Pro Football Hall of Fame Preview


As the Super Bowl approaches with the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks looking to finish off another NFL season with a win. As these teams prepare to become the next Super Bowl Champion some time is taken to reflect on the past as the Pro Football Hall of Fame decides on their new class. Super Bowl weekend is a celebration of the sport as the biggest show in North American sports highlights the look back to the NFL and the people who got them to this point. After some debate the voting members of the Hall of Fame have narrowed the list down to only a few that will be eligible to enter the Hall as a part of the Class of 2015. As usual there is always a mix of players with builders, coaches, new nominees and those that have been sitting beside their phones for the last few years. This year the potential class is not necessarily the one with the most star power as many of the nominees this year have something that could hold them back. Earning a bust in the Hall of Fame is certainly not an easy task as Canton is meant for the best of the best in the NFL. That means that the voters have to decide on much more than stats to determine if someone belongs in the Hall. Many times those players that are first ballot hall of famers are the ones that you immediately look at and think that they are going to Canton when their career is over. There is little debate aside from the usual negative thoughts that creep in with every player. Those types of players are the ones that find their way quickly to the Hall of Fame but this year’s finalists have many more holes in their game than the usual first balloters. This year there seem to be no locks among the finalists although there are plenty of arguments for many of the potential hall of famers. There are also plenty of arguments against the list of finalists as all have a few knocks against them that could see them not make it. This year’s finalists are not the strongest group and therefore it might be the best year for some of the players that have been waiting to get into Canton. They may find their way in as the best of the batch while others will be forced to wait for another year. Altogether it makes for one interesting year in the Hall of Fame as no one player seems to be a lock for the Hall of Fame though none of the Finalists are bad decisions in the hall. The debate will continue long after the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is announced. Then again what class is announced without a little debate on who made it in and who was left out in the newest group of hall of famers.

the-buildersThere are some distinct divisions in the Hall of Fame finalists and one is for the men who win championships and yet never step on the field. This year there are two men up for election in that category and both had a history of success although it was a short period for both. Ron Wolf was the architect of the Super Bowl XXXI champion Green Bay Packers. For the city he is a legend as he broke the almost 30 year drought in the place they call title town. It was a chance for the legendary team that won the first two Super Bowls to get back on top. He was also the man who traded for one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Brett Favre. It was his insight that saw a backup quarterback in Atlanta and thought that he could be a viable option for the future of Green Bay football. That insight, plus an injury to the starter, led to 14 years of football three MVPs and a Super Bowl. The problem for him is that he only had one Super Bowl and despite the team that he put together to win that Super Bowl it may not be enough to put him into the hall. Joining Wolf in the Builders category is Bill Polian who himself built a Super Bowl winning team. Polian was the architect of the 2006 Super Bowl Champions that gave Peyton Manning his first and only Super Bowl championship. It was a dominant team that Polian had built as helped the team win seven AFC South Championships and two Super Bowls as the GM and President of the team. The biggest issue was that he built a team largely based around Peyton Manning which came to light when Manning left. They were successful but only won a single Super Bowl each and for that they may not find their way to the Hall of Fame, although one Super Bowl is one more than most have and there is an argument for both men to earn a bust in Canton.

the-coachesThere are always plenty of potential coaches for the Hall of Fame in every year’s finalists but this year there are some big names. Not all are new to the Hall of Fame race either as two of the three coaching candidates have been waiting for their chance. For Don Coryell it has been a long wait as he retired in 1986 and since 1991 has been eligible for induction. The creator of “Air Coryell” and the man who many could point to as a precursor of the air raid in the NFL remains on the outside waiting for his chance to earn a bust. Joining him in that position is Jimmy Johnson who was one of the architects to “America’s Team” and has been one of the most colourful characters in the NFL. The new man to the team is Tony Dungy who will enter his first year of eligibility as one of the most consistent coaches in the NFL. All three of them have plenty of accomplishments including fur total Super Bowls, Coryell never won the big game. They are all considered to be some of the greatest coaches of their eras and they are all hoping to get the call to the hall. For Coryell it has been a long wait and despite his influence on the modern era it seems like he cannot get a lot of respect. Meanwhile Johnson is one of the more recognizable figures in the NFL and yet his time with the Cowboys does not seem to be enough for the committee to put him in the hall. The jury is still out on Dungy though as he enters the voting process for the first time and as a finalist. That could be a sign that he will get a bust in Canton but any of these coaches can get that honour. It will all be a matter of the committee finally giving a shot to the veterans of the process or believing that Dungy’s accomplishments on the sidelines trump those of his peers.

the-first-ballotersThey are the most debated group of Hall of Famers in every single class as they elicit the most conversation. The first balloter Hall of Famers are a unique group that should come down to a simple eyeball test from anyone who knows football. Fans and analysts alike should be able to look at a player and determine if they belong in the Hall of Fame. The group of first balloters this year are a mix of different players with plenty of stories behind them. There is Orlando Pace who was one of the most dominant offensive tackles in the NFL and had been dominant throughout his high school, college, and professional career. Then there is the stock boy turned Super Bowl champion in Kurt Warner who had a brief but very successful career in St. Louis and Arizona. Joining these three will be a linebacker that will not be able to see his own induction after tragedy struck Junior Seau a few years ago. All three are great players but again some have doubted the validity of them being inducted in their first year. Pace is likely the one out of these three that is a lock for the Hall of Fame this year as there is little to argue against him. Seau is another potential lock for his amazing years on the field and partly due to his tragic story that ended the life of one of the greatest defensive players in the NFL. Warner is the biggest question mark this year for the first ballot finalists as he was a great quarterback but the great part of his career was short-lived. His stats are not necessarily the greatest, he is not inside the top 20 of the most passing yards and is outside of the top 30 in touchdown passes, but he turned around two franchises and has one Super Bowl. The first balloters are a good group again this year but not all are guaranteed to make it which is sure to bring something up when the class is announced.

the-returneesThe first ballot Hall of Famers are the most debated group in every class when it comes time to decide that year’s class. Throughout the rest of the year that most debated group could be those players that are past their first ballot. These are the returnees who stay on the ballot after their first year and go through the process. More debate circulates when it comes time for a player that has been on the ballot year after year and remains on the outside of Canton. That is true for four of the highest profiles returnees in this year’s finalists. All of these players have been considered locks for the Hall of fame but as their careers are scrutinized it is seen that they may not be sure bets any longer. Still there is plenty of reasons for them to make the Hall of Fame and after waiting for years it may be time for some of them. The group this year includes Jerome Bettis who was one of the last workhorse running backs in the league. He is also one of the biggest as he never looked like a running back but had the feet to become a consistent force for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Another running back has been debated for years now as Terrell Davis tries to find his way in on the back of some of the greatest playoff performances by a running back despite the fact that his career was cut short. There is also the last remaining member of the triplet receivers, Tim Brown, who remains after Cris Carter and Andre Reed earned their spots in the hall in the last two years. Finally there is the wild man Kevin Greene who was a top linebacker for the Steelers and remains on the outside of Canton. No matter if any or none of these players makes the Hall of Fame the debate regarding these four players will continue. Some will say those elected don’t deserve it while others will debate why certain players never got in and that debate will continue.


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