AFC East: Ray Nitschke

Speed Dial: Zach Thomas in the Hall?

May, 21, 2010
5/21/10
8:36
AM ET
Time for another installment of "Speed Dial," where I call three people in my Rolodex and get their insight on a particular subject.

Today's question: I reach out to members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's board of selectors to ask "Is Zach Thomas, who retired Thursday as a Miami Dolphin, worthy of enshrinement?"

Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Unless a guy's obvious, like Troy Aikman or Dan Marino or somebody like that, there's a reason you have a five-year period from the time a player retires until he's eligible. It gives us guys a chance to think about whether we want to vote for them or not. But my initial reaction? Zach Thomas just doesn't jump out at me as a Hall of Famer. Now, I'm not saying I won't vote for him. I have five years to think about it. But off the top of my head, he doesn't strike me as a Hall of Famer. But he's a candidate, and I'll look more into his career and talk to other people before I decide."

Dave Goldberg, AOL Fanhouse and formerly of The Associated Press: "I always have an open mind on these things, but right now I don't think so. My first thought is he is one of those guys in the Hall of Very Good. He was a very good player for a long time, but did he stand out? No. There are so many of these guys, and he's one step away, one level below the Hall of Fame. I remember his first day in training camp with the Dolphins. I was there. Jimmy Johnson loved Zach Thomas from the first day. He was too small and a fifth-round pick, but he was smart and a leader and was quick. But as a Hall of Famer? Not quite. He didn't quite have the impact. I don't remember him dominating games, and that's what I think of when I think of Hall of Famers."

John McClain, Houston Chronicle: "I've watched him since he was at Texas Tech. When I think of Dick Butkus or Ray Nitschke and Jack Lambert as the greatest inside linebackers in history, then, no, Zach doesn't belong. But I'm willing to listen to any evidence from anybody that can convince me that Zach has Hall of Fame credentials. Right off the bat, my initial thought for Zach going into the Hall of Fame is 'No,' when compared to the other guys, but I've said that before and changed my mind during the five years before he's eligible. I'm open-minded."

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