Making A Case For Every 2014 NFL Hall Of Fame Inductee
2014 Pro Football Hall Of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 51st class for induction into the hall.
Each of the 280 candidates that have made the Hall of Fame is worthy of their selection, yet there are some skeptics who have tried to poke holes into these athletes' resumes and try to discredit them after they laid it all out on the line to ensure the successes that they've achieved throughout their playing careers.
The 2014 class includes only one skill position player on offense (wide receiver Andre Reed) and one skill position defender (Aeneas Williams). The rest of the class is filled out by athletes who dominated the trenches during their careers -- Walter Jones, Michael Strahan and veterans committee member Claude Humphrey. Fellow veterans committee member are punter Ray Guy and linebacker Derrick Brooks, rounded out the seven player class.
This is the seventh consecutive class in which the game's most important players, the quarterback, is not a member of any of the past seven classes, thus establishing the fact that the voters are looking in all aspects of the game, not just the pretty passes and acrobatic catches.
I have no problem with this class. In my original ballot, I had Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Brooks, Strahan, Jones and the veterans committee nominations (Humphrey, Guy). I am confident in knowing that Harrison and Dungy will be in the 2015 class, but that will be saved for another discussion.
Here now, I will convince the skeptics that each of the seven candidates that were enshrined on Saturday were worthy of this prestigious honor.
Ray Guy, Punter, Oakland Raiders
Former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis did know what he was doing in selecting the only punter in the first round in Ray Guy. Now, Guy has rewarded Davis with a bust in Canton.
For some impressive punting statistics, Guy averaged under 40 yards per punt in only one of his 14 seasons. Out of 1,049 punts, only three were blocked and his contributions helped the Raiders reach seven AFC championship games and three Super Bowl appearances.
Guy is without question the best punter whoever played the game and he's finally inducted after a long wait. His enshrinement joins Jan Stenerud as the only pure special teams players in the Hall.
Guy was an All-Pro six straight years.
Claude Humphrey, Defensive End, Atlanta Falcons/Philadelphia Eagles
Claude Humphrey is the first true member of the Atlanta Falcons to reach Canton.
Humphrey is credited with 122 career sacks, even though most of his career came when sacks weren't recorded.
Humphrey was a member of the famed Falcons' "Gritz Blitz" defense of the late 1970's and reached Super Bowl 15 as part of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1980.
Humphrey was a first-team All-Pro five times and was selected to six Pro Bowls.
Aeneas Williams, Arizona Cardinals/St. Louis Rams
Aeneas Williams was the third best cornerback of the 1990's behind fellow Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson, and was named to the 1990's All-Decade Team.
Williams starred at cornerback on some very poor teams in Arizona. His only moment of success came in 1998 when the Cardinals made the NFC divisional playoff after upsetting Sanders and the Dallas Cowboys.
Williams then moved to St. Louis and played both corner and safety. He then helped the Rams reach Super Bowl 36 and the playoffs in three of his four seasons.
Williams was a eight-time Pro Bowler, seven as a corner, and totaled 55 interceptions in his career.
Andre Reed, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills/Washington Redskins
Andre Reed was a relatively obscure fourth round draft pick in 1985 from Kutztown State University, yet defied the odds and after a long wait, is finally in the Hall of Fame.
Reed was part of the Buffalo Bills' best draft class ever in 1985 with Bruce Smith and Frank Reich joining Reed. All were major contributors of the Bills' four straight Super Bowl appearances from 1990-93.
Reed did his part in those four Super Bowls, catching 29 passes for 323 yards.
Reed had 941 receptions for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns in his career, and was a seven-time Pro Bowler.
Derrick Brooks, Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is the second consecutive year in which a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer is a Hall of Famer.
Linebacker Derrick Brooks joins Warren Sapp in the Hall after both were selected with back-to-back picks in the 1995 NFL Draft.
Brooks never missed a game in his career, was named to 11 Pro Bowls, and was selected to the All-Decade team of the 2000's.
He cemented his first-ballot Hall of Fame selection with a game-sealing interception in Super Bowl 37, the Buccaneers' only championship.
Michael Strahan, Defensive End, New York Giants
Frankly, this discussion should've happened last year, as Michael Strahan is without a doubt a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but the voters got it right the second time around.
Strahan is one of the best defenders to ever play for the New York Giants, who are known for great defensive players like fellow Hall of Famers Sam Huff, Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson.
Strahan totaled 141 and a half sack over his 14 seasons and was a part of the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2000's.
Controversially or not, Strahan holds the single-season sack record with 22 and a half sacks. He appeared in two Super Bowl games, spearheading the shutdown of the previously 18-0 New England Patriots in 2007. Strahan had one sack in the Giants' colossal upset, and there are no "gaps" in his resume.
Walter Jones, Offensive Tackle, Seattle Seahawks
Walter Jones becomes the second offensive lineman in the past two years to be enshrined in the year that his former team played in the Super Bowl (Jonathan Ogden represented the Baltimore Ravens last year).
Jones is the second best Seattle Seahawk in team history behind Steve Largent, and he was an All-Decade selection in the 2000's; he also appeared in Super Bowl 40 with the Seahawks.
Jones will go down as one of the greatest left tackles not just in Seattle history, but NFL history as well.