One of the best parts of the Professional Football Hall of Fame is its exclusivity.
But that doesn’t mean everyone who should be inducted into Canton necessarily does. That was more than apparent this year, when there were several notable names left off the list of 2013 inductees. So instead of getting enshrined on Saturday night into the most elite group of football talent, these icons will be watching from home.
Here’s a look at the players getting inducted to Canton this year:
And now, here’s a look at the players who most deserved to have their careers showcased at this year’s Hall of Fame ceremony instead of hoping for better luck on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot.
Michael Strahan, Defensive End
Strahan was unlike any other defensive end in the game throughout his career. During his 15 seasons with the New York Giants, he was a constant presence in the backfield and regularly caused havoc. There weren’t many offensive linemen who were successful in protecting their quarterback when Strahan was on the field.
Strahan finished six seasons with at least 10 sacks. He broke the single-season record for sacks in 2001, when he took down the quarterback in the backfield 22.5 times. Players have come close to breaking it since he left the NFL, but no one has been able to top his remarkable performance from that year.
The defensive end has the fifth-most sacks in NFL history and was named to seven Pro Bowls. He was a First-Team All-Pro on four occasions.
He’s easily one of the top defensive players to ever play the game, but he came up short this year. Strahan called it “a delayed blessing,” according Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.
Tim Brown, Wide Receiver
The fourth time wasn’t the charm for Brown this year, as he’ll hope that his fifth time as a finalist on the Hall of Fame ballot gets him inducted into Canton. Even though he was never a First-Team All-Pro, the 17-year receiver was a downfield threat each time he took the field, and only a few defensive backs had what it took to stop him.
Brown caught at least 80 passes in nine seasons throughout his career and finished nine seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards. He caught one touchdown in 15 games with Tampa Bay during his last year in the league to give him 100 on his career resume. That’s the seventh-most receiving touchdowns ever.
The nine-time Pro Bowler retired after catching the fifth-most pass (1,905) for the fifth-most yards (14,934). There’s no good reason for why Brown has had to wait this long to be enshrined, and it’s insane that he didn’t get in this year.
His career as a receiver as about as good as it gets. He deserves to be in Canton now, as opposed to later.
Jerome Bettis, Running Back
How Bettis wasn’t on the list of inductees this year still blows my mind. He’s one of the best running backs ever, and he played better throughout his career than many others already in the Hall of Fame.
It doesn’t make any sense. We all know that he’s going to get in eventually, so why not 2013?
Bettis played 13 years in the NFL and was a top back in nearly all of them. He ran for at least 1,000 yards in all but five of his seasons in the league. He has the fourth-most rush attempts in NFL history (3,479) and the sixth-most rushing yards in NFL history (13,662).
What more could the running back have done?
Bettis was a First-Team All-Pro twice in his career—which may have hurt his case—but was selected to six Pro Bowls. He’s the only one in the top 10 in rushing yards who's not in the Hall of Fame—with the exception of LaDanian Tomlinson, who isn’t eligible yet. There’s no question Bettis should’ve been in this year.
All statistics and information in this article were obtained via Pro-Football-Reference unless otherwise noted.