What Tennessee players might make the Hall of Fame?

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Now that we’ve finished selecting the Tennessee-era team, it’s time for me to take a look at which of those players might some day achieve football immortality and be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Don’t worry-I won’t be writing nearly as many words about each player as I did about Frank Wycheck.
Before I begin the analysis of other players, one note on Wycheck. Please check out this post on the Top 10 TEs of all-time, inspired by the NFL Network program on the same topic. I’d planned to mention the program when I did this post (it aired after I did that), and then JKL wrote that post. Note which name JKL does not mention in his discussion of the top 10 TEs of all-time. Anyway, on with the other players.
There is, of course, one Tennessee-era player already in the Hall. Bruce Matthews was inducted last summer, and deservedly so. So, who might be joining him?
Steve McNair will not be. Quarterback is, perhaps, the easiest position from which to make the Hall. Alas, though, McNair’s resume is not nearly at that level. He was truly an excellent quarterback for one to three seasons (definitely 2003, probably 2001 and 2002). He was a good player in other years, but overall wasn’t good enough for long enough.
Eddie George is another player who won’t be making the Hall of Fame. The best comp is probably Earl Campbell-4 or so excellent years, then a declining career. Except, in those four years, Earl had some of the greatest seasons in league history and single-handedly took what had been a mediocre team to the playoffs. Eddie in his best years was only very good, and was no more the mediocre after 2000.
There are a whole passel of WRs who’ll be up in the years before and after he becomes eligible. But, from 2000 to 2003, Derrick Mason was one of the top 5-10 WRs in the NFL. But, with all the players with relatively similar statistics coming up, he probably needed 5 more years of very good play to have a realistic shot.
Brad Hopkins had a solid 13 year career, but only made two Pro Bowls. He probably needed at least 6 more, plus a couple All Pro honors to have a shot.
If they weren’t centers, Mark Stepnoski and Kevin Mawae might have a chance, with Mawae having a slightly better shot (less easily dismissed as part of a dominant line, New York tenure). Subjectively, I put both behind Dermontti Dawson and Kent Hull in terms of Hall chances.
Albert Haynesworth needs three more years like he had in 2007 to have a realistic shot. Can Albert do that? Probably. Will he? I doubt it.
Kyle Vanden Bosch needs at least five more years like the last three to have a realistic shot. Compare to, say, Chris Doleman. Doubtful.
This hurts. Keith Bulluck for the past 5-6 years has been one of the top 4 OLBs in the NFL. And he only has one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro appearance to show for it. A ridiculous joke, alas, but such is as it is. It’ll surely hurt his chances when he comes up for enshrinement, which will be an awful shame. There are a number of LBs who haven’t made it, like Randy Gradishar, Karl Mecklenburg, Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, and Bryce Paup, all of whom have more media honors than Bulluck, and are almost certainly above him in the quest for enshrinement. Life sucks, but that’s the way it is.
Pacman Jones. If he can play for five or seven more years like he did in 2006, he’ll deserve to make it. Cue the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz.
Blaine Bishop. Great career for an 8th round pick. Four Pro Bowl appearances. No shot at the Hall.
Well, I think that’s everybody who might have a shot based on what they’ve shown so far. I haven’t looked at every young player, just because Pacman is the only one who played at an All Pro-type level. If there are any players you think I missed, or anybody you want me to write more about, please let me know about it in the comments section. You may also disagree with me, of course, but you’re very likely wrong if you do.

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11 Responses to “What Tennessee players might make the Hall of Fame?”

  1. Dave Says:

    How about John Runyan? He has been a pretty consistent performer in his NFL career. Lorenzo Neal?

  2. Tom Gower Says:

    Unless the fullback position makes a shocking resurgence, Larry Csonka will be the last fullback elected to the Hall of Fame, or the last to play (retired in ’79).
    Since I mentioned Hopkins, I probably should have mentioned Runyan as well. One Pro Bowl appearance should be all you need to hear.

  3. bobcomu Says:

    I think you are probably right , although a couple may have an outside chance down the road. McNair is in pretty elite company in terms or passing yards and rushing yards. In a different offense I think he could have been a whole lot closer. Also Eddie was always very underrated in my opinion. You mentioned Campbell leading an average team to the playoffs, well I dont think the Titans of his day would have been near as successful without George humiliating oppossing defenses late in the fourth quarter. As for Mawae, I think that he will be in sooner rather than later, the Titans will just be an after thought on his plaque. I still think weather he makes it in or not that you must have something against Wycheck.

  4. Dave Says:

    I personally feel like pro-bowl appearances are highly overrated. Of course I don’t get a hall vote, but look at how many pro bowls Keith Bulluck has been to. He absolutely deserved to be in quite a few more. Roy Williams ( of the cowboys) has been quite a bit more than he has deserved. Are you telling me R. Williams belongs in the HOF before Keith Bulluck

  5. Tom Gower Says:

    Bob, thanks for commenting.
    I think you underestimate just how bad the Oilers in the mid-70’s were and how good Earl was, and how well the team would have done, and overestimate how much effect Eddie had. Keep in mind also that Eddie never topped the league in rushing yards, and only once was in the top 3-2000, when he had the 5th most carries of all time. Among backs who overlapped him, I think he’s behind all of Emmitt Smith, Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis, Terrell Davis, LdT, Marshall Faulk, and in with the second rank guys like Ricky Watters, Tiki Barber, Fred Taylor (more career yards than Eddie), Shaun Alexander, Warrick Dunn, and Jamal Lewis (will very likely pass Eddie in the next 2 years in overall yards). There are a TON of RBs in the Hall, but that’s a lot of guys who’d have to make it.
    Eddie’s best comp is probably O.J. Anderson-roughly the same number of career yards, and another guy who was considered a good back but rarely thought of as being the top back in the league. Even with a Super Bowl MVP trophy (XXV, with the Giants, after he’d dropped “O.J.” for “Ottis”), Anderson hasn’t come close.

  6. Tom Gower Says:

    Dave,
    I agree that Pro Bowls are often a bad measure for player quality. But, they are voted on by the media, and media people are who vote for the Hall (though I do have more respect for the HOF selectors, who tend to take their jobs seriously, than I do for the NFL writer at large). Still, for players like offensive linemen, who have no individual stats that help us judge our quality, they’re probably the best measure we have for judging how good a player was thought to be.
    I greatly prefer All-Pro mentions to Pro Bowl votes, simply because it’s harder to be elected every year just because you’re Roy Williams, or Jonathan Ogden, or Bruce Matthews (honestly, he deserved to make it a lot, but not every single year the way he did). But, you don’t get quite as much good data with All-Pro teams, especially because you tend to have a lot of 1-year wonders who’ll crowd out consistently excellent players.

  7. bobcomu Says:

    No I think you underestimate the importance of George. At the peak of their run, 99 and 2000, they were not a run first team they were a run all of the time team. Remember this was before they took the reins off of McNair, all he did at the time was run the ball too. If Eddie was just a good back who was filling a spot then why couldnt Brown or anyone else since do the same thing? Because Eddie was more than that, he was the heart and driving force of the one of the best teams in the league. And no they would not have been that without him in the backfield.

  8. Tom Gower Says:

    Andrew,
    Thanks for the input. I’m skeptical, just because there are so many RBs from the same era who put up numbers that were as good as or better than Eddie’s. They can’t all go in, can they?

  9. Tom Gower Says:

    Bob,
    Thanks again for commenting. In 1999, the Titans actually threw more than they ran, calling 1.15 pass plays for each rush. That ranked them 10th in the league in terms of run-weighting. League average was 1.24. The Bucs ran the most, .89 pass plays per rush, while the Bears threw the most, calling 1.73 pass plays for each rush.
    2000 does more to prove your point-the Titans were 2nd in the league in fewest passes per rush, at .84, just behind the Steelers at .83 and just ahead of the Dolphins at .85. League average was 1.19. Surprisingly, perhaps, the Jamal Lewis-led Ratbirds threw almost exactly as much as they ran (9th-most rushes, at .99). The Chargers threw the most, with 1.65 passes per rush.
    I haven’t run other years yet, but it looks like they were run-heavy in ’96 and ’98, with ’97 looking like ’99-run-tilted, but not markedly so. I’ll run all the years of the Fisher-era later, and see if I find anything interesting.

  10. Andrew Strickert Says:

    Eddie George probably has a better chance than any of the others. John McClain, a member of the HoF selection committee, believes George will be selected because of one interesting stat. Only two running backs in NFL history have gained 10,000 yards without missing a game — Jim Brown and Eddie George.
    McClain says that will make a lot of his fellow committee members give Eddie serious consideration and win him the votes of some selectors who might otherwise decline to vote for him.

  11. jerry t Says:

    He’s a great choice for the HOF. EDDIE GEORGE..

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