Photo Essays  


Published: Nov. 6, 2013 at 01:02 p.m.
Updated: Jan. 9, 2014 at 07:22 p.m.

Hall of Fame cases for ...

The Pro Football Hall of Fame recently released its list of 126 modern-era nominees for 2014. NFL Media historian Elliot Harrison will judge cases for induction in a recurring feature on With a list this large, there are sure to be disagreements, so hit up Elliot on Twitter @Harrison_NFL to share your opinion. Today, we look at the six running back nominees who are members of the 10,000-yard club.

6 Photos Total

  • Ottis Anderson 6

    Doug Mills/Associated Press

    Ottis Anderson

    The MVP of Super Bowl XXV, Anderson's signature moment always will be NFL Films' slow-motion take of his forearm uppercut against Mark Kelso. While Anderson's Giants won that Super Bowl on the strength of his 102 rushing yards and one touchdown, "O.J." likely will lose in the Hall of Fame game ... as in, the voting process. For starters, Anderson has been eligible for 15 years and not received much of a sniff. He rushed for 10,273 yards over an impressive 14-year career, but the bulk of that good work was done for a St. Louis Cardinals team that accomplished little.

    Hall probability: Slim to none.

  • Tiki Barber 5

    Chris Gardner/Associated Press

    Tiki Barber

    A late bloomer, at least in terms of his NFL career, Barber finished his 10-year Giants tenure on an absolute tear. Over his last five seasons, he gained 10,274 yards from scrimmage, leading the NFL in that category in 2004 and '05. During that time, you could say Barber was one of the best running backs in the league, which is key in the Hall conversation. Barber's 15,632 scrimmage yards rank 12th all time. Nine of the players in front of him are in the Hall, and the other two -- LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Owens -- eventually will be there, too. Although not overly popular, Barber at least has a case.

    Hall probability: Slim. With fewer backs putting up big numbers these days, Barber might get a look from the seniors committee 20 years down the line.

  • Jerome Bettis 4

    Steve Rasmussen/Associated Press

    Jerome Bettis

    "The Bus" is without question one of the greatest, most productive, big backs of any era. His 13,662 rushing yards rank sixth all time. He also boasts notable hardware: a Super Bowl ring and a Rookie of the Year award. His run to the Super Bowl was highly documented, not to mention he delivered several clutch performances off the bench late in his Steelers career. While Barber has more yards from scrimmage, most league observers tend to value rushing yardage more, fair or not fair. Bettis' 91 rushing touchdowns (tied for 10th overall with fellow Steeler great Franco Harris) and longevity make him a more than viable candidate. If Curtis Martin is in, then shouldn't Bettis be?

    Hall probability: Very good to excellent.

  • Warrick Dunn 3

    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Warrick Dunn

    Does it surprise you that Dunn is a member of the 10,000-yard club? Well, if it surprises you, then it likely surprises voters, as well. That's not always a good thing. Part of being a Hall of Famer is being eminently memorable. Dunn gained 15,306 yards from scrimmage. That's an impressive number, but it's considered more a result of him being a solid player for an extended period of time. Essentially, he never was considered a premier running back -- some didn't even believe he was the best player in his own backfield, at least with the Buccaneers (Mike Alstott). Dunn put together five 1,000-yard seasons with the Bucs and Falcons, and he's a classy guy, but he probably won't ever be in a Hall of Fame class, unfortunately.

    Hall probability: None.

  • Eddie George 2

    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Eddie George

    The old AFC Central had more than only one big back. The same year Jerome Bettis joined the Steelers, George was drafted by the then-Houston Oilers. From 1996 to 2000, he actually was more consistent than Bettis -- George's lowest rushing total during that period was 1,294 yards. That said, George's career went in sharp decline as injuries and five years of carrying the load for the Oilers and Titans affected his burst and ability to get to the second level. After his best season in 2000, when he rushed for 1,509 yards on a staggering 403 carries, George never averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry again. Those final years in Tennessee, as well as an ill-fated final season in Dallas, might cloud a brilliant career in voters' minds.

    Hall probability: Slim to none.

  • Ricky Watters 1

    Dan Loh/Associated Press

    Ricky Watters

    Ooh, tough call. You can make a case for Watters. He ran for 1,000 yards seven times. He won a Super Bowl with the 49ers and is one of two players in league history to run for 1,000 yards with three different franchises. Watters piled up 10,325 rushing yards in his first nine seasons and still was going strong entering his 10th campaign. Then he got hurt early in 2001, opening the door for a young Shaun Alexander, who, ironically enough, also is on this year's Hall nominee list. Talk to people who covered Watters, and they'll tell you he was a heckuva football player. His cocky attitude -- see: the infamous "For Who? For What?" incident -- probably doesn't help his candidacy. That said, he was consistently productive, no matter where or with whom he played.

    Hall probability: Slim to moderate. A possible seniors candidate as negative memories fade.

Discuss ()