Wilson's induction bad news for Reed

January, 31, 2009
1/31/09
6:02
PM ET
Robert Laberge /Allsport/Getty Images
Andre Reed, one of the greatest receivers ever for the Buffalo Bills, did not make it into the Hall of Fame this year and his chances of election may be fading.


Andre Reed, one of the greatest receivers in Buffalo Bills history, probably was happy to learn owner Ralph Wilson had been chosen for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Wilson's election, however, doesn't bode well for Reed.

Wilson and Bills defensive end Bruce Smith were among the six selected Saturday for this year's Hall of Fame class.

But Reed, among the 17 finalists, continues to fade in contention each year. Popular belief among NFL experts is that he needs Cris Carter to gain entry first because of their numbers.

Wilson's inclusion knocked Carter out. That not only kept the logjam ahead of Reed, but developments indicate his delay will grow longer. It looks like Reed's now in line behind tight end Shannon Sharpe, too.

The Board of Selectors on Saturday included Sharpe in their top 10, just outside the cut. Reed was not in their top 10. Reed was among the first group of five finalists eliminated from Saturday's debate. So another pass catcher is ahead of him in the Hall of Fame's pecking order.

Wilson's election was surprising. There was no buzz this year for Wilson, who was passed over as a finalist in 2001 and 2003. His credentials hadn't changed since then. In fact, he has lost favor among Bills fans during their nine-year playoff drought.

His decision to sell home games to Toronto infuriated many, as did his decision to retain head coach Dick Jauron.

Wilson's selection was more about timing than anything else. There was a current of sentimentality when the Board of Selectors debated his worthiness. He's 90 years old. They felt he should be honored while he could enjoy the celebration.

I don't have a problem with Wilson as a Hall of Famer. He was an AFL pioneer, owning not only the Bills but also the Oakland Raiders for a brief time. He oversaw a club that went to the Super Bowl four straight times.

Many also point to the fact Wilson never moved the Bills out of Buffalo even though he could've packed up and hauled out for more money in another town. That notion I will dismiss as a reason for induction. That's material for the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, not Canton.

That said, Wilson should have been selected for Canton eventually. But getting in this year will be costly to Reed.

Reed retired with what appeared to be slam-dunk credentials, but as passing offenses became increasingly prolific, his stats have slid down the charts. The fact he retired with fewer than 1,000 career catches could hurt him.

Next year, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown will become eligible, too. Rice is a first-ballot Hall of Famer if ever there was one. Rice's numbers will put him in Reed's neighborhood.

That means Reed likely will be looking at 2012 at the soonest, but more than likely even later.

Reed also might be impacted by the sheer number of Bills in the Hall of Fame. At some point, the Board of Selectors might begin to wonder how many players are enough from a team that never won a Super Bowl. Already in from those Bills teams are coach Marv Levy, quarterback Jim Kelly, running back Thurman Thomas, receiver James Lofton -- and now Smith and Wilson.

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