The 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame were announced over the weekend, and almost all of them are worthy candidates for enshrinement in Canton. Unfortunately, this particular Hall of Fame doesn’t induct more than five modern day players in a single year, which means some deserving candidates will be left out this year, but that’s another issue for another day. Needless to say, the competition to see who gets in this year will be fierce, so let’s take a look at the candidates and who might get in:
Derrick Brooks – As an 11-time Pro Bowler and 9-time All-Pro, Brooks has to be a lock. He’s one of the best outside linebackers to ever play the game and an all around class act. He made the NFL all-decade team in the 2000s and was one of the best defensive players of his era, which should all but guarantee that he gets into the Hall this year.
Tim Brown – Brown has been left out for the past few years because of some of the other wide receivers that were destined to go in before him like Jerry Rice or Cris Carter, but it’s finally his time. As a receiver and kick returner he has nearly 20,000 all-purpose yards and over 100 touchdowns. He’s one of the greats, and he deserves to be in Canton.
Michael Strahan – There should be little doubt that Strahan deserves to be a first ballot inductee. He’s fifth all time in sacks and still holes the single-season sack record, and that should be enough to put one of the most feared pass rushers of all time into the Hall of Fame.
Jerome Bettis – The Bus figures to get in at some point, and this could be the year for the 6th leading rusher in NFL history. Bettis was a three-time All-Pro selection and he embodies the style of football that’s played between the tackles, and that may be enough to get him in this time around.
Tony Dungy – As a coach, Dungy was one of the most respected people in the game of football and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see him enter the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. His contributions to the game as a coach have been significant and lasting, and for that his induction into the Hall of Fame is inevitable.
Kevin Greene – Greene was definitely a standout player, and he ranks third all time in sacks, in part due to his longevity. It’s going to be tough to keep him out, although with Brooks garnering so much attention, it’ll be tough to put him in this year, although he probably deserves to.
Charles Haley – With 100 sacks, five Pro-Bowl selections, and five Super Bowl rings, Haley will likely get into the Hall of Fame one day. He has an outside chance of making it in this year, although if it comes down to him and Greene it’ll be tough for him to be among the five that get in.
Marvin Harrison – Since Brown is a lock, it could be tough for Harrison to get in during his first year of eligibility, but there’s a strong case that can be made for him. Harrison wasn’t as brash or as flashy as many of the other wide receivers of his era, but he was more productive than almost all of them. He holds the record for most receptions in a single season and is on an exclusive list of receivers with more than 1,000 receptions, and that could be enough to put him in this year.
Walter Jones – The Hall of Fame has been putting in a lot of offensive linemen in recent years, and Jones may be the best offensive line candidate this year. Going to the Pro Bowl nine times and being an All-Pro seven times will put Jones in at some point, although he may or may not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Andre Reed – It’s been a tough run for Reed getting in as of late, and he has some stiff competition once again with Brown and Harrison also on the ballot, but there is a strong argument that can be made for including him this year. Reed is among the top 10 all time in receptions and receiving yards, and he’s just outside the top-10 in touchdown catches. In the end, he’ll likely have to wait until Brown and Harrison are in, but he’s a Hall of Famer and should be considered a serious candidate this year.
Will Shields – Shields had a long and fruitful career that included 12 trips to the Pro Bowl, which is tied for the most all time, and eight seasons on the All-Pro Team. If the selection committee favors him over Jones, there’s a chance he could sneak in this year; if not, he’s bound to get in sometime in the near future.
BETTER LUCK NEXT YEAR
Morton Andersen – He was one of the best kickers of the late 80’s and early 90’s, retiring as the all-time leader in so many kicking categories. He deserves to get in eventually, but there are just too many other players that need to go in before he does.
Edward DeBartolo Jr. – The San Francisco 49ers had incredible success during the time he owned them, as they had the most successful decade in NFL history and won five Super Bowls under his supervision. That being said, there’s no rush to get him in, and with quite a crowded pool of candidates, this is probably not the year that DeBartolo gets inducted.
John Lynch – There are simply too many great defensive players among the finalists this year to think that Lynch is going to get in this time around. However, he’ll have plenty of other chances to get in, and he is a worthy candidate.
Aeneas Williams – He’s been a finalist before, but he’s not going to be a serious contender this year, despite having good credentials as a four time All-Pro selection and an eight time Pro Bowler.