Next Ones In
The Pro Football Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremonies over the weekend in Canton, Ohio. It marks the first weekend of football, as we now have pigskin every weekend in some shape of form all the way to next February.
The induction ceremony is one of the best scenes you will ever see with the combination of tradition, family, respect, and love for the game. It’s the biggest honor that anyone who played football can receive, and the political battle among Hall voters is as intriguing as a presidential race.
Seeing Ray Guy finally get inducted was a long time coming. Simply the best ever to play his position, he is a fitting member for the Hall. Naturally one thinks to next season and who might be eligible and make the final vote.
Here are a few that I think will hear their names called during Super Bowl Saturday, when the Hall of Fame voters make their decisions:
Jerome Bettis – a Hall of Fame finalist four times, its about time the Bus made it to Canton. He simply ranks sixth all-time in rushing yards and is 10th in rushing touchdowns. Bettis won a Super Bowl in his final season, and has also been honored with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and the Comeback Player of the Year award. Marshall Faulk made it in 2011 and Curtis Martin in 2012. This should be Bettis’ year.
Kurt Warner – Should a player with one of the best three-year runs we’ll ever see be awarded the Hall of Fame honor? That’s really the argument with Warner, who led the NFL in completion percentage for each season from 1999 to 2001, in touchdowns twice during that span and passing yards once. Oh yeah, we was NFL MVP in both 1999 and 2001. Warner led the Rams to a Super Bowl in 1999 and then took the Cardinals to the big game in 2007. A four-time pro bowler and two-time First-Team All-Pro, he was undrafted and was playing in the Arena League while stocking grocery shelves before joining the Rams. Should Warner get in? His story is unique enough that he deserves it.
Tim Brown – Many feel that the Dallas native should have gone in this past Saturday, and the competition gets tougher in 2015. Brown’s reception yardage was just short of 15,000 yards, he has more than 100 touchdowns and close to 20,000 all-purpose yards. Perhaps Brown should already be in, but a run on quality receivers got in his way. No Super Bowl wins doesn’t help, but Brown is deserving. If Andre Reed can get in, so should Brown.
Junior Seau – He was one of the best linebackers in the league throughout the 1990s. Seau was the heart and soul of the San Diego Chargers. Does he deserve a first-ballot entry? I say no, but many think he should. He will get in.
Which leads me to what I believe to be the dumbest snub in Hall of Fame history – Charles Haley. No other player has won more Super Bowl rings than Haley’s five. The five-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-Team All-Pro accumulated 100.5 sacks and 485 tackles. A two-time NFL Defensive Player-of-the-Year, he had more than 10 sacks in a season six times. Haley has been a Hall of Fame finalist in each of the last five years. Haley is clearly being punished by the voters because of his demeanor off the field, which was less than glowing. But when opposing offensive coordinators are designing game plans around one player, that’s a pretty big deal. Again, the man has five Super Bowl rings. That should be an automatic gold jacket to go with it. If Haley doesn’t get in again next year, the voters should turn in their credentials.
But these decisions come at the end of the football season. We have 27 more weeks of football in the interim. Enjoy the ride.