Top 10 Players Deserving To Be In The Pro Football Hall Of Fame

LVCorrespondent IAugust 3, 2009

DENVER - DECEMBER 7:  Tight end Shannon Sharpe #84 of the Denver Broncos drags along linebacker Shawn Barber #59 of the Kansas City Chiefs December 7, 2003 at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado.  The Broncos won 45-27.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
In the coming years, former NFL greats like Marshall Faulk, Jonathan Ogden, and Deion Sanders will be surefire candidates to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So with inductions in Canton, Ohio ready to take center stage this week, I thought now was a good time to list some players/contributors who are not in the Hall of Fame but deserve to be enshrined.

TE Shannon Sharpe 

This should have been a no-brainer last year.

Sharpe went from a former lanky, too slow receiver at Savannah State to being one of the greatest tight ends ever. I know the loquacious Sharpe, who now works as a CBS analyst, can plead his own case for the Hall. But his resume really speaks volumes with his 815 career receptions for 10,060 receiving yards and 62 touchdowns, which all were NFL career records for tight ends at the time of his retirement five years ago.

The man no longer known simply as Sterling’s little brother had a career that included eight Pro Bowls, three Super Bowls rings (two Broncos and one with the Ravens) and five All-Pro selections. He should join Charlie Sanders, Mike Ditka, Kellen Winslow, and John Mackey in the Hall of Fame’s Tight Ends Wing.


WR Cris Carter 

Are you kidding me the last two years!

How could the man that ran the prettiest routes and had the stickiest hands in the 90s not get into the Hall of Fame? Hopefully in 2010 the voters will come to their senses and the doors in Canton will open for one of my favorite players from Buddy Ryan’s Eagles.

Carter left the game in 2002 with 1,101 catches, 13,899 yards, and 130 touchdowns in a career that spanned 16 years. The now ESPN analyst is too humble to toot his own horn, but the man known for “just” catching touchdowns in Philly was an artist, especially on third down and in the red zone for the Eagles, Vikings, and Dolphins. Carter was physical and could make any catch low or high for the many quarterbacks he played with, including Hall of Famer Warren Moon.

With one of his pupils Larry Fitzgerald (former Vikings ballboy) starring now in the NFL, it is only fitting that the Hall opens its doors to this eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro player.


DE Claude Humphrey 

Many people may not remember Humphrey as a player, but he was a dominating defensive force from the great Tennessee State teams of John Merritt of the late 1960’s. Humphrey was a cat-quick defensive end that was equally stout against the run and pass. Selected in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft by the Falcons, Humphrey for years toiled for a defensive unit that, in my opinion, did not get enough recognition around the NFL.

Humphrey started out his career strong by winning the 1968 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and continued his excellence for more than 13 years. He was selected to the Pro Bowl six times and was picked first-team All-Pro twice.  I remember him coming to my hometown Eagles in 1979 to solidify Dick Vermeil’s defensive line, and even at the age of 35, he helped the Eagles reach their first Super Bowl in 1980. I am not sure the number of sacks that this legend put up, but who cares as he was a spectacular two-way end that deserves his spot in Canton.


QB Randall Cunningham

He is a three-time MVP and a four-time Pro Bowler who is also the NFL’s career rushing leader for quarterbacks (4,928 yards). He passed for almost 30,000 yards and was considered the NFL’s ultimate weapon in the 90s. Cunningham almost led the Vikings to the Super Bowl in 1998—they lost in the NFC Championship game to the Atlanta Falcons—and helped his team set a then NFL-record 556 points in one season. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, and Baltimore Ravens.


RB Terrell Davis

T.D.’s career was cut short by injuries, but who was better than him during his brief career that produced two Super Bowl titles and a 2,000-yard season. Davis was a three-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro selection in his too quick seven-year career. He finished with 7,607 yards.

Davis played for the Denver Broncos after being drafted in the sixth round in 1995.


DE L.C. Greenwood

Greenwood was another cornerstone of the Steel Curtain (Dwight White, Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes, and Greenwood). The gold-shoed pass rusher produced six Pro Bowls, two All-Pro honors, and four rings.

Greenwood needs to join Joe Greene in the Hall as one of pro football’s greatest D-lines needs to be better represented. He was a 13-year veteran that only played for the Steelers.


Punter Ray Guy

Guy should be the Hall’s first punter as I say no one had better hang time than this Raiders great. He was a great athlete with a crazy strong leg. Guy was a seven-time Pro Bowler and nine-time All-Pro player that averaged 42.4 yards per punt with a long of 77 yards. He is a former first round pick out of Southern Mississippi who played for the Raiders in a 14-year career that saw him win three Super Bowls.


DB Johnny Sample 

This smooth corner from Maryland-Eastern Shore paved the way for today’s tough, flamboyant cover corners. Sample was “Deion Sanders” back in the 50s and 60s, backing up his bravado with sticky coverage. This 11-year veteran played and won in the 1958 NFL Championship, which many call “The Greatest Game Ever” (Played for the Colts in the win over the Giants) and Super Bowl III, which is said to be “The Greatest Upset Ever” (Played for the NY Jets in the win over the Colts). 

Some say it was Sample that helped Joe Namath make the prediction heard around the world. He had 41 INT’s in his career.


CB Lester Hayes 

Mr. “Stick Um” from the Raiders glory teams of the 1980s was unbelievable at taking away teams receivers. With his partner Mike Haynes already in, Lester needs to be in.  Did I mention that he made five Pro Bowls and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1980.

He played 10 years for the Raiders, producing five Pro Bowls and one All-Pro selection with 39 career interceptions.


RB/KR Herschel Walker

Everyone remembers the infamous trade from Dallas to Minnesota. But this guy was one the best all-around players in the NFL. This 12-year NFL veteran amassed 5,000 return yards and 13,000 yards from scrimmage. Plus let’s not forget his three-year career in the USFL for the NJ Generals, where the former University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner produced a pro football single season rushing record 2,411 yards in 1985 and had 5,562 total rushing yards.

He Played for the NJ Generals (USFL), Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.


Best of the Rest:

Oakland Raiders QB Jim Plunkett, SF 49ers RB Roger Craig, Philadelphia Eagles CB Eric Allen, Dallas Cowboys DE Charles Haley, Giants QB Phil Simms, Green Bay Packers OG Jerry Kramer, Denver Broncos LB Tom Jackson, Steelers center Dermontti Dawson, Redskins KR Brian Mitchell, Saints LB Sam Mills, Broncos LB Randy Gradishar, Patriots DL Jimmy Lee “Earthquake” Hunt, Rams RB Kenny Washington (NFL re-integration pioneer), and Rams TE Woody Stroud (NFL re-integration pioneer). 

Non-Playing Contributors: former NFL assistant and head coach Buddy Ryan, NFL Films pioneers Ed and Steve Sabol, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and Browns/Ravens owner Art Modell


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


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