Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Predictions

Taking It to the House’s Editor Lloyd Vance believes that Shannon Sharpe will be part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010.  The announcement will be made Saturday in South Florida.

Super Bowl XLIV is right around the corner as the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints are ready to do battle.  But one of the bigger events of Super Bowl week is almost upon us, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010 will be announced on Saturday, February 6th.  Being a historian of the game, I absolutely love the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions each July, but each year when the classes are announced at the Super Bowl, the controversy soon follows.

No matter,  the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s fraternity will grow beyond its current 253 members as at least four and up to six worthy candidates will be selected to the PHOF from list of 17 finalists.

The 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame 17 finalists (15 Modern-Era and two Senior Nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years include:           

  • Tim Brown – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
  • Don Coryell – Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers
  • Roger Craig – Running Back – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings
  • Dermonti Dawson – Center – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Richard Dent – Defensive End – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
  • Russ Grimm – Guard 1981-1991 Washington Redskins
  • Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
  • Rickey Jackson – Linebacker – 1981-1993 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers
  • Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
  • Dick LeBeau* – Cornerback – 1959-1972 Detroit Lions
  • Floyd Little* – Running Back – 1967-1975 Denver Broncos
  • John Randle – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks
  • Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
  • Jerry Rice – Wide Receiver – 1985-2000 San Francisco 49ers, 2001-04 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Seattle Seahawks
  • Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
  • Emmitt Smith – Running Back – 1990-2002 Dallas Cowboys, 2003-04 Arizona Cardinals

Alright here is my best guess at predicting who will join the greatest sports fraternity of them all in my opinion.  To me all of the candidates are worthy and I also believe that there will definitely be several guys that won’t get the call on Saturday — checkout my Top 10 list of players deserving to be in the Hall of Fame for some other candidates that I felt should be in Canton. 

It will be interesting to see whom my fellow PFWA members vote-in when they get in the room.  I have been told by past voters, it can get very heated in the room as pro football writers from around the country usually are extremely passionate regarding players that they have covered.  To be elected by the 44-member Selection Committee, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.

1. Jerry Rice – In this year’s class, there are clearly two no-brainers.  I believe that Rice and Emmitt Smith will join the current group of 63 first- ballot Hall of Famers.  Probably the greatest receiver to ever play in the NFL and arguably the greatest football player of all-time.  Rice during his 20-year career set numerous records including most receiving yards (22895), most receptions (1549), and most receiving touchdowns (197).  The man they called “Gold Fingers” rose from tiny Mississippi Valley State University to being the most accomplished receiver in NFL history.  Rice may have not had blazing stopwatch speed, but he ran routes with precision and knew how to get separation when it mattered most.  Rice already helped to place his former Niners’ quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young in the Hall of Fame and now it is his turn.  A two-time NFL offensive player of the year (1987 and 1993), Super Bowl MVP (1988), 13-time Pro Bowler and 10-time First-Team All-Pro.

2. Emmitt Smith – When Jerry Rice and Smith both left football after the 2004 season, everyone knew these two all-time NFL record holders would go into Canton together as first ballot guys.  Smith is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher (18,355 yards) and has scored the most rushing touchdowns (164) in league history.  Over a 15-year career, Smith was the engine that powered the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in the ‘90s.  Sure other running backs may have been bigger or had more speed or moves, but the former Florida All-American reached the mountain top of runners by “determination”.  Smith running beyond great O-linemen like Nate Newton, Mark Stepnoski, Eric Williams, and Ray Donaldson always was able to run to daylight and kept the chains moving until taking it to the house.  Played for the Cowboys over 13 decorated years before ending his career with the Arizona Cardinals.  There was only one season where Smith didn’t reach 930 rushing yards in a season during his career.  NFL Rookie of the Year (1990), NFL MVP (1993), Super Bowl MVP (1993), 8-time Pro Bowler and 4-time First-Team All-Pro.

3. Shannon Sharpe – I thought last year that this one was a no-brainer, but I think 2010 is the year Sharpe gets in.  This former lanky too slow receiver from Savannah State, who became one of the greatest tight ends ever, deserves to get into the Hall of Fame.  I know the loquacious Sharpe, who now works as a CBS analyst, can plead his own case for the Hall.  But his resume really speaks volumes with his 815 career receptions for 10,060 receiving yards and 62 touchdowns, which all were NFL career records for tight ends at the time of his retirement 6 years ago. The man, who once stood in older brother Sterling’s shadow, simply put was one of the greatest pass catching tight ends ever.  The former best field-stretching tight end of 90’s had a career that included 8 Pro Bowls, 3 Super Bowls rings (two Broncos and one with the Ravens) and 5 selections All-Pro.  Move over Mike Ditka and John Mackey as a new tight end joins your ranks.

4. Cris Carter – Are you kidding me from the last two years when the man that ran the prettiest routes and had the stickiest hands in the ’90s didn’t get into the Hall of Fame.  Well in 2010, the doors in Canton, Ohio will open for one of my favorite players from Buddy Ryan’s Eagles.  Carter left the game in 2002 with 1101 catches, 13899 yards, and 130 touchdowns in a career that spanned 16 years.  The now ESPN analyst is too humble to toot his own horn, but the man known for “just” catching touchdowns in Philly was an artist especially on third downs and in the red zone for the Eagles, Vikings, and Dolphins.  Carter was physical and could make any catch low or high for the many quarterbacks that he played with including Hall of Famer Warren Moon.  It seems about time that Canton opens its doors to this 8-time Pro Bowler and 2-time first-team All-Pro player.

5. John Randle – With so many slam dunk type candidates for the 2010 class, some may overlook a player like Randle.  But I believe this undersized defensive tackle and former undrafted free agent from Texas A&M – Kingsville deserves to join football’s most elite fraternity.  Randle along with former Vikings teammate Chris Doleman were the cornerstone of one of the NFL’s toughest pass rushing front fours in the 1990’s.  This former 7-time Pro Bowl player and 6-time All Pro was not the biggest defensive tackle at 6’1, 290 pounds but he had an innate ability to beat larger offensive linemen off the snap and get to the quarterback.  Randle finished with 137.5 sacks in 219 games played.    As a high-motor player, Randle was an intense competitor who was known to paint his face and bark at the opposition.  Also this former Vikings stalwart over 11 years was a very good run stopper.  Over an 11-year period from 1991 to 2001, Randle averaged double-digit sacks with a high of 15.5 to lead the NFL in 1997. 

6. Dick LeBeau – There is a saying in the media, “Don’t Mess with the Seniors’ Committee”.  So if any year deserves a sixth candidate to enter the Hall of Fame, then it is this year as two worthy men (LeBeau and Floyd Little) were sent forward for voting by the committee.  Many may know LeBeau as the Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator of the current Pittsburgh Steelers. But there was a time from 1959 to 1972 that he was one of the fiercest cornerbacks in the NFL for the Detroit Lions.  During his heyday in the 1960’s playing for some very good Lions teams, LeBeau was a tough tackler against the run and also provided very good coverage.  Finished with 62 career interceptions (currently ranked 8th All-time) with a high of 9 interceptions in 1970.  A three-time Pro Bowl player with 11 seasons of 4 interceptions or more.  Much like 2006 inductee John Madden, if LeBeau is inducted it would probably be considered a lifetime award since most voters cannot forget his great work over the years as an assistant coach too.  Remember 2009 HOF inductee Rod Woodson lobbying for his former coach during his speech.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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One Response

  1. Hey which play from last night’s Super Bowl did you think was the best? Do you think it was Drew Brees 32-for-39 passing performance, what do you guys think?

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