Colts and Canton: Will Wayne, Mathis, Freeney & Vinatieri Make the Hall of Fame?
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The Indianapolis Colts have a rich history with some huge stars. Will all the accolades and attention they've gotten over the past decade be enough to get any of them into the Hall of Fame?
There are four Colts with a decent chance to make the Hall. Obviously, from the previous era, Peyton Manning will be enshrined on the first ballot, and Marvin Harrison is worthy as well. Jeff Saturday will probably receive serious attention when his time comes.
For the handful of great Colts who remain on the roster, their tickets are far from punched.
On one hand, kickers don't make the Hall of Fame. On the other hand, no one has made more big, clutch kicks than this guy.
I doubt the raw numbers will matter much, if at all, but if they do, he'll likely finish his career no higher than seventh on the all-time list for field goals made. He's unlikely to break into the top 10 in field goal percentage.
However, Vinatieri made so many memorable kicks, including two Super Bowl winners, that voters will likely overlook the raw numbers and include him anyway. He was a key player on the two signature teams of the 2000s, and short of adding another Super Bowl ring or amazing clutch kick in the playoffs, there is little more he can do to make his case.
If the voters ever choose to elect a kicker, they will vote for Vinatieri.
Odds: 80 percent
Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney
Both play the same position and have roughly the same strengths and weaknesses, so it makes sense to examine their cases together. As I said when making the case for Mario Willaims, the standard for defensive ends is 130 sacks.
At that level, a player's odds of enshrinement sky rocket.
Freeney has 102.5 sacks, seven Pro Bowls and is a three-time All Pro. He has all the credentials necessary for induction except the 130 sacks. At 140 sacks, he'd be a virtual lock. Both Freeney and Mathis have a Super Bowl ring.
He's going to be 32 years old, and he would need another four to five productive seasons to get close. If he played just four more seasons, he'd need to average seven sacks a year for 130 and just under 10 to get to 140. In his last four years, he has 42.5 sacks.
Another All-Pro season or two more Pro Bowl level seasons or another Super Bowl ring would likely be enough to get Freeney in at the 120 sack level, but it's hard to imagine either of the first two happening without his career total going over 130.
Essentially, he's there. He just needs the solid finish to his career to secure a bronze bust.
Mathis has more work to do. He's long been considered the second-fiddle to Freeney, and though he's just a year younger, he is 19 sacks behind. He has only three (correction: four) Pro Bowls to Freeney's seven, and he has never made an All Pro team.
Mathis would almost unquestionably need 140 sacks to make it in, though if his final totals compare favorably to Freeney's, it will help. Mathis realistically needs three to four more elite seasons in order to secure his spot.
Odds: Freeney-60 percent, Mathis 30 percent
You can almost copy my Andre Johnson comments verbatim for Reggie Wayne. Wayne has excellent numbers, but the log-jam of wideouts makes it questionable whether anyone will make it in.
I'm of the opinion that Wayne's best days are behind him, and his resume as it stands now is roughly what it will be when it's time for his vote.
Wayne will likely finish just about 10th all-time in catches and yards, and 20th in receiving touchdowns. With five Pro Bowls, one All Pro team, one ring and one very memorable stumble in his other Super Bowl, I don't think Wayne gets in anytime soon.
He's got a stronger case than some, but I suspect voters will be more inclined to vote in Hines Ward than Wayne. Unless there's a sea-change in the way voters select candidates, or unless Wayne has a late-career resurgence, I think he's on the outside looking in.
Odds: 20 percent
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