
Set the NFL career rushing record and won three Super Bowls, so he’s definitely making it. Hung on longer than he should have, which bothers me aesthetically but in no other fashion. If he’s on a worse team, he’s a more interesting candidate.
Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
The media won’t elect him, because the media are a bunch of idiots. For me, the second-easiest inductee on this list, after Rice. 18 years of labor peace, successfully ushering in the era of free agency; compare him to MLB (2nd half of 1994 season lost), NHL (1994-95 half-season lost, 2004-05 season entirely lost), NBA (1999 half-season lost). He saved the NFL from its current labor difficulties in 2006, and anybody who thinks the NFL should’ve had a labor stoppage in 2006 to avert the current problems is too stupid to live. Only valid criticism against him is for not being omnipotent.
Steve Tasker, Special Teams/WR – 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills
Probably a worse inductee than Ray Guy. People who say he’d have been a decent wideout who was kept playing special teams because he was great at special teams ignore that if the Bills thought he’d have been a great wideout he’d have been playing wideout without a second thought. Put in a wing where they talk about great special teams players and mention him.
Aeneas Williams, CB/S – 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
Along with Deion and Rod Woodson, the best corner of the 1990’s, plus like Woodson he made a successful transition to safety late in his career. Yes, he deserves to be in.
EDIT (12/1/09 1928 CT): Screwed up Coryell’s background, so that’s fixed. PFR Blog is also looking at the semifinalists through their metrics; see Roger Craig and John Randle. Chase (thanks for commenting) is higher on Randle than I am and is similarly low on Craig’s candidacy.