Breaking Down the Pro Football Hall of Fame Candidates of 2014

By Tim Carroll
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports

Every February when the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee votes, there are tears of joy as well as sadness when people celebrate being elected into the Hall and others try to get over being snubbed. The Hall of Fame has been a curious thing to debate in recent years, with their seemingly high standards for wide receivers in the modern passing era, as well as their somewhat inconsistent standards for pass rushers. Here we break down all the likely candidates to be elected.

The first year eligible players include Derrick Brooks, Marvin Harrison, Rodney Harrison, Zach Thomas, Walter Jones, and Shaun Alexander along with coaches Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren. Brooks was a stud as a cover-2 outside linebacker for those great late 90s, early 2000s Tampa Bay Buccaneers teams that finally culminated in a Super Bowl victory after the 2002 season. Marvin Harrison is one half of the quarterback-wide receiver duo with the most touchdowns to their credit. Rodney Harrison is one of the hardest hitting safeties of all time, and had the size to probably play linebacker. Thomas was a monster at linebacker for years with good Miami Dolphins‘ defenses. Jones protected Matt Hasselbeck‘s blindside for years. He also paved the way for fellow candidate and 2005 MVP Shaun Alexander, who’s 28 touchdowns that year were then an NFL record. Dungy was the master of the cover-2 defense, still being credited by much of the 2002 Bucs for building that defense that finally won a title a year after Dungy left the team and then finally got his ring in 2006 with the Indianapolis Colts. And Holmgren coached those good Green Bay Packers teams of the 90s and helped Brett Favre get his only ring, as well as getting the Seattle Seahawks to their only Super Bowl appearance in 2005.

Of these candidates, Alexander is likely the weakest link. Despite his MVP award, one can look at the fact that his offensive-line was to credit as well as Holmgren’s run heavy offense. Thomas may also be discredited for being the only good linebacker on most of his teams which resulted in his high tackle totals. Wide receivers typically don’t fair well with the voters, but Harrison may get the benefit of the doubt for being so consistent, especially with his touchdown numbers in which he is fifth all-time.

Prominent returning candidates include John Lynch, Michael Strahan, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Kevin Greene, Will Shields and Andre Reed. Lynch was a key player at safety for those Bucs teams along with Brooks and 2013 inductee Warren Sapp. Strahan still holds the record for most sacks in a single season despite heavy reliance on passing nowadays and some players challenging the record in recent years. He is fifth all-time in sacks. Jerome “The Bus” Bettis will get a lot of looks again this year, as he was constantly proving the doubters wrong about being just a short-yardage back and is sixth all-time in total rushing yards. Brown is one of the all-time leaders in every receiving statistic out there. Greene is third all-time in sacks and has been snubbed for years by the voters. Shields is a 12 time Pro Bowler who paved the way for numerous running backs with the Kansas City Chiefs as well as protecting numerous quarterbacks. And last but not least, Reed who was the top receiver on those deadly Buffalo Bills offenses of the 1990s.

Of these candidates, Reed is probably the weakest candidate since he could not compile 1,000 yards receiving consistently. After him, all of these candidates are very capable and probably should and will reach the Hall of Fame at some point in time.

The Hall allows for four to seven candidates to get enshrined every year. The Top 7 who will probably get the votes in 2014 are: Derrick Brooks and teammate John Lynch, Michael Strahan, Marvin Harrison, Jerome Bettis, Will Shields and Kevin Greene. It will be hard to deny two of the best pass-rushers in NFL history, as well as these others who are no doubt viewed as all-time greats at their respective positions. Tim Brown and Andre Reed will likely continue to get snubbed. Rodney Harrison will probably get snubbed this year because he never compiled crazy interception totals and didn’t play on many good teams before getting to the New England Patriots. The others just don’t wow anybody enough. Both Dungy and Holmgren only have one Super Bowl to their name, and that will likely cost them.

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