2014 Hall of Fame  

 

Five takeaways from the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class

Color me shocked.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 was announced Saturday, and like so many of you who appreciate the history of the game, there were some surprises to go around.

Before we get to that, however, here's the final accounting of the newest enshrinees: Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson and Warren Sapp made it.

Carter missed the boat his first five years of eligibility. Culp and Robinson were two very deserving senior nominees. Below are some thoughts on the rest of the class, as well as those who didn't make it.

So without further ado, here are my five takeaways from this year's class. Would love to hear your reax as well... @Harrison_NFL is the place.

1. Sapp over Strahan

I was surprised not to hear "Michael Strahan" on Saturday afternoon.

It startled me that Sapp made it and Strahan didn't ... but that also provided a sense of how seriously Hall of Fame voters take the process. My sense was that Strahan's popularity and lingering in the (very) public eye -- and single-season sack record -- would win the day.

Sapp was not always the most well-liked player by the media. Yet, the voters proved that those things don't matter. A two-time All-Decade team member (1990s and 2000s), and an incredible interior defender, his 96.5 sacks are the second most all-time by a player who spent the majority of his career at defensive tackle.

2. NO CHARLES HALEY!?

Charles Haley is one of the greatest football players to ever put on a uniform.

Yes, he was eccentric. Yes, he was surly with the media. And he also happened to be as disruptive as Lawrence Taylor and Strahan. He was a hybrid of the two. A man who could rush the passer (100.5 career sacks) and play the run. After posting 63.5 sacks in six seasons as a standup linebacker in the San Francisco 49ers' 3-4 scheme, he became an All-Pro defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys.

Let's put that to the side. He was the best defensive player -- next to Ronnie Lott in San Francisco -- on two of the most successful teams ever, the '80s San Francisco 49ers and the '90s Dallas Cowboys. More importantly, he is the only player in NFL history with five Super Bowl rings.

3. Humility over Hubris

It was hard to think of anything else when seeing former offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden (Baltimore Ravens), and later Larry Allen (Dallas Cowboys), walk across the stage. Neither of these players is a "me" guy, and their quality traits were punctuated in their reaction to being named Hall of Famers. Allen admitted that he never thought of himself as a HOFer when he played. We're talking about one of the greatest players ever here, everybody.

During the broadcast of a Cowboys-Colts game in 1999, John Madden (a Hall of Famer himself ) said, "If I ever went back into coaching ... and I could take one guy with me, it would be that guy right there ... old No. 73, white."

That was Allen's number, of course. Big No. 75 in purple wasn't bad, either. Both of these men were All-Decade Team members (Allen was named twice), yet they now carry themselves as if they spent their whole career playing special teams.

Take note, Randy Moss.

4. Parcells and "contributors" are just as deserving as players.

You've probably heard it a lot over the last couple of years: Coaches, owners and front office people shouldn't be looped in with the legendary players of the game. Some feel they should have a separate place in the Hall of Fame for these guys.

Bologna. Would Curtis Martin have had a Hall of Fame career without Bill Parcells? Would Tom Brady have soared to Montana-esque heights without Bill Belichick? Taking it a step further, would Belichick ever have been a head coach without Parcells taking a chance on him as a 33-year-old defensive coordinator in 1985?

"Contributors" are just that. What is the NFL -- or any enterprise, really -- without contributions? Eddie Debartolo Jr. is next up in my book , at least in this area. More than former New York Giants general manager George Young, more than former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell. Former San Diego Chargers head coach Don Coryell is another key figure in pro football's history whose name should be called.

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2013 Hall of Fame Class Announcement

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the seven newest members for enshrinement in its 2013 class. Take a look some of the best photos from the press conference.
5. Left on the cutting room floor.

Coryell fits here, too. Haley already has been covered. So who are the next big names?

My initial reaction was similar to Hall of Fame voter and Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin, who lamented in NFL Network's "Hall of Fame Announcement Show" that next year's Hall of Fame class was probably rejected this year.

Michael Strahan is a Hall of Famer. Then there's Jerome Bettis, Charles Haley, Andre Reed and Aeneas Williams, all of whom made the cut down from 15 to 10 finalists. I firmly believe Debartolo will make it, especially if the 49ers win another Lombardi Trophy on Sunday. It doesn't hurt that his nephew, Jed York, runs the team.

In case you're wondering, some more premium names are coming up for the 2014 Class: Derrick Brooks, Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison. If all three of those guys make it, then some of the odd men out this year again will be odd men out next year.

So goes the process, and so goes the fate of even the greatest players in NFL History. Hey, but that's why any Hall of Fame is exclusive. It's supposed to be tough to get in, right?

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @harrison_nfl.

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