The Hall of Fame is the epitome of honor in the world of any sport. These hallowed halls are filled with the absolute best players in their respective leagues. If you as a player make it, that is the ultimate validation of your years of hard work and dedication to your sport. And there is perhaps no more prestigious and publicized hall of fame than the NFL Hall of Fame. This is perhaps the most difficult Hall of Fame to enter, simply due to the fact that you are competing with thousands of potential entrants, for only seven spots a year.
There are no direct criteria for entry into the NFL Hall of Fame. The entrants are selected by a 46-person committee, which is largely made up of sportswriters. This committee selects and then votes on which players should be immortalized in the hall.
Of course, for you to get selected to the Hall of Fame, you need to be among the best of all time at your position. But sometimes that isn’t enough, especially if your name never comes up in the conversation. In fact, since the committee is full of media members, it could be argued that the popularity and publicity of a player could have a big influence on their chances to be enshrined in the hall of fame.
This list will look at some of the absolute best players of all time who, for some reason, are rarely talked about in today’s day and age. These fifteen players have resumes that suggest they belong in the Hall of Fame, but for some reason they are not talked about as much as some of their peers.
15 London Fletcher
Fletcher has been one of the consistent and steady linebackers in the history of the NFL. In fact, Fletcher never missed an NFL game and holds the all-time record for consecutive starts at the linebacker position. He also ended his career with 13 straight seasons of 100+ tackles. He was perhaps the best tackler of the 2000s, yet didn’t play in his first pro bowl until 2009. He also suffered throughout his career by playing with small market and underachieving teams, which without a doubt limited the amount of people that noticed him.
14 Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates is likely the best red zone and touchdown catching tight end of all time. Despite eight Pro Bowl appearances and theree First-Team All-Pro selections, people often never talk about him when talking about the best tight ends of all time. This is absolute craziness as he's been the Chargers best receiving option for the better part of the 2000s and is in the top 10 in receiving touchdowns for any position. There is some solid arguments for him not being the clear best, but for him to not even be mentioned in the conversation is awful.
13 Adam Vinatieri
Yes, a kicker. We believe that Adam Vinatieri will be the second pure kicker to enter the NFL Hall of Fame. Vinatieri was an instrumental part of four Super Bowl championship teams, three with the New England Patriots and one more with the Indianapolis Colts. In fact, Vinatieri is the first ever NFL player ever to be the deciding factor in two Super Bowl games, as he hit last second Super Bowl winning kicks in both 2001 and 2003. The fact he is a kicker basically guarantees he is almost never talked about, but he should be.
12 Joe Thomas
Joe Thomas is well on his way to being one of the best offensive linemen of all time. He has been in the NFL for 8 years and has made the Pro Bowl in each and every one of them; he is also a five time First-Team All-Pro. On top of that, he's never missed a game throughout his entire career. When people talk about current players who are likely to make the Hall of Fame, his name is never brought up, despite being one of the most dominant players at his position for the last decade.
11 Brian Urlacher
Brian Urlacher deserves to without a doubt be mentioned with the best linebackers of all time. During his career, he appeared in multiple Pro Bowls, won both the Defensive Rookie of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year and appeared in a Super Bowl. He was also a very marketable player, as his jersey sales were always near the top of the league. However, as soon as he retired, people seemingly stopped talking about him. With him being on nearly the same level as Ray Lewis, people should be talking about him much more than they are.
10 Champ Bailey
Champ Bailey is likely the best cornerback of the 2000s. He appeared in 12 Pro Bowls, which is more than any other cornerback in history. Throughout the mid to late 2000s, he was constantly seen as a future Hall of Famer as he should’ve been. However, once he was released from the Broncos, his stock took a big hit when he was signed by the Saints, but failed to make the team. After his retirement, people seemed to stop talking about him, which simply isn’t fair as he deserves to be talked about in the same vein as Deion Sanders and others.
9 Jimmy Smith
When the conversation about the best wide receivers in NFL history takes place, Jimmy Smith almost never comes up. This is a guy who had over 1,000 yards in all but two of his seasons with the Jags. In fact, he is in the top 20 in career receiving yards, and chances are, maybe three out of ten football fans know who he is. This could be partially due to the fact that he spent the majority of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars and thus out of the media spotlight. Also, his troubles with addiction and his stint in prison have definitely affected his chances.
8 Fred Taylor
At number eight, we have our second straight Jacksonville Jaguar. Fred Taylor was a running back with the Jaguars and perhaps was the most underrated player of the early-mid 2000s. Despite putting up seven seasons of over 1,000 yards and two with over 10 rushing TDs, Taylor only made one Pro Bowl. He is currently number 15 on the all-time list for rushing yards. These statistics alone are enough to put him through to the Hall of Fame, but the fact he played for a small market and unsuccessful team is likely to hurt him, when it shouldn’t.
7 Randall Cunningham
Cunningham is best known for his decade long stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. During that period, he had the displeasure of playing with an extremely sub-par supporting cast, but made it work. In fact, due to the fact that he was extremely mobile and agile, Cunningham led his team in rushing for four straight seasons. But the season that should propel him into the hall is his 1998 season with the Minnesota Vikings. At 35 years old, he finished as a first team All Pro and was second in the league in MVP voting. The fact that he has been eligible for years and still isn’t in is quite questionable.
6 Steve Smith
Even at 35 years old, Steve Smith is producing on the NFL field like he is ten years younger. Smith is well known as a tough, physical and brash receiver capable of getting under his opponent's skin. What most people don’t know, however, is the fact that he actually leads all active NFL players in career all-purpose yards, is 10th all-time and shows no signs of slowing down. Despite all of these numbers and accolades, he is still never included in the conversation about the best receivers alive, which is a travesty.
5 Jason Taylor
Jason Taylor enjoyed his best success as a decade long member of the Miami Dolphins. Throughout his career with the Dolphins, he made six Pro Bowls, was voted an All Pro four times and was a two time AFC Defensive Player of the Year. He is also number six on the list of most sacks in an NFL career and a former Walter Payton Man of the Year winner. With all of these accolades, it’s a shame that he is not mentioned in the same vein as other great pass rushers and defenders as often as he should.
4 Derrick Mason
From a fourth round pick to one of the best WRs in the history of the NFL, Derrick Mason came a long way. Many people know about him, but few understand just how good he was. He had eight seasons with over 1,000 yards and is number 24 on the all-time receiving yards list, ahead of Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. He also has more TDs than Irvin. Derrick Mason is a guy who gets zero respect in the Hall of Fame discussion which, as you can see by his resume, is completely unfair.
3 Richard Seymour
Coming in at number three on this list is Richard Seymour. Like other DTs, Seymour's numbers aren’t going to jump off the page and demand a Hall of Fame bid, but his play on the field should. Seymour was a seven-time Pro Bowler, a three-time First-Team All Pro and was perhaps the best defensive player on the Patriots during their early 2000s domination. Once Seymour moved on from the Pats to the Raiders, people seemed to forget just how dominant he was. We feel that the conversation should be started again about how good this guy was.
2 Isaac Bruce
As a member of the “Greatest Show on Turf,” which was the name given to the fantastic St. Louis Rams offense of 1999-2001, Bruce is one of the best WRs of all time. Though he does get some respect as a good receiver, he deserves more. Bruce is 4th on the all-time receiving yards list, 8th in all-time receptions and 11th in all time TD catches. With a resume like that, Bruce deserves to be mentioned as one of the best receivers in history, and you almost never hear his name in those conversations.
1 Charles Woodson
Coming in at number one on the list of future HOFers who aren’t talked about enough is Safety/CB Charles Woodson. Woodson is an eight-time Pro Bowler, three-time First-Team All Pro and a Defensive Player of the Year award winner. He is 11th on the all-time interceptions and is the only player in NFL history to have more than 60 interceptions and more than 20 sacks. Despite all of this information, he is still constantly left out of the conversation for best DB of all-time. With guys like Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu always being mentioned as the best, he deserves to have his name in that discussion.
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