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Hall of Fame monitor: Cardinals

1/8/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Our bloggers examine the Hall of Fame worthiness of players in this week's divisional round:

Kurt Warner, quarterback
Body of work:
The two-time league MVP and one-time Super Bowl MVP has led two long-suffering franchises to playoff success. Can the history of the NFL be told without mentioning Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Turf? Probably not, and that could help Warner's case. Selectors will also ask whether Warner played well enough, long enough. But with another strong season, Warner's numbers will line up nicely with those of Hall of Famer Steve Young. Both spent parts of their primes on the sideline. Both won a Super Bowl when given a chance to start, and only Warner made it back. Warner has the second-highest completion percentage in NFL history and the third-highest passer rating. He is one of four players in NFL history to lead the league in passing yards for three consecutive seasons. The other three -- Sid Luckman, Young and Bart Starr -- are Hall of Famers.

Unfinished business: Remaining the starter in Arizona and helping the Cardinals build on their recent success might put Warner over the top. Beating the Falcons in the wild-card round certainly helped. Making it to the Super Bowl this season might be enough.

Projected chance: Improving


Larry Fitzgerald, receiver
Body of work:
Fitzgerald recently became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 400 receptions. He's averaging about nine touchdowns per season. Fitzgerald's appeal goes far beyond the numbers. He routinely makes spectacular catches. He'll be remembered for the way he caught the ball, not just the number of balls he caught.
Unfinished business: At age 25, Fitzgerald has plenty of time to put up Hall of Fame numbers. His size and reliance on skills beyond pure speed should help him produce for the long haul. At his current pace, Fitzgerald would finish a 12-year NFL career with more than 1,000 receptions for more than 14,000 yards and more than 100 touchdowns. He would be 32 years old after 12 seasons, probably young enough to continue playing if he chose.

Projected chance: Looking good


Anquan Boldin, receiver
Body of work:
Boldin reached 500 receptions in fewer games (80) than any receiver in NFL history. He also picked up his scoring pace this season with 11 touchdowns in 12 games. He leads the Cardinals in career 100-yard receiving games with 24. Boldin will be remembered as one of the toughest and most physical receivers in the NFL. He's a ferocious blocker with the size and style to mimic a running back once the ball is in his hands.
Unfinished business: As with Fitzgerald, Boldin's reliance on skills other than pure speed should help him extend his career. But the 28-year-old Boldin is three years older than Fitzgerald and he has had a harder time staying healthy. Boldin has asked for a trade, expressing dissatisfaction with his contract. Perhaps his Hall of Fame chances would improve if he became the clear No. 1 option elsewhere (although John Stallworth and Lynn Swann earned enshrinement after playing alongside one another).

Projected chance: Check back in 5 years


Edgerrin James, running back
Body of work:
Only six players in NFL history have more 100-yard games. All but Jerome Bettis are in the Hall of Fame. James ranks 11th on the all-time rushing yardage list. Another 1,542 yards would move him into the top five, trailing only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin. James has also shown very good durability.
Unfinished business: James appears in good position to move into the top five on the NFL rushing list. His late-season resurgence with the Cardinals is helping. If James could help the Cardinals reach a Super Bowl, his chances would improve. James isn't a particularly dynamic runner, however, and his lack of big-play ability could affect his chances.

Projected chance: Outside shot