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HOF Committee deserves credit for solid class

Critics, including Zoneblitz.com, have been hard on the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee over the past few years for perceived shortcomings in their votes. So I think it is only fair to give them credit for the class they chose to induct in 2013.

That’s not to say I agreed with every selection they made. There were others I thought should have gotten in, but the 2013 class included no borderline candidates and nobody who wouldn’t otherwise have gotten in within another year or two had it not happened this season.

Family responsibilities kept me from watching the announcement last weekend, so this is the first chance I’ve had to truly take an in depth look at their choices. And I think it’s one of the strongest in years.

Allen and Ogden: There had been a sense from some observers that Jonathan Ogden would have to wait for a year because of how strong Larry Allen‘s case is. And it’s true – Allen was an absolute beast, starring both at left tackle and at guard for Dallas during the Jimmy Johnson-led near-dynasty years. But Ogden, if not Allen’s equal, was not far behind. Both were 11-time Pro Bowl selections. Ogden was a four-time Associated Press All-Pro first team selection, trailing Allen by two. Both of their careers warranted the first ballot selection. I would have liked to have seen Will Shields get in too, but inducting three offensive linemen in the same year is almost never going to happen. Shields made the AP team only twice, but was a 12-time Pro Bowler. His day will come, likely next year.

Cris Carter: You can argue that he was a show-boater and you can argue that the guy was a bit of a prima donna with some jackwad tendencies, but you cannot argue that he was not one of the best receivers ever. Carter got caught up for several years in the voting process with two nearly equally deserving candidates in Tim Brown and Andre Reed. You can make a case for any of the three getting enshrined first, but Carter’s big lead in touchdowns over the other two likely pushed him to the front of the line. The bigger thing is that this nomination helped break a logjam that was only going to get tighter in future years with Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Hines Ward, Terrell Owens and other receivers becoming eligible. I hope Reed and Brown both get in over the next couple years because as the game continues to evolve into more of a passing league, their numbers are going to slide down the all time lists, making it harder to remember just how good they were.

Warren Sapp: From what I have read, this was probably the selection people found most surprising. And that says something. I think I would have preferred to see Michael Strahan get inducted in his first year of eligibility than Sapp but that would have been a personality thing more than anything else. I simply like Strahan more than I like Sapp. And that’s not exactly a reason to be bitter about this selection. I definitely think Charles Haley is long overdue for induction, despite his being somewhat of a clown. Kevin Greene is another defensive linemen some thought would get his call this time around. But Sapp got the nod and, even if he wasn’t my first choice, it’s hard to build a strong case against his being deserving. Seven Pro Bowls, four AP All-Pro awards and helping bring respectability and a championship banner to the one-time laughingstock Buccaneers are worthy accomplishments. If this is the selection committee’s biggest “mistake” then they really do deserve some accolades for this class. Because if Sapp had not gotten in this year it would be hard to see him waiting more than one more at the worst.

Bill Parcells: This is another case where the nominee is eminently deserving, even if he would not have been my first choice. When there isn’t a clear difference between a coach, an executive, a contributor or a player, I prefer the tiebreaker goes to the player. So I would have preferred the call going to Haley, Aeneas Williams, Greene or Shields. But Parcells obviously deserves this honor. The luster came off a bit during his final four years coaching in Dallas, but before that he coached three Super Bowl teams, two of which won. He won 172 games throughout his career and, like Sapp, he would have been in soon even if he had not gotten into the 2013 class.

Culp and Robinson: I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on these guys, but they’ve been heavily supported by various players of their eras in media accounts. Packers Hall of Famer Willie Davis told Zoneblitz that Dave Robinson deserves to be in. He went to three Pro Bowls and had one AP honor. And Curley Culp‘s career profile included six Pro Bowl appearances and one AP award. There were seniors more supported by Zoneblitz readers and writers, but I don’t think these guys were undeserving.

So, all in all, I’d give the much maligned voting committee a thumbs up for the work it did this year. The logjam at wide receiver has at least been loosened and another potential one on the offensive line has been avoided, at least for now. There are still a few defenders who shouldn’t have to wait too much longer, but with a weaker first-year class coming in 2014, voters have put themselves in position to continue catching up on those guys in the years to come.

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33 Responses to HOF Committee deserves credit for solid class

  • I’m not sure I see Shields getting in next year–he should (especially when you look at Randall McDaniel as a comparison), but he wasn’t a top 10 finalist this year.

  • Robert Ewing says:

    tony I very much agree that shields getting in next year will not happen but stranger things have happened overall I say this is a good solid class and I just have a couple of thoughts

    1. Is Andre Reeds Window for the Hof Closing since receivers with better numbers are coming up for eligibility

    2. Is it Possible that Strahan Gets in Next Year in NYC in 2014 and was it possible that some voters did not vote for strahan because of how he broke the sack record in 2001

  • Rasputin says:

    Hey, Bill Parcells’ Dallas tenure should only further bolster his resume. He took over a team that had gone 5-11 three consecutive years and had no serious prospects for immediate improvement. He turned that club around. He brought in talent like Jason Witten and Tony Romo and had that recently bottom of the barrel team in the playoffs again, posting winning seasons in three of his four years. He left that club on the upswing. When Wade Phillips took over he publicly marveled at the work ethic the players possessed. Parcells retired because he wasn’t at a place in his life where he wanted to go through the stress of another full season, but if he had come back for 2007 he might have won the Super Bowl.

  • Paul says:

    Shields was a finalist 10 in 2012, but adding both Allen and Ogden as 1st time OL clearly highly regarded for election which they achieved, pushed Shields back. He is too qualified to remain unelected for much longer, especially if Jones is not on the 2014 ballot. Shields has a clear path to election next year. Adding Harrison to the WR mix should be interesting but I do not see him as a lock 1st time election as some are given all the delays with the other 1,000 reception WRs lately, could be in for another logjam with voters split between Harrison and Reed. I see a clear path for Strahan as the only top DL and then debates between Brooks (LB) and Haley (LB/DE), with perhaps both making it. May depend on the positions represented by the seniors if they include DL or LBs.

  • Paul says:

    I would agree as the assessment of the Class of 2013 as a solid set of selections and good work by the committee, in my view much better than the last 3 elections. I may have had a different order this year and next year, and debate over the seniors, but all in all it is hard to argue against any of the final selections unlike recent elections.

  • Scott says:

    There is a no more deserving player than Larry Allen. He was as good an OL as there has ever been. Glad to see him recognized.

  • I had forgotten that he was final 10 last year–I guess I assumed because he was a guard that he probably wasn’t, as guards seem to really struggle (Randall McDaniel being my example again–he was actually the catalyst for us discussing the HOF here at Zoneblitz).

    I think the big differences between Sapp & Strahan was 1) the all-decade teams (right or wrong), and 2) even though they had similar profiles, Sapp did it from a spot that seemed to typically draw less attention, playing DT, vs. Strahan playing a position that is always getting attention.

    I do think that injuries, contract squabbles, and possibly even the sack record(*) may have also contributed.

  • Steve says:

    Shields didn’t make the final 10 last year -

    http://kansascity.sbnation.com/kansas-city-chiefs/2012/2/4/2771648/2012-nfl-hall-of-fame-class

    So the good news for him is that, unless Joe Jacoby is a finalist next year, Shields is likely to be the only o-lineman on the list. The bad news is that there’s also going to be 5 others (Bettis, Haley, Reed, Strahan and Williams) on the ballot who’ve made the final 10 at least once and in the case of Haley, Reed and Williams have made it twice.

  • Corey says:

    There’s no reason why McDaniel should’ve had to wait until his third year on the ballot. He absolutely should’ve been on the 100 greatest players list.

    I am very confident Brooks, Shields and Strahan will get in. I could go either way on Brown or Reed getting elected but Carter’s election makes me optimistic about a receiver getting in next year.

    Since Shields has become eligible, Dawson, Roaf, Allen and Ogden have all gotten elected. This really clears a lot of room for him, in my opinion.

  • boknows34 says:

    This is the first time I can remember without reading or hearing any harsh criticism about who was snubbed or how the voting needs to be changed.

    What does bode well for the 6-10 group is when you look back at previous years finalist lists and see how many eventually got elected.

    2009 – 12/15 (Andre Reed, Paul Tagliabue and Bob Keuchenberg)
    2010 – 10/15 (Reed, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Roger Craig, Don Coryell)
    2011 – 11/15 (Reed, Brown, Haley, Jerome Bettis)

    Once the dust settles in a few years you could be looking at 13/15, 14/15 or even a potential full house (2011). As Strahan said after Saturday’s vote – “It’s only a matter of time”.

  • Steve says:

    My early picks for next year -

    Bettis, Brooks, Harrison (wouldn’t be surprised if they go with Reed instead, but I think that Harrison has the better case of the two), Strahan and Williams. The Seniors noms are anyone’s guess, but I’ll go with Anderson and Howley.

  • Paul says:

    Given the long wait for Carter, Reed and Brown I do not see Harrison as a 1st time selection in 2014 as no one views him as one of top 5 or 10 WRs of all time, he deserves election to the HOF but I can see him waiting 1 or 2 years.

    Looking at that list of previous 6-10 players with the WR logjam now resolved it appears that Reed is next up (but it is possible that we are back to another WR logjam with voters split between Harrison and Reed and neither getting elected!). Also Haley (and perhaps Williams) are the next Defensive players longstanding from previous final 10 lists. And I do see a clear path for Shields to get elected at the OL representative.

    So I would continue to lean at: Brooks, Haley, Reed, Strahan, Shields; with Bettis and Williams as the potential sleepers.

  • Steve says:

    “no one views him as one of the top 5 or 10 WRs of all time”

    I’d beg to differ.

  • Paul says:

    My top 5 WR of all time would look like: Rice, Hudson, Berry, Alworth, Moss. Slots 6-10 gets really interesting with many players in the mix including Warfield, Taylor, Largent, Irvin, Owens, Carter, Lofton, Reed, Brown, Ward, Bruce, and Harrison, with Johnson and Fitzgerald closing in fast. Given the modern passing era in the NFL I do not simply use the top 10 in career receptions as a measure of the best of all time, but consider players from the era their career occurred in and the impact they had on the game, evolution of the position, and team success.

  • Steve says:

    ” I do not simply use the top 10 in career receptions as a measure of the best of all time…”

    Same here. My top 10 is Rice, Hutson, Harrison, Alworth, Warfield, Berry, Moss, Largent, Lofton and Harold Jackson.

    11-20 (in a little bit looser order) – Maynard, Owens, Carter, Swann, Monk, Irvin, Brown, Ward, Taylor and Stallworth. Tougher to evaluate the ones that are still playing, but I’d imagine that I’ll have to move at least Johnson and Fitzgerald into the top 20 very soon.

  • Paul says:

    So if you are not using top 10 in career receptions, how are you ranking Harrison above members of the NFL 75th anniversary term (Alworth and Berry) or players with more all pro teams, pro bowls, and championships? And Harold Jackson above numerous HOF WRs???? I am not even sure Jackson would be in top of 10 of his era.

  • Billy says:

    My Top 5

    1. Rice
    2. Hutson
    3. Moss
    4. Berry
    5. Warfield

    6-10 are all close together and arguments could be made in any direction.

    6. Alworth
    7. Largent
    8. Irvin
    9. Owens
    10. Hirsch

  • Steve says:

    Paul,

    We all have our opinions. I would say that if you’re not sure if Jackson “would be in top 10 of his era” then you must not know much about him. For the decade of the 1970s, Jackson ranked first in receptions (432), yards (7,724) and receiving touchdowns (61). That was despite spending most of those years with run-heavy Rams and Patriots teams. When he retired after the 1983 season (though he did return briefly for two of the replacement games in 1987, but didn’t play in either game), only Don Maynard had more career receiving yards.

  • Paul says:

    With only 1st team All Pro selection and 5 Pro Bowls I am not so sure anyone would consider Jackson the among the top WRs of all time. I suppose perhaps he would rank somewhere among the top ten in the 1970s, but certainly after players such as Branch, Warfield, Pearson, Carmichael, and Swann. He had a few very good years, but not a string of great seasons or dominance. And unlike the others I just listed, his career profile is weakened by the lack of playoff success and numbers. Admittedly the 1970s are a very hard decade to assess WRs since it was such a run focused offensive era and dominate defensive era, thus there are many different opinions as to the best WRs from that era. I grew up watching the games in the 70s and I guess my impression of the WRs from the decade is strongest of those who received attention due to their team successes such as Branch, Warfield, Pearson, Carmichael and Swann and very little impression of Jackson as being that great; very good yes but not among the best of all time or the decade even with some decent numbers.

  • Steve says:

    Paul,

    While # of All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods (more so the former than the later) and even All-Decade selections tell us something, they’re not the be-all end-all. You hit the nail on the head when you say that the 70′s are a very hard period to assess WRs and there are many different opinions. Take Swann, for example. Many like to bash him and believe that he’s only in because of a handful of plays he made in SBs (which I think downplays how important most if not all of those catches were to the Steelers winning those games). I think that he’s a great example of someone whose impact went beyond the numbers. A good case could be made for him being the top wr in the NFL for the period of 1975-1978. No less an authority on the position than Jerry Rice saw Swann as ‘the man’ when he was growing up.

    Of the wrs from the era not in, I would put Jackson #1 with Branch a very close 2nd and Pearson third. I think all three are HoF worthy. Carmichael is a tough call, but I think he’s just a little short of HoF level.

    I also think that Otis Taylor, whose career split evenly between the second half of the 60s and the first half of the 70s, is worthy.

  • Corey says:

    Pro Bowls, All Pros and All Decade mean a lot to me because back then, players and coaches voted on the Pro Bowl, not the fans. I stand by what I say when I think neither Lynn Swann nor Ray Nitschke should be in the Hall of Fame.

    For best senior receiver not in, why does Del Shofner not get more recognition? 5/5 and a 1960s All Decade selection sounds like somebody who should be in.

    To me, Shofner and Branch are at the top when it comes to senior eligible receivers who are not in.

  • robert ewing says:

    and why do you think nitschke should not be in corey please do tell

  • Corey says:

    He made only one Pro Bowl, two first team all pros. Not bad but still, not Hall of Fame profiles. If he was so good, why did those who played with and against him think otherwise?

  • robert ewing says:

    now I can see what you mean corey hes In the hof while others like Robert Brazile and Maxie Baugahn Wait in the cold can you see my logic corey

  • Corey says:

    Brazile, Baughan, Gradishar and Howley are all more deserving than Nitschke is, in my opinion.

  • robert ewing says:

    so we agree then corey

  • Rasputin says:

    For the record, Drew Pearson does have more yards/game and receptions/game than Harold Jackson and Cliff Branch, overall and in the 1970s. In fact, here are how several selected elites stack up….

    Wide Receivers’ 1970s Averages

    Receptions/Game; Yards/Game

    Drew Pearson – 3.3 r/g; 56.6 y/g
    Harold Jackson – 3 r/g; 53.6 y/g
    Lynn Swann – 3 r/g; 49.8 y/g
    Cliff Branch – 2.9 r/g; 49.3 y/g
    Paul Warfield – 2.9 r/g; 49.1 y/g
    Harold Carmichael – 3.3 r/g; 49 y/g
    Charlie Taylor – 3.5 r/g; 48.5 y/g
    Charlie Joiner – 2.7 r/g; 47.5 y/g
    John Stallworth – 2.6 r/g; 45.7 y/g
    Fred Biletnikoff – 3.2 r/g; 45.3 y/g

    Tony Hill’s career average stats are even better than John Stallworth’s, though I left him off since he only played three years in the 1970s. Both WRs’ career numbers are skewed up from playing through most of the 1980s.

    Drew tops this list, which isn’t bad considering it includes his rookie season. Branch and Jackson scored more TDs, but these numbers illustrate that Pearson’s first team All Decade status was no fluke. That said, I agree with Paul about it being difficult to judge WRs from the era. Keep in mind that the 1970s was also the only decade in NFL history that saw passing stat deflation from the previous decade.

    Pearson had excellent stats, but his primary claim to fame was the eyeball test of greatness, memorable playoff performances, and involvement in numerous historically significant catches. His contemporaries judged him to be one of the most skilled and clutch receivers of all time. An early 1980s car wreck shortened his career, but I think he’s definitely Canton worthy. In fact he’d be the next 1970s WR I’d induct.

  • bachslunch says:

    The reason Ray Nitschke had trouble getting more postseason honors than he did is that he was constantly behind Bill George and Joe Schmidt for the first half of his career and Dick Butkus the second half. The 50s and 60s were blessed with an utter glut of great MLBs. Nitschke is from all reports the poster child for a HoF-er whose honors run counter to how he looked on film, and I’ve been known to use the term “Ray Nitschke exception” for the small handful of such players (Sam Huff is arguably another example — there aren’t many).

    Re the 70s WRs not in the HoF: thanks to Rasputin for showing the stat breakdown above. I remember Harold Jackson, Harold Carmichael, Drew Pearson, and Cliff Branch all being pretty comparable (Carmichael is more a possession style WR than the other three, as were Taylor, Joiner, and Biletnikoff) when I saw the numbers. Surprised that Swann holds his own in this exercise, though his career is shorter than the rest — and Stallworth’s HoF argument looks pretty weak this way. I think Jackson, Carmichael, Pearson, and Branch should all be in.

  • Corey says:

    “The reason Ray Nitschke had trouble getting more postseason honors than he did is that he was constantly behind Bill George and Joe Schmidt for the first half of his career and Dick Butkus the second half.”

    So how exactly then is Nitschke a top 50 player all time but Joe Schmidt is only #84? Doesn’t make sense. With an 8/10 profile, sounds like Joe Schmidt was an easy choice for the NFL 75th anniversary team but Nitschke got it instead. Had Joe Schmidt played for those 1960s Packers teams with all of those accolades, we would be talking about him in the same way we talk about Butkus and Lawrence Taylor.

  • bachslunch says:

    Corey, thanks for asking. Honestly, I don’t know how Nitschke was considered a “Top 50″ while Schmidt was ranked below that (though still at #84), nor how the former made the 75th Anniversary Team and the latter didn’t. I don’t have film to study, so I’m unable to make the case one way or the other.

    For me, the question is whether Schmidt and Nitschke belong in the HoF or not. No question that the honors profiles for the two are different: Schmidt’s 10(8AP)/10/50s is much better than Nitschke’s 3(2AP)/1/60s. The only explanation, and it’s something I’ve seen brought up before, is that Nitschke is one of those rare players who has a big disconnect between how he looked on film and what his honors profile looks like. It is interesting to note that Nitschke was a 2nd team all pro in four other seasons when he wasn’t named a 1st team player. And that suggests he was pretty darned good, arguably HoF-level good.

    Was Nitschke overrated? If so, was he sufficiently overrated that he doesn’t belong in the HoF? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know.

  • Billy says:

    What some of you are forgetting, is that in the 50′s and 60′s there was not nearly the media coverage there is today, but for those NFL cities that had good media people and possibly weaker teams like Detroit or San Francisco, they really talked up their great players.

    And just like today’s athletes and coach’s, they filled out ballots based on reputation or who they new personally or went to College with ( and yes players when they vote do the same thing.) My point is that The 49ers did not have great defences in the 50′s so the talk was always about Leo Nomellini, and the Lions likewise with Joe Schmidt and there slew of defensive backs that are in the HOF. Look it up, both their defenses were not very good! Dick Butkus was another example of this. Most of his career his defenses were last or next to last.

    The packers with Nitschke had 10 other defensive players that were among the best at their position in the whole league. Every week their media could talk about the different exploits of a vareity of players (Adderly, Wood, Jordan, Davis, Robinson, Forester, just to name a few…) My point is don’t always judge by ALL- PRO and PRO Bowl appearences. Sometimes those honors are just a popularity contest.

    I’m not saying any of those players mentioned shouldn’t be in the HOF. I for one am a huge Joe Schmidt fan. Having said that…he was not as good as Nitschke. Ask anyone who saw both of them play. A very similar comparison would be Singletary and Carson. Both HOFamers, but two different types of HOFamers. If Carson had hung on for a few more years Singletary would have had less Pro-Bowls.

    I remember when Bruce Smith had really started to slow down but he was still getting PRO Bowl and ALl-Pro nods. Some other DE’s profiles were really getting hurt by that. Same goes for plyers like Darrell Green and Jerry Rice. hose guys got awrds for years past when they should have.

  • Paul says:

    I think we all can agree that in any era, all decade teams, all pro teams, and pro bowls are not the perfect way of measuring the quality of a players performance on the field. However, failing the detailed film study that very few people do (including us, writers, and HOF voters), they are often the only criteria available to evaluate players especially those at positions that do not generate standard acceptable “stats”.

  • Corey says:

    “I’m not saying any of those players mentioned shouldn’t be in the HOF. I for one am a huge Joe Schmidt fan. Having said that…he was not as good as Nitschke. Ask anyone who saw both of them play. A very similar comparison would be Singletary and Carson. Both HOFamers, but two different types of HOFamers. If Carson had hung on for a few more years Singletary would have had less Pro-Bowls.”

    I did not see either one play, but based on what I know, I have to say Schmidt was leagues better than Nitschke was. I could understand maybe Nitschke being shafted if he played on bad teams but that was not the case.

    Leo Nomellini- Now there is somebody who should’ve been on the top 100 list, in my opinion.

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