The Way Too Early Canton Semi-Finalist and Finalist List
Initial reactions and picks for the NFL Hall of Fame
Yesterday, the modern-era nominees were announced for the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
108 players made their way onto the list with 11 first timers. You can see the full 108 player list here. Included in the list are 53 offensive players, 35 defensive players, 5 special teamers and 12 coaches.
The 108 will be taken down to 25 in November and then the 15 finalists announced in January. The enshrinees will be announced Superbowl week, or more specifically, February 3rd.
Trying to manipulate the 108 will be a tough job for the committee tasked with selecting Hall of Fame players. Through my observation of the list, there were some players that puzzled me and some I did not know who they were. The first time I looked at the list I made a heart judgement call on who would make the cut. I came up with 35 players and coaches. To my shock, I was closer to 25 than I thought. How can I knock ten players off the list? It feels almost impossible to shrink a list of super talented players. Yet, on a second pass through my list of 35, some could be dropped out based on who is around them — instead of being divided up by position on the story.
10 in the cut down:
QB Simms, RB Barber, RB James, WR Johnson, C Saturday, G Hutchinson, LB Z. Thomas, S Harrison, Coach Schottenheimer, Coach Vermeil
Here are my 25 semi-finalists:
RB Herschel Walker, FB Lorenzo Neal, WR Randy Moss, WR Isaac Bruce, WR Tory Holt, WR Terrell Owens, T Tony Boselli, C Matt Birk, G Alan Faneca, T/G Joe Jacoby, C Kevin Mawae, DE Richard Seymour, DE Simeon Rice, LB Teddy Bruschi, LB Ray Lewis, LB Brian Urlacher, DB Ronde Barber, CB Ty Law, S Brian Dawkins, S John Lynch, K Gary Anderson, Coach Don Coryell, Coach Bill Cowher, Coach Jimmy Johnson, Coach Richie Pettibon
Some players were on the fence for me like Simeon Rice but, he is 19th all-time in sacks with 122 — which I was not aware of. On Football Reference, I came up with players with of at least 120 career sacks and I got only 20 back. Of the 18 players ahead of Rice on the list, 11 are already Hall of Famers and four or five will be Hall of Famers down the road (Julius Peppers, DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, and maybe Robert Mathis). This easily put him over for me.
Tiki Barber fell out of the top 25 for me because he did not have the impact he could have had in his first five years. Also, in his career he is behind Fred Taylor, Stephen Jackson, Corey Dillon and Jamal Lewis in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. All of those players are fringe candidates already.
The definition of toughness, Lorenzo Neal, made my top 25 not because of rushing yards or statistics, but because he defined the era of fullbacks during his playing career. Each team knew that when Neal was lined up in the ‘I’ or “offset I” that he would be as tough of a block to shed, if not tougher than one of his offensive linemen. The man only scored 18 touchdowns in his career but led the way for LaDainian Tomlinson’s historic years in San Diego.
Now why would a kicker be a semi-finalist two years in a row? Well, Gary Anderson had a similar impact to that of 2017 inductee Morton Anderson. Morton, Gary and Adam Vinatieri are the only kickers in NFL history to kick more than 500 field goals (Vinatieri is third with 531). If you take away Morton Anderson’s final two seasons that he kicked for Kansas City (the only two years he played without Gary also in the NFL), Gary Anderson finished with 18 more field goals and scored 76 more points overall.
The 15 Finalists
LB Ray Lewis, WR Randy Moss, T Tony Boselli, C Kevin Mawae, CB Ty Law, S Brian Dawkins, LB Brian Urlacher, S John Lynch, WR Terrell Owens, WR Isaac Bruce, G Alan Faneca, DE Simeon Rice, T/G Joe Jacoby, C Matt Birk, Coach Jimmy Johnson
My 7 2018 Hall of Fame Enshrinees
Ray Lewis, LB
Randy Moss, WR
Tony Boselli, T
Brian Dawkins, S
Kevin Mawae, C
Joe Jacoby, T/G
Terrell Owens, WR
*P.S. 2019 will have Ty Law (who barely lost out to Jacoby because it is Jacoby’s last year of eligibility), Alan Faneca, and Simeon Rice*