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Best Bets For NFL Hall of Fame in 2011

Jerome Bettis is up for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2011 Jerome Bettis is up for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2011

This year’s class of finalists for induction into the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame include 14 modern day players, of which, four or five will be inducted into the Hall. Five players are eligible for the first time this year – Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin, Deion Sanders, and Willie Roaf. So who will get the big honor in Dallas on the day before Super Bowl Sunday on February 6?

The other nine modern day players are Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Shannon Sharpe, Andre Reed, and Dermontti Dawson. Here, we'll take a look at the offensive candidates.

One of the strongest candidates is Tim Brown. How this guy didn’t get voted in last year, his first year of eligibility, is baffling. He retired with the second most receiving yards in NFL history behind Jerry Rice; third in NFL history with 1,094 catches; and also third with 100 touchdown receptions. He was in the league for 17 years and posted 1,000+ yards for nine straight seasons with the L.A./Oakland Raiders. He was also a remarkable punt/kick returner. For voters to overlook Brown again in 2011 would be a mistake.

And if Tim Brown deserves in, it’s hard not to say that Cris Carter also deserves to be there. Carter’s 130 touchdowns and 1,101 catches are both better numbers than Brown’s, placing Carter second on the all-time list in each category. Carter had eight straight 1,000+ yard seasons, all with the Minnesota Vikings.

But both Brown and Carter have been finalists in previous years, and they’re still awaiting induction. So maybe the committee has something against receivers. Or maybe it’s the absence of post-season success that’s keeping these guys out of the Hall. Whatever the case, it’s hard to see how Andre Reed, best known as the Buffalo Bills' all-time leading receiver, would make it in before Brown and Carter.

It’s a tough field out there. Shannon Sharpe still isn’t in, and he’s been eligible for longer than either Brown or Carter. Sharpe retired as the leader in yards, receptions, and touchdowns for tight ends, and has three Super Bowl titles to his name. Go figure.

With this year’s inclusion of Faulk and Martin on the offensive side of the ball, it’s even less clear who belongs in the Hall of Fame. Not to mention the other running back on the list, Jerome Bettis.

Best known as a Pittsburgh Steeler, Bettis retired as the NFL’s fifth leading rusher of all-time with 13,662 yards, and he’s got a Super Bowl ring. Bettis was a big part of Pittsburgh’s success during his tenure with the Steelers, a dominant and powerful running back who seemed unstoppable in short yardage situations.

Martin was incredibly consistent, racking up 10 straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons starting with his rookie year. He captured the NFL rushing title in 2004 with 1,697 yards, and retired as the league’s fourth all-time rusher.

And yet, it may be Faulk who is the strongest candidate among running backs. He was one of the most versatile running backs ever, becoming just the second player in NFL history to rack up 1,000 yards in both rushing and receiving in the same year, setting the record (at the time) for yards from scrimmage with 2,429. He would go on to gain over 2,000 yards from scrimmage in three more seasons, the first player to hit that mark for four seasons in a row. He was an NFL MVP and won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams.

As for Roaf and Dawson, there are no stats to measure the performance of offensive linesmen, so unless you saw these guys play a heck of a lot, the argument is pretty speculative.

It’s tough to predict who will make it into the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Cris Carter, and Tim Brown are all great choices, and are all classy characters who would cherish the honor on the day before Super Bowl XLV. But we haven’t even touched on the defensive candidates, who only make the field more competitive. One thing is certain, the Hall of Fame inductions always make for a fun part of Super Bowl weekend, and this year in Dallas on the eve of the showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers at Cowboys Stadium will be no exception.


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Tim Brown was one of the greatest NFL wide receivers of all time.
Last modified on Thursday, 04 October 2012 13:44

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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