The 2011 Hall of Fame class was announced on Saturday, and one position was noticeably absent from the newest inductees. The wide receivers, who were very well represented on the list of 25 finalists, all failed to earn enshrinement for yet another year.
Andre Reed, Tim Brown and most surprisingly Cris Carter all failed to earn enough support to claim their place in the Hall yet again. And while there is still plenty of time for all of them to eventually get in, I can't help but wonder, what exactly is taking so long?
All three receivers rank in the top 10 in career receptions, while all three also hold spots in the top 11 in receiving yards. And they all currently reside in the the top dozen in all-time touchdown receptions. As wide receivers who all played in the same era, and played during the time when the league was transitioning from a running league to a passing league, they were three of the very best.
In today's NFL, with so many more rules being incorporated to benefit offenses, and with a higher emphasis on passing than ever before, there is no doubt that in due time all three of these men will be surpassed in terms of their all-time rankings.
But, for the time period in which they played at their peak levels, there is no denying how impressive all of their accomplishments truly were. And such impressive individual performances should be rewarded with spots in the Hall of Fame.
Andre Reed, seemingly the longest shot of the three to be inducted, enjoyed a stellar 16-year career. He currently ranks 10th all time with 951 receptions and ranks 11th with 13,198 receiving yards.
Reed also knew how to get into the end zone, as he ranks 12th all-time with 87 touchdown receptions. He was also a seven-time Pro Bowler, going consecutively from 1988 to 1994.
At the time of his retirement, following the 2000 season, Reed ranked third in receptions, fifth in receiving yards and sixth in receiving touchdowns.
From the Buffalo Bills' four-time defending AFC Champion teams of the early 1990s, Reed is currently the only one of the big three offensive playmakers—Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas being the other two—not in the Hall of Fame.
Tim Brown was drafted sixth overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 1988 NFL draft out of Notre Dame, and for the better part of the next 16 years, was the face of the franchise.
Brown certainly put up Hall of Fame caliber numbers during his playing career. He currently sits fourth, with 1,094 receptions. His 14,934 receiving yards also rank fourth all-time, and his 100 receiving touchdowns put him in a tie for sixth all-time, with Hall of Famer Steve Largent.
Brown is a nine-time Pro Bowler who had 75 or more catches in a season on 10 occasions, and had nine seasons racking up at least 1,000 yards, doing so each year from 1993 to 2001.
During the first half of his career, Brown was also used by the Raiders as the punt returner. For his career on special teams, Brown ranks fifth all-time with 3,320 punt return yards, and also scored three touchdowns by way of the punt return.
At the time of his retirement following the 2004 season, his only year not in a Raider uniform, Brown ranked third in receptions, second in receiving yards and in a tie for third in receiving touchdowns.
And finally, not making the cut for this year's Hall of Fame class at the wide receiver position was Cris Carter. After a few seasons in Philadelphia, Carter went to Minnesota where he became one of the premier receivers in the game.
Over his illustrious career, Carter recorded 1,101 receptions for 13,899 yards, which rank third and eighth all-time, in their respective categories. He also scored 153 touchdowns through the air, which currently has him in a tie with Terrell Owens for second all-time.
Carter went over the 1,000-yard mark for a season eight times in his career, and three times he led the league in receiving touchdowns. In 1994 and 1995, Carter recorded 122 receptions in each year. That marks the fourth-best single season total in history.
His 244 receptions over that two-year period is also the second-best two-year period in history, only being beaten by the 252 receptions of Marvin Harrison between 2001 and 2002.
Carter is an eight-time Pro Bowler and a two-time first-team All-Pro. Upon his retirement, after an uneventful 2002 with the Miami Dolphins, Carter ranked second in receptions, fourth in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns.
So, it seems pretty clear cut to me that all three of these men are more than qualified to be in the Hall of Fame.
And it is certainly not to take anything away from the seven well-deserving men who were elected to the 2011 class, but it just seems the voting panel dropped the ball once again by leaving out three of the best receivers to ever play the game.
For Andre Reed, Tim Brown, and Cris Carter, the only thing missing from the list of credentials is a Super Bowl title, but other than that, it should be blatantly obvious that along with Jerry Rice these three men were easily three of the top four wide receivers of their generation.
And if that alone isn't Hall of Fame worthy, than you would think that sooner or later their career numbers would begin to speak for themselves.