Big Decisions for the Class of 2013

2013 class

It’s that time of the year again as the NFL takes a one week break until the biggest game of the season and one of the biggest sporting events of the year. As the league takes a break from playing there are still plenty of events to look forward to. One of these events is the announcement of the new Hall of Fame Class that will enter Canton. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is not the same tight knit group as some of the hall of fames in the big leagues. It has recently become one of the more open hall of fames with close to five players entering the hall almost every year. For many this means that more than the best are getting in to the hall reducing the lore of the honour. Last year did nothing to stop this pattern though as the Pro Football Hall of Fame would induct one of the least worthy classes in its history. Many of the players who made it into the hall were very good players but considering the players they beat the majority of them did not deserve that honour. Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin, and Willie Roaf were all inducted into the hall of fame last year. The entire class was not overly impressive and when nominees like Tim Brown, Jerome Bettis, Andre Reed, Bill Parcells, and Cris Carter were all overlooked the class looked that much worse. Now the Hall enters another year with another class that seems to be loaded with more talent than most other classes. This year there will be plenty of talent looking to make the hall all with the credentials to be added to the busts in Canton. Not all of them will make it in though as there are more than enough   great players to fill this year’s hall of fame class. With so many potential candidates to enter the hall this year here are a few stories to watch for as the Pro Football Hall of Fame elects their 2013 class.


The 2012 Snubs


2012 was a strange year for the Football Hall of Fame as they would elect a number of questionable players. Yes all of them were good players but they were not the best of the best in league at their positions. That is what the hall of fame should be as it should be all about as only the best players and those who made the biggest impact on the game should be in the hall of fame. This is what made the exclusion of Jerome Bettis and Bill Parcells so strange in 2012. Jerome Bettis would retire as the sixth leading rusher in the history of the NFL but more importantly would have a major impact on the league. He would defy all odds as a man who looked like a linebacker with the feet of a wide receiver playing running back. Meanwhile Bill Parcells would represent the top coaching finalist as a longtime member of the NFL. Parcells is widely considered one of the best coaches in the history of the NFL with a 172-130-1 record and a larger than life personality. Both of these finalists from last year have had a major impact on the game and yet both were passed up in their first year of eligibility. Maybe both did not deserve a first ballot election but at least one should already be in while the other should have gone in the year after. This year they are both back on the finalist ballot and if neither are elected they may be close to entering the long list of biggest snubs in hall of fame history.


Battle of the Builders


The Pro Football Hall of Fame is not only limited to those who stepped on the field as it also honours those who made their impact in the boxes of the stadiums. The builder category is always a more difficult one to judge as they do not have records or statistics to judge them. Instead the builders are judged solely on the impact of their roles on the NFL as a whole. This year there are two builders who will be up for election into the hall of fame and they will be judged on the roles they have played as owners in the NFL. Eddie DeBartolo Jr. is one of the most successful owners in the history of the NFL. From 1977 he has owned the San Francisco 49ers and has been such an instrumental part to one of the most successful franchises in the NFL that he has been asked to introduce multiple players into the hall. He will be up against the most polarizing owners of the past few decades. In Baltimore Art Modell is the savior as he brought football back to Baltimore in 1996 after the team left for Indianapolis in 1983. In Cleveland he is a villain who stole football from one of the original cities of the NFL moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996. Both of these builders will not get into the hall this year and with Modell passing away at the beginning of the year he may get the votes. Either way one of these two should enter the hall as both have made their impact on the league.


The First Ballots


The biggest debate in almost every single year of the hall of fame is the inclusion of first ballot hall of famers. The first ballot distinction in the hall of fame is one of the most sacred of distinctions in the NFL. Making it to the hall of fame is a tremendous honour in itself as it makes you one of the best players in NFL history. One step above making it into the hall of fame is to make it into the hall of fame without any question. Players generally do not get the recognition they deserve only a few years after they retire. That means that those players who are elected to the hall of fame in their first year of eligibility have something special. It is an exclusive club that is reserved for the players that you watch and immediately know where they will end up after they retire. This year there will be four players who have a chance to join that group of the first ballot hall of famers. Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen are two very good offensive lineman with a shot but being offensive lineman is not the easiest way to get in on the first ballot. The two best chances will be two defensive lineman in Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan. Sapp was a loud mouth defensive tackle who disturbed plenty of run games while Strahan was the constantly smiling defensive end who still holds the record for most sacks in a single season. Two of the biggest personalities with plenty of statistics behind them will be the two best shots at becoming first ballot hall of famers.


Receivers Remain


Skill players are generally the most celebrated athletes in the NFL as they are the ones who get the stats. The skill players include wide receivers and for the last three years there have been three receivers who have not received their due. Andre Reed, Time Brown, and Cris Carter have all sat on the outside looking in for a long time. All three will never make it in together on the same ballot as multiple players in the same position rarely make it in together. These three receivers are also not necessarily first ballot hall of famers but they did make their impact on the NFL. Andre Reed was the top offensive weapon on a team that would make the Super Bowl four years in a row. He was Buffalo’s biggest player and was a great receiver in a period where the Bills were the best team in the AFC. Cris Carter is one of the top receivers to ever step foot on the NFL field. He would be that player who only caught touchdowns and with 130 touchdowns in his career he will once again be hoping to get that call. Time Brown was one of the most versatile players of his time with over 19,000 all-purpose yards. He would be consistent throughout his time and when the best wide receivers are mention inevitably his name comes up. All three of these receivers have been waiting to get in and as the year move on it seems more likely that none of them will get in. At least one of these receivers would already be in the hall and if they are all denied again all three will continue to be debated for years to come.


2013 Hall of Fame Finalists:
Larry Allen, G/T (Dallas Cowboys)
Jerome Bettis, RB (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Tim Brown, WR (Oakland Raiders)
Cris Carter, WR (Minnesota Vikings)
Curley Cup, DT (Kansas City Chiefs)
Edward DeBartolo Jr., Owner (San Francisco 49ers)
Kevin Greene, LB (Los Angeles Rams)
Charles Haley, DE/LB (San Francisco 49ers)
Art Modell, Owner (Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens)
Jonathan Ogden, T (Baltimore Ravens)
Bill Parcells, Head Coach (New York Giants)
Andre Reed, WR (Buffalo Bills)
Dave Robinson, LB (Green Bay Packers)
Warren Sapp, DT (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Will Shields, G (Kansas City Chiefs)
Michael Strahan, DE (New York Giants)
Aeneas Williams, CB/S (Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals)

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