2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Predictions

When the names are announced for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011 on Saturday February 5th , Taking It to the House believes that contributor Ed Sabol (NFL Films founder) will be on the list

Super Bowl XLV is right around the corner as the Steelers and Packers are preparing to do battle.  But one of the bigger events of Super Bowl week is almost upon us too, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011 will be announced on Saturday, February 5th.  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.

I am sure their will be some cantankerous moments when the PHOF’s 44-member Selection Committee try to decide on the inductees. No matter the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s fraternity will grow beyond it’s current 253 members as at least four and up to seven worthy candidates will be selected to the PHOF from the list of 17 finalists.

The 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame 17 finalists (15 Modern-Era and two Senior Nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years include:           

  • Jerome Bettis – Running Back – 1993-1995 LA/STL Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • 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
  • 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
  • Chris Doleman – Defensive End – 1985-1993 & 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-1995 Atlanta Falcons, 1997-1998 San Francisco 49ers,
  • Marshall Faulk – Running Back – 1994-1998 Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005 St. Louis Rams
  • Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
  • *Chris Hanburger – Linebacker – 1965-1978 Washington Redskins
  • Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
  • Curtis Martin – Running Back – 1995-1997 New England Patriots, 1998 – 2005 New York Jets
  • Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
  • *Les Richter – Kicker, Middle Guard, Middle Linebacker —  1954-1962 LA Rams
  • Willie Roaf – Offensive Tackle – 1993–2005 New Orleans Saints
  • Ed Sabol – Contributor (NFL Films), who has been associated with the league since 1966
  • Deion Sanders – Cornerback, Return man, Wide Receiver –  1989-1993 Atlanta Falcons, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-1999 Dallas Cowboys, 2000 Washington Redskins, 2004-2005 Baltimore Ravens
  • Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens

Alright here is my best guess at predicting whom will join the greatest sports fraternity of them all in my opinion.  To me all of the candidates are worthy and I believe that there even might be a couple of other guys missing from the list — checkout my Top 10 list of players deserving to be in the Hall of Fame for some of the players 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.

1. Deion Sanders – This is a no-brainer.  Yes…Prime Time was a showboat, wasn’t a physical tackler, and rubs some fans the wrong way.  But there is no denying that this man defined a “Shutdown Corner”.  Sanders was a tremendous athlete that had track sprnter’s speed, a short memory, and the swagger of a rock star.  Say what you want, Deion backed it up on the field.  Even in his later years after coming out of retirement to play for the Baltimore Ravens, this 8-time Pro Bowler and 6-time First-Team All-Pro could match-up with any NFL receiver.  And don’t forget Prime maybe the NFL’s greatest punt returner too. He truly was “Too Legit, To Quit”!   Finished his career with 53 INTs including an NFL record 9 going to the house.

2. Marshall Faulk – This one is a layup too as none of the other RB’s up for selection this season could do so many things, so well on the football field.  Faulk was a running back, who could block, catch, and run with almost anyone in NFL History.  The former San Diego State star, who should have won the Heisman (but that is another story), was the engine that made Dick Vermeil’s Greatest Show on Turf offense go.  This 7-time Pro Bowler and 3-time First-Team All-Pro left the NFL with a league record 19,154 combined rushing and receiving yards (12,279 rushing and 6,875 receiving) .  A former Rookie of the Year, MVP and Super Bowl winner….Faulk is in.

3. Shannon Sharpe – I can’t believe we are still having this conversation. This is a no-brainer, in my opinion.  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 5 years ago. The man longer known simply as Sterling’s little brother 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. Willie Roaf – If you needed to get 1-yard, running behind big Willie would be a good option.  This big physical offensive tackle, who defined the position in the 1990’s deserves to be in the PHOF.  Roaf was a massive man blessed with quick hands and good feet that cleared the way for running backs like Mario Bates, Ricky Williams, Deuce McAllister, and others.  This 11-time Pro Bowler and 3-time First-Team All-Pro was a quarterback’s best friend too as he held his own against NFL legends, like Reggie White. 

 5. Chris Hanburger – An old-school stay at home and make the tackle linebacker will finally get his due.  Hanburger is being nominated as a Seniors Committee candidate, but he should have been recognized a long time ago.  Played in a steady leadership type way throughout his distinguished 14-year career, all with the Washington Redskins.  He was the glue of George Allen’s great Over-the-Hill Gang defenses of the 1970’s.  Was an intregal part of Washington’s 1972 Super Bowl runner-up team.  This 9-time Pro Bowler & 4-time First-Team All-Pro finished with 19 INTs and 17 fumble recoveries in his career.

6. Ed Sabol – If you ever want to know where the history of the NFL lives, take a pilgrimage to Mount Larel, NJ . The patriarch of venerable organization, NFL Films, has been associated with the league since filming Super Bowl I back in 1966 and definitely deserves to be selected as a “contributor” into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.   Sabol and his son, Steve, have helped make the National Football League into a national media treasure with their breath-taking films that bring the heart  and soul of Pro Football to life.  It would be a travesty, if Ed Sabol does not get his day in the sun, this summer in Canton, Ohio.

7. Charles Haley – A dominating force at the defensive end position who won 5 Super Bowl rings.  Haley was a two-way end that quarterbacks feared and was equally stout against the run.  Though quiet off the field, this former small school find (James Madison) was a ferious game-breaker in getting to the quarterback and making big plays.  Though I still believe that Deacon Jones and Reggie White were the two greatest pass rushers of all time, Haley should join them as he was one of the greatest sack masters from the 1990’s. This 5-time Pro Bowler and 2-time First-Team All-Pro finished his distinguished career with 100.5 sacks and 26 forced fumbles.

 

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

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