They Deserve a Bust: 10 NFL Icons Who Should Be Enshrined in Canton

Josh McMullenCorrespondent IMay 7, 2009

DETROIT - FEBRUARY 05:  Former Denver Broncos running bacl and MVP of Super Bowl XXXII Terrell Davis is introduced prior to Super Bowl XL between the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Ford Field on February 5, 2006 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

There have been a number of great players that have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. From Joe Montana to Vince Lombardi, the greatest people to ever step on a football field are enshrined here.

But sometimes, great players and NFL figures just slip through the cracks. Here are the top 10 NFL icons that should have their own busts in Canton, but somehow got lost in the shuffle.


10. Boomer Esiason (1984-1997 with Bengals, Jets, and Cardinals)

Esiason led the Bengals during their golden age, taking Hall of Famer Joe Montana to his limit in his only Super Bowl appearance.

He also holds several career records for left-handed quarterbacks, including touchdown passes and passing yards. As a southpaw myself, I know that’s nothing to sneeze at.

He has also done a lot to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects many more people than we care to think. With all he’s done, Esiason is a great man and a great football player who should be wearing a yellow jacket.


9. Steve Tasker (1985-1997, with Oilers and Bills)

I know the NFL does not like to put special teams players into the Hall, but Tasker was more than that, especially to the Bills.

He was one of the first men to establish himself as a star on special teams. He has also established himself as one of the league’s most feared hitters, despite his size. Even then, he still was elected to seven Pro Bowls.

He may not have had the gaudy numbers that some other special teamers in the Hall have, but he is still one of the best players Buffalo ever had and should be immortalized in Canton some day.


8. Herschel Walker (1986-1997, with Cowboys, Vikings, Eagles, and Giants)

Even though Walker hasn’t played in over 10 years, he still ranks eighth on the list of all-time rushers. While he was voted to only two Pro Bowls, he was still a dangerous rusher in his time.

If you combine his numbers from both his career in the NFL and the USFL, he would rank second all-time in total yardage and would rank as one of the most productive rushers in the history of the game. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992. Can the pros be too far behind?


7. Irving Fryar (1984-2000, with Patriots, Eagles, Dolphins, and Redskins)

This two-time All-Pro set a precedent for drafts to come when he became the first wide receiver to be drafted first overall. He also became the first player to catch a touchdown in 17 consecutive seasons.

He was a very consistent player even as he came to the end of his career, making his final Pro Bowl in 1997. He definitely is one of the best wide receivers nobody has heard of, and it certainly would be nice to see him in Canton.


6. Joe Theismann (1974-1985, with Redskins)

Even though Theismann doesn’t have the numbers to compete with the other quarterbacks in the Hall, he was responsible for one of the most memorable injuries in NFL history.

He was also one of the first quarterbacks who could also be considered a threat to scramble, originally coming to the Redskins as a punt returner. Theismann was one of the best quarterbacks the Redskins ever had, and he rightly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.


5. Jimmy Johnson (1989-1999, as coach of Cowboys and Dolphins)

Johnson took a dismal Cowboys team and turned them into champions in just a few short years. He is only one of six coaches to coach consecutive Super Bowl champions, along with great coaches such as Vince Lombardi and Don Shula, who Johnson would eventually replace in Miami in 1996.

He was reported to have an IQ of 162; it certainly looked like he had that on the field. Johnson is one of the best coaches of all time, and it was a shame he wasn’t voted in in his first year of eligibility.


4. Terrell Davis (1995-2001, with Broncos)

Even though Davis only played seven seasons, he was still one of the best players to ever put on a Broncos uniform. He was also one of only two Denver players (John Elway being the other) to be named league MVP.

His career was plagued by injuries, but he was still a consistent rusher and could be considered a “diamond in the rough” when it came to the draft (he was drafted 196th overall in 1995).

He certainly played like one.


3. Tony Boselli (1995-2002, with Texans and Jaguars)

Boselli was one of the best offensive linemen in the league during his career. He was consistent as well, only missing one game in seven seasons. He is also the first player to be inducted into the Jaguars' Hall of Fame, a big honor for anyone on any team, no matter who you are. 

Here’s a fun fact: Boselli is one of the few players to play the inaugural seasons of two different teams.


2. Paul Tagliabue (Commissioner, 1989-2005)

Tagliabue had some big shoes to fill after he succeeded Pete Rozelle, and most people might say he did a very good job of that. He established one of the strictest substance abuse policies of any sports league, and he made the NFL popular all over the world by bringing regular season games to Mexico and Europe.

With the death of the NFL’s “farm league” in Europe, there was a big hole left there, and Tagliabue was able to fill it nicely with marquee games that people would be interested in. While he would be criticized for not bringing a team to Los Angeles, he will still be known as one of the best commissioners in the game.


1. Ray Guy (1973-1986, with Raiders)

Guy can easily be considered the best punter in NFL history; in fact, he established the concept of “hang time” with his booming punts. He never had a punt returned for a touchdown and is the only punter to be drafted in the first round.

Guy should be in the Hall of Fame by now; however, he just seems to slip through the cracks when voting time comes around. If he isn’t inducted in the Class of 2010, something is definitely wrong.