Who Are The Next Detroit Lions Bound For Canton?
Pro Football Hall Of Fame
This Saturday night during the NFL Honors ceremony, the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee will select its 51st class to be enshrined in football's most hallowed hall.
Not only will the stars of today be celebrated for their accomplishments and accolades in the 2013 season, but the players who paved the way for these current stars to thrive will get their moment in the sun as well. And those selected Saturday will become part of the legendary players who made the NFL the spectacle that it is today.
The Detroit Lions have a good number of members who are well represented in Canton with 19 and 14 were primarily members of the Lions organization. All-Time great players like Barry Sanders, Bobby Layne, Joe Schmidt and Night Train Lane are among the best to have ever played at their respective positions.
The Lions' first enshrine was Earl "Dutch" Clark back in 1963, the Hall's first year of eligibility, and their most recent inductee was Dick LeBeau, who was enshrined in 2010 for his career as a defensive back for the Lions.
With the franchise struggling in recent memory with only one playoff win since the 1957 NFL championship, many great players for the Lions have been overlooked in history because they played for the Lions during their losing years. 2014 will be the third straight year that a Detroit Lion will not appear on the final ballot, but that doesn't mean that these players aren't good candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Trying to predict one class of inductees is difficult itself. Trying to predict who will make Canton on just one team makes the task seem impossible, but here is my attempt to try and predict the next ten Detroit Lions who will be Hall of Fame inductees.
Putting on my fortune teller cap, these are the next ten players who were former Detroit Lions that will eventually be enshrined in Canton.
10. Jason Hanson, Kicker, 1992-2012
For a period of time after Barry Sanders retired in 1998, placekicker Jason Hanson was consistently the Lions' best offensive player (showing just how bad the team was back then).
With special teams players gaining momentum in Canton (fellow kicker Morten Andersen is among the final 15 this year), Hanson made 52 field goals of 50+ yards and boasts an 82.4 field goal percentage in his 20 seasons.
Hanson was a two-time Pro Bowler as kicker of the Lions.
9. Wayne Walker, Linebacker, 1958-1972
Wayne Walker played alongside Hall of Famer Joe Schmidt as part of the linebacking corps of the 1960s Lions defense. He was overshadowed by Schmidt, but Walker was still a solid defender for the Lions. He made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 1963-1965.
8. Mel Gray, Kick Returner, 1989-1994
Mel Gray played in the same time frame as fellow return great Brian Mitchell, yet when the discussion of the greatest kick returners starts, Gray is not one of the first names mentioned.
Gray returned seven kicks for touchdowns as a Detroit Lion, and he was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro with the team.
7. Lomas Brown, Offensive Tackle, 1985-1995
Lomas Brown was a seven-time Pro Bowler with six as a member of the Detroit Lions. One of the best offensive linemen of the early 1990s, Brown helped Barry Sanders to all-time greatness and led one of the more underappreciated offensive lines in the decade.
The confession of taking a dive that attempted to injure Scott Mitchell will linger with him for a long time.
6. Robert Porcher, Defensive End, 1992-2003
Robert Porcher was one of the more underrated defensive linemen during his time.
Porcher was a three-time Pro Bowler with the Lions, registering 95.5 sacks and 18 forced fumbles over his 12-year career.
5. Chris Spielman, Linebacker, 1988-1995
Another underappreciated defender during his day, Chris Spielman was the leader of the Lions defense that made three playoff appearances in the early 1990s.
Spielman was a four-time Pro Bowler with the Lions, started all 124 games with the team and recorded over 1,000 tackles.
4. Herman Moore, Wide Receiver, 1991-2001
In 1995, Herman Moore set the NFL record for most catches in a regular season with 123. Moore teamed with Barry Sanders to form one of the league's most balanced offenses in the 1990s. Moore was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro with the Lions.
3. Billy Sims, Running Back, 1980-1984
Billy Sims would belong in the Gale Sayers wing of the Hall of Fame with an injury-depleted career that before he was injured was one of the premier backs in the league.
The original No. 20 at running back for the Lions, Sims was a three-time Pro Bowler in his first three seasons in the league. In five seasons, Sims racked up 5,106 yards and 42 touchdowns along with over 2,000 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
2. Alex Karras, Defensive Tackle, 1958-1970
Alex Karras, in terms of on-field performance, should be a surefire Hall of Famer. Karras was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro who had 16 fumble recoveries during his 12-year career.
Karras' suspension for gambling in 1963 will earn him the infamous role as the Pete Rose of the NFL.
1. Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver, 2007-Present
Calvin Johnson is already on his way to a Hall of Fame career. The only thing missing from Johnson's resume is a postseason victory.
Johnson holds the record for receiving yards in a season and is nearing the 10,000 yard receiving mark. He recently became Detroit's leading receiver of all time in 2013, passing Moore. Johnson is a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.