Will Roddy White Have a Shot at the NFL Hall of Fame?

Justin BlanchardContributor IIJuly 5, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 20:  Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons walks out of the tunnel during the player introductions prior to facing the Tennessee Titans at Georgia Dome on November 20, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As a four-time Pro Bowler, one-time All-Pro and holder of the Atlanta Falcons' franchise record for most receiving yards in a single season and most career receiving yards, there's no doubt Roddy White is already among the best receivers to have ever donned the red and black.

With White on pace to break every major Falcons receiving record remaining this season, it may be time to consider his chances of being named among the NFL’s greatest all-time receivers when he ultimately hangs up his cleats.

For that, there is no higher mark of greatness than making the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He's had a magnificent career so far, but does White have a spot waiting for him in Canton, Ohio?

The short answer is, he has a steep hill to climb. 

White has multiple factors to overcome for a chance at the Hall of Fame, the first of which was a very slow start to his career.

The former University of Alabama at Birmingham standout faced high expectations when he entered the league as the 27th overall pick of the 2005 draft. He didn't live up to them at first, managing a pedestrian 59 catches and 952 yards for three touchdowns in his first two seasons combined.

Then, a light switched on in 2007.

Proving to be the only bright spot in a disastrous 4-12 season for the Falcons, White caught a career-high 83 catches for 1,202 yards and six touchdowns in what would be the first of five of the most productive seasons by a receiver in NFL history.

From 2007 through 2011, White averaged 94 receptions for 1,284 yards and eight touchdowns a season.

More importantly, that remarkable stretch made White just the fifth player in NFL history—along with Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, Chad Ochocinco and Jimmy Smith—to record 80-plus receptions and 1,150 yards in five consecutive seasons.

That has helped him reach respectable numbers seven seasons into his career: 530 receptions for 7,374 yards and 45 touchdowns.

There's no denying White has become one of the more productive players in the league, especially when taking into account the fact that he's been able to put up those numbers despite playing in a predominantly run-first offense for the entirety of his career.

Indeed, if he were to continue to perform at such a high level for another six or seven seasons, White would be a virtual lock among the NFL's top receivers to have ever played the game, but that is already sizing up to be a difficult task.

That's because the 30-year-old's reign as the Falcons' No. 1 receiver may soon see its end with the emergence of second-year pro Julio Jones. 

Jones burst onto the scene during his rookie season in 2011, recording 54 catches for 959 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games, taking many looks away from White in the process.

Add to that a new offensive coordinator who will seek to diversify the attack much more than ex-coordinator Mike Mularkey, and White is sure to see his stats continue to decline in the coming years.

Then, there's the fact that White still has heavy competition in his own contemporaries, including the likes of Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald—all of whom have had the advantage of playing in more pass-happy offenses throughout their careers, and all of whom will likely get a shot at the Hall before White.

But considering Cris Carter—who recorded more than 1,000 receptions for nearly 14,000 yards and 130 touchdowns in his career—has been voted down five times now, there's a realistic possibility that not even White's most productive contemporaries will ever get a shot to begin with.

The reason?

Hall of Fame voters look for dominant players—those who changed the game forever.

From the looks of things receivers don't generally fit that description, as they trail every position but tight ends and placekickers with just 21 players in Canton today—only seven of whom made their debuts after the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. 

Will White join them one day?

His chances look very slim for now, but if one thing's for sure, it's that he still has a lot of football left to play.


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