Today is the day. At 5 PM MST (7 PM EST), the Hall of Fame Class of 2011 will be announced on the NFL Network, with coverage from the other media stations and Mile High Report ongoing throughout the day. With every passing second, we come closer to learning the fate of Shannon Sharpe. Will he be snubbed from the hallowed hall of Canton, Ohio for the 3rd year? I certainly hope not and I know I'm not the only one.
Yesterday, the MHR Hall of Fame Committee (bfree2bronc, broncosmontana and I) presented a few excerpts from the email conversations we held with a number of the Hall of Fame voters. Today, we'll round out the field and speculate about whether or not Shannon Sharpe will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Hall of Fame meeting getting ready to start ... this should be interesting ...
In case you need a refresher, here are the list of Hall of Fame finalists, once again:
Richard Dent Chris Doleman
Chris Hanburger (senior committee finalist)
Les Richter (senior committee finalist)
Of those listed, only 5 modern finalists can be selected for the Hall of Fame while the 2 senior committee finalists are in a group of their own. Because of this, we'll be talking about only 5 slots from here on out. Those are the ones we are concerned about for Shannon Sharpe's induction.
If we're trying to fill those slots, we should start with the locks. There will be a ton of debate about whether or not Marshall Faulk or Jerome Bettis are locks, but there is nobody arguing that Deion Sanders won't make the Hall of Fame this year. He is a lock. I haven't seen a single projection that didn't include Primetime and I'll be extremely surprised if we don't see his name announced tonight.
With only four slots left, expect only one runningback to make the Hall of Fame this year. The rationale? Well, there has been a movement among voters to allow more defensive players into the Hall of Fame than offensive players. Here is a quote from one of the voters:
So which five would you pick for the Class of 2011? In making your selections, remember that the gap continues to widen between offensive and defensive players in Canton. In the game’s modern era, there have been 113 players enshrined on offense and only 68 on defense.
I’m of the belief that at the end of the day, when they close the doors on the Hall of Fame for good, the numbers need to add up. Right now they do not.
For this reason, I don't feel strongly that the runningbacks (Bettis, Faulk, and Martin) will be well represented. The offensive side of the ball is still stronger than the defensive finalists, so it's going to be interesting to see what the final count is.
Jerome Bettis name will receive a lot of chatter. He is deserving of the Hall of Fame, in my opinion, but since it is his first year being eligible for induction, the voters might see fit that he wait a year or two and allow another candidate in.
With that said, Marshall Faulk probably has a better chance to get in today. He is the best receiver/runningback in NFL history. He may not have reinvented the wheel - runningbacks have caught passes years before he stepped onto the field - but the numbers speak for themselves (12,227 rushing yards and 6,875 receiving yards).
Curtis Martin is on the outside looking in. He is probably the third best runningback on this list, right now. He has great numbers, but he didn't make the impact on the game that Faulk and Bettis did. I believe that Martin deserves the Hall of Fame, but not this year.
The defensive line is well represented on this finalist list. There are three defensive ends (Richard Dent, Charles Haley and Chris Doleman) and one defensive tackle (Cortez Kennedy). Of these players, I believe only one will get in. Richard Dent should be that guy. He recorded double-digit sack totals eight times in his career, including a streak of five consecutive years from 1984 to 1988. He led the NFL in 1985 with 17 sacks, becoming one of the integral members of the infamous '85 Bears defense.
From what I have been told, there hasn't been a whole lot of opposition that Dent is a better candidate this year than the other defensive ends on the list, but Cortez Kennedy is picking up some steam. For Kennedy, this is his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame. His 58 sacks from the defensive tackle position with little to no support from the rest of the Seahawks defense gives him a very good argument for induction this year. With that said, the committee doesn't often grant induction to a player unless his impact is completely indisputable. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out because the decision on Cortez Kennedy will cause ripple effects throughout this draft class.
Since we're on the topic of linemen, let's talk about the offensive linemen on the finalist list, Dermontti Dawson and Willie Roaf. I think that Roaf deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but not this year. Maybe the voters feel differently, but judging off of some of the replies the MHR Hall of Fame Committee received, many of the voters believe that a player shouldn't get in on the first year of eligibility unless there is no doubt that they deserve it. If you consider the first year candidates (Sanders, Bettis, Faulk, Martin and Roaf), Willie Roaf can't be considered in the top three and will have to wait because of it.
Dermontti Dawson will get in, eventually, although I'm not sure it happens this year. The Steelers have an abundance of busts in the Hall, already, so it shouldn't bother anybody that they miss out this year.
Wide receivers (Chris Carter, Tim Brown, and Andre Reed) will give Shannon Sharpe some problems. Andrew Mason points out:
Sharpe has a better case, but with the statistical standards for wide receivers changing, there is some urgency in the room about Brown, Carter and Reed and their long-term candidacies may never be better than they are now.
There is a ton of truth in that. The voters will likely consider that, but I still find it hard to believe that more than one wide receiver will be inducted this year. If it was a weaker class, all around, then this group of wide receivers would seem far more formidable. However, since the class is pretty well rounded, I believe that we'll see more variety in this class. If more than one wide receiver is inducted this year, it would come as a bit of a shock to me. Not a major shock, but a shock, nonetheless.
Ed Sabol is in a group, all his own. As the founding father of NFL Films, there is no debate that he changed the way we view the game of football. His contributions to the sport are unquestionable. His chances for the Hall of Fame, however, are difficult to predict. Of all the Hall of Fame finalists, Ed Sabol's are the most murky. While there is no question that his contributions have helped shape the NFL into what it is today, a lot of people would argue that he shouldn't be placed into the Hall of Fame over a deserving player.
Then, there is Shannon Sharpe.
From yesterday's article, it's clear that Shannon Sharpe does have a solid core of voters that do believe he will get in. Will that be this year? I will say this... he has a much better shot at induction now than he has had in the past two years. If you're not aware, already, the voters have some sort of unwritten rule about first year candidates. Unless you are one of the indisputable greats like Emmitt Smith, John Elway, or Jerry Rice, you might have to wait.. I think many of us can agree that you either are a Hall of Famer or you aren't... but, again, that's just how the process works.
I'm not knocking Shannon Sharpe. He should be a Hall of Famer. He was not a first year candidate, though.
His second year of eligibility was last year. The Broncos already had Floyd Little being inducted as a senior committee candidate, so it makes sense that Shannon Sharpe wasn't included, as well. We, as Broncos fans, had our fun last year.
With this being his third year of eligibility, his odds of being inducted are better than the previous two. I'm optimistic.
(Not speaking for the rest of the MHR HOF Committee) My predictions for the 5 modern Hall of Fame inductees are:
Since all we can do is speculate for another few hours, what are your predictions for the Hall of Fame Class of 2011?
Hall of Fame Class of 2011 Announcement: The Committee will begin meeting today, with the announcement to be broadcasted later that day on NFL Network at 7:00PM 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
The Path of the MHR Hall of Fame Committee: 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 from November 2009, can be found here. After the successful campaign for Floyd Little and the celebratory post from here, here, and here, the committee passed the torch to a new slate of members. Bfree2bronc, broncosmontana and Troy (kentuckybronco) became the new faces of the committee. The mission continues. The walls of the Hall of Fame will be painted orange and blue.