February 5th, 2011. In a not surprising but still disappointing turn of events, Andre Reed, the best receiver in Buffalo Bills history, (omitting Terrell Owens, a likely first ballot HOF'er who played just one season in Buffalo), has been shut out of the NFL Hall of Fame again. We will look at several reasons why this happened and when we can expect to see Andre in Canton, if we ever will.
Chris Berman often spoke positively about the Bills, using his position on ESPN to laud them and sometimes predict them to be Super Bowl champions in his preseason predictions (not recently, however).
Yet, aside from Berman, its unclear whether or not Reed or the Buffalo Bills have been able to draw enough positive spin to push in their candidates. Guys like Deion Sanders, Shannon Sharpe and Michael Irvin have all taken advantage of both positive media attention during their careers and opportunities to get in front of the public on sports broadcasts. Something Reed has not been able to do, other than Pros vs. Joes, which isn't exactly Hall of Fame boosting exposure.
Despite Reed's greatness in the playoffs and regular season, which accounts for his pivotal role in "The Comeback" and his appearance in seven Pro Bowls, it was his disappearance on the biggest stage (0 TD's in four Super Bowls) that makes the biggest impression.
Especially of note is a lackluster 34 receiving-yard performance in Super Bowl XXVI on five receptions (6.8 YPC), ouch. In fact, if it weren't for a 152 receiving-yard performance in Super Bowl XXVII, Reed's stat line in the big game looks pretty average for a no. two receiver.
This lack of impact in the big game, coupled with the media's angst about the Bills appearing in four straight Super Bowls and losing them has to hurt Reed to some extent. Unlike his teammates who have made the HOF, Reed's lack of impact, fairly or not, is more indicting than the pedestrian efforts shown by Thomas, Kelly, etc. This is because wide receivers are supposed to make the big plays that spark turnarounds and lead to wins.
When you look at the late 1980's and mid-90s, the Hall of Fame voters' point of comparison in regards to Reed, you have to ask how does he compare to his contemporaries.
While Reed did compete in four Super Bowls, his inability to truly put his stamp on the era is also impacted by the success of other superstar wide receivers. The first comparison is to Tim Brown of LA/Oakland Raiders fame. In a side-by-side comparison, here are their career stats in several major categories. The stats are from http://www.pro-football-reference.com.
Pro Bowl Appearances:
These stats combined with the fact that Brown came into the NFL with more fanfare and appeal ( Heisman winner and star at Notre Dame) than Reed (4th-round pick out of Kutztown State?) and also played in a larger market (Los Angeles/Oakland) also make it hard for Reed to get ahead.
While Brown overshadows Reed's career production, and like Reed did not make the Hall of Fame this year, Cris Carter is another pass catcher who impacts Reed's bid for induction. Carter, who probably had more notoriety during his playing career than either Brown or Reed based on his media-grabbing ways, was also no slouch on the gridiron.Like Reed and Brown, he also missed out on the Hall of Fame this year. Here is how they match up stat for stat. Statistics from http://www.pro-football-reference.com.
Pro Bowl Appearances:
Sadly, this is after Carter went six seasons without registering 1,000 yds receiving while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles before a Minnesota Vikings career resurrection.
For guys like Reed, who when matched up against their contemporaries fail to stand out supremely (unlike say, a Jerry Rice), it often becomes a waiting game.
Reed without a doubt played in an era with some of the best wide receivers to ever play the game. He also played during an era where many other top flight recievers (Herman Moore, Andre Rison, Sterling Sharpe) sizzled. While it can be easily argued that Reed was more productive than many of the receivers in his era, he still has to bide his time, similar to Art Monk.
Hopefully for Reed it will not be long before he gets his time in Canton with teammates Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith and where he will join HOF contemporaries like Steve Young, Michael Irvin and many more.