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By the Numbers: Best #80 in NFL History

We’re going from a not very impressive list of players who are competing to be the Best #25 in NFL history to one of the most storied numbers in league history.

The #80 rivals the #81 as perhaps the deepest and most competitive jersey digit the league’s teams have ever handed out.

Of course one stands out: Jerry Rice. But with the induction of Cris Carter later this summer, there will be eight players in the Hall of Fame that wore #80 as their primary number, which appears to be the most for a single number.

And there are several more on the list who might eventually find their way to Canton.

The best players in NFL History to wear #80 include: Continue reading

Urlacher becomes latest NFL star to retire

Brian Urlacher announced his retirement Wednesday morning via a statement linked to his Twitter account and in so doing, he joins a parade of former NFL stars who have called it quits before the 2013 kicks off in a couple of months.

Urlacher indicated that while he could continue playing “I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards.”

Photo credit: Wikipedia user Jauerback

While I can’t speak to his passion, it was clear to anyone watching the last couple seasons that he is no longer the player he was when he arrived in the Chicago 13 seasons ago. So even though there were rumors of interest in his services from Minnesota and Denver, I suspect his decision to retire may have had something to do with a weak market for his services.

Nonetheless, he leaves the league a highly decorated star. He and Ray Lewis, who announced during the 2012 season that it would be his last, both exit as franchise cornerstone linebacker superstar players who lasted double-digit seasons with just one team.

Congratulations to Urlacher, who now only has to wait to see when he should show up in Canton for his inevitable induction and enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In a typical year, Urlacher’s eight Pro Bowl appearances, four first-team Associated Press All Pro awards and 1,052 tackles (according to Pro Football Reference’s stats) would make him a fairly sure bet to be a first ballot enshrinee. He also was a member of the Team of the 2000s. Continue reading

Ronde Barber’s retirement spurs discussion of Hall of Fame cred

Ronde Barber announced this week that he would join a collection of high profile group of his contemporaries in retiring from the NFL. The highly-decorated cornerback, who became the first player ever to achieve at least 40 interceptions and 25 sacks during his career, spent all 16 of his seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Barber joins Ray Lewis, Steve Hutchinson, Matt Birk, Jeff Saturday, Donald Driver and Jason Hansen, among others, who have decided that the 2012 season will be their last. The clock starts this season on the five year wait to see when – or if – they will eventually be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Barber’s pursuit of immortality in Canton will be an interesting one. In addition to the 47 interceptions and 28 sacks he finished with, he went to five Pro Bowls and was named first team All Pro by the Associated Press three times. That puts him a notch ahead of Ty Law, who profiles at a 5/2 in those same categories. Continue reading

Hanson was great, but probably not Hall of Fame great

Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson retired last week and, I’m embarrassed to say, I initially didn’t even think of doing a post on his chances of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But Colts blogger and occasional Zoneblitz contributor Andrew Aziz posted the question to our Twitter account and it made me curious. It’s an interesting question. My initial thought was that Hanson was a very good kicker in the NFL for two decades but not one who will be rewarded with a spot in the Hall of Fame. Here’s why.

First, he faces the same dilemma guys like Ray Guy, Mark Moseley and other good to great kickers and punters face – just not many special teams guys get any love from voters. A look at finalists from recent years shows that the last time a punter or kicker made it that far was Guy in 2008. Guy has been a finalist seven times and is the only kicker/punter to get that far in the 2000s, but he has never gotten over the threshold, leaving Jan Stenerud remains the only pure kicker enshrined in Canton. Continue reading

HOF Committee deserves credit for solid class

Critics, including, 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. Continue reading

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