Something that hasn’t been discussed here has been the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame list of nominees.
Here is the full list, which includes mentions of the two senior committee nominees and the one contributor nominee. Those three immediately go to the final round and are considered separately. Meanwhile, the rest of the nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists.
I am going to present who I believe should be the 25 semifinalists from the above list, in order of position as they are listed.
1. Brett Favre, quarterback: I think we all know he’s getting in without much trouble.
2. Kurt Warner, quarterback: I was a proponent of him getting in last year and remain so. I would be fine with him joining Favre this year.
3. Terrell Davis, running back: We’ve discussed him countless times dating back to the days of It’s All Over Fat Man. While he is more deserving than Jerome Bettis, I wonder if more voters gravitate to him now that Bettis is in and the next best candidates are Roger Craig (who has never gained traction from voters) and Edgerrin James (who isn’t that strong of a candidate).Also, bear in mind that LaDainian Tomlinson becomes eligible in 2017, so perhaps voters will study Davis more closely. Keep your fingers crossed.
4. Roger Craig, running back: He was a quality pass-catching back before such backs became popular. I’m not certain if he counts as somebody who was ahead of his time, but his case is worth discussing.
5. Edgerrin James, running back: What the heck, he made it that far last year.
6. Marvin Harrison, wide receiver: He’s made the finalist round three straight years. This might be the year he gets in now that Tim Brown is in, but we’ll see.
7. Terrell Owens, wide receiver: Say what you want about his attitude, but there’s no questioning his dominance. I suspect it will take a couple of ballots for him to get in, but I believe he belongs in the HOF.
8. Isaac Bruce, wide receiver: Part of one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. I’m not sold on him but his case is worth debating.
9. Torry Holt, wide receiver: The other half of the Rams duo. I think his case is better than Bruce’s.
10. Sterling Sharpe, wide receiver: As long as we are pounding the drums for Davis, we need to consider Sterling’s case. Just ask his brother, Shannon, and our friend Ted Bartlett about how dominant Sterling was, despite a short career.
11. Alan Faneca, offensive guard: If anyone else deserves to go in on the first ballot alongside Favre, it’s Faneca. Dominant at his position, six-time first-team All-Pro, named to nine Pro Bowls, first-team selection to the Pro Football HOF All-2000s team. Say what you want about how people gravitate toward members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but nobody can question he was one of the best at his position.
12. Orlando Pace, offensive tackle: Finalist last year and he’s got a very good HOF case. In terms of players from the Greatest Show on Turf, I think his case is better than either Bruce or Holt, even though it’s at a different position.
13. Joe Jacoby, offensive tackle: Notable lineman from those Washington Hogs. His case is worth debating, but he’s not as strong of a candidate as Faneca or Pace.
14. Kevin Mawae, center: Had a long career and was named to multiple Pro Bowls. He was a first-team selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2000s Team. I think he’s a better candidate than Jacoby.
15. Mike Kenn, offensive tackle: Overlooked for quite a few years, but he’s got a pretty good case. I doubt he’ll ever make it, though, because it’s hard to argue he was dominant at his position. I’m OK with him returning to the semifinalists.
16. Karl Mecklenburg, linebacker: He’s gained traction in recent years but he’s not quite a standout at his position. If he’s going to be a finalist, the next guy needs to get in.
17. Kevin Greene, linebacker: He has a better case than Mecklenburg, honestly. In fact, I think he’s been overlooked as much as Terrell Davis. Greene has longevity, but didn’t play often for top teams. I’ve examined his case, though, and I think he’s like Davis: The moment is past due to get him in.
18. Ty Law, cornerback: A very good defensive back with several dominant seasons. Really, when you look at those New England defenses from those first three Super Bowl wins, Law is really the only player with a good HOF case. Most of the others have a couple of great seasons, but otherwise did not stand out and were better known for being part of a quality unit.
19. John Lynch, safety: I have no problem considering his candidacy. He’s not the best among the eligible safeties, though. I think too much stock gets put into what he did for Tampa Bay and he tended to get recognized more on reputation when he was a Bronco (although he did some good things).
20. Steve Atwater, safety: This is the best of the safeties on the ballot. A first-team Pro Football Hall of Fame All-1990s first-team selection, multiple Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro awards and one of the most feared defensive backs to ever take the field. I like Lynch, but there’s no way he deserves consideration before Atwater. At least Davis is finally getting to the finalist stage, but Atwater has yet to make it and that moment is past due, for sure.
21. Darren Woodson, safety: Another defensive back with a good, but not great, case. He’s worth the debate, though.
22. Morten Andersen, kicker: I have no problem continuing to debate his candidacy. I think it’s silly to never let kickers or punters into the HOF if they truly ranked among the best.
23. Don Coryell, head coach: I wasn’t sold on his case but have warmed up to it more. I can see the influence he’s had on how the passing game grew.
24. Jimmy Johnson, head coach: I think he got overlooked before and should have been making the finalists before the next person on the list did.
25. Tony Dungy, head coach: I have no problem debating his case. The issue is people keep gravitating to the feel-good story that surrounds his career. Honestly, though, he’s not a better candidate than Johnson.
As for why certain Broncos didn’t make my semifinalist picks:
* Rod Smith: Everybody wonders why he can’t get more consideration. The problem is that, while he was the best Broncos wide receiver ever, it’s harder to argue he dominated at his position in the NFL. He was named to just three Pro Bowls and it seemed he always ranked behind others each season, many who are deserving HOF candidates. I know nobody likes to hear it, but he doesn’t have a strong case. Davis, Atwater and Mecklenburg have better cases than him.
* Tom Nalen: I think he has a good case but the decks need to be cleared of a few offensive linemen first. At the very least, Faneca and Pace need to get in. He’s not as a good of a candidate as Kevin Mawae, though I could see an argument to move him ahead of Joe Jacoby or Mike Kenn.
* Jason Elam: I like him but I’m not sure I’d call him dominant at his position.
* Mark Schlereth: Hall of Good but not Hall of Fame.
* Dan Reeves: Again, Hall of Good but not Hall of Fame.
* Clinton Portis: I’ll add him, even though he may be better known for his time in Washington. But he’s Hall of Good, not Hall of Fame.
Tomorrow, I’ll dig up a list I put together about questions to consider regarding whether or not a player is worthy of making the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I put that list together several years ago and will bring it here for everyone to discuss.