EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was announced this past Saturday night and to the surprise of many, none of the players who spent the majority of their careers with the St. Louis or Los Angeles Rams made it in.
Sure, running back Jerome Bettis qualified but he was not long for the team that drafted him and played his defining years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But former Rams legends such as Orlando Pace, Kurt Warner and Kevin Greene came up short and receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce didn't even make the list of finalists.
With that in mind, it's never too early to begin looking at how things might shake out in 2016. Today, we turn to Greene, the player from the list who has been waiting the longest and continues to come up short.
Why he missed: Much like in the case of Pace, Greene seemed to again get left behind because of the voters' need to clear the decks a bit by putting in players that have been waiting for a while. The difference is that Greene has also been waiting more than his share of time. But Greene was again the victim of a pass-rusher who has been waiting just as long to get the call. That would be defensive end Charles Haley, who has been on the ballot for 11 years and a five-time finalist before finally getting his chance. Greene has been waiting just as long overall but just completed his fourth year making the cut to 15 without getting in. Perhaps, like Haley, the fifth time will be the charm.
Why he should go: Greene finished his career with 160 sacks (third in NFL history), posted 10 seasons with at least 10 sacks (third in NFL history) and was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, a two-time first-team All-Pro and a member of the NFL All-Decade team for the 1990s. The three players surrounding Greene on the all-time sack list -- Bruce Smith, Reggie White and Chris Doleman -- are already in Canton. After he left the Rams, Greene played seven more years for those three teams and averaged 12.5 sacks over those seasons. He was even good to the final snap, as he posted 12 sacks for the Panthers in his final season in the league.
How it looks in 2016: Greene made the cut from 15 to 10 this year but once again came up short, almost certainly because the voters didn't want to double down on a position. But with Haley out of the way and no dominant pass-rushers scheduled to join the fray in 2016, one would think that next year could and should be Greene's time. There are no guarantees when it comes to the voting but Greene will clearly be the best pass-rusher on next year's ballot and probably the best defensive player on it as well. He's waited long enough and it seems 2016 could be his time.