As Ryan already noted, it was no shock that Jerome Bettis was not selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame last Saturday in his first year of eligibility.
What was a little surprising was that fellow tailback Curtis Martin did not get in on his first year of eligibility and how in the hell did that committee not have Bettis as one of their 10 finalists? He was among the five best players eligible, but most assumed he would not be selected on first ballot due to the first-year eligibility of other star tailbacks Marshall Faulk (who was selected) and Martin.
Moreover, how do they include receiver Andre Reed in their top 10, but not superior wide outs such as Tim Brown or Cris Carter? It is almost as if that committee does not look at stats or talent, and instead focuses on hazing some players with longer waits, particularly receivers
Unfortunately, I now can foresee Jerome lasting until the 2013 class, which would be absurd to make the 5th-leading rusher in NFL history wait till his third time as a finalist.
I am much more concerned about former Steeler center great Dermontti Dawson, in large part because ex-Saints’ tackle Willie Roaf did not get in this year, which was the big shock for HOF fanatics like myself. If he does not get in over the next couple of years, Dawson could end up like former Dolphins’ guard Bob Kuchenberg, an eight-time finalist who never was selected. Of course, Dawson was a superior player and had a better resume compared to Kuchenberg.
Incidentally, have you ever been to Canton? If not, consider it a pilgrimage to Mecca that you must make. I would take a trip to the Hall of Fame over any exotic foreign land anytime.
Further clouding Dawson’s prospects is that there is a wave of HOF-quality offensive linemen in ensuing years with Will Shields eligible in 2012, and Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen in 2013. Ogden, who is arguably the second best blindside tackle of all-time behind Anthony Munoz, is a first-ballot lock.
Shields (12 Pro Bowls, 9-time All Pro) and Allen (11 Pro Bowls, 6-time All Pro) are probably more worthy of the HOF than Dawson (7 Pro Bowls, 6-time All Pro) due to similar levels of dominance but much longer careers. Still, hopefully they will make those two guards (a position not loved by HOF voters) wait several years, allowing Dawson to get in sooner.
But will the committee take two offensive linemen in the same year? Roaf seems likely to be enshrined in 2012 and Ogden in 2013, meaning Dawson would not get in until at least 2014 unless they double-up on offensive linemen in one year.
The hope is that two go in one year, and it sure would be a great weekend if Dawson and Bettis were enshrined together, although the committee rarely picks two players from the same team in the same class.
The Veterans Committee will get its two deserving players each year, but why is it that the committee cannot also add one spot each year for non-players? Ed Sabol is a great HOF selection. But he has been eligible for 50 years, was never a finalist until this fall, but gets in on his first attempt at the age of 95 over the likes of Bettis, Roaf and Brown in arguably the deepest group of finalists ever?
This is not how I would pick them and certainly not based on statistics, but based on this year’s balloting, I see the next few classes as follows (with years as a HOF finalist in parentheses; Note: Some players, like Dawson and Charles Haley, have been eligible longer but were not finalists in other years):
DE Charles Haley (3)
DT Cortez Kennedy (4)
TB Curtis Martin (2)
WR Andre Reed (6)
OT Willie Roaf (2)
RB Jerome Bettis (3)
WR Tim Brown (4)
OT Jonathan Ogden (1)
DT Warren Sapp (1)
OG Will Shields (2)
LB Derrick Brooks (1)
WR Cris Carter (7)
C Dermontti Dawson (6)
DE Michael Strahan (2)
Paul Tagliabue (6)
OG Larry Allen (3)
RB Roger Craig (6)
LB Junior Seau (1)
QB Kurt Warner (1)
DE Chris Doleman (6)
QB Brett Favre (1)
WR Marvin Harrison (3)
S John Lynch (4)
Bill Parcells (4)