Hall of Fame 2015  

 

Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Picking the semifinalists

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Seems like it was just the other night that Andre Reed was yelling -- in a high-school football stadium, no less -- about how the Bills would stay in Buffalo. That prognostication, made at the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, came true. And I'm not going to try to top it. So when thinking about the Class of 2015 and the pending cutdown from 113 modern-era nominees to 25 semifinalists, I decided not to attempt to predict who will go on to the next step. No, we're going in another direction this time around.

Below is a stick-and-move look at the 25 nominees who I think should be in line for Hall consideration, presented in alphabetical order. And don't forget to vote on who you think should move on.

Morten Andersen, kicker: If another kicker is getting into the Hall soon, this is the guy. Andersen is the NFL's all-time leading scorer. He also hit a clutch shot from 38 yards out to win the 1998 NFC Championship Game for the Atlanta Falcons.

Jerome Bettis, running back: Was Bettis one of the 10 greatest running backs to ever play? No. But with over 13,000 rushing yards -- and an equal like Curtis Martin already in the Hall -- Bettis certainly has an argument.

Tony Boselli, offensive lineman: When I spoke with Walter Jones at the Hall of Fame about Jonathan Ogden and Orlando Pace, he took the time to explain that Tony Boselli was the guy he studied. Dominant -- if short -- career.

Tim Brown, wide receiver: Brown's numbers might not stand out compared to what receivers are doing in today's pass-centric game, but people should remember that many of his 1,094 receptions -- fifth-most all-time -- were thrown by mediocre quarterbacks.

Don Coryell, coach: He was a true innovator, in that he improved on the existing passing philosophies of Sid Gillman to develop the "Air Coryell" offense. The NFL hasn't been the same since.

Terrell Davis, running back: Who cares if Davis' career was shortened by injury? He was the dominant offensive player of the late 1990s. To quote the great Clark Gable: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Done.

Tony Dungy, coach: Putting the social impact of Dungy's 13-year tenure as a head coach aside, the mild-mannered leader turned around one franchise (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) while shepherding another (the Indianapolis Colts) to the Lombardi Trophy.

Kevin Greene, linebacker: Many observers have wondered how the greatest pass-rushing linebacker this side of Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas isn't in the Hall. Count me among them. He racked up 160 sacks.

Charles Haley, defensive lineman: I don't care who else is up for consideration; I will fight and fight and fight for Haley. So will Michael Silver. So will Eric Davis, his former teammate. Haley has five Super Bowl rings and was the defensive linchpin of two killer franchises (Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers). Isn't that enough? Come on.

Marvin Harrison, wide receiver: Voters are not supposed to consider off-the-field incidents (or alleged incidents). Thus, the guy with eight straight seasons of 1,100-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns should be in.

Edgerrin James, running back: James' brilliance seems to have been overshadowed by the glow of Peyton Manning's Colts career. James led the NFL in rushing his first two years out of the gate and piled up over 15,000 yards from scrimmage in 11 seasons. Underrated.

Mike Kenn, offensive lineman: A true technician at left tackle, Kenn toiled in relative anonymity for the Atlanta Falcons for 17 seasons. My colleague, Jamie Dukes, told me that Kenn was the best lineman he played with.

Ty Law, defensive back: Law -- an outstanding cover corner from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s -- was honored in New England on Thursday night. He picked off 53 balls -- including three Peyton Manning passes in the 2003 AFC Championship Game.

John Lynch, defensive back: A hard-hitting safety who successfully switched positions three years into his career, Lynch was part of an elite triumvirate of Hall-worthy Bucs from the Tony Dungy era.

Tim McDonald, defensive back: Talk about a stud. McDonald was one of the first great defensive players on a bad team that I remember watching. His incredibly high football IQ led him to six Pro Bowl berths.

Sam Mills, linebacker: Though he was a stud in the USFL, no one wanted to give him a chance in the NFL. Of course, once he got one, he became a stud there, too -- for 12 seasons. He was a five-time Pro Bowler, to boot.

Orlando Pace, offensive lineman: Kurt Warner's teammate on those "Greatest Show on Turf" St. Louis Rams teams, Pace played at a level commensurate with contemporaries -- and Hall enshrinees -- Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones. Enough said.

Buddy Parker, coach: Parker coached the Lions to NFL Championship Game appearances in 1952, 1953 and 1954, winning the first two. He also built the championship-winning '57 team. #YesThereWasSuccessInDetroit

Junior Seau, linebacker: Along with Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Reggie White, Seau was one of the premier defensive players of the 1990s. And, like White, the veteran of two decades left us too soon. He's a shoo-in for Canton.

Will Shields, offensive lineman: The further we get from Shields' playing days, the less fans will remember him as one of the most consistent performers to ever suit up at the guard position. He made 12 Pro Bowls.

Steve Tasker, special teams: The top-flight special teams player of the modern era deserves a spot in the Hall. If people always think of Tasker first whenever they think of great special teamers, well ...

Everson Walls, defensive back: Walls was the first player to ever lead the NFL in interceptions three times (Ed Reed matched that mark since) and a four-time Pro Bowler. Somehow, though, his name never seems to come up. #shame

Herschel Walker, running back: If it's the Pro Football Hall of Fame, shouldn't the USFL's best player -- a guy who amassed over 25,000 yards between his time in that league and in the NFL -- be an easy call?

Kurt Warner, quarterback: Warner was the point man for three Super Bowl teams spread among two different organizations. Any guy who leads the Arizona Cardinals to the big game deserves special mention. So does his toughness.

Ricky Watters, running back: Watters was a complete offensive player, amassing over 10,000 rushing yards while catching 467 balls. He gained 1,000-plus yards on the ground for three different franchises (the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks).

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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