Richard Dent and the HOF


Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Following up on Saturday's request, a number of you provided well-considered, thoughtful arguments for Richard Dent to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A number of you compared Dent's career sack totals (137.5) to Hall of Famer Howie Long (84). One thing to keep in mind: Long unofficially had 7.5 sacks in his rookie year of 1981, when sacks weren't an official statistic. But I can add. It's still better to have 137.5 sacks than it is to have 91.5.

One argument I don't think is relevant: that Dent was an eighth-round draft pick from Tennessee State. It's certainly an accomplishment to ascend from a small school where you got little attention, but I don't think it should be a criteria for HOF enshrinement. If so, does that mean we should give less credit to a former first-round draft pick? Doesn't make sense. Maybe Dent had to work harder to get noticed, but the only thing a player should be judged on is his performance, not the obstacles he overcame getting there.

With all that said, I'd like to share thoughts from two of your fellow readers. Kevmob77 makes a good summation of Dent's accomplishments and his importance to Chicago's record-setting championship defense in the mid 1980s:

Any player who averages over 10 sacks per year for their career with 130+ should be in the Hall of Fame. When a person thinks of the '85 Bears defense, 4 names immediately pop up: [Mike] Singletary, [Dan] Hampton, [Steve] McMichael, and Dent. Dent was not only a great pass rusher, but probably one of the best DE's ever who could stop the run. This is not even taking into account all of the turnovers he forced or fumbles he recovered. Dent almost by himself won Super Bowl XX with his defensive play. You could just see the fear in the Patriots QB's eyes, especially [Tony] Eason. My question is, if you take Dent away from that '85 Bears team, would they still be known as one of the best (if not the best) defense of all time. I personally don't think so. My feeling on why he hasn't been elected into the HOF is that there were just so many great players on that '85 Bears team it was easy to forget who made what play because everybody was making plays every week. From [Jim] McMahon, Singletary, [Walter] Payton, the Fridge, [Gary] Fencik, and Hampton... Dent got a little bit lost in the mix as far as notoriety with a team full of personality. He deserves induction as much as any player I can think of.

To clarify, Dent averaged just over 10 sacks a game during his 12 years with the Bears. He had 13 sacks over three seasons with San Francisco, Indianapolis and Philadelphia.

Continuing on the theme of relative recognition, Shaun7575 wrote:

Richard Dent might suffer from Bert Blyleven syndrome. It's been so long since he's been around, that people [HOF Voters] have forgotten how good he was. This is where the voters need to look at more than statistics. Interview some of the quarterbacks, offensive lineman, and coaches that he played against during his time. That's when you'll get a accurate account of how great he really was.

Dent will have another chance this winter. We'll see if the voters take your advice.