The 6 Most Undeserving NFL Hall of Famers

Brian LevensonContributor ISeptember 30, 2011

The 6 Most Undeserving NFL Hall of Famers

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    The debate rages in every sport: Should it be the hall of fame or the hall of very good?

    In baseball, many feel that scores of very good players have been let in, while the NBA and NFL seem a little more pure, but are they really?

    Here are six players whose career statistics don't fully convince me that they've earned their place in Canton, including one kicker. (That's right—for those who didn't know, they do let kickers in.)

Gale Sayers: RB/KR, Chicago

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    Listen to these outrageous stats: 68 games played, 4,956 yards, 54 total touchdowns.

    Oh wait, those aren't outrageous numbers at all. In fact, those are pretty average.

    They belong to Gale Sayers, who played less than five full seasons' worth of games, back when they played 14-game seasons.

    Sayers was a very good running back but never got the kind of touches that a modern running back sees year in and year out.

    For example, if Maurice Jones-Drew were to retire right now, he would have played in a few more games and have over 500 more rushing yards, 1,000 more receiving yards and 12 more total touchdowns. Sayers, known partially for his incredible kick-return skills, has only two more return TDs than MJD as well.

    If anyone tried to tell even a diehard Jaguars fan that MJD deserves to be a Hall of Famer right now, he'd get laughed out of town, so why is Sayers in the Hall?

Y.A. Tittle: QB

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    Y.A. Tittle was a good passer for his time. That's what I've got. For the time period when he played in the 1950s, he performed better than most.

    Of course, throwing the ball was secondary to the running game in the '50s, so basically Tittle has only two years with more than 3,000 yards, two years with more than 30 TDs and more total interceptions than TD passes.

    Really, he has 212 touchdowns and 221 interceptions. He comes in at around 55 percent completions, and looking at his statistics next to modern players, I have no idea why he is in the Hall of Fame.

    Some would say I'm comparing apples to oranges. Well, if your old-school apples can't even throw for 30,000 yards (28,339) in a 17-year career with no championship rings, when modern-era oranges reach 30,000 in eight years, I'm sorry, but I'd rather have some oranges.

    And do you know why I didn't list a team for Tittle on this slide? He played for four teams in his career, including the Baltimore Colts for three years, who were subsequently disbanded in 1951. For a guy who's supposed to be a Hall of Famer, why was he traded at the height of his career?

Lynn Swann: WR, Pittsburgh

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    All I hear about Lynn Swann is that he's "graceful" and "athletic" and that because he's from another era doesn't mean he's not worthy to be in the Hall of Fame.

    Well, I'm not sure I buy it.

    All that athleticism got him was 336 catches for 5,462 yards over eight years. In Swann's best season he had 61 catches for 880 yards. Now, maybe that would be impressive if yards and catches each counted double back then, but as it stands, those are very average numbers.

    Then there's his athleticism and leaping ability...what? Players aren't athletic in the NFL these days?

    All I see is a player who has three catches per game over his career and only played eight years. He also, by the way, only made the Pro Bowl in two of those eight years, so it's not like he was clearly the best player of his time. If he was, he would've been in the Pro Bowl every year or at least have dominant statistics.

    Swann had neither of those things, as far as I can tell.

Jan Stenerud: K, Kansas City/Green Bay

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    According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, there are three placekickers in the Hall of Fame. One of them, George Blanda, also threw for 26,000 yards as a quarterback. The second also played tackle full-time for the first half of his 21-year career. Jan Stenerud is the only one who was a full-time kicker in the Hall.

    From this, you would imagine that Stenerud would have made 80 percent of his kicks and hit from 60 yards, right?

    As it turns out, Stenerud is 373-of-558 on field goals, a whopping 66.8 percent. The Pro Football HOF site also mentions as a career highlight that Stenerud hit 17 50-plus-yard field goals in his career.

    If you were to throw a dart at the name of any active, 10-year veteran kicker, I would bet that that player would have a higher FG percentage and more kicks from range than Stenerud. So how is Stenerud in the Hall of Fame? He has to be one of the least deserving players in the Hall.

John Mackey: TE, Baltimore Colts

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    Mackey played for nine years in the NFL from 1963 to 1972. At 6'2" and 224 pounds, he wasn't exactly what we would consider a powerful tight end nowadays. In fact, he might actually have wound up at receiver at that size. In the '60s, however, he was a speedy tight end who could stretch the field.

    Mackey caught only 38 touchdowns, which I'm sure at the time was a good statistic. However, as only the second tight end to make the Hall of Fame, I don't think the bar was set too high at the time.

    He averaged less than three catches per game over his career and only really had five very productive years ("very productive" meaning over 600 yards receiving). His last two years in the league he had only 22 total catches for 253 yards. He caught no touchdowns in those two years either.

    All in all, I don't think Mackey has the longevity or overall statistical greatness to be in the Hall of Fame.

Bob Griese: QB, Miami Dolphins

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    Bob Griese is in the Hall of Fame for being an effective "ball-control" passer. He was on two Super Bowl winning teams, including the undefeated 1972 Dolphins. My question: Was he actually a good player?

    I had an interesting reaction when I saw that he was a "ball-control" passer. It was the first time in a while that I remembered being a "game-managing" QB wasn't always an insult. Still, is it worthy enough to get a guy into the Hall of Fame?

    Griese has 25,092 passing yards and a 77.1 passer rating. Yup, that's it.

    I'm sure his supporters will say, "But he won two Super Bowls and played effectively for some great Dolphins teams in the early 1970s." To those people I say, have you seen the stats on the 1971-1973 Dolphins?

    In 1971, the Dolphins were the No. 3 overall scoring defense and had more yards rushing than passing. In 1972, Griese only started five games, and the team had the No. 1 scoring defense and almost 3,000 rushing yards. In 1973, the Dolphins allowed just over 10 points per game. The team rushed for 2,500 yards, and Griese only passed for 1,422.

    The Dolphins' success is in no way related to Griese's play. The team had an extraordinary defense and three incredible runners in their backfield in Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris and Jim Kiick. Griese rode their coattails all the way into the Hall of Fame, even though he doesn't deserve to be there.


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