The greatest individual achievement a football player can have bestowed upon them – to be inducted into the pro-football hall of fame. Every Sunday you hear the same thing about the same guys: “Well he’s going to be in canton one day.” The likes of Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Drew Brees and, of course, Tom Brady – they are as close to locks for the hall as you can get. The league is currently filled with great players, but who gets into the hall and who remains on the outside looking in? Let’s dive into some of the more interesting cases.
Never has the league been so divided on a player’s place in history. If the hall of fame was based on the play offs alone, Julian Edelman would be a first ballot hall of famer, no question. 4 Super Bowl appearances (not including the 2017 super bowl he missed due to an ACL tear), 3 Super Bowl victories and 1 Super Bowl MVP. His 1412 receiving yards and 115 receptions in the play-offs both rank second all time, only trailing the greatest of all time, Jerry Rice.
Where Edelman falls short is his regular season production, or lack there of. The former college quarterback was drafted into the league in 2009 in the 7th round by the Patriots. Since then, Edelman has played with a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder, fighting for every yard and accolade. The voters for the hall can be stingy when it comes to the wide receiver position. Players like Isaac Bruce who boasts an impressive 15,208 career receiving yards, good for 5th all time, are yet to be inducted. Where is Edelman on that list? 202. He has the 202nd most receiving yards (at the time of writing). He still has a couple of years to climb the list and make his case. In the end, he will need the voters to look at what he did in January and February. Sadly, Julian will probably never see canton.
Unlike the man above him, Frank Gore does not lack the statistical pedigree for the hall of fame. Over the last 15 seasons the NFL has seen the work horse that is Gore. With over 15,000 career rushing yards, good for 4th all time, he has etched his mark on the league as one of the hardest workers in the history of the NFL. A third round pick by the 49ers in 2005, by his second season he had made his presence known when he rushed for over 1600 yards, made his first Pro-Bowl and was named for the second all-pro team.
However, since then he has not been named for the all pro team (1st or 2nd) and has never led the NFL in rushing yards or touchdowns. The knock on Gore is that he was never considered the best back in the game or a transcendent player – something the voters will certainly use against him. Whether it was Ladainian Tomlinson breaking the touchdown record or Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson rushing for 2000 yards in a season, the consistency of Gore has been overshadowed by the greatness of others. But his success did not come off the back of anyone else, playing for bad 49er teams in the early days of Alex Smith did not stop his emergence in the league and Aged 33 he rushed for over 1000 yards with one of the worst offensive lines in Indianapolis. Although the voters may make him wait a few years, Frank Gore is deserving of a bust in canton.
The hall wants a transcendent player? Look no further. Antonio Brown. He has been the league’s best receiver for almost a decade, He’s got the numbers and hes a generational talent, yet nobody’s stock has fallen further than Brown’s over the last 6 months, and that could cost him when he becomes eligible for the hall of fame one day. As for ‘ABs’ output thus far, he ranks 35th in career receiving yards with 11,263, he’s a 4 x 1st team all pro, 7 x pro bowler, has led the league in receptions and yards twice, the accolades go on and on.
But after the 31 year old was traded out of Pittsburgh to the Oakland Raiders, a flurry of incidents came down on the silver in black. Suffering frost bite in a Cryotherapy chamber accident that caused him to miss multiple days of camp, the refusal to change his helmet and threatening to retire over it, recording and releasing private conversations with head coach Jon Gruden and then, oh yeah, he got into an altercation with general manager Mike Mayock that led to his release.
To think they gave up a third and a third and a fifth round pick for that. Since then, he has been signed and released following a 13 day stint with the Patriots after reports came out that he had sent threatening texts to an old trainer of his who had accused him of sexual misconduct. If AB ever plays in the NFL again, sure he could right his wrongs and build upon an already stellar career, but the voters have already shown what they think of disruptive wide receivers when they made Terrell Owens wait 2 years.
Our editor @duncanterry took a look at Julian Edelman and other wide receivers to talk about the positions evolution last week, check that out next