2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame: Predictions, Results and Finalists for Canton

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2012

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 6:  The 2011 enshrinement class with their busts at the Enshrinement Ceremony for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 6, 2011 in Canton, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

A new Super Bowl champion will be crowned on Sunday, but on Saturday, no fewer than four and no more than seven of the best players in league history will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Their busts will be enshrined in Canton with the select few that dominated the game of football. 

The 2012 class of finalists is full of big names—coaches, owners and players—and will be one of the more difficult votes for the 44-member voting committee.

On Saturday, Feb. 4th at 5:30 p.m. EST on NFL Network, the enshrinees will be announced and will forever be remembered as Hall of Famers.

 

Finalists

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 18:  Tim Brown announces his retirement from professional football after signing a one day contract with the Oakland Raiders, whom he played most of his career with, during a press conference at the Grand Ballroom of the Oakland Airport
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Jerome Bettis

Tim Brown

Jack Butler

Cris Carter 

Dermontti Dawson

Edward DeBartolo Jr.

Chris Doleman

Kevin Greene

Charles Haley 

Cortez Kennedy

Curtis Martin

Bill Parcells

Andre Reed

Willie Roaf

Will Shields

Dick Stanfel

Aeneas Williams

Every one of these players is notable and deserves to be considered a finalist for enshrinement, but a few of them truly stand out and deserve to make it this year.

 

Predictions

Cris Carter

The current ESPN analyst has been denied the Hall of Fame for too many years. He's easily one of the top five wide receivers in the history of the league and fell second to only Jerry Rice in a number of categories at the time of his retirement.

30 Dec 2001:  Wide Receiver Cris Carter #80 of the Minnesota Vikings stands ready on the line against the Green Bay Packers during the NFL game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Packers defeated the Vikings 24-13.  Mandatory Credit:  Jonathan
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With Tim Brown and Andre Reed in the class, they are all deserving receivers and will make the Hall at some point.

This year is Carter's year.

 

Edward DeBartolo Jr. 

One of the best owners in all of sports, DeBartolo Jr. deserves to join a number of the players in Canton. The 49ers' owner from 1977 to 2000 has five Super Bowl rings and presided over the winningest team of the 1980s and 1990s.

His Niners were the first organization to win five Super Bowls.

 

Curtis Martin

The former Patriot and Jet retired as the league's fourth-leading rusher and one of the best to ever play the position.

He certainly wasn't the flashiest, but Martin was always falling forward and embodied everything you could want in a running back.

DENVER - NOVEMBER 20:  Running back Curtis Martin #28 of the New York Jets paces the sideline at the start of a game against the Denver Broncos on November 20, 2005 at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado.  The Broncos won 27-0.  (Photo by Brian
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Martin played in only one Super Bowl in his 11 seasons without a win, but his numbers are more than enough to earn a bust in Canton.


Bill Parcells

12 Jan 1991: New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells is paraded around on the shoulders of players Lawrence Taylor #56 and Carl Banks #58 after winning Super Bowl XXV against the Buffalo Bills at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Giants won the game,
Mike Powell/Getty Images

"The Tuna" is one of the greatest coaches to ever walk the sidelines. Period. He led the Giants to their first two Super Bowl championships and then went on to coach in one more.

Everywhere he went—New York (Giants), New England, New York (Jets) and Dallas—he bettered the entire organization both on the field and off.

Ironically enough, two of his disciples will be coaching in the Super Bowl the day after the announcement.

 

Charles Haley

Part of DeBartolo's 49ers, Haley also earned some of his five Super Bowl rings with the Dallas Cowboys. The defensive end is the only player in NFL history with five rings, and that should be enough on its own.

He played for two of the most dominant teams of their eras—two of the most dominant franchises in sports history.

In a class with other front-seven defenders like Cortez Kennedy, Chris Doleman and Kevin Greene, Haley deserves the vote.

 

Willie Roaf

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 28: Offensive tackle Willie Roaf #77 of the Kansas City Chiefs blocks against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium on November 28, 2004 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chargers defeated the Chiefs 34-31. (Photo by Jonathan
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In his first year of eligibility, one of the greatest linemen in NFL history deserves heavy first-ballot consideration. He'll get in eventually, but his first year should be his year after turning in 11 Pro Bowl campaigns in 13 seasons.

From a football standpoint, he simply was one of the most dominant ever.

 

Aeneas Williams

Speaking of ever, Aeneas Williams played on one of the worst teams ever in Arizona before finally getting a shot at a Super Bowl with the Rams in 2001. Although he didn't win, he was an elite player for a long time and intercepted 55 passes over the course of a 13-year career.

Williams was so good for so long, but he never had the opportunity to truly win until late in his career.

St. Louis Rams safety Aeneas Williams stretches in the third quarter  against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers October 18, 2004 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.  The Rams defeated the Bucs  28 to 21 in a Monday Night Football game on ABC.  (Photo by Al Mess
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Now he deserves a chance to make the Hall of Fame.