2014 Hall of Fame Preview

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame is not known as one of the most exclusive Hall of Fames in the world as the classes continue to be large. The Pro Football Hall of Fame continues to grow by wide margins. 5-6 players continue to make it in every year but every year it becomes harder to say that some players don’t deserve it. A new era is coming in the Hall of Fame as there seems to be more stars than ever up for election to the Hall of Fame. The new era in the Hall of Fame will coincide with the beginning of another era in the NFL. The NFL would begin to build their brand in the 1970s when they would start their walk to becoming the biggest league in North America. The NFL was always popular but it wasn’t until the 1970s when they truly took the lead in North American sports. The Super Bowl became an unofficial holiday and Sundays became a day of football. As the NFL grew their sport they looked to find new ways to continue their growth throughout the world. This would bring the NFL’s love of building up the players that they believe should be the faces of the NFL. That would start more and more in the 1990s and the 2000s as more players would be shown as the faces of the sport. Along with the marketing the players would continue to get better and training would increase. The level of play would step up significantly in the last two decades of the NFL and that is beginning to reflect in the Hall of fame classes. With more great players eligible every year it is becoming increasingly hard to elect those players that have yet to make it in. There are legendary players with folklore surrounding them that have yet to earn a spot in the hall. That is only because there are new players on the ballot every year that have the stats and the story to earn a bust in Canton. It has become a constant debate and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon with more legends coming soon. The 2014 finalists could be a way to clean out those holdovers from previous years and make way for some 100% first ballot Hall of Famers coming in the next few years. Still there is a host of first ballot stars for the 2014 class and it will not be an easy choice for the football writers. There are a number of players who missed out last year or have been waiting for years to get in and they will have to compete with a whole new cast of potential hall of famers. The 2014 class will once again be a tough decision and because of that will likely be another big class in a reflection of the era of football that continues on today with great players and great stories winning the hearts of the writers and the fans.

 

Kickers are People too

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It is a constant joke in the NFL and in football in general as many football fans and players forget about the kickers. They are the players on the field that play one play at a time and are only used in big situations. They can be the heroes of a game or can be the goats of the game. Any way you cut it though the kickers are never respected as they are considered soccer players in a different sport. They do not hit and when they try usually fail miserably and when they get hit it is a penalty after some embellishment meaning they are not truly a part of this physical game. This attitude towards the position has carried over to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as the football writers have yet to elect a kicker. It is hard to determine how a kicker can earn a spot in the hall of fame as they are not on the field very often and can only score points once in a while. A kicker can only be judged by their average kicks or punts and how often they are put in big situations and come through. With no measure of a great kicker or punter there are still a number of people waiting to see the first ever kicker to make it into the Hall of fame. This year Morten Andersen and Ray Guy will continue their attempts to change the way people view kickers and make it into the hall. Andersen is one of the greatest and longest lasting placekickers in NFL history and if a kicker was to make it into the hall it would be him. Ray Guy is widely considered the greatest punter in NFL history and has been a player that many considered to be a hall of famer but has yet to find his way to Canton. Both Andersen and Guy are once again finalists for the Class of 2014 and both will be looking to get their own bust in the hall to change the views of the NFL kicker.

 

The Holdovers

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Last year there were two glaring omissions from the hall of fame class and both are back to get some revenge. For one the wait has been very brief while the other has been waiting for a while to get his call. Last year Michael Strahan would see his first chance to make it into the Hall of fame and with a record for sacks in a season he seemed to be a lock. The stats seemed good enough to get Strahan in to the hall but add a Super Bowl ring and a great attitude and he seemed like a lock. He looked like he would make it on the first ballot but with a battle between him and Warren Sapp would be the downfall for Strahan. Instead of becoming a first ballot Hall of Famer Michael Strahan would sit and see his name missing on the final ballot. Now he enters his second year on the ballot and will be looking to capture what he hoped to capture last year and earn a bust in the Hall of Fame. Jerome Bettis has waited a while longer than Strahan and will enter his fourth year of eligibility. Bettis is not the same for sure candidate as Strahan as he has good stats but not great stats and has one Super Bowl ring. Still Bettis is one of the few players that any fan of the NFL cannot remove from the history of the league. He is “The Bus” and one of the most unusual running backs in the history of the NFL .His massive frame would make him a north-south runner that loved to punish people for trying to take him down. Yet his feet were much more like an east-west runner and would make people miss. He was a running back that would change the perception of running backs and for that many people believe he should be in the Hall of Fame. He will join Strahan and many more players who have been passed over for their chance to enter Canton and all will be waiting for the announcement to see if they get their shot.

 

The New Trio

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For a long time there were three people who continued to make the hall of fame finalist ballot and yet could not find their way to the halls of Canton. Year after year there would be plenty of talk about who was the best receiver out of the finalists but more often than not it was another receiver or another player that would get the nod. So sat Tim Brown, Andre Reed, and Cris Carter waiting for their chance to put on that yellow jacket. All three receivers were great in their time on the field but all three would have their own faults that kept them away from the hall. With something going against each one of the players they would find themselves passed over for better talent with less debate. Then last year one of them would finally break through as Cris Carter would earn his spot in the Hall of Fame in the Class of 2013. Left behind were Tim Brown and Andre Reed as they would stay on the finalist ballot again in 2014. With Cris Carter gone they will add another member to remain a trio. Marvin Harrison will enter his first year of eligibility in 2014 but he is not considered a sure thing. Harrison would be a great receiver in his time and would gain a lot from playing with Peyton Manning and being his top receiver. Harrison would be a great player in the 2000s with the Colts and was always a top receiver but there is something about him that makes it questionable whether he belongs in the hall of fame. He can sometimes be forgettable when talking about the best receivers of all time and that is never good for someone trying to get into the hall as Canton is full of those players that you cannot forget when talking about the history of the league. Now Harrison joins Tim Brown and Andre Reed as the trio of receivers that may have a hard time getting in but will always have some backing them and will always lead to a big debate.

 

The Defensive Battle

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The NFL has quickly become an offensive league above all else but there is still a lot of love for the defence. After all defence wins championships and there are still defensive stars coming every season to make an impact. That has been true for years as defensive players have continued to take the imaginations of the fan base. That will continue into the 2014 hall of fame class as a number of big defensive players will be up for election this year. There will be plenty of debate among them too as many times there are limited spots for similar players. There will rarely be a multiple receivers or defensive lineman in one hall of fame class and that can be said for defensive and offensive players as there will never be too many of each. This is often a result of these players being compared directly against each other and only a few of them actually come out on top. This year there will be plenty of players to compare as Michael Strahan will be joined by fellow holdovers John Lynch, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Aenaes Williams, and first ballot nominee Derrick Brooks. Out of all of these players there will be a few that make it but some will fall victim to the comparisons once again. Kevin Greene and Derrick Brooks will likely fight with each other to find out who is the better linebacker and only one may find their way to the hall. John Lynch and Aenaes Williams will do the same as only one will be able to make it this year while Strahan battles Charles Haley. These defensive players are all looking to get their bust in the hall of fame but they will likely cannibalize themselves as not all will make it in this year. As good as all of these players are there will only be a few that will make it and will represent the defensive side of the game for 2014. It will lead to plenty of debate this year as the comparisons will be plenty but only a few will make it.

 

Those without Equipment

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Every year the players take the focus when the hall of fame finalists are announced but there is another section of the hall that does not always get the same attention. The hall of fame elects those people who had an impact on the game without putting on equipment in the coaching and builder categories. These categories feature some of the most important people in NFL history and they have had a massive impact on the game. They meet the most important requirement to earn a spot in the hall of fame as there are many who could not be removed from the history of the NFL. This year there will be two that will hope to earn a bust in Canton and solidify their spot among the most important figures in NFL history. Eddie DeBartolo Jr. is one of these people as he will see another year trying to get into the hall. As the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers DeBartolo would bring about one of the best franchises in NFL history. He would help the team to be one of the model franchises in the NFL. Joining him this year as another contributor without pads will be Tony Dungy in his first year of eligibility. Tony Dungy was one of the best coaches in the league and has become the definition of a player coach. Always calm and collected Dungy would never yell at his players and was beloved by everyone he coached. He would also help the Indianapolis Colts to one of the most successful periods ever alongside Peyton Manning. Both of these contributors will look to earn a bust in the hall of fame this year and they both deserve it. They will represent the other side of the game and showcase the people who may not go out and hit people every Sunday but still have an impact. They are just as important as the players as they cannot be removed from NFL history and hopefully get their spot to be forever enshrined in the halls of Canton.

 

Class of 2014 Finalists:
Morten Andersen, K (New Orleans Saints)
Jerome Bettis, RB (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Derrick Brooks, LB (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Tim Brown, WR (Oakland Raiders)
Edward DeBartolo Jr., Owner (San Francisco 49ers)
Tony Dungy, Coach (Indianapolis Colts)
Kevin Greene, LB (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Ray Guy, P (Oakland Raiders) [Senior Nominee]
Charles Haley, DE/LB (Dallas Cowboys)
Marvin Harrison, WR (Indianapolis Colts)
Claude Humphrey, DE (Atlanta Falcons) [Senior Nominee]
Walter Jones, T (Seattle Seahawks)
John Lynch, S (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Andre Reed, WR (Buffalo Bills)
Will Shields, G (Kansas City Chiefs)
Michael Strahan, DE (New York Giants)
Aenaes Williams, CB/S (Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals)

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