Pace, Harrison snubbed from Hall of Fame


PHOENIX -- For the second straight season, the Pro Football Hall of Fame committee passed on enshrining Colts receiver Marvin Harrison in favor of a vastly inferior receiver. And yet it wasn't particularly a big surprise.

The stunning omission from Saturday night's announcement of the Canton class of 2015: Rams tackle Orlando Pace was not on the list.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2015 has been announced. See who made the cut.

Pace was apparently punished for his relatively short peak as an elite player. But he earned three first-team All-Pro nods in his career, just like Harrison. That's three more than Raiders receiver Tim Brown, who was chosen for enshrinement.

There are going to be "snubs" and surprising choices every season. This happens when only five modern candidates can be chosen every year, and there are too many Hall of Fame-worthy candidates. But we still have a hard time understanding why the selection committee chose inferior candidates just because those players have waited longer.

Tim Brown had 23 fewer touchdowns and fewer catches than Harrison despite playing four more seasons. Harrison was first or second team All-Pro eight times. Brown made the second team once. The comparison between those two receivers illustrate a point that has often bothered me about the Hall of Fame. Voters often reward long periods of consistency over shorter stretches of true brilliance. Harrison makes no sense as a snub, though, because he combined "elite" play with great longevity. He was consistently a top-five receiver in the NFL; Brown was not.

Pace's omission is also curious. We'd argue that he was more dominant at his peak than any player chosen for induction on Saturday. Like Harrison, he will surely make it to the Hall of Fame someday. But that's part of the problem. Why should he have to wait for his turn while inferior players get in?

There was a sense in Phoenix this season that it was Brown's time. Like Andre Reed last year, the thought was that Brown had paid his dues. He was a Hall of Fame finalist so many times and the "logjam" at wide receiver would never free up if Brown didn't get in now. That sounds like politics instead of sports. The better teams get rewarded on the field. But the better players often have to wait during the Hall of Fame process.

It is great to see Charles Haley finally make the Hall of Fame. Chiefs guard Will Shields is more than deserving. But no one who watched Orlando Pace and Jerome Bettis' career could possibly say that Bettis was the more dominant player.

This is why the Hall of Fame is such a fascinating process to follow. It asks us to compare all-time greats, and there are going to be disagreements among all of us that love the game. I just can't defend a process that leaves Pace and Harrison off this list.

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