Pro Football Hall of Fame 2014: Biggest Snubs and Surprises
First things first...
Congratulations to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 (in alphabetical order): Linebacker Derrick Brooks, punter Ray Guy, defensive end Claude Humphrey, tackle Walter Jones, wide receiver Andre Reed, defensive end Michael Strahan and defensive back Aeneas Williams.
All told, 17 finalists were vying for a place in Canton, Ohio. Obviously 10 other men will not be headed to the Hall come August. In some instances, it’s baffling that some of these greats continue to have a not-so-great result when it comes to the voting.
So what does everyone think of the newest class of inductees? We are picking five snubs along with four surprises when it came to this year’s election process.
Snub: WR Tim Brown (Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
We have heard it asked: What can Brown do for you?
How about what more can Brown do?
Former Heisman Trophy winner and wide receiver Tim Brown was a first-round pick by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988. In his very first NFL regular-season game, he compiled 199 total combined yards, including a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a win over the San Diego Chargers.
In 17 seasons with a bunch of swashbucklers (Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers), he amassed amazing numbers. In league history, he ranks fifth in receptions (1,094), sixth in receiving yards (14,934) and is tied for seventh in touchdown receptions (100). He is one of only 21 players to score at least 100 total touchdowns. He totaled 80 or more receptions in nine of 10 seasons from 1993-2002.
This marks the fifth straight year that Brown was a finalist for induction but failed to get the invitation to Canton.
The veteran wideout excelled when the Raiders were a playoff contender and when times were tough for the franchise as well.
You have to figure one of these years the voting Wheel of Fortune will finally land on No. 81.
Surprise: P Ray Guy (Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders)
Talk about hang time? More like "about time."
For the first time, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has a full-time punter.
And why not induct the “guy” who an award is named after?
Ray Guy was a first-round selection by the Oakland Raiders in the 1973 NFL draft. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Silver and Black.
He was also first eligible for enshrinement in Canton way back in 1992.
Now the Hall of Fame has both a pure placekicker (Jan Stenerud) and punter on its roster.
And now we can finally play some football.
Snub: RB Jerome Bettis (Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers)
Back in 2011, there was quite a logjam when it came to the running back spot and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Among the finalists that year were first-time eligible candidates Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis.
Faulk was inducted that year. Martin followed in 2012.
But “The Bus” remains parked.
Former Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis ranks sixth in NFL history with 13,662 yards rushing. Four of the five men ahead of him in the rankings—Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and the aforementioned Martin—are already enshrined in Canton.
Fifth on the list is LaDainian Tomlinson, who is not yet eligible yet.
Meanwhile, this marks the fourth straight year Bettis was a finalist but failed to get a call from the Hall.
The former Notre Dame star ended his NFL career with a win in Super Bowl XL. No doubt Bettis would like one more big moment in his storied career.
Surprise: DE Claude Humphrey (Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles)
Defensive end Claude Humphrey spent 14 seasons in the National Football League and didn’t enjoy a lot of success until the tail end of his career.
The Atlanta Falcons didn’t have a winning campaign until 1971—Humphrey’s fourth year in the league—and didn’t go to the playoffs until 1978—his 11th season in the league.
That year, the Falcons knocked off the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs. A season later, Humphrey was playing for head coach Dick Vermeil and his Birds. In 1980, the Eagles reached Super Bowl XV but fell to the wild-card Oakland Raiders, 27-10.
The third overall pick in the 1968 NFL draft from Tennessee State, Humphrey was a six-time Pro Bowler with the Falcons. While sacks did not become an official stat for individual players until 1982, it’s interesting to reference this note in the 1969 Atlanta Falcons media guide.
It states: "Delights in rushing the passer…Expected to have a great future in the NFL."
Snub: OLB/DE Charles Haley (San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys)
Apparently the ring is not the thing.
OK, what about performance?
In 1992, the San Francisco 49ers opted to trade defensive end/outside linebacker Charles Haley to the Dallas Cowboys. By that time, the intense defender had already compiled 63.5 sacks, helped his team win a pair of Super Bowls and been named to three Pro Bowls.
Pun intended, the Cowboys weren’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The trade of Haley swung the balance of power from San Francisco to Dallas in the NFC. The Cowboys would go on to win three of the next four Super Bowls. In five Super Bowl appearances, Haley has totaled 4.5 sacks, the career record for that game (dating back to 1982).
The former fourth-round draft choice from James Madison remains the only player in league annals to win five Super Bowl titles. While that’s not necessarily supremely important when it comes to the Hall of Fame, how about 100.5 career sacks to go along with 26 forced fumbles?
Those numbers have a nice ring to them.
Surprise: WR Andre Reed (Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins)
Finally...it’s happened to Reed (everyone sing along).
That’s wide receiver Andre Reed, who had a bunch of buffalo wings with the Bills and a cup of coffee with the Washington Redskins.
The totals for the 16-year pro include 951 receptions for 13,198 yards and 87 scores. Even though other current players continue to pile up impressive statistics, Reeds remains a fixture in the NFL’s top 20 in all three of those categories.
Now the former fourth-round draft choice (1985) from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania joins former teammates Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas and head coach Marv Levy in the Hall of Fame.
Why did he have to wait so long (2014 marked his eighth straight year as a finalist)? Any attempt to figure out the pecking order when it comes to wide receivers and the Hall of Fame has been an exercise in futility.
As you will clearly see when it comes to the next slide in this piece.
Snub: WR Marvin Harrison (Indianapolis Colts)
This one is baffling.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison left the game following the 2008 season with 1,102 receptions. At the time, only Jerry Rice had more catches in NFL history.
That total of 1,102 grabs remains third in league history as of now. His 14,580 receiving yards are the seventh-highest total ever, and only four players in the game’s annals have caught more scoring passes than him (128).
Yet in his first year of eligibility, Harrison was not elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As for the former Colts' pass-catcher, he is apparently taking it all in stride. "The thing is, not once did I psych myself up about being a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame," said Harrison to Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star. "It definitely would have been a great honor, but I'm more happy for the guys who made it. It was well deserved."
The question is indeed why? Yes, we have seen the wide receiver position somewhat disrespected (for lack of a better word) when it comes to this process. Hall of Famers like Art Monk, Cris Carter and Andre Reed waited seemingly longer than usual. Perhaps the feeling is that the modern game has inflated the numbers.
But you can’t inflate consistency. Harrison caught a league-record 143 passes in 2002, the last of four consecutive seasons with at least 100 receptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl eight times and was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
He just needs to make one more roster.
Surprise: CB/S Aeneas Williams (Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams)
The third time was the charm, and it apparently was in the cards...and the rams.
Laugh if you want at that attempt at humor. But star defensive back Aeneas Williams was all smiles on Saturday when he became part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
The former Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals as well as St. Louis Rams standout was an eight-time Pro Bowler between the two teams. He totaled 55 career interceptions and returned nine of those for scores. He also recovered 23 opponent’s fumbles and returned three for touchdowns.
The former third-round selection from Southern in the 1991 NFL draft was blessed with a nose for the ball. He was a Pro Bowler at both left and right cornerback as well as free safety, where he lined up his last two seasons in the league with the Rams.
Williams was also very consistent when it came to those takeaways. In six of his 14 seasons, he totaled at least five interceptions.
Now after being a finalist for the Hall for the third time in four years, he was the pick by the voters in 2014.
Turnabout is indeed fair play.
Snub: G Will Shields (Kansas City Chiefs)
What offensive lineman could have a better name, especially when it comes to protecting his quarterback and teammates, than Shields?
Apparently, there’s not been much in the name.
Former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields will have to wait at least one more year when it comes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This marked the third straight year that the 12-time Pro Bowler failed to get the call.
Yes, that is correct. A dozen Pro Bowls. As a matter of fact, make it 12 straight Pro Bowl invitations for the former third-round draft choice from Nebraska.
In 14 NFL seasons, Shields started 223 out of possible 224 games. He missed one start as a rookie in 1993 and then started the last 219 games of his magnificent career.
Outstanding play combined with consistency and longevity.
That call should be coming sooner rather than later.