About a week ago, I wrote about the thought processes I would use to vote for or against a player nominated for a sports Hall of Fame. What engendered that essay was the naming of the 2018 class of inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I pointed out specifically that I have never had such a vote, nor did I ever anticipate having such a vote; but that statement evidently primed this question from a reader:
“If you did have a vote for the NFL Hall of Fame, which current players would you vote for?”
So, let me adjust my glasses and put on as erudite a look as I can muster and go through a list today. I will surely miss some candidates here; I expect “nominations from the floor” and calls for removal of candidates from the list. Nonetheless, with trepidation here I go.
I’ll start with the QBs simply because the Pro Football Hall of Fame seems to take kindly to players at that position.
- Tom Brady – cannot be any argument here
- Drew Brees – cannot be any argument here
- Eli Manning – twice the MVP in the Super Bowl
- Philip Rivers – gaudy stats but no “playoff achievements”
- Aaron Rodgers – cannot be any argument here
- Ben Roethlisberger – cannot be any argument here
Running backs are difficult to project because lots of great running backs have short careers. Two examples of RBs with short careers who are deservedly in the Hall of Fame are Terrell Davis and Gale Sayers. I admit that I have done some significant extrapolation with some of the players here.
- LeVeon Bell – no extrapolation needed here
- Ezekiel Elliott – needs to prevent his off-field behavior from curtailing his career
- Frank Gore – longevity, durability and production put him on this list
- Todd Gurley – lots of extrapolation here
- LeSean McCoy – no extrapolation needed here
- Adrian Peterson – his off-field behaviors will make him a controversial candidate
Next come the tight ends – and there are not a whole lot of tight ends in the Hall of Fame. Tony Gonzalez will be eligible in the next couple of years; if he does not get in, then no one on my list here has a chance.
- Antonio Gates – from undrafted free agent to the All-Decade Team of the 2000’s
- Rob Gronkowski – a no-brainer in my opinion
- Travis Kelce – lots of extrapolation here
- Greg Olsen – a borderline call
- Jason Witten – talk about longevity, durability and production …
At the wide receiver position, I think there are 3 shoo-ins and a couple of possibilities.
- Odell Beckham, Jr. – possibly
- Antonio Brown – a shoo-in
- Larry Fitzgerald – a shoo-in
- AJ Green – possibly
- DeAndre Hopkins – an extrapolation here but an impressive start to a career
- Julio Jones – a shoo-in
- Jordy Nelson – possibly
If I am going to list offensive linemen here, I must admit from the beginning that I do not understand what the standard has been in the past for inductees. What I am going to list here are the offensive linemen (not by position) who stand out to me when I watch games on TV. Surely, I have over-valued some players here and have missed others completely.
- David DeCastro
- Jason Kelce
- Alex Mack
- Zack Martin
- Jason Peters
- Josh Sitton
- Joe Staley
- Trent Williams
On defense let me start with the defensive linemen and outside linebackers. Given the way defensive coordinators line up their resources, sometimes it is difficult to tell if a player is a defensive end or a linebacker. So, I’ll lump them together here.
- Joey Bosa – an extrapolation from a good start to his career
- Fletcher Cox – awfully good and awfully young
- Aaron Donald – awfully good and awfully young
- Everson Griffen – maybe yes, maybe no
- James Harrison – a stud for the last decade
- Justin Houston – a tackling machine
- Khalil Mack – a younger version of Von Miller
- Von Miller – has game-changing abilities
- Terrell Suggs – a stud for the last decade with some off-field issues
- Ndamukong Suh – anger management issues might keep him out
- JJ Watt – injury problems starting to catch up to him
As with the defensive linemen and linebackers, I will group together the cornerbacks and safeties since some players go from one position to the other.
- Eric Berry – seems obvious to me
- AJ Bouye – an extrapolation here
- Josh Norman – a real “shut-down corner”
- Patrick Peterson – a real “shut-down corner”
- Jalen Ramsey – a big extrapolation here
- Xavier Rhodes – needs only to stay healthy
- Richard Sherman – probably
- Earl Thomas – probably
Punters and placekickers get into the Hall of Fame as often as Cookie Monster shows dietary restraint. Therefore, I am not going to expend any effort on those positions. Even though I was not asked to do so, let me consider the coaches in the NFL who may wind up in the Hall of Fame down the road.
- Bill Belichick – a shoo-in
- Tom Coughlin – a shoo-in
- John Fox – took 2 different teams to the Super Bowl; he’s a longshot
- Andy Reid – if he wins a Super Bowl; otherwise he is a fat Marty Schottenheimer
- Mike Tomlin – 7 times in the playoffs and a Super Bowl win
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………