Cortez Kennedy is a finalist for the Hall of Fame for the fourth straight year, but does he have any better chance of making it this time?
He’s up against Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. , Chris Doleman, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Curtis Martin, Bill Parcells, Andre Reed, Willie Roaf, Will Shields and Aeneas Williams. That’s a who’s who of runners, receivers, pass-rushers and offensive linemen, plus one of the best corners ever.
The 44 Hall voters can elect up to five modern players (and two senior nominees), with 35 votes needed. Kennedy made the top 10 last year, when no-brainers Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders and Shannon Sharpe were elected to the Hall along with Richard Dent, Ed Sabol and senior nominees Chris Hanburger and Les Richter.
You can break the finalists down into three categories: owner/coach (DeBartolo and Parcells), stat guys (Bettis, Brown, Carter, Martin, Reed, Doleman, Greene and Williams) and the big uglies (Kennedy, Dawson, Roaf and Shields).
Not many defensive tackles have been elected to the Pro Bowl in recent years, and Randy White is the only pure Hall of Fame tackle who played after the 1970s (John Randle played end for a couple seasons). Being the only great D-tackle eligible probably has played a part in Kennedy making the top 10, but it’s hard to beat out stat guys, especially when you’re talking about the NFL’s career Nos. 4 and 6 rushers (Martin and Bettis), Nos. 4, 5 and 10 receivers (Carter, Brown and Reed) and Nos. 3 and 4 sackers (Green and Doleman).
Now, if you go strictly by All-Pro honors (forget Pro Bowls, which are tainted by name recognition), Kennedy would be in the top four. Dawson was a six-time All-Pro (granted, there are only 32 centers, so he had less competition than players at other positions), while Kennedy, Roaf and Williams were all three-time All-Pros.
Kennedy figures to make the top 10 again—you can throw out Haley, Reed, DeBartolo and Parcells for various reasons (Haley and Reed were never dominant players, just very good ones; DeBartolo was forced out of the league for shady dealings; and voters probably don’t trust that Parcells is done).
The voters generally have chosen one non-stat guy in each of the past few years, so Kennedy (whose 58 sacks rank 101st) probably is going up against Dawson, Roaf and Shields. They all deserve to be there at some point. So do Martin, Bettis, Carter, Brown, Greene, Doleman and Williams.
It’s a good class of finalists, and guys who have been waiting a few years deserve to go over more recent retirees. So, our five this year would be Dermontti Dawson, Kevin Greene, Curtis Martin, Tim Brown and, finally, Cortez Kennedy.
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