Power Ranking The Pro Football Hall of Fame Classes Of The Last Decade
Ranking The Past 10 Hall of Fame Classes
For the past 51 years, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Hall of Fame voters have selected the best to have ever played the game. These 51 years are distinct in that each of these years has a great class of players who helped to change the game.
This year's class include the likes of Michael Strahan, Derrick Brooks, Ray Guy, Claude Humphrey, Andre Reed, Aeneas Williams and Walter Jones.
Ranking these classes is a daunting task considering that you are comparing great to other greats and each member of the class made a big contribution to the game.
There have been great classes in the past. In 2003, both Barry Sanders and John Elway, two of the best to ever play at their positions, came in together. In 1971, running back Jim Brown, who is in the discussion of one of the greatest players of all time, and Vince Lombardi, the greatest coach of all time, both went in together after the NFL waived the five-year rule following Lombardi's death. Finally, the greatest class of all time in my book goes to the class of 1993 with Dan Fouts, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh and Walter Payton.
With now 280 members in the Hall of Fame, this list will only continue to grow as more of the modern day players get their place among Canton's greats.
Instead of looking at each of the previous classes, this countdown will focus on the past 10 classes.
The following is my power ranking of the past 10 hall of fame classes from 2005-2014.
10. Class of 2012
Curtis Martin, Willie Roaf, Chris Doleman, Jack Butler, Cortez Kennedy, Dermontti Dawson.
This class comes up short in terms of Super Bowl glory, yet this has more underrated players in NFL history than any other class.
Martin is the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history, Roaf was the premier left tackle of the 1990s, Butler was one of the premier defenders of the 1950s and the trio of Doleman, Kennedy and Dawson dominated the opposing line of scrimmage.
This is not a real sexy class, but a lot of good players make this class the No. 10 selection.
9. Class of 2008
Fred Dean, Art Monk, Darrell Green, Gary Zimmerman, Emmitt Thomas, Andre Tippett.
Each member of this class made at least one Super Bowl appearance with all but Tippett winning a championship.
Monk and Green were fixtures for the Washington Redskins that helped the team win three Super Bowls -- Monk in all three, Green in the last two.
Thomas won a title in 1969 with the Kansas Chiefs. Dean won two titles in San Francisco in 1981 and 1984. Zimmerman retired after helping Elway win his first Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos, and Tippett reached Super Bowl 20 with the New England Patriots where the 1985 Chicago Bears dominated them 46-10.
This class has winners, yet there were better classes leaving them at No. 9 in the past decade.
8. Class of 2009
Rod Woodson, Bruce Smith, Bob Hayes, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson Jr., Randall McDaniel.
This defense heavy class checks in at No. 8. Woodson is among the best defensive backs to ever play while Smith and Thomas were two of the greatest pass rushers of all time.
McDaniel was the anchor of a great offensive line with the Minnesota Vikings in the 1990s. Hayes was the "fastest man" on the planet and the most dangerous offensive player in the late 1960s while Wilson was the founder of the Buffalo Bills and one of the main architects who put the AFL-NFL merger into place.
7. Class of 2007
Michael Irvin, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Matthews, Roger Werhli, Gene Hickerson, Charlie Sanders.
Irvin spearheads this group at No. 7. His leadership took the Cowboys to team of the decade status in the 1990s. Thomas was one of the most versatile running backs in all of football, and Matthews was as durable as they come playing for 19 seasons with the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans.
Wehrli recorded 40 interceptions in his career. Hickerson blocked for Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly, and Sanders was the Detroit Lions' best offensive threat in the 1970s.
The 2007 class checks in at No. 7 on this countdown.
6. Class of 2011
Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Ed Sabol, Shannon Sharpe, Richard Dent, Les Richter, Chris Hanburger.
In Sanders, Faulk and Sharpe, this class has the best shutdown corner ever, the most versatile running back of all time and the best tight end of the 1990s.
Sabol changed the way that viewers can see the game, Dent was a Super Bowl MVP, Hanburger was a key cog of the "Over The Hill" gang in Washington in the George Allen era and Richter was one of the premier defenders in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The accomplishments of this group ranks them as the sixth best of the past decade.
5. Class of 2014
Ray Guy, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan, Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Aeneas Williams, Claude Humphrey.
The exploits of this most recent class makes them the fifth best of the decade.
Strahan was one of the premier pass rushers of the 1990s and 2000s while Jones was one of the best left tackles ever.
Guy becomes the first punter selected to the Hall, and Humphrey becomes the first true Atlanta Falcon in the Hall.
Reed was the most important offensive piece on a Bills team that reached four consecutive Super Bowls, Williams was one of the best cornerbacks in the 1990s and Brooks helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win their first and only championship in 2002.
4. Class of 2005
Dan Marino, Steve Young, Fritz Pollard, Benny Friedman.
Two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history and two of the leading pioneers of football make this the fourth best class of the decade.
Marino and Young were both elite passers in their time. While Marino held most of the passing records until Brett Favre, Young was one of the most accurate passers to have ever played the game.
Pollard in 1921 was the first African American coach with Akron, and Friedman, before the passing game came to fruition, threw 11 touchdown passes.
This quartet sits here at No. 4.
3. Class of 2006
Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Reggie White, John Madden, Harry Carson, Rayfield Wright.
This class is dominated with greatness on and off field, and for that is deserving of the No. 3 ranking.
Aikman was the quarterback of the Cowboys dynasty of the 1990s, and Moon was one of the most prolific quarterbacks to throw the football.
Madden, before being an excellent broadcaster, had the best winning percentage in NFL history and won Super Bowl 11 for the Oakland Raiders. Carson was the defensive leader of the New York Giants' first Super Bowl in 1986, and Wright was a stalwart on the offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1960s and all of the 1970s.
2. Class of 2013
Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Bill Parcells, Warren Sapp, Dave Robinson, Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden.
Two of the greatest offensive linemen of all time and one of the most prolific receivers of all time make the 2013 class the second-best of the past decade.
Allen and Ogden dominated opponents in helping to lead their teams, the Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens, to championships.
Carter was the second-best receiver of the 1990s behind Jerry Rice. Sapp anchored a stout Tampa defense that would become champions.
Culp helped the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV, Parcells won two Super Bowls with the Giants and turned around four other franchises and Robinson was a defensive stalwart on Lombardi's Green Bay Packers dynasty that won five championships in the 1960s.
1. Class of 2010
Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, John Randle.
This class is the best of the past decade because of only two names: Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.
Rice and Smith starred for the San Francisco 49ers' dynasty of the 1980s, and Smith starred for the Cowboys' dynasty of the 1990s.
LeBeau was a standout defensive back for the Lions in the 1960s, and Grimm led the Redskins' "Hogs" offensive line that won three Super Bowls.
Little was the first great player for the Denver Broncos, Randle was one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles of all time and Jackson led the New Orleans Saints' "Dome Patrol" of the late 1980s and early 1990s.