Eight people joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio this past summer including Brett Favre, Marvin Harrison and Orlando Pace. The inductees brought the count of people in the Hall of Fame to a total of 303. That might seem like a lot, but there are plenty of players that haven’t been selected for induction that should have been. Then again, there are some that probably shouldn’t have gotten in to begin with, so maybe the number needs to stay as it is right now and change the roster a little bit.
Out of the people that belong in the Hall of Fame that haven’t been enshrined, there are some, that include coaches such as Don Coryell, who revolutionized the game we know today. That personal opinion aside, we want to focus solely on the players with this list. We’ll take a look at the accomplishments of those that both have and haven’t been enshrined, as well as some statistics and historical context.
While this is sure to cause some debate between football fans, it’s time to take a look at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here are eight players that shouldn’t have gotten in, and eight that need to be inducted already.
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16 Doesn’t Belong: Cris Carter
Cris Carter had to wait a few years on the ballot before he was finally let into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. The former Supplemental Draft Pick from Ohio State started with the Eagles and made his mark with the Vikings before finishing his career in 2002 with the Dolphins. Carter would make three All-Pro teams (two First-teams) over his career, though it felt like his career was helped by Chris Berman’s claim that “all he does is catch touchdowns.”
Carter had several 1,000+ yard seasons in a row, but his best seasons seemed to come late in his career while in a pass-happy offense where he wasn’t the best receiver on the team (thanks to Randy Moss). Carter ranks 12th in all-time receiving yards, but as one former wide receiver that shows up later on list said, he practically “begged his way into the Hall of Fame.”
15 Does Belong: Isaac Bruce
While Cris Carter certainly isn’t the worst player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there is a receiver that hasn’t been let in yet despite putting up better numbers. Isaac Bruce was playing in high powered aerial offenses like Carter was, but he was the first option despite being on teams that had Torry Holt and Marshall Faulk. Bruce played for the Rams for most of his career before finishing with the 49ers.
Bruce was only a Second-Team All-Pro once in his career (in 1999) and a lot of Rams fans would tell you there should have been more appearances. Bruce was always a reserved player, never really bringing attention to himself like a lot of receivers. It seems to have hurt him, because how else would you explain how the fourth leading receiver of all-time is not yet in the Hall of Fame despite being eligible?
14 Doesn’t Belong: Jan Stenerud
There is only one exclusive placekicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and it’s Norwegian kicker Jan Stenerud. Stenerud played from 1967 to 1985 with the Chiefs, Packers and Vikings. Now, most people would make an argument that kickers and punters shouldn’t even make the Hall of Fame, but I disagree with that. Kickers are a big part of the game, but Stenerud shouldn’t be the only one that represents the position.
Despite multiple All-Pro Team appearances in his career, Stenerud was far from automatic and only had five seasons where he kicked at least 75%, with three of them coming in over 80%. All in all, Stenerud converted 66.85% of his field goals, which ranks him 98th all-time behind countless guys that even played in the same era.
13 Does Belong: Morten Andersen
There are a lot of kickers that are active right now that will be making a claim to become the second at the position to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but out of ones that are eligible for the Hall, Morten Andersen would have to rank on top. Andersen had incredible longevity, playing from 1982 to 2007 with five different teams and was a six-time All-Pro in an era where there were plenty of solid kickers.
Andersen holds 13 different NFL records and was able to convert on 79.7% of his field goals, a huge improvement over Stenerud. Among the achievements that Andersen claimed during his career is most game winning field goals (with 103) and most points in a career with 2,544. Andersen is also the all-time leading scorer in Saints history and Falcons history.
12 Doesn’t Belong: Marcus Allen
Winning a Super Bowl ring will no doubt help your Hall of Fame cause, especially if you play at a skill position and have a dominant performance. It also helps if you can pad your career stats thanks to longevity. Marcus Allen was the beneficiary of both of those factors, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003. Allen was able to put up 1,000+ yards in three consecutive seasons from his second to fourth years.
Included in that three-year stretch was an amazing performance in Super Bowl XVIII against the Redskins. Allen would never rush for more than 890 yards for the rest of his career, but ended up playing all the way through the 1997 season. Allen lasted longer than most running backs (especially these days), which got him enough rushing yards to become 12th all-time.
11 Does Belong: Terrell Davis
If running backs are going to be able to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame based on a dominant short stretch of play, then Terrell Davis should certainly be included. Davis only played for seven seasons (all with the Denver Broncos) and his first four years were phenomenal. He also has the same dominant Super Bowl performance that Allen did and Davis even has two rings instead of just one.
After Davis’s fourth season, he would only play in 16 total games due to injuries and retired after 2001. Despite that, Davis was averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 97.5 per game. To play in 78 career games and still get into 55th overall on the all-time rushing list is quite the accomplishment.
10 Doesn’t Belong: Troy Aikman
If you’re a quarterback that has won a Super Bowl, you drastically increase your chance of making the Hall of Fame. If you have won multiple Super Bowls, you become a lock. Aikman would end up winning three Super Bowls and had a lot of exposure being the first overall draft pick for the league’s most popular team. However, Aikman was never the dominant player that really changed the game, as Dallas had a very strong overall team with all-time greats at running back and wide receiver with Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
On pure stats alone, Aikman’s resume isn’t all that great. From 1992 through 1996, Aikman had a record of 56-19. In his seven other seasons, his record was 38-52. He also finished with a weak touchdown to interception ratio of 165 and 141 and it isn’t as if teams weren't passing in the 1990s. As for where he ranks on the all-time passing list, he’s 34th right now and has already been passed by Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.
9 Does Belong: Kurt Warner
Kurt Warner is a quarterback that has won a Super Bowl and has even won multiple MVP Awards (1999 and 2001), but has not made the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Warner didn’t make it into the NFL as a starter until the 1999 season, when he was already 28 years old so the deck was stacked against him. Warner would be a starter for eight seasons and led two teams to the Super Bowl, winning Super Bowl XXXIV with the Rams.
When Warner was healthy, there was no doubt that he was among the elite quarterbacks in the league in his time with the Rams and Cardinals, especially at the end of his career. Warner did work with some pretty great receivers (including fellow snub Isaac Bruce), but was still good despite a change of scenery. He also had an impressive 208 touchdown to 128 interception ratio, and only had 598 fewer passing yards than Aikman...despite 49 fewer starts.
8 Doesn’t Belong: Bob Hayes
It’s now time for another Cowboys player that received a lot of exposure by playing on good Dallas teams. If there was an Athlete Hall of Fame, Bob Hayes is definitely a first ballot guy since he was one of the best track athletes in the world and had a solid football career. However, you could argue that his credentials in football don’t make him a Hall of Famer in the sport.
Hayes had his best seasons in his first two years with 1,003 and 1,232 receiving yards. After that, we wouldn’t see him hit the 1,000 yard mark again and he hit a massive wall after turning 30 years old. Hayes would finish with 7,414 career yards and 71 touchdowns. Sure, the game has changed a lot since then, but he is outside of the top 100 in yards and tied for 38th in touchdowns.
7 Does Belong: Alan Faneca
It’s hard for the big uglies up on the offensive line to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, especially at the guard position since left tackles are the only ones that get any kind of love. Any Steelers fan over the past 20 years will tell you, however, that Alan Faneca was one of the best guards that they have seen. Faneca would be named to six All-Pro First Teams, and added a pair of Second Team appearances on top of that.
Not only was Faneca a road grater, but he also had amazing durability for his position. Faneca played from 1998 through the 2010 season (which is a possible 208 games). During that time, Faneca would play in 206, missing just two games. A member of the All-Decade Team in the 200’s and All-Time Steelers teams, you have to wonder how Faneca hasn't made it in yet.
6 Doesn’t Belong: Joe Namath
Back in the old days of football, there weren’t that many celebrity players. Joe Namath was able to break the mold with his electric personality and charm. Namath by no means a bad player, as he was an AFL MVP twice and five-time Pro Bowler, but this was at a time when there wasn’t much talent in the AFL overall as the NFL was still king, holding only 10 teams in the league.
Namath helped legitimize the AFL, leading to the leagues merging, after guaranteeing a defeat of the Colts in Super Bowl III as a heavy underdog. For helping make the NFL what it is today, perhaps he belongs in the Hall of Fame. However, his numbers really don’t stack up as he completed only 50.1% of his passes, and had 220 interceptions to just 173 touchdowns. He also only ranks 58th in career passing yards with 27,663.
5 Does Belong: John Lynch
John Lynch terrorized wide receivers that would come across the middle for more than a decade. The third round pick from Stanford would play 11 seasons for the Buccaneers before spending his last four years with the Denver Broncos, making his mark at both stops. Lynch was consistently considered an elite safety, and won the Defensive Back of the Year Award in 2000. Lynch was also named to four All-Pro teams and nine Pro Bowls.
It’s hard to quantify the success of a safety using statistics since interceptions and tackles don’t come all that often compared to interceptions, but watching him play you just knew that he was among the best. According to Pro Football Reference, Lynch had a similar career in terms of productivity to Darrell Green, Roger Wehrli and Larry Wilson, all members of the Hall of Fame.
4 Doesn’t Belong: John Stallworth
We’ve pointed out one former Steeler that was worthy of the Hall of Fame, so hopefully the top two choices in the “don’t belong” category doesn’t ruffle too many feathers. The first in the list is wide receiver John Stallworth, the former Alabama A&M fourth round pick. Stallworth was only an All-Pro once in his career, being named to three Pro Bowls. Winning four Super Bowls certainly didn’t hurt Stallworth’s chances of getting into the Hall of Fame.
Rings seem to be the top thing on voters’ minds, as Stallworth doesn’t have overly impressive numbers and accolades for a Hall of Famer. He finished with 537 career receptions and 8.723 yards. Those numbers rank Stallworth 69th in all-time yardage, and he is tied for 107th all-time in receptions...with Dwayne Bowe.
3 Does Belong: Jerry Kramer
The second to final choice on guys that should be in the Hall of Fame is one of the best guards in football history. Even the NFL Network acknowledged that Kramer was the most deserving player to be in the Hall of Fame that hasn’t been enshrined. Kramer opened up a lot of holes for the Packers over the course of 11 seasons, helping the team win seven NFL Championships (including two Super Bowls).
So why isn’t Kramer in the Hall of Fame? Well, if it’s because the Packers were just an all-around good team, then the guys at three and one shouldn’t be on the list. After all, Kramer was a six-time First Team All-Pro and added a Second Team nod. He’s also the only member of the NFL’s 50 Anniversary All-Time Team to not be in the Hall of Fame.
2 Doesn’t Belong: Lynn Swann
Joining John Stallworth as the other Steelers receiver that didn’t really have the stats to back up a Hall of Fame induction, Lynn Swann is the top choice on the list. Swann, who is now the Athletic Director at USC, was a first round choice by the Steelers in 1974. Swann had some very memorable catches and they happened to come in big moments during the Super Bowl. He did make one All-Pro First Team and a pair of Second Teams, but was perhaps overrated for the Super Bowl moments and wins.
Swann’s stats impress even less than Stallworth’s in a historical context as he hauled in 336 catches with 5,462 yards. Those numbers put Swann at 224th all-time in receiving yards and he’s not even in the top 250 in receptions. You can say it was the era he played in, but many players that came before Swann had better numbers and Swann never had more than 880 yards in a season.
1 Does Belong: Terrell Owens
Terrell Owens rubbed a lot of people the wrong way during his 15 year career with the 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys, Bills and Bengals...which has to be the only reason he’s not in the Hall of Fame. Owens finished his career where he had nine seasons of at least 1,097 receiving yards and he would put up at least 10 touchdowns in eight different seasons on top of that. His numbers certainly put him in the all-time great discussion.
Owens had a total of 153 touchdowns in his career, which puts him third all time just three touchdowns behind the great Randy Moss. In terms of receiving yards, he would finish with 15,934 yards behind only Jerry Rice. Ranking in the top three in all-time receiving statistics should be an automatic Hall of Fame entry, but Owens has been kept out because of his attitude and lack of Super Bowl ring so far.
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