With the announcement of the 2013 finalists for the NFL Hall of Fame (h/t NFL.com), the excitement over which stars will be inducted has the football world at a fever pitch.
The full list of finalists includes the following names: Larry Allen, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Edward Debartalo Jr., Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Art Modell, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Andre Reed, Dave Robinson, Warren Sapp, Will Shields, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams.
There can be a case made for each and every player on the list, but these are the three possible inductees that deserve the honor more than the rest.
No. 3: Larry Allen, Guard
As one of the biggest keys to the success of the Dallas Cowboys for over a decade, offensive lineman Larry Allen deserves to be inducted to the NFL Hall of Fame in the first year he is eligible.
Allen was a second-round draft pick who outperformed expectations from the day one, reaching the Pro Bowl 11 times and being voted as an All Pro seven times over his career.
There was no player at Allen's position during that period who could outplay him.
While his play was predominantly at guard, Allen also filled in as Troy Aikman’s left tackle and earned great respect as one of the most versatile offensive linemen in the league. With so much success over such a long career—13 years in the NFL—Allen deserves to be in the Hall of Fame in 2013.
No. 2: Michael Strahan, Defensive End
New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan spent all 15 years of his NFL career with the same team. While that stat is impressive enough, his 141.5 sacks, 794 tackles and 21 forced fumbles should prove he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Not only was Strahan one of the most dominant sack machines of the modern era—setting the single-season record for most sacks at 22.5 in 2001—he also helped lead his team to the a huge win in Super Bowl XLII.
Add in the fact that Strahan was named to the Pro Bowl seven times during his career, and the consistency of excellence over his time in the NFL is exactly what the Hall of Fame is looking for during the selection process.
No. 1: Bill Parcells, Head Coach
After winning two Super Bowls with the New York Giants (XXI and XXV), taking the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl (1996) and taking the New York Jets to the AFC championship game (1998), head coaching legend Bill Parcells deserves his place in the Hall of Fame this year.
During Parcells' career, the veteran coach maintained a prestigious record of 172 wins, 130 losses and one tie. Considering the rebuilding projects Parcells took on everywhere he went, his record is flat-out amazing.
Not only did the methodologies and schemes Parcells used over his career help him succeed, but he left a long line of coaching assistants, like Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin and Sean Payton, who followed in his footsteps and became legitimately great leaders.
That much success and innovation must be rewarded.