Last week the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced their list of the 15 finalists who will be voted on for induction on February 1st. The inductees will include 5 modern-era finalists and two finalists the Senior Selection Committee decided on back in August. The list this year consists of three first-time eligible players and a first-time eligible coach.
The finalists include Morten Andersen, Jerome Bettis, Derrick Brooks, Tim Brown, Edward DeBartolo, Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Marvin Harrison, Walter Jones, John Lynch, Andre Reed, Will Shields, Michael Strahan, and Aeneas Williams. Brooks, Dungy, Harrison, and Jones are all first-year nominees.
A name that was surprising to some that was left off of the list was Terrell Davis of the Denver Broncos. His 142.5 rushing yards average for the playoffs is leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else still but most people think his short career is keeping him out of the HOF initially. Jerome Bettis is up for his 4th time as a nominee and is still waiting for induction in spite of being, along with LaDanian Tomlinson who isn’t eligible for induction until 2016, the only RB in the top 10 of NFL Career Rushing Yards that is not in the Hall of Fame.
Just like there’s been a log-jam at the wide receiver position with players like Cris Carter waiting until last year to be inducted, Andre Reed and Tim Brown are still waiting to get in. It’s surprising to me that Morten Anderson made the final 15 but Terrell Davis did not. In defense to punters/kickers everywhere, punter Ray Guy was chosen to be one of the senior nominees. Hopefully he kills it with his speech; I can’t imagine anything more boring than a punter’s HOF acceptance speech.
My biggest gripe of the HOF selection process is the coaches/owners/contributors spot that seems to be taking the spot of more deserving player candidates. I have no issues with recognizing the works of some of the greatest coaches/owners/contributors of the NFL over its history. I feel there is definitely a place for them in the hall but when you compare the risks that say, an Eddie DeBartolo made over his lifetime to what a Terrell Davis or Jerome Bettis did to their health and their bodies over the course of their careers, I think you give the 5 measly spots you open up each year to players and if you feel the need to add contributors and owners, you add them to the 5 list of players instead of fitting them in amongst the players.
My prediction to how the vote plays out next month? I see Tony Dungy getting in on his first try, although Bill Cowher didn’t make the cut this year and has a much better playoff win percentage. I think Michael Strahan will get in on his second year. I hope that Jerome Bettis finally gets his gold jacket that he has undoubtedly earned. I see Charles Haley and Walter jones rounding out the list. Surely those predictions are sure to go wrong because you never know what’s going to happen when those wacky HOF voters get in that conference room.
Who are your choices for the HOF class of 2014?