NFL Nation: 09 HOF finalists
This year's Hall of Fame ballot includes four players with NFC North ties, a list headed by former Minnesota receiver Cris Carter. What are the chances of a Black and Blue representative heading to Canton this summer? Let's take a look at each player:
Wide receiver Cris Carter
- Pros: Retired in 2002 with the second-most receptions (1,101) in NFL history. Only player in NFL history with two seasons of 120-plus receptions.
- Cons: Not many. His exclusion last year was a surprise and attributed to some voters' desire to protect "first-ballot" designations.
- Chances in 2009: High.
Defensive end Richard Dent
- Pros: Retired in 1997 with 137.5 sacks, which at the time ranked third in NFL history. Won two Super Bowls, including the MVP in Super Bowl XX. Was one of the key elements in the "46" defense that dominated the game in the mid 1980's.
- Cons: Named to the Pro Bowl in only four of 13 seasons, raising the question of the longevity of his dominance. Has been eligible since 2003 and is competing with a shoo-in, all-time sacks leader Bruce Smith.
- Chances in 2009: Moderate.
Guard Randall McDaniel
- Pros: Nine-time All-Pro and 12-time Pro Bowler. Technique and athleticism made him one of the best guards of his era.
- Cons: Quiet demeanor and distaste for campaigning has made him easy to overlook. This year, competing with two other guards on the final ballot: Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg.
- Chances in 2009: Moderate.
Defensive lineman John Randle
- Pros: Coincidentally finished career with Dent's exact sack total of 137.5 sacks. Six-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler. Played tackle and end during his career.
- Cons: Competing with Smith, who finished career with 63 more sacks during the same approximate era. First appearance on ballot.
- Chances in 2009: Unlikely.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 17 finalists for enshrinement in 2009. The vote will be Jan. 31. Two players who spent a significant part of their careers in the AFC West are among the finalists while four players from the division didn't make the final cut.
Here are the finalists:
Shannon Sharpe, tight end: 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos; 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
Will he get in? He is considered one of the best players ever to play his position but because there is a logjam at other positions and tight end is not considered a glamor position by many voters, Sharpe may have to wait a year or two.
Derrick Thomas, linebacker: 1989-99 Kansas City Chiefs
Will he get in? It says here he gets in either in 2009 or 2010.
Here is a list of semifinalists who spent most of their careers in the AFC West but did not make the cut to the finalists list:
- Terrell Davis, running back: 1995-2001 Denver Broncos
- Ray Guy, punter: 1973-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
- Lester Hayes, cornerback: 1977-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
- Ken Stabler, quarterback: 1970-79 Oakland Raiders; 1980-1981 Houston Oilers; 1982-1984 New Orleans Saints
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Longtime Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy made the cut of 17 finalists for the 2009 Hall of Fame class. Linebacker Kevin Greene (Rams), running back Roger Craig (49ers), pass-rusher Charles Haley (49ers) were among the semifinalists missing the cut this time.
|AP Photo/Cheryl Hatch|
|In 11 seasons with the Seahawks, Cortez Kennedy amassed 58 sacks.|
A quick look at finalists with current or past ties to the Rams, 49ers, Cardinals and Seahawks:
- Richard Dent, DE, 49ers: Longtime Bears standout won a Super Bowl with the 49ers in 1994.
- Russ Grimm, OL, Redskins: Finishing his second season as the Cardinals' assistant head coach and offensive line coach.
- Bob Hayes, WR, 49ers: Longtime Cowboys receiver finished his career with the 49ers in 1975.
- Kennedy, DT, Seahawks: Eight-time Pro Bowl lineman was the NFL's defensive player of the year on a 2-14 team.
- John Randle, DT, Seahawks: Longtime Vikings pass-rusher spent his final three seasons with Seattle.
- Rod Woodson, DB, 49ers: Longtime Steelers safety spent the 1997 season with the 49ers.
Of the six, only Kennedy will be remembered for his career with a team currently aligned in the NFC West. The 49ers have certainly had an appreciation for stars from other teams. Dent, Hayes and Woodson were three of the best.
I would have no problem with any of the 17 finalists earning enshrinement. I'd be interested in hearing the cases for and against Craig, Greene and Haley. We discussed Craig previously. I have advocated Kennedy. More info on the semifinalists here.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Some good news and bad news from the NFC East now that the 17 finalists have been announced for the 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. As we already knew, the late Cowboys wide receiver Bob Hayes is one of the two senior nominees. I'll be shocked if Hayes doesn't make it this time around.
Redskins guard Russ Grimm is one of the 15 modern-day finalists, but former Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley did not make the cut from 25 to 15. Haley has an NFL record five Super Bowl rings from San Francisco and Dallas. He was a huge part of the Cowboys' three Super Bowls in the '90s and he should've made it ahead of Richard Dent.
In other NFC East news, former Redskins defensive end Bruce Smith is also one of the 15 finalists. Of course, you would consider Smith more of a Buffalo Bill than a Redskin. I think the class will be Smith, Cris Carter, Hayes, Rod Woodson, Grimm and Paul Tagliabue. I'd love to hear what you guys think.