Posted August 02, 2013

Pro Football Hall of Fame: 12 favorites to join the 2014 class

Hall of Fame
Michael Strahan, the single-season sack king, failed to make the Hall last year.

Michael Strahan, the single-season sack king, failed to make the Hall last year. (Al Tielemans/SI)

The 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame class officially takes its place on Saturday night in Canton, Ohio. Which means that it is not too early to look ahead to 2014.

The first-ballot nominees next year include Shaun Alexander, Derrick Brooks, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison and Zach Thomas. Those players will join a long list of candidates for induction, including some perceived snubs from this year’s class, like Tim Brown and Charles Haley.

So, who will get the Hall nod next August? Here’s a look at a dozen of the most likely possibilities:

Jerome Bettis: “The Bus” is sixth on the league’s all-time list for rushing yards, lest you only remember him from later in his career. In addition to winning a ring in Super Bowl XL, Bettis was the 1993 Offensive Player of the Year and 1996 Comeback Player of the Year. He topped 1,000 yards eight different times during his 13-year career, which spanned three seasons in St. Louis and 10 in Pittsburgh. Bettis also sits 10th on the career rushing TDs totem pole, with 91. He will not ease into the Hall of Fame, but he certainly has a convincing case.

Derrick Brooks: The only real mystery regarding Brooks’ Hall of Fame future is if he’ll be a first-ballot entry in 2014. As much as Dungy’s Tampa-2 revolutionized the NFL, the former coach may not have enjoyed nearly as much success with the Bucs had Brooks not helped alter the way we think about 4-3 outside linebackers. Brooks was an 11-time Pro Bowler and member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team. He was one of the greatest defenders of his generation, hands down.

Tim Brown: You can find much more on Brown’s quest for the Hall in Andrew Lawrence’s piece on The MMQB. Brown watched Cris Carter earn an induction last year, and he may be next in line at a crowded receiver spot. Few in NFL history have been more exciting to watch than Brown, who racked up nearly 15,000 yards receiving in his career (he’s fifth all-time in catches and yards) to go with more than 4,500 return yards. He did himself no favors last January, hinting that ex-Oakland head coach Bill Callahan “sabotaged” Super Bowl XXXVIII, which Tampa Bay won by 27.

Don Coryell: Will Coryell’s coaching record, which included zero conference championships or Super Bowl in 14 years, offset the impact he’s made to the game as a whole? Odds are that Coryell, whose “Air Coryell” attack laid roots for a lot of the offense we see around the league now, will find his way into Canton eventually. Will his time come in 2014?

Eddie DeBartolo, Jr.: The extremely influential former owner of the 49ers, DeBartolo oversaw five Super Bowl championships in the 1980s and ’90s, when his team became one of the great NFL dynasties. Perhaps holding him back? DeBartolo’s guilty plea on a felony charge of failing to report an extortion attempt back in 1998.

Tony Dungy: Dungy finished his coaching career 70 games over .500 (139-69), with an all-important Super Bowl title. Perhaps more importantly, he helped devise and implement the now famous Tampa-2 defense, which continues to play a critical role in coaching schemes league-wide. That Dungy remains a well-liked and extremely well-respected presence around the NFL certainly will not damage his Hall of Fame case.

Charles Haley: A ferocious pass-rusher, both as an outside linebacker and defensive end, Haley earned five Pro Bowl nods and won five Super Bowl rings (three with Dallas, two with San Francisco). His 100.5 sacks rank only 27th on the all-time list, so he does not have the case there that, say, Michael Strahan does. Still, Haley was an integral part of a pair of two NFL dynasties.

Marvin Harrison: Another of the first-ballot contenders in 2014, along with Brooks and Dungy. Harrison and Peyton Manning were as recognizable a WR-QB combo as there has been in league history, with Harrison catching 1,103 passes in his career — 965 coming after Manning took over as the Colts’ QB in 1998. Harrison topped 100 catches in four straight seasons, from 1999-2002, topping out with an NFL record 143 in ’02. (Wes Welker, with 123, is the next closest to that mark.) Harrison finished his career third all-time in receptions and eighth in yards receiving. The debate over Harrison, Brown and Andre Reed ought to be a fascinating one.

Andre Reed: Reed has to be storing up some pretty strong karma, right? He was part of those Bills teams that lost four straight Super Bowls and now he’s been denied Hall entry despite being named a finalist seven times. Can he get in before Brown? Reed made it to less Pro Bowls (seven) and sits lower on the all-time list than Brown in both catches (11th) and yards receiving (12th).

Will Shields: Another guy who has to get in eventually, Shields took over as the Chiefs’ starting right guard in Week 2 of the 1993 and never left that spot until he retired after the 2006 season — a span of 223 consecutive starts. Shields was one of the most dominant interior linemen the NFL ever saw, as evidenced by 12 straight Pro Bowl appearances from 1995-06. Now that Larry Allen has his bust at the Hall, Shields should get his turn.

Michael Strahan: If the informal Hall voting recently conducted by Bleacher Report’s Michael Schottey is any indication, Strahan is a virtual lock. Schottey asked 13 football minds, including yours truly and SI.com producer Tom Mantzouranis, for their ’14 Hall picks. Strahan received 12 votes, easily surpassing anyone else’s total. Strahan, owner of the league’s single-season sack mark at 22.5 and the 2001 Defensive Player of the Year, was a Hall finalist in 2013 but just missed out on entry.

Aeneas Williams: A lot of people may not realize just how special Williams was, but he rightfully earned a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1990s, behind only Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson. Williams made eight Pro Bowls and picked off 55 career passes. He was a dominant cover man for the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, prior to finishing his career in St. Louis.

Other names to remember for 2014: Morten Anderson, Steve Atwater, Roger Craig, Terrell Davis, John Lynch, Art Modell, Paul Tagliabue

55 comments
GKirkZuk
GKirkZuk

THE HALL SHOULD BE FOR PLAYERS. THAT INCLUDES COACHS MOST HAVE PLAYED. BUT OWNERS, THEY HAVE BEEN SCREWING PLAYER FOR YEARS.Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. HE CAN BRING HIS PAROLE OFFICER TO INTRODUCE HIM.HE GOING IN BEFORE BETTIS AND STRAHAN. WHY BECAUSE HE WAS BORN RICH>>>>>PLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSEEEEEEEE

M.J.Zaragoza
M.J.Zaragoza

What about Quarterback Jim Plunkett???1970 Heisman Trophy winner,1971 UPI AFL-AFC Rookie of the year, only quarterback in history to start and win two Superbowls, Superbowl XV and XVIII for the Oakland Raiders!!! Troy Aikman, George Blanda,Dan Fouts,Otto Graham,Sonny Jorgenson, Jim Kelly, Warren Moon,Y.A.Tittle,Norm van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield although each is respectively great "NONE" of them have a single Superbowl Championship to their name,and they have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, Plunkett has two!!!!! There are some that have only one  Superbowl to their name and they are in!!!! Why has this incredible talent, year after year been constantly overlooked!!!!

JoshColeman
JoshColeman

This list became a joke when you left Walter Jones off of it. I mean really? He's arguably the best Left Tackle of ALL TIME! I know there's east coast biased but this is a crock. He better be a first ballot HOF or the HOF voting process is a joke. I hope they don't have a major oversight like this list.

JohnStorck
JohnStorck

Come on guys. Haley was a 3d down specialist and a locker room cancer. I'm not sure why he gets love except he played on Super Bowl teams and was on TV a lot. Here's the tale of the tape between him and Strahan, who never came off the field: Strahan 141.5 sacks, 854 tackles vs Haley 100.5 sacks and 498 tackles. If you're going to boost a DE who played on Super Bowl teams, then put LC Greenwood, Too Tall Jones and Harvey Martin in ahead of him.  Too Mean had 23 sacks in '77 in a 14 game season by the way, but they didn't keep stats back then.

John4
John4

Charles Haley was one of the best OLBs or DEs of his generation.  He played at about 245 lbs, but never seemed to be overpowered by an OT who was typically 50 to 80 lbs heavier.  He was a consummate defender and is the only player in NFL history to win the SB five times.  He is very deserving of being voted into the Hall of Fame.  

retsub
retsub

Someone never mentioned who was a Pro Bowler at DT,DE & NT.....Joe Klecko.

GYK86
GYK86

Terrell Davis is one of my favorite players, but he isn't going to make it.  I'd love to see him get there, but he just couldn't stay healthy to play long enough.  Few more years and he would have had a shot, but I think he'll have to settle for what he's got (which is still quite impressive)

gammelnok
gammelnok

Morten AndersEn

Gary Anderson

2001mark
2001mark

Brooks, Harrison, Williams, Dungy, Brown, & Haley would have my votes.

MichaelD'Itri
MichaelD'Itri

Of the top ten rushers of all time, the Bus is the only eligible candidate not enshrined...travesty...period.


6marK6
6marK6

Will say it again, to get in the MLB HOF you have to be elite, To get in the NFL HOF you have to have been pretty good for a few years,

ultimateman55
ultimateman55

No mention of Brooks' Defensive Player of the Year award in 2002, when he won the Super Bowl?

Brooks should get in next year, without a doubt. If he doesn't make it next year, it will only diminish what it means to be a first ballot hall of famer. 

AllISeeIsGold
AllISeeIsGold

Brain Mitchell, second most yards from scrimmage in NFL history, 7 less years then rice, nuff said

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

Paul Tagliabue, Roger Craig, Don Coryell, Charles Haley, and Marvin Harrison.

GusRandall
GusRandall

Way to bury the lead on Dungy's record. "70 games over .500 (139-69)" emphasizes ".500" which makes it sound like he's barely over 500.  138-69 is a 2-1 winning ratio.  I don't mind doing math but poor Tony would be better served by readers not having to do it.

scottsmith377
scottsmith377

This article is a total FAIL without Walter Jones on it.  I mean, really?  The best offensive lineman of his entire generation not on this list is ridiculous.  I'll assume it was just an oversight. (And yes, he IS eligible in next year, look it up).

RaySeva
RaySeva

Don Coryell: The ONLY person in history to win 100 games in College (San Diego State)...AND the NFL.
'Nuff Said. He belongs in the HOF.

unkleskillz
unkleskillz

Really??!! No Walter Jones??!!  He only gave up 8 sacks in 12 seasons.  And only 10 holding calls.  In 12 seasons!! 

DavidPotterII
DavidPotterII

Jerry Kramer would be part of the veterans part of the HOF vote. 

JonathanBrakke
JonathanBrakke

Walter Jones anyone??? He's eligible for 2014 and I think he's guaranteed to get in

John4
John4

@retsubJoe Klecko was a good DL and a good teammate.  He was a very good football player who gave everything he had on every play.  He was a member of the famed "New York Sack Exchange" along with Marty Lyons, Abdul Salaam and of course, Mark Gastineau.  Klecko had 24 career sacks, along with 5 seasons where sacks were not an official stat, so figure he had closer to 55.  He rarely played on a winning team, but did go to the AFC Championship game once where the Jets lost 14-0.  Klecko was the type of teammate you would want,and was a good football player, but HOF worthy?  No, not quite.  

David G
David G

@GYK86 Using your logic then Gale Sayers should not be there at all.  TD has better career numbers and 2 Championships. 

LeilaniHernandez
LeilaniHernandez

@6marK6 not really. you just have to be somebody recent. there is a huge backlog of players from 60s, 70s, and 80s. more players who played recently are getting in at a faster rate.

Shooter McGavin 19711
Shooter McGavin 19711

@6marK6 Phil Rizzuto, Herb Pennock, Bill Mazeroski and about three dozen other decent but not close to elite members of the MLB Hall of Fame would disagree with you.  And so would I.

rskins09
rskins09

@AllISeeIsGold      Your right ..worth the price of admission just to see Brain play -had season tckts.. But Ray Guy will have to be voted into HOF game before Brain  has a chance ..Ray Guy SHOULD be in the HOF though ..Know Peter King has had plenty of comments in his MMQB  column  over the years concerning Ray guy being voted into HOF ....       

David2
David2

@GusRandall Oh please.  Dungy gets WAY too much love as it is, mostly because he's a nice guy and the league and media are itching for the first black head coach in the HOF.  His Colts were constant underachievers in the playoffs (where he had a LOSING record, often as the favorite), and his defensive units were usually mediocre to terrible during his tenure there.  Even the claim about "inventing the Tampa 2" is a stretch because Kiffin was just as involved in that process.  He'll get into the Hall and quickly, but it will be for all the wrong reasons. 

John4
John4

@scottsmith377 Walter had a quiet, excellent career.  HOF worthy?  Probably.  

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@scottsmith377 Yes apparently he will be, although that doesn't really make sense.  And if he is, he is getting in.  Maybe not this year, but by next year certainly. 

Loch
Loch

@RaySeva 

Coryell is deserving but, college achievements aren't a factor in pro football HOF voting

pcwhite2
pcwhite2

@GaryEby 

Roger Craig was a tremendous player for my Niners.  He should be in already.

rskins09
rskins09

@GaryEby      What's keeping roger Craig out is that fumble  against the NY Gaints in the playoffs ..Gaints recovered the fumble and went on to win that game  AND the super bowl  game...A few months later they traded Roger Craig to the Raiders ..Finished his career with the Vikings ..Roger was a great player & should be in the HOF ....BTW - he had great hands for a fullback ....

randomdeletion
randomdeletion

@unkleskillz As far as I could find, it is 9 sacks and 23 holding calls.  Which are still unbelievably outstanding numbers. He is a HOF player no doubt.  He is getting in.  This year or next. 

patsfan94
patsfan94

@JonathanBrakke He's not eligible till 2015 actually, Joens retired in 2009 while all of 2014's first ballot guys retired in 2008.  Making it actually a 6 year waiting period from your last credited season to your actual induction. 

KolnerGiant
KolnerGiant

@David2 @GusRandall My first criteria for the HOF is for people that revolutionized the game.  While I am not a huge fan of Dungy as a coach, In that respect, the impact of the Tampa-2 defense cannot be denied (the same can be said about Air Coryell).  My next criteria is "were they a complete player?" A sack specialist that wasn't great against run better be a record holder to have an impact on the game.  Just my two cents.

LeilaniHernandez
LeilaniHernandez

@David2 @GusRandall you have your facts wrong. fritz pollard is the first black coach in the hall although art shell got in first but before he actually became the coach.

GusRandall
GusRandall

@David2 @GusRandall My critique was not in support of Dungy but rather merely chastising the writing.  When people talk about "X games over .500" it nearly always means "he's ONLY X games over .500" - as in "he doesn't have a very good record."  The writer's intention was to make the case that Dungy was a strong candidate for the HOF next year.  Therefore, he shouldn't have used that phrase to describe Dungy's win percentage which he believed that it supported Dungy's candidacy.  I work with data and nit-pick about how people can take a perfectly good bit of analysis and ruin it in their report.

David2
David2

@LeilaniHernandez  Both Pollard and Shell were inducted as players, not coaches.  Dungy will be the first black head coach to go into the Hall for his coaching and not playing career.  The voters specifically do not consider the contributions of both careers when voting on a nominee that played AND coached.  They are voted on either as a player or coach, whichever is the stronger case.

David2
David2

@GusRandall  I see that now.  I guess I took the "poor Tony" phrase to indicate a significant level of support along with your critique of the way in which the stat was framed.

rskins09
rskins09

@Josh H @rskins09 @GaryEby      Craig was a small fullback ..years ago the NFL would list  FB  or HB , now they don't ..Whatever, he should be in ..Remember rathman to ..He always had a pile of dirt at the top of his facemask during games ..John Madden would always mention that about 50 X a game ..