Well, it’s that time of year again. Actually, it’s well past that time of year – we decided to take a little time this year,

Courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
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Courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

before presenting our guesses for the Hall of Fame. But here we finally go…

Andy: Picking Hall of Fame classes in recent years has been a little easier, as there have been at least a few candidates in each class who stood a head taller than their peers. That changes a bit this year, as the voters have put many of those top notch candidates in. Not that there aren’t great players remaining, but there are a lot of guys with similar resumes to consider.

Tony: There are three first-time eligible players who seem like obvious names to, at least, make the final 15 – starting with the only player probably guaranteed a ticket to Canton in 2016 — former Falcons, Jets and Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (what? He played somewhere else?). He held basically every quarterback record there is when he retired, and with three MVP awards and a Super Bowl ring in addition to 11 Pro Bowls and six All-Pros, Favre’s bronze bust was cast before he walked away from the game…even the first time.

The other two seem likely to make the finalist list, but less likely make the final five—Terrell Owens and Alan Faneca. Owens finished his career second in all-time yardage and third in touchdowns, but six Pro Bowls and five first-team All-Pros won’t likely overcome his reputation in year one. And while Faneca was one of the best guards in the game in his time, he isn’t at the same level as Randall McDaniel or Will Shields, who both had to wait to get in.

Andy: Yep, I agree completely on the first-year guys. Favre may have played a year too long, but he was the model of greatness and a gunslinger throughout the years. Not to go all “John Madden” on it, but his personality is missed in today’s game. In some years, Faneca may have had a chance to buck the trend toward making great guards wait, but he’s up against another top-notch OL in Orlando Pace, who many thought should have been inducted last year. That said, I’d be stunned if Faneca didn’t make the list of 15. Owens was a weird dude, but he also set himself apart, often in good ways and too frequently in bad. I agree he doesn’t get enshrined right away, but he’s in the mix.

Tony: Like usual, the final five not selected for the class of 2015—Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kurt Warner, Tony Dungy and Kevin Greene—likely will make the finalist cut for the class of 2016, so they have to go on our list of 15. The first five finalists eliminated—coaches Jimmy Johnson & Don Coryell, John Lynch, Terrell Davis and Morten Andersen, present a slate of interesting case studies.

For all the hype around Johnson’s Cowboys Super Bowl teams, he only actually coached a total of nine seasons—albeit winning two Super Bowls—with an 80-64 (.556 winning percentage) overall record.  For comparison, Dungy only won the one Super Bowl, but coached 13 years, and had a 139-69 record (.668 winning percentage). He also had a long, prosperous assistant coaching career, which Johnson lacks. Coryell coached for 14 years, and finished 111-83-1 (.572 winning percentage), but lacked the Super Bowl success. To be honest, the more I look at all three, I’m not sure any of them really belongs in the Hall, unless they add a category specifically for coaches.

Coryell seems the least likely to still make the finalist list, given how long it’s been since he was in the league.

John Lynch has never truly struck me as a Hall of Fame caliber player—Hall of Very Good for sure, but ultimately he was known as a hitter, more than an all-around player. With Ed Reed & Troy Polamalu coming down the road, I suspect that Lynch will have a very short window before he falls off the finalist radar. Terrell Davis has always been a giant question mark, due to his short career. And fair or not, Morten Andersen is a kicker. Given the history of voting, it seems likely that all 10 of the above will make the Final 15—so who will join them?

Andy: Yep, most years we’d have a pretty strong start with the returning semifinalists who were not selected, but I agree, there are some guys whose momentum might not carry over. I agree that the final five finalists will make the list, so we agree on Harrison, Pace, Warner, Dungy and Greene.

I disagree with you on Lynch – I don’t think he was the strongest safety who is going to be in the mix for the Hall over the next few years, but I do think he was a stud who has as good a claim as most. I think Morten Andersen should eventually make the Hall, but he strikes me as a guy who could be on-again, off-again, as far as the semifinals and finals, at least for a few years.

Voters appear to disagree with me, but I think Johnson, despite the shorter career, has a stronger case than Dungy for Canton. I agree that Coryell is the least likely to make it back to the finals – in fact, I think, right or wrong, momentum for him has peaked and his support will likely start to fade. So I’ll put Lynch in.

I’m 50/50 on Davis. I think he’s a fascinating case study – people make the Gale Sayers argument on him and it’s the right case to make, but Sayers had some special teams contributions Davis didn’t, while Davis had postseason success Sayers didn’t have. His postseason resume of three Pro Bowls and three First Team All Pro awards is almost more impressive in that it was compiled in seven NFL seasons than that of Edgerrin James, who compiled four Pro Bowls but just one All Pro award during his 11 seasons. So we’ll stick with Davis as a finalist.

Tony: That’d put us at 12: Harrison, Pace, Warner, Dungy, Greene, Lynch, Andersen, Davis, Johnson and the three first-year guys, Favre, Owens and Faneca. That leaves three finalist spots. The next best of the first-year eligible types might be Clinton Portis. He was good and he was at times a character, but I don’t see him as a Hall of Famer. Two guys I think are deserving players with Hall of Fame credentials are Torry Holt (7/1) and Kevin Mawae (8/3), both of whom were semifinalists last year. Steve Atwater seems borderline, but he also always seems to come into play.

Andy: I’m definitely on the Mawae bandwagon. And I don’t know what you have against safeties who racked up Pro Bowls – I know the Pro Bowl isn’t what it used to be, but you ragged on Lynch earlier and he went to nine (9/2) and now you’re dissing Atwater, who went to eight (8/2). I definitely think both of those guys warrant finalist status and I wouldn’t be angry if either one was selected for enshrinement. I’m not quite as high on Holt as some, but being a semifinalist in his first year shows he’s got some momentum. I’d consider Edgerrin James, but in the end, I’m fine with giving Holt the nod.

So, this is our combined list of 15 finalists for the Class of 2016:

K Morten Andersen
RB Terrell Davis
WR Marvin Harrison
QB Kurt Warner
T Orlando Pace
LB/DE Kevin Greene
S John Lynch
Coach Tony Dungy
Coach Jimmy Johnson
WR Torry Holt
C Kevin Mawae
S Steve Atwater
QB Brett Favre
WR Terrell Owens
G Alan Faneca

Andy: So who makes the final five? One more challenge this year: Voters often at least seem to want to try to select classes at least semi-balanced between offense and defense. I’m not sure that’s going to happen this year, as it seems to me that the top-echelon players are unbalanced in favor of the offense. Maybe that leaves room for a coach to sneak in? Or maybe voters will get off their backsides and actually vote in a safety before there become so many stars from that position eligible that they’ll cancel each other out even worse than Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed did for a few years.

Tony: As I mentioned above, I don’t find Dungy as good a candidate as I used to, but he seems to be on the cusp. The final spot, for me, came down to Harrison and Warner—I am tempted to think that the voters may not want to place two quarterbacks in the same class—but I also don’t see them suddenly reversing course on wide receivers after making Cris Carter and Tim Brown wait so long to get in—especially for Harrison (who had his own issues at the end of his career) or especially Owens.

Andy: I disagree on Harrison. I think he’s a no-brainer this year. I wouldn’t be stunned to see the voters go with Faneca, but overall I lean Pace, so we agree on three. I’m 50/50 on Warner. I don’t have a tremendous problem with him being elected, but I think he’s more borderline than some. The fifth spot is a bit of a mystery to me this year. I think there’s an outside chance that voters don’t end up selecting a full class for the first time in awhile or that they go offense-heavy. Or maybe a surprise candidate gets in. I’ll make my case again for the short-timer Cowboys coach Johnson. How ‘bout them Cowboys?

Andy Tony
Brett Favre Brett Favre
Orlando Pace Orlando Pace
Kevin Greene Kevin Greene
Marvin Harrison Tony Dungy
Jimmy Johnson Kurt Warner

What do you think? Vote in our poll and tell us in the comments section where we are wrong and who you think will be selected.

What do you think of the writers' predictions for the 2016 Hall of Fame class?

  • Both of them make compelling arguments (48%, 11 Votes)
  • These guys are wingnuts - I'll find another blog to read (22%, 5 Votes)
  • Andy is right on, Tony is clueless (17%, 4 Votes)
  • Tony nailed it, Andy is high (13%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 23

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