Everybody wants to win a championship, but making it to the hall of fame in your respective sport is the ultimate achievement for an individual athlete. The halls of fame are the buildings in each sport that hold the memories of some of the greatest to ever play the games.
When you think of hall of fame players, some of the first ones that spring into mind are athletes such as Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, and many others. There are very few specific qualifications to get into a hall of fame, and they are typically voted on by sports writers and former players.
Although it seems like the achievements you need for your name to get into the hall of fame are getting harder to accomplish, there have still been some that have slipped through the cracks in recent memory. These athletes are nowhere near the best in their sport, but they made enough of an impression to be thrown in with the all-time greats.
So who are the players that had questionable resumes in terms of statistics (at least by today’s standards) and made the hall of fame in their sport? Here are 15 of the most undeserving hall of famers in sports. There is bound to be plenty of argument stemming from some of these names.
15 Troy Aikman
Troy Aikman was the first overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft, spending his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of people remember the six Pro Bowl appearances and three Super Bowl championships. Essentially, Aikman’s addition to the Hall of Fame means that as long as you are the quarterback of a team that wins multiple Super Bowls, you are getting into the hall.
Aikman was obviously not a bad quarterback, but his career’s work isn’t all that impressive. The best season that Aikman had was 3,445 yards with 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. That’s a solid season in the 1990s, but would be pretty pedestrian by today’s standards. With Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin on the team, he didn’t have to do much, just win.
14 Reggie Miller
When Reggie Miller’s name comes up, you would think that he’s a surefire hall of famer thanks to all of the big plays that he made in his career as a long range shooter. When you look at the stats, though, Miller was just a solid player over his career. Miller spent his entire time with the Indiana Pacers, so maybe longevity with the same team helped his resume. Miller averaged a decent 18 points a game, but only added three assists and three rebounds per game to go with it.
13 Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman is pretty much in the same boat as Reggie Miller in the fact that everybody knew who he was thanks to big moments. Was Rodman a good rebounder? You bet. But that was pretty much the only aspect of his game and getting him to start more than 50 games in a season was considered an accomplishment. Rodman spent 14 seasons in the league, averaging 13.1 rebounds to go with just 7.3 points and 1.8 assists per game in his career.
12 OJ Simpson
Whether you think OJ Simpson’s post playing career should get him kicked out of the hall of fame or not is up to you. If you look at just his playing career, he still is a questionable pick to be in the hall. Simpson had four very good seasons in the NFL, one decent one, and six absolute duds. Everyone remembers that 2,003 yard season that Simpson had in 1973, which his career reputation rode on. Simpson is pretty much the equivalent of Chris Johnson, who probably shouldn’t expect to be in the hall.
11 Bert Blyleven
Perhaps one of the reasons that Bert Blyleven made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame is because of his longevity. Blyleven made his debut at the age of 19, and didn’t retire until he was 41 years old. Still, Blyleven didn’t rack up 300 wins (which is usually the benchmark for hall of fame pitchers). Blyleven was good in his best years, but he was never what you would consider great. Blyleven barely had a .500 record in his career at 287-250, with a 3.31 ERA.
10 Marcus Allen
Marcus Allen had a very long career in terms of running backs. After 11 seasons with the Raiders and five more with the Chiefs, Allen finished with over 12,000 career rushing yards. His career looked good in the first four seasons, topping out with a 1,759 yard and 11 touchdown season in 1985. After that, Allen never had more than 890 rushing yards in a single season. When you stick around long enough at a premium position like that, though, people tend to start looking at you as a hall of famer.
9 Bob Griese
If you ask any Purdue alum or Dolphins fan, they will tell you that Bob Griese is a legend. He certainly has his followers, especially after being one of the quarterbacks of the NFL’s only undefeated team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins. He was injured in Week 5 of that season and Earl Morall actually started more games in the perfect season. Griese had a solid win-loss record at 92-56-3, but in terms of his prime season he still only had 2,473 yards and 21 touchdowns in his second year. That’s not bad in 1968 terms, but he’s barely ahead of Matt Schaub in career yardage.
8 Bill Walton
Bill Walton made a name for himself as a college player at UCLA playing under John Wooden. One tough part about this list is the Basketball Hall of Fame since college athletes can get in, but Walton was also admitted as a professional player. Walton spent his career with the Trail Blazers, Clippers and Celtics, playing just 10 seasons. In that time, Walton averaged 13.3 point, 10.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. If you need a contrast of another player who has similar stats, Enes Kanter is on his way. Hard to imagine him as a hall of famer.
7 Igor Larionov
Igor Larionov had a long career, winning three championships with the Detroit Red Wings, and also playing with the Sharks, Canucks, Panthers and Devils. When you think of a hall of famer you probably expect them to appear in at least double digit all star games. That’s not the case for Larionov, who only made one All Star Game in 1998 with the Red Wings. How does a player have as many hall of fame inductions as all star games? And yet many argue that Eric Lindros is not a hall of famer. That’s a mystery to hockey fans.
6 Lynn Swann
Lynn Swann is responsible for one of the most famous catches in Super Bowl history, and his Steeler teams won a total of four titles while he was there. Swann’s career lasted just nine seasons, and his best season as a receiver came with just 880 yards and 11 touchdowns in 1978. Reggie Miller had a lot of big moments too, but even his stats were much better compared to Swann’s. Swann was seemingly elected for the Super Bowl exposure his short career got.
5 Bill Mazeroski
Bill Mazeroski is another one of those hall of famers that had a long career with just one team (17 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates), and one of the biggest moments in baseball history with the famous 1960 World Series home run in Game 7 to wrap up the series. When you look at his career stats, they're solid but not dominant. Mazeroski’s best year was only 19 home runs and 68 RBIs. Mazeroski ended his career with barely over 2,000 hits, 138 home runs and a career average of just .260.
4 Arvydas Sabonis
Arvydas Sabonis made the Basketball Hall of Fame mainly because of his international play, but if you look at just his NBA career, there is no way he belonged anywhere close. Sabonis didn’t get into the NBA until he was 31 years old, and played his seven year career with the Portland Trail Blazers through the late 1990s and early 2000s. Sabonis was once the tallest member of the hall, until Ralph Sampson was elected (who almost made the list). Sabonis finished his career with 12 points per game, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Hardly hall of fame numbers.
3 Phil Rizzuto
If you’re under the age of 40, the only thing you probably know about Phil Rizzuto was Adam Sandler struggling to write his name in cursive during “Billy Madison”. For those that remember the tiny Yankee for his playing days might even be surprised that he was elected into the hall of fame. Granted, Rizzuto’s 25, 26 and 27-year-old seasons were wiped away because he was serving during World War II, but even his career stats don’t support his hall of fame claim. Rizzuto batted just .273 in his career with 38 home runs. His solid defense and likability were pretty much what got him into the hall of fame, and one MVP season.
2 Joe Namath
Joe Namath is regarded as one of the legendary quarterbacks in NFL history, and some of us are still trying to figure out why. What really got Namath into the hall was his guarantee to beat the Colts in Super Bowl III, and coming through on that promise. Namath did eclipse 4,000 yards back in 1967, which was a pretty big deal. Still, his career record is under .500, and he had nearly 50 more interceptions than touchdowns. Almost everything that happened after the 1969 season was subpar at best.
1 Bill Bradley
One thing that the top three athletes on the list have in common is that they all spent a long time playing for New York sports teams, so perhaps it’s the exposure of the big city that got them into their respective halls of fame. Bradley is the strangest addition in the hall of fame, and perhaps it’s because of his post career as a senator and near Democratic Presidential nominee back in 2000. Bradley spent 10 seasons with the New York Knicks, and had 12.4 points per game in his career. Bradley didn’t have the other stats to back that up, getting only 3.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists to go with it.
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