Early last year the 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was announced, and once again there were no Broncos inducted. There was anger and outrage, it was called a travesty, then it was called a travesty again. It was out of those posts a committee was born. No more weeping and gnashing of teeth, we're taking action. With John (Guru) advising and great help from Tim (Zappa), a committee consisting of Jezru, studbucket, and firstfan was formed with the purpose gathering data and opinions to create an organized campaign to get more Broncos in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To see the first post in this series, go here. The second post can be found here. The third and most recent post from November, can be found here.
To date, all of the MHR HoF Committee posts have been written using "we", as they reflected the opinions and actions of the entire committee. However, this post will be written primarily from my perspective. There's a good chance that John, Tim, Jess, and Don will agree with much of what I say here, but I don't want to put words in their mouths, so I will let them do the talking.
After the jump, I will try to step back, take off my orange-colored glasses (if possible) and look at what the chances are for both Floyd Little and Shannon Sharpe. I've spent much of the last 9 months corresponding with HoF voters, and I've tried to soak up as much information over the last month about the opinions on and merits of the 17 players up for induction. In addition to my feelings on Floyd & Shannon, I will also give you my thoughts on this class as a whole, and the chances that each of the other individuals have. We've done all we can, so now all we can do is hope, pray, and speculate.
On a related note: The Committee will begin meeting this Saturday at 9AM est, with the announcement to be broadcast on NFL Network at 5:00PM est. Have your browser locked to MileHighReport all day for up to the second coverage. Be sure to follow MHR on Twitter as well - @MileHighReport
Since this committee has spent the bulk of our efforts on "The Franchise", it's fitting we speak about him first. However, before I bore you with links and information, take a moment to re-acquaint yourself with Floyd through this highlight video.
Fluid, quick, and graceful, isn't he?
We'll start right off with the most important information: words directly from the voters. These are in response to the emails sent by those who saw Floyd play, and very eloquently stated the case for Floyd and described what he mean to them and the Broncos.
Thanks for your input <name removed>, I am already very familiar with the great Floyd Little.....
thanks for the Floyd Little video. What a runner! He's definitely on my consideration list.
as a member of the senior committee, I always make it a point to vote for the two players nominated by our committee, and this year will be no diffferent. Here's hoping enough of my colleagues do the same for a very deserving player. Best.
Thanks for taking the time to write. I'm in his corner.
you present a strong case for Floyd Little. While none of his lineman were named all-pro a couple were named to the Pro Bowl, George Goeddeke and Mike Current in 1969. This doesn't diminish Little's big heart and accomplishments.
I feel Dick LeBeau is a lock for election in the Sr's category and also feel Floyd Little has a very good chance to get the votes needed. I know he has your vote and I appreciate your passion. I hope you get good news on Super Bowl Saturday.
And one from Twitter:
thanks. He may be dicey. Some folks don’t like his stats. would be a shame if he misses after getting this far. I can use video
Those are good, but let's look at some more things before coming to a conclusion. That was only 6 of the 43 voters. What are non-voters saying about Floyd?
Do you know the average life expectancy of an NFL player? It's 58. And you're talking to a 67-year-old man. So I'm already on borrowed time. I don't have that many years left on this earth. I don't want to go in the Hall posthumously. No, sir. That's not for me. I need to be alive to enjoy the celebration with family and friends. Forget posthumously. If I'm not here to enjoy it, give the honor to somebody who's still breathing.
Pro-Football-Reference: HOF 2010: Floyd Little - I love the PFR blog. They love the game, useful stats, and the history of the NFL and I'm always learning things from them. However, they steadfastly believe Floyd does not belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and make a strong argument against his enshrinement. It's worth reading as you won't find a better case against Floyd's candidacy (much better than the dumb 3.9 ypc argument Peter King used). Here's their closing paragraph:
When I looked at the most dominant RBs in NFL history, Little ranked just outside of the top 60. He simply did not produce near to the level that's been set for the average HOF halfback. It may be through no fault of his own (perhaps like Vinny Testaverde) but we can only grade players on what they actually did. There have been a few players -- Butkus, Selmon, Sayers, Simpson -- who have made the HOF on bad teams because their production was outstanding. This year, Aeneas Williams wasn't chosen as a finalist despite playing for worse teams and achieving more honors. Unfortunately, Little's production falls short of outstanding. He was a very good running back, but for only five seasons, falling far short on quantity and quality. The quality of Dorsett's peak with the quantity of Earl Campbell's career is not one that deserves the highest honor pro football can bestow.
However, despite their opinion on Floyd, they still believe he has a "Solid" chance of making the HoF.
There is one statistic that favors Floyd: 9 of the 11 seniors candidates put up for induction have been inducted.
So yeah, enough analysis and blabbing from me, what are his chances? Good, but not great. Somewhere around a 65% chance to get in. Being a Seniors candidate is a boost, as is the strong support he's received from Denver fans, the Seniors Committee, and some of the older voters. However, those who are more statistically minded, don't want another RB in the HoF, or are younger will push against his induction.
Shannon has seemingly been the forgotten Bronco in all of this. Given that this is likely Floyd's one and only chance to get into the Hall of Fame, many fans and people associated with the Broncos have focused on Mr. Little and not on one of the top 5 tight ends to ever play football. Unfortunately, that includes the MHR Hall of Fame committee. As you may recall, Shannon was the 2nd of the two players we wanted to focus on getting inducted this year, because we found it ridiculous he was not a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. However, when Floyd was nominated by the Seniors Committee, we made the decision to drop everything and focus only on him. This was driven in part by the assurance from several voters that Shannon is a guaranteed Hall-of-Famer, and it just might take a little bit of time before he makes it.
Shannon's merits are well known. He was nearly impossible to cover, won 3 super bowls, and held nearly all relevant TE receiving records when he retired. His candidacy is slightly hurt by Tony Gonzalez's success and his supposed reputation as a poor blocker.
However, the major roadblocks this year come not from Shannon's credentials, but from his peers. Two players are considered absolute locks: Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice. Both played on offense. So did Tim Brown, Cris Carter, and Dermontti Dawson; all of whom are very strong candidates for the HoF. Given that there are 6 very strong offensive candidates and the voters' tendencies to include at least 1-2 defensive players in every class, this really hurts Shannon's chances. Especially because there are 4 other pass catchers (Rice, Brown, Carter, and Reed) against whom he may be measured (fairly or not).
Slightly above average. About a 55% chance. He will receive very strong consideration and will undoubtedly be in the mythical "top 7", but may just miss out, especially if Floyd misses out and the voters don't want to put 2 Broncos in the hall.
The Rest of The Field and Final Predictions
I could spend a few sentences on every player, describing them and their chances, but Pro-Football-Reference has already done that, and done a much better job than I ever could. Instead, I will sort the players into tiers then provide 2 different Hall-of-Fame classes. These are based solely on my opinion and research and are no more valid or important than your predictions. However, I have immersed myself deeply into this, so I would hope that would lend a certain level of credence to my thoughts and predictions. (Note: the link for each player is the PFR profile of him, I highly recommend reading it)
|They Will Make it This Year||They Will Make it Some Day||They Should Make it Some Day||Not Quite There||Why Are They on This List?|
|Jerry Rice||Tim Brown||Cortez Kennedy||John Randle||Roger Craig|
|Emmitt Smith||Cris Carter||Rickey Jackson||Russ Grimm||Don Coryell|
|Shannon Sharpe||Andre Reed|
|Dermontti Dawson||Charles Haley|
Below I lay out 5 possible HoF fame classes: What I Want, What I Expect, What PFR Wants, What PFR Expects, and What Peter King Expects (extrapolated from this article).
|What I Want||What I Expect||What PFR Wants||What PFR Expects||What PK Expects|
|Emmitt Smith||Emmitt Smith||Emmitt Smith||Emmitt Smith||Emmitt Smith|
|Jerry Rice||Jerry Rice||Jerry Rice||Jerry Rice||Jerry Rice|
|Shannon Sharpe||Cris Carter||Dermontti Dawson||Russ Grimm||Richard Dent|
|Rickey Jackson||Richard Dent||Cortez Kennedy||Cris Carter||Shannon Sharpe|
|Dermontti Dawson||Russ Grimm||Rickey Jackson||Shannon Sharpe||Russ Grimm|
|Floyd Little||Dick LeBeau||Dick LeBeau||Dick LeBeau|
|Floyd Little||Floyd Little||Floyd Little|
If you wish to debate or argue any of this with me, I'm happy to do so in the comments. All 3 of us expect Floyd Little to make it in, while 2 out of 3 expect Shannon to make it in. What would we do if we had 2 Broncos in the Hall in one year? Would that be a massive party or what?
Thanks for reading and thanks to all of you for all of your support and help throughout the entire year. This really has been a team effort, and as Tim mentioned, we can unequivocally say we have made a difference.