Pro Football Hall of Fame 2013: Finalists and Predictions for NFL Inductees
With players, coaches and owners all fair game and a particularly strong crop of first-year eligible candidates, it will be an especially intriguing and likely polarizing event this time around. Fifteen modern-era finalists and two others make up this year's field, and inductees need 80 percent of the vote to get into Canton.
Here is a breakdown of the finalists, as well as what to expect when the official announcement is made in New Orleans tomorrow.
* = first year eligible
|G/T Larry Allen* (1994-2007): Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers|
|RB Jerome Bettis (1993-2005): St. Louis Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers)|
|WR Tim Brown (1988-2004): Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|WR Cris Carter (1987-2002): Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins|
|DT Curley Culp (1968-81): Kansas Chiefs, Houston Oilers, Detroit Lions|
| Eddie Debartolo, Jr. (1977-2000): San Francisco 49ers owner|
|DE/LB Kevin Greene (1985-99): St. Louis Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers|
|DE/LB Charles Haley (1986-96, 1999): San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys|
|Owner/NFL President Art Modell (1961-2011): Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens|
|OT Jonathan Ogden* (1996-2007): Baltimore Ravens|
|Head Coach Bill Parcells (1983-90, 1993-99, 2003-06): New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys|
|WR Andre Reed (1985-2000) Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins|
|LB Dave Robinson (1963-74) Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins)|
|DT Warren Sapp* (1995-2007) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders)|
|G Will Shields (1993-2006) Kansas City Chiefs|
|DE Michael Strahan* (1993-2007): New York Giants|
|CB/S Aeneas Williams (1991-2004): Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams|
2013 class will have at least two first-ballot Hall of Famers
Strahan has to be considered a strong candidate to get in based on his holding the single-season sacks record and placing fifth on the all-time list with 141.5.
He capped off his career by beating the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, which was arguably the most prolific passing offense ever. But he was also an exceptional run defender in addition to being a pass-rushing force.
There should certainly be room for the seven-time Pro Bowler to get in this year.
Another strong candidate to make it in on their first try is Larry Allen, who was not only an outstanding guard but also switched to tackle when necessary. He was a key cog in the success of those fantastic Dallas Cowboys teams of the 90s, displaying prowess in both run and pass protection.
It will be difficult for Allen to beat out fellow first-year eligible Jonathan Ogden and second-year candidate Will Shields, but he should.
Not to be forgotten is Warren Sapp, one of the most dominant defensive tackles and interior pass rushers in history who won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bill Parcells will be inducted
The Tuna is one of the most memorable characters to roam an NFL sideline. Every team he inherited seemed to be in dire straits, but he would incredibly turn franchises into winners everywhere he went.
Not only is he one of the most flat-out successful coaches ever, but he was always charismatic and engaging with the media. That doesn't necessarily have anything to do with his legacy on the field, but it should be considered as part of his aura and why he deserves a Hall of Fame spot.
There were plenty of stops along the way, highlighted by Parcells leading the Giants to victories in Super Bowl XXI and XXV.
Although he never won another championship thereafter, there's no denying that Parcells is deserving of enshrinement. It took him three separate attempts before he even became eligible last year, as he kept returning to the NFL—and having success at each turn.
Now that a year has passed with his name on the ballot and no induction into Canton, it seems like the perfect time for Parcells to get in.
Receivers won't be snubbed again
Recent years haven't been as kind to receivers, but that trend should be bucked on Saturday. Cris Carter is particularly deserving of a spot, as are Tim Brown and Andre Reed.
However, Carter will likely struggle to garner 80 percent of the vote if recent years are any indication, while Brown did himself no favors in recently suggesting his former coach threw the Super Bowl. Reed, meanwhile, wouldn't be able to leapfrog neither Carter nor Brown.
The only offensive skill players to be selected in the past two classes have been running backs in Marshall Faulk and Curtis Martin.
With all of those factors working against these exceptional players, don't be surprised if this is the year Carter in particular gets off the schneid.
Of all the players currently in the Hall of Fame, only the unmatchable Jerry Rice has more career receptions and touchdowns than Carter. It's somewhat ridiculous that Carter isn't already in with that as context. This is his fifth go-round, and it should finally result in an induction.
Final 2013 Inductee Predictions: Larry Allen, Michael Strahan, Cris Carter, Bill Parcells, Warren Sapp and Dave Robinson.
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