Gut Reaction: Well, Look Who’s In The HOF

No, you are not dreaming, Bronco fans. Terrell Davis is finally a Hall of Famer.

To be honest, I thought he’d have to wait a year, given the presence of LaDainian Tomlinson, a worthy HOFer, too. Instead, it sounds like voters were more swayed to give Davis the nod that’s past due.

We all know the HOF voting process is greatly flawed, mostly because voters don’t really know what to do with the players before them, ranging from thinking too much about “but he’s such a nice guy!” to “I don’t know how to evaluate this player/position.” We know about some of the players who got in because of the former when they weren’t really HOFers (I’ll let you name the names) while the latter is why so many Broncos who are deserving haven’t gotten in yet (Randy Gradishar and Karl Mecklenburg were “jack of all trades” players who were strong overall but didn’t dominate a given statistical category, while Steve Atwater was a safety, a position that doesn’t always have the glamorous stats that make cornerbacks enticing candidates). And it may be worth asking if there needs to be an expanded HOF class in certain years to clear the backlog of worthy candidates, as has been suggested by none other than Jim Saccomano, per discussions with Andrew Mason.

With all that said, the cream eventually does rise to the top and Davis has been enshrined. If you remember my questions to consider for Pro Football HOF inclusion, you know that Davis fits the bill, as does Tomlinson and two other candidates, Kurt Warner and Kenny Easley, the latter the senior committee nominee.

Regarding other candidates, though, I’ll pass on Jerry Jones because the questions are tougher to quantify with contributors. I’ll just say that I maintain my position that coaches need to be put into that category so they aren’t judged alongside the players. Doing that also opens the door to judge longtime coordinators (which would be a big help to people like, for example, Wade Phillips). I will say, though, that I’m not surprised Paul Tagliabue didn’t make the cut because there is a legitmate question to ask about his role in covering up what the NFL knew about concussions. True, he’s not the only one, but unlike his predecessor, Pete Rozelle, he didn’t have as big of an impact on the NFL. (Though I can see the counterpoint that Rozelle set a high bar as far as NFL commissioners go.)

One other thought about Jones: With him out of the way, more attention might get devoted to Pat Bowlen, so keep your fingers crossed.

Getting back to the HOF class, I never expected Jason Taylor to get in on the first ballot. He wasn’t even the best of the defenders in the final 15 — Brian Dawkins was. But here we go again with one of the biggest problems the voters have: They don’t know how to evaluate safeties. As a result, they’re gonna spend more time arguing about which safety to pick than they are to take a deeper look at the position and how it impacts the game.

As for Morten Andersen, I have never been able to figure out how to evaluate kickers by anything other than stats. I will say this, though: Andersen should not have gotten in over Terrell Owens, whether you like Owens or not. Even when you take into account my questions that include the point about character and sportsmanship, Owens fits more than enough of the remaining criteria to get in. Owens has the opposite problem of “but he’s such a nice guy!” that HOF voters think too much about.

Back to Terrell Davis and the Broncos: With one of the more deserving Broncos now in the Hall of Fame, attentions should turn to the next player who Bronco fans should push their energies behind: Randy Gradishar. From a statistical standpoint, it’s tough to do that, given the limited amount of information kept about tackles numbers, that sacks weren’t an official stat until late in his career and that some points of the game we look at today weren’t thoroughly examined back then.

But it may help to start drawing comparisons between Gradishar and other linebackers who happen to be “jack of all trades” types. One obvious example is Von Miller, who is building a HOF career as we speak. Another guy who you should compare Gradishar to is Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers, who will no doubt get HOF talk when he calls it a career. Add a third player to the pile: Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers, another one who may get HOF talk when his career winds down. All three will have sacks, tackles for loss and passes defensed, among other stats, that can be easily or somewhat easily tracked.

That might be what Bronco fans need to sit down and start arguing about to get Gradishar the senior committee consideration… even if it’s just among themselves, because you never know what information might get around and sway a voter to reconsider a stance.

In the meantime, sit back and celebrate TD’s achievement and look forward to the HOF induction ceremony in August.

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Bob Morris

I'm a sports writer in real life, though I've always focused on smaller communities, but that hasn't stopped me from learning more about some of the ins and outs of the NFL. You can follow me on Twitter @BobMorrisSports if you can put up with updates on the high school sports teams I cover.