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Examining the 2015 NFL Hall of Fame Finalists

Schlosser’s Spotlight on NFL Hall of Fame Finalists

There is no greater fraternity in the world of football than the NFL Hall of Fame. This is where the elite players are sorted from all the rest, where their names are immortalized, their faces cast in bronze. You don’t get a gold jacket unless you’ve left your mark on the game.

Last night, we took one more step on the journey toward finding out who will be allowed to enter the Hall this year. The 15 finalists have been announced.

Three of the finalists are eligible for the first time. They are:

Orlando Pace
Junior Seau
Kurt Warner

One interesting thing about Pace and Warner is that they played together. Is that going to detract from them? Did Pace look like he was blocking well because he had a superstar like Warner getting the ball out in time—not to mention Marshall Faulk running behind him? It probably won’t, but it will be interesting to see how things pan out.

Still, Warner and Pace were a set of teammates for the ages. When Warner was leading the Greatest Show on Turf, with Pace keeping him upright, it really was impossible to find a team that was more fun to watch. To think he’d been stocking shelves at a grocery store before getting his NFL shot at age 27.

Junior Seau never got the rings that he deserved, but he was one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever seen on the field. He gave his all on every snap. He was a leader, and he was the heart and soul of the San Diego Chargers.

The other finalists were as follows:

Jerome Bettis
The Bus. This guy was a bruiser like we’ll probably never see again in the modern NFL. I remember watching him just run over half the team on his way into the end zone. He also got a hero’s sendoff, winning a Super Bowl in his home town and then calling it a career.

Terrell Davis
Davis has been eligible for nine years, and he’s never before been a finalist. This is a guy who ran for 2,000+ yards, who carried the Denver Broncos to a pair of Super Bowls. Those were John Elway’s teams, but the difference was Davis. It’s great to see that he’s finally getting the recognition that he deserves. His career may not have been long, but he accomplished everything a running back can possibly hope to accomplish.

Tim Brown
It’s sometimes hard to remember the Raiders’ glory days with the way the franchise has been lately, but Brown started there back in 1988—they were the L.A. Raiders back then—and set all sorts of records. He had 100 touchdowns in his career, and he was a big part of the high-powered offense that got the team to their last Super Bowl appearance, adding almost 1,000 yards that year.

Kevin Greene
Greene was a defensive end to fear, putting up 160 sacks over the course of his career. That puts him at third overall in history. In ten separate seasons, he was able to get 10 or more sacks; that kind of production for such a long time, and at such a physically demanding position, is hard to ignore.

Charles Haley
Haley has been snubbed repeatedly, now with 11 years of eligibility. What makes Haley stand out? Literally no player has won as many Super Bowl rings as he did—though some coaches have. He won the title five times, giving him a ring for each finger.

Morten Anderson
There’s only one other pure kicker in the Hall, and Anderson is seeking to become the second. After all, he’s scored more points than any other NFL player. In history. Ever.

Jimmy Johnson
I can’t think of any reason that Johnson isn’t already in the Hall, except that he was only in Dallas for five years. Maybe if he’d stayed for 10, he’d be there. Still, those five years were enough to pick up two Super Bowl rings for America’s Team, creating Cowboy legends that people are still talking about.

Tony Dungy
Dungy got his start in Tampa, and he really built the team that Jon Gruden took to a Super Bowl victory. Not to take away from Gruden’s abilities at all, but that was Dungy’s team. Dungy proved it, too, winning his own Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

Marvin Harrison
Speaking of Indianapolis, Harrison tore it up there for almost a decade straight, with eight seasons in a row that topped 1,000 yards. He also had double-digit touchdowns in those eight years. While most players just hope they can stay in the league for eight years, Harrison was the best year in and year out.

Don Coryell
Without Coryell, would the modern NFL passing game look quite like it does now? With the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers, he put together big-play offenses that could air it out with the best of them, really breaking through into what the NFL would become, even back in the 1970s.

Will Shields

Shields had a standout career, perhaps evidenced most by his consistency. He went to 12 Pro Bowls. They say it is consistency that really makes a player great, and it’s hard to be more consistent than that.

John Lynch
Lynch played safety the way you’re supposed to play safety: He knocked people out. His best years were in Tampa Bay, and included that Super Bowl win with Jon Gruden; to be honest, that was one of the best defenses I’ve ever seen. It may not have lasted long, and Lynch moved on to—and still played very well in—Denver, but that Bucs team was special, with him leading the way. He also had longevity on his side, with a 15-year career and more than 1,000 tackles.

 

Today’s Pigskin Wants to Know:

The term "pancake" was coined to represent Orlando Pace.

The term “pancake” was coined to represent Orlando Pace.

Which former NFL Players will represent the Class of 2014?

Which current NFL Players are first-ballot Hall of Famers?

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