The Pro Football Hall of Fame will induct four-to-seven new members on Saturday here in New Orleans, and three men connected to the Dallas Cowboys are on the list of 17 final candidates. We'll touch on Bill Parcells' case later, but let's take a moment to debate whether Larry Allen or Charles Haley might make the cut in 2013.
Is Allen a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
Many of those in charge of voting for such things believe that you have to be truly special to make the Hall of Fame in your first year of eligibility. Football isn't as hung up on this as baseball, but there have only been 63 first-ballot Hall of Famers since 1970 and none since 2009.
Is Allen one of the best 65 or so players in modern NFL history? I think so. He was an All-Pro in seven of his 14 seasons, was elected to 11 Pro Bowls, won a Super Bowl and was named to two All-Decade teams (1990s and 2000s, obviously).
A potential problem arises when you consider that Jonathan Ogden is also a first-time candidate. Two offensive linemen haven't been inducted on the first ballot in over 20 years. Throw in that Will Shields is also knocking on the door in his second year of eligibility and things become less clear.
I personally believe Allen was more dominant for a longer period of time than either Ogden or Shields. But Shields deserves to be inducted too, what with his 12 Pro Bowls and all, and voters might try to push him through now, knowing that Allen and Ogden can wait a year or two.
I'm also concerned that some voters—mainly the ones who don't cover the league deeply—might have forgotten just how freakin' good Allen is. He's not in the media spotlight as a retiree, which could be something Parcells, Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan benefit from.
If I had to bet on it, I'd say Allen gets the nod, but it also wouldn't surprise me one bit to see him fall short in 2013.
There might not be room for Haley
I believe Haley's a Hall of Famer because I think it's unfair that we judge quarterbacks based on how many Super Bowl rings they have and yet we don't give players from other positions enough credit for the roles they played in winning championships.
Haley was an important cog on five Super Bowl teams—three in Dallas, two in San Francisco. That's unprecedented.
But the addition of Allen, Ogden, Sapp and Strahan to the ballot means he's in big trouble. Last year was Haley's best chance to gain admittance to Canton. He has those five rings and is a member of the 100-sack club, but there are 18 non-Hall of Famers who had more sacks than him.
That'll hurt him, as will the fact that he didn't get along well with the media and was sometimes considered to be a negative presence in NFL locker rooms.
It would be a shame if the man with the most championships (as a player) in NFL history wasn't honored with a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but I'm beginning to believe that'll be the case.
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