We’ve been doing this now for eight years, and we’ve seen a lot of changes to the Hall of Fame induction process—mostly around the coverage the event receives, as the league utilizes it’s NFL Network to add more hype to the election process.
Still, at the end of the day, the formula has remained largely consistent over the years—25 gets cut to 15, then to 10, and most of those 10 make their way back to the 10 the following year, with only one or two possibly missing out if there is a special first year eligible player. Generally speaking, someone knocked out in the 11-15 spots in one year won’t jump past someone to the final five—but they’re usually a good bet to make the final 10 themselves.
So who does that give us in 2017? Well, the final five eliminated in the 2016 election were QB Kurt Warner, T Joe Jacoby, RB Terrell Davis, S John Lynch, and coach Don Coryell. In my personal estimation, not the most awe inspiring class ever—but that’s what we’re looking at.
Following them, eliminated in the 11-15 spots were K Morten Andersen, S Steve Atwater, WR Terrell Owens, G Alan Faneca, and RB Edgerrin James—perhaps more star power in Owens and James, and probably a better offensive lineman in Faneca than Jacoby, but still facing a difficult road to jump into the top.
As for first year nominees, there are five names that would appear to stand out above the rest in RB LaDanian Tomlinson, DE Jason Taylor, S Brian Dawkins, WR Hines Ward and QB Donovan McNabb. Tomlinson and Taylor are probably the most likely to not only jump into the top 10, but even possibly make the finalist ballot. Dawkins has the profile (9/4) to the finalist round for sure, but with Lynch and Atwater already there, and a position that’s never gotten a lot of love, top 10 might be a stretch in his first year. Undoubtedly some Steeler fans will argue that Ward deserves first ballot consideration (he doesn’t), but he has a chance to make the finalist round, and an outside chance at the top 10. McNabb…well…
Finishing outside the top 15 in 2016 were some other interesting names, that could possibly push to make the rare leap past a player like Andersen or Atwater—names like Kevin Mawae, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Ty Law and of course Jimmy Johnson.
We see Andersen, Mawae, James, Atwater and Johnson getting dropped in the first five. From there…
Unlike the last couple years, this is a harder class to predict. Do they go with Warner, the QB who has been waiting awhile? Do they go with Faneca, the guard and probably the best of the OL in the final 15? Or does he lose out to Jacoby, who was great and who played a more premium position and whose eligibility runs out? Do they take James or does Davis’ candidacy continue gaining momentum? Or does Tomlinson’s likely first-ballot induction mean both wait another year?
I think much like the years Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed were all up for enshrinement, voters have almost no choice but to start clearing the slate of safeties one at a time. It’s a position that gets no love, but one where a number of good candidates sit waiting.
And does Terrell Owens get in or does his controversial career keep him out for another year in favor of a frankly lesser candidate than him, like Andersen, Johnson or Coryell, each of whom has had varying degrees of momentum over the last few years.
I personally think Tomlinson is a no brainer and Owens is nearly so. The rest? Who knows. I’ll go with this group:
Why? I think Faneca will go in soon, but Jacoby is running out of time. The committee will vote him in to avoid cluttering up an already overflowing list of solid senior candidates.
Regarding safeties, I’m a big fan of Lynch and, particularly, Atwater. But voters to this point don’t seem enamored with either. Dawkins’ profile is even stronger. A safety almost has to get in. I’ll give the nod to him.
I’m not sure Taylor is a first-ballot lock, but I can’t see voters completely bucking the safety trend by inviting two. Taylor is pretty clearly the next strongest defensive candidate. Giving him the nod right away would be far from the most questionable thing that has happened in Canton.
I agree 100% that this year is more difficult than many in recent memory–although in part I feel that’s because some of the log jams have been cleared, and we’re now looking at a final 15 that in my estimation includes a lot of guys more suited for the “Hall of Very Good.” Lynch? Always struck me as a more one dimensional player. Atwater was probably better, but still brought more to the table as a hitter more than a coverage guy. The NFL may quietly hope that neither make it, just so the inevitable questions (and highlights) of their biggest hits–some of which would undoubtedly be flagged today–just don’t come back up. Or maybe they’ll want to rip the band-aid off.
Jacoby is another that strikes me as good, not great–the whole Hogs offensive line seemed to be one of those unites that were great together, but does that mean they all deserve a spot in Canton?
And Morten Andersen…great kicker, played a really long time. But he is still a kicker, and there’s still only one of them in the Hall. I have no doubt that another will make it someday–just not sure Morten is that guy.
So who am I guessing will get in?
My list might be a little bit contradictory to what I wrote above–but my list is who I am guessing will get in, not who I would vote for.
Tomlinson strikes me as a no-brainer as well–the other four all come from the final five of 2016. I ultimately thought that Warner would make it last year, although perhaps the voters didn’t want another QB on the stage with Brett Favre. Lynch and Jacoby I discussed above, but the voters clearly like them more than I do. And Davis…he might be the toughest argument on this list, but I sense that his support is growing.
Those that didn’t make it? Coryell…I could see them starting to try to avoid a coach every year, and as harsh as it sounds, there’s likely less urgency to get him in than some others.
I’ve waffled back and forth on Jason Taylor, but ultimately, his profile falls just a bit short of Michael Strahan, who had to wait a year–so Taylor does too. And Dawkins, well….I just don’t see a safety making it in his first year. I’d take Faneca over Jacoby, but at the end of the day, even the best guards in NFL History by my estimation (Randall McDaniel and Will Shields) had to wait 3-4 years to get in.
I apply that logic to Terrell Owens as well–ultimately, Owens had a better statistical career than Cris Carter, but was just as big (if not a bigger) pain to deal with–as a teammate, in the press, as a coach, and as an owner. They made Carter–who everyone knew was a Hall of Famer–wait six years to get in. Ultimately, right or wrong, they will likely make Owens wait a bit longer as well.
What do you think? I realize a lot of comments have already been left in the 2016 Announcement Thread, but let us know in the comments what you think of our logic, our choices, and where we missed. Also, given the spate of retirements this off-season, we will have several more threads on worthiness of individuals coming up soon.