Retirements create Hall of Fame logjam

Do you remember those days long ago when you graduated from college and started on the job interview circuit? Potential employers peppered you with inane questions and you fed them your rehearsed answers.

Adam Schefter's take: Now football does a wave it would rather not, waving goodbye to the players who simultaneously grew the game and their legacies.

One after another, the legends of the fall have become casualties of the winter and spring. It was as if Brett Favre threw open the door, then Michael Strahan and Jonathan Ogden exited through it, together, in the same week. More ...

One of the questions I always hated was, "Where do you expect to be five years from now?" That was always a tough one to answer.

For several NFL stars who recently announced their retirement, the answer is easy. They expect to be in Canton as first-ballot Hall of Famers in 2013. The problem is there may not be room for all of them right away.

Every offseason has its themes and storylines. One of the major stories of 2008 thus far has been the retirement of some of the NFL's brightest stars. Brett Favre, Michael Strahan, Warren Sapp, Jonathan Ogden, and Steve McNair, among others, have all announced that they are hanging up the cleats this year; Junior Seau and Larry Allen have not officially retired yet, but may still do so. All are worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But the Hall has some fairly strict guidelines governing entry into their select brotherhood. Those enshrined must be retired from the game for at least five years, at which time they become eligible nominees. Excluding Seniors Committee nominees, the maximum number that can be elected in a given year is five.

So come 2013, the fans in Canton's Fawcett Stadium should settle in, because we might very well be there a while until all these great players make their induction speeches, right?

So which of these great players will have hotel reservations in Ohio in five years, and which ones will have to wait? I decided to do a little head-to-head analysis to see which of these perennial Pro Bowlers should come first. Let's see if you agree.

I interviewed 40 callers on my Sirius Radio show and received another 36 e-mails from fans, and this is how the voting went. In order, they are:

1. QB Brett Favre

Years: 1991-2007 (Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers)
Career stats: 257 games, 8,758 attempts, 5,377 completions, 61,655 yards, 61.4 comp. percentage, 442 TDs, 288 INTs, 85.7 rating
Super Bowl appearances: 2
Super Bowl championships: 1
Pro Bowl appearances: 9
Records, awards and accomplishments:NFL 1990s all-decade team. Three-time league MVP. Owns every major NFL career passing mark including most TDs, most passing yards, pass completions, and passing attempts, most wins (160), most consecutive starts, most 3,000-yard seasons (16).

Notes and quotes: He is clearly one of the greatest players to ever strap on the pads. He led the Packers to 11 playoff appearances, seven division crowns, and four NFC Championship Games in his 16 seasons with the team. The only three-time MVP in league history, Favre's attitude, toughness, and winner's mentality are even more impressive than any of his records and stats and will be his lasting legacy.

Years: 1996-2007 (Baltimore Ravens)
Career stats: 177 games played, 176 games started
Super Bowl appearances: 1
Super Bowl championships: 1
Pro Bowl appearances: 11
Records, awards and accomplishments: Nine-time all-pro selection

Notes and quotes: At 6-9, 345 pounds, Ogden would still be one of the biggest players in the NFL, but what set him apart was his combination of size and athleticism. He was a dominant run blocker for a team that was defined by its running game for most of his career, and a shut-down pass protector who allowed fewer adjusted sacks than anyone in the NFL in 2006.

Years: 1993-2007 (New York Giants)
Career stats: 216 games, 854 total tackles, 141.5 sacks, 24 forced fumbles, 37 passes defensed, 4 INTs, 2 TDs
Super Bowl appearances: 2
Super Bowl championships: 1
Pro Bowl appearances: 7
Records, awards and accomplishments: 2001 NFL Defensive Player of the Year; NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 and 2003; Owns NFL single-season sack record (22.5 in 2001) and the Giants' career sack record (141.5).

Notes and quotes: Considered among the greatest Giants of all time, Strahan was a lethal pass rusher, but was also a stellar run defender and clubhouse leader who helped the Giants to seven postseason appearances, three division titles, and two NFC championships.

4. OG Larry Allen

Years: 1994-2007 (Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers)
Career stats: 203 games played, 197 games started
Super Bowl appearances: 1
Super Bowl championships: 1
Pro Bowl appearances: 11
Records, awards and accomplishments:NFL 1990s all-decade team.

Notes and quotes: Considered by many to be the strongest man to have ever played in the NFL. His strength and aggressiveness have made him one of the best offensive linemen in history. He is one of only three NFL players to have played three different O-line positions in the Pro Bowl (RG, LG, LT) and was a key blocker for the NFL's career rushing leader, Emmitt Smith, during his time in Dallas.

5. LB Junior Seau

Years: 1990-2007 (San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots)
Career stats: 257 games, 1,809 total tackles, 56.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 95 passes defensed, 18 INTs
Super Bowl appearances: 2
Super Bowl championships: 0
Pro Bowl appearances: 12
Records, awards and accomplishments: Eight-time All-Pro; 257 career games is second most by a linebacker in NFL history; NFL 1990s all-decade team; Has averaged 100 tackles per season and seven tackles per game over his 18-year career; NFL Man of the Year in 1994.

Notes and quotes: 18 years at linebacker in the NFL? Are you kidding me? That's worthy of an award in itself. But Seau has not only played the position, he has been one of the most consistent playmakers in the NFL over the last two decades. The intensity and athleticism he has brought to the game will become the stuff of legend. The only thing that is missing from his career is that elusive Super Bowl title.

6. DT Warren Sapp

Years: 1995-2007 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders)
Career stats: 198 games, 573 total tackles, 96.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, 30 passes defensed, 4 INTs, 1 TD
Super Bowl appearances: 1
Super Bowl championships: 1
Pro Bowl appearances: 8
Records, awards and accomplishments: Six-time All-Pro; NFL 1990s all-decade team; 1999 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Notes and quotes: Though his words off the field, and some of his actions on it, made him a controversial character for much of his career, there was no denying Sapp's impact on the game. He was a dominant interior pass rusher and defined the "three-technique" in the Tampa Two defense that has become a staple of many teams in the NFL. He remains the standard by which all players at the position are measured.

7. QB Steve McNair

Years: 1995-2007 (Houston/Tennessee Oilers/Titans, Baltimore Ravens)
Career stats: 164 games, 4,544 attempts, 2,733 completions, 31,304 yards, 60.1 comp. percentage, 174 TDs, 119 INTs, 82.8 rating; 3,590 rushing yards, 37 rush TDs
Super Bowl appearances: 1
Super Bowl championships: 0
Pro Bowl appearances: 3
Records, awards and accomplishments: 2003 NFL co-MVP; 1994 NFL Man of the Year.

Notes and quotes: Nicknamed "Air McNair" early in his career, the strong-armed quarterback was also known for his running ability and willingness to take a hit. As a result, he soon became renowned for his toughness and willingness to play through injury. Though his fearless style of play would eventually lead to an early end to his career, he was highly respected among teammates and opponents alike for his playmaking ability in the clutch.

Other possibilities

Keep in mind Broncos WR Rod Smith (three Pro Bowls), 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young and possibly former Bills, and current Bears offensive guard Ruben Brown (nine Pro Bowls) could also be candidates in an already crowded class of 2013.

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