Is Andre Reed good enough for Canton?

January, 7, 2009
1/07/09
9:38
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

It's time for the annual debate: Does Andre Reed belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

 
 Rick Stewart/Getty Images
 Andre Reed was a key component in the Buffalo Bills' run to four straight Super Bowls.

The Hall of Fame announced 17 finalists for induction this year, and Reed was among four with AFC East ties. He was joined by two other Buffalo Bills, defensive end Bruce Smith and owner Ralph Wilson, and Miami Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg.

Smith is a lock to get in. He might be the greatest No. 1 draft choice of all-time and retired with an NFL record 200 sacks.

This probably wouldn't an appropriate year for Wilson to get inducted. Given all the ire generated by selling games to Toronto and deciding to keep head coach Dick Jauron around, the throngs of Bills fans who'd drive down to honor Smith probably would boo Wilson when he stepped to the lectern.

Kuechenberg is an eight-time finalist and getting crotchety about it. Reed has been ornery for years, and this is only his third year as a finalist.

Reed is a lightning rod for Hall of Fame debate.

He retired with the requisite stats, but as NFL offenses have evolved into highly efficient passing systems, what Reed accomplished becomes less and less impressive as time goes by.

Jim Kelly's favorite target during the Buffalo Bills' run to four straight Super Bowls finished with 951 receptions for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns. Reed was named to seven Pro Bowls.

When Reed retired he ranked third in all-time receptions behind only Jerry Rice and Cris Carter.

Eight years later, Reed has dropped to sixth on the list with a total that doesn't look nearly as impressive. Offenses have changed too much. Larry Centers had more catches than Steve Largent. Reed, who will be surpassed by tight end Tony Gonzalez next year, has 68 more catches than Keenan McCardell.

Does Derrick Mason belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? He has 790 receptions and still is piling them up. He has recorded five seasons of 80 or more catches (three seasons of more than 90, including a high of 103) and seven 1,000-yard seasons.

Reed caught 80 or more passes only three times (he topped out at 90) and had four 1,000-yard seasons. 

Odds are, Reed eventually will get in. He could be waiting a long time. Art Monk retired in 1995 with the most NFL catches. He was an eight-time finalist when he entered the Hall of Fame last summer.

But when I think about Reed, I'm not overcome with memories of legendary greatness.

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