Every year, a select few players, coaches or influential contributors to the game of football are enshrined into football immortality in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Selection into the HOF is done by a panel of judges who decide who is selected year by year. Fans become obsessed with some of the disrespect their favourite players receive when they aren’t selected, but anyone inducted is sure to be worthy of this tremendous honor nonetheless.
As the 2017 HOF induction comes to a close, let’s take a look at who we might see enshrined in Canton next year.
Ray Lewis (Linebacker–Baltimore Ravens)
Taken with the 26th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft out Miami, linebacker Ray Lewis made an immediate impact to the Ravens defense and was the face of the franchise until his retirement in 2012.
Lewis’ accomplishments are truly mesmerizing. He was selected to 13 Pro Bowls, 7 time first team All-Pro, 3 time second team All-Pro, 2 time defensive player of the year, 2 time Super Bowl champion, 1 time Super Bowl MVP and nominated to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
His staggering career stats of 2,061 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 31 interceptions, 17 forced fumbles and 3 touchdowns make him one the all time greats.
Lewis was the heart and soul of Baltimore and played a passion and a “knock your head off” demeanor second to none. Lewis is the reason the Ravens have always been attributed to being a defensive-oriented team.
Very few players deserve to be HOFers, let alone be a first ballot HOFer, but Lewis’ contributions to the game and overall excellence makes him more than worthy of being inducted into the HOF in 2018.
Terrell Owens (Wide Receiver–San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals)
Oh, he’s getting into the HOF this year.
Taken with the 89th pick in the 1996 NFL Draft out of Chattanooga, wide receiver Terrell Owens was selected by the San Francisco 49ers.
Owens was one of the biggest names in the NFL during his tenure. His personality made him a household name, but also made him hated by many.
Personality aside, Owens was a highly productive player. In his 14 year career, Owens eclipsed 1,078 receptions, 15,934 receiving yards and 153 receiving touchdowns. He’s a 6 time Pro Bowler, 5 time first team All-Pro and apart of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Second Team.
There’s been loads of discussion as to whether he should already be in Canton, but the Hall of Fame committee can’t ignore him for a third straight year. The energy he brought to the field was electric and will go down as one of the best receivers of all time.
Edgerrin James (Running Back–Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks)
Taken with the 4th overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft out of Miami, running back Edgerrin James was selected by the Indianapolis Colts to help aid sophomore quarterback Peyton Manning. James became a focal point in the Colts offense and was among the best running backs of his era and of all time.
James was somewhat unheralded being the running back for star quarterback Peyton Manning, but never failed to produce. In his 10 year career, James collected 12,246 rushing yards, 80 rushing touchdowns, averaged 4.0 yards per carry, 433 receiving touchdowns, 3,364 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns.
James’ stats matched his impressive list of accolades which include being a 4 time Pro Bowler, 2 time first team All-Pro, 2 time second team All-Pro, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, 2 time NFL rushing yards leader, member of the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor and member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
James is seldom discussed in the conversation as one of the best running backs of all time, but his quiet brilliance makes him a potential candidate to be in the 2018 HOF class.
Steve Atwater (Safety–Denver Broncos, New York Jets)
Taken with the 20th overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft out of Arkansas, safety Steve Atwater was selected by the Denver Broncos and became the central figure on the defense. John Elway was the leader of the offense, while Atwater was the leader of the defense.
Atwater’s large frame of 6’3″ and 218 lbs. made him a force to be reckoned with. His ability to lay the boom and also cover receivers to perfection made him the textbook safety. His gritty demeanor and excellent leadership qualities was a contributing factor in the Broncos’ success in the late 1990s.
Atwater amassed 1,180 tackles, 24 interceptions, 408 interception yards and 5 sacks over his 10 year career. He was nominated to 8 Pro Bowls, he is a 2 time first team All-Pro, 1 time second team All-Pro, a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, a member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Honor and a 2 time Super Bowl Champion.
Atwater’s athleticism and intangibles made him one of the greatest safeties of all time, and that alone makes him a potential candidate for the 2018 HOF class.
Joe Jacoby (Offensive Tackle–Washington Redskins)
Going undrafted in 1981 out of Louisville, offensive tackle Joe Jacoby was signed by the Washington Redskins. What the Redskins didn’t know at the time is that they had just acquired one of the best players in franchise history, as well as one of the best offensive linemen of all time.
As a member of the infamous “Hogs” (the nickname for Washington’s offensive line), Jacoby was a force to be reckoned with. His gigantic stature of 6’7″ and 295 lbs. struck fear into his opponents’ eyes. Blocking for both legendary quarterback Joe Theismann and running back John Riggins, Jacoby ensured success for the Redskins offense.
In his 12 year career, Jacoby played in 170 games and started in 148 games, and he even recorded 1 touchdown. He was the model of consistency, but also had an anger in his game which gave him an edge.
His accolades speak for themselves. In his career, Jacoby was a 4 time Pro Bowler, 2 time AP first team All-Pro, 2 time NEA first team All-Pro, 1 time second team All-Pro, a member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, member of the “70 Greatest Redskins” list and a 3 time Super Bowl champion.
Jacoby’s stout play throughout his career and legacy within the Redskins organization makes him a potential candidate for the 2018 HOF class.
Joe Klecko (Defensive Lineman–New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts)
Taken with the 144th selection out of Temple, defensive tackle Joe Klecko was selected by the New York Jets. Although he was a later pick, Klecko became one of the faces of the Jets franchise and was apart of the “New York Sack Exchange” and played defensive tackle, nose tackle and defensive end for this team.
In his 11 year career, Klecko accumulated 24 sacks and 9 fumble recoveries. Although not staggering numbers, for a defensive tackle it is highly productive and since tackles were not recorded, his impact isn’t shown well.
Unlike his stats, his accolades truly show his impact. Klecko is a 4 time Pro Bowler, 2 time first team All-Pro, NEA NFL Defensive Player of the Year, PFWA Defensive Player of the Year, AFC Defensive Player of the Year, a member of the New York Jets Ring of Honor and has his number 73 retired by the Jets.
Klecko’s dominance throughout his career and his positional versatility makes him a potential candidate for the 2016 HOF class.
Jerry Kramer (Offensive Guard–Green Bay Packers)
Taken with the 39th selection in the 1958 NFL Draft out of Idaho, offensive guard Jeremy Kramer was selected by the Green Bay Packers to add an offensive lineman to protect legendary quarterback Bart Starr. They ended up getting one of the greatest players in their franchise’s history.
Kramer was a large part of the Packers’ success in the beginning of the Super Bowl era. Although he was plagued with injuries during his career, he was a stout blocker and was a large part of their early success.
These injuries did not tarnish the respect he got around the league, however, since he is a 3 time Pro Bowler, 5 time first team All-Pro, 1 time second team All-Pro, a member of the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, a 2 time Super Bowl champion and a 5 time NFL champion.
His injuries prevented him from being inducted early on, but his accolades make him worthy of being a candidate for the HOF in 2018.
Don Coryell (Head Coach–St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Chargers)
Being hired as the head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973, Don Coryell won consecutive division titles from 1974-76, all of which were won with double digit win seasons.
Coryell left the Cardinals in 1977 and was hired as the San Diego Chargers head coach in 1978. From 1979-81, the Chargers won 3 division titles.
With Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts wide receiver Charlie Joiner and tight end Kellen Winslow, Coryell and the Chargers created the “Air Coryell” offense, which was one of the best passing offense’s in NFL history.
Coryell was one of the most beloved and best coaches in NFL history. He took two teams and brought them to relevancy, making him a potential candidate for the HOF class of 2018.
Just Missed the Cut:
Randy Moss (Wide Receiver–Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers)
I know many people would think Randy Moss would be a first ballot hall of famer, but if Terrell Owens has to wait, so does Moss.
Taken with the 21st overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft out of Marshall, wide receiver Randy Moss was taken by the Minnesota Vikings and was one of the most electric players in NFL history. He is widely considered to be a top 10 receiver of all time, and rightfully so.
Moss jumped around teams a lot throughout his career, but he was a valuable contributor to all of them. His stats jump off the page, as he amassed 982 receptions, 15,292 receiving yards and 156 receiving touchdowns.
His accolades are beyond impressive. He is a 6 time Pro Bowler, 4 time first team All-Pro, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, 5 time NFL receiving touchdowns leader and a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
Why Moss isn’t a first ballot HOFer because he wasn’t the face of any franchise he was on except for maybe the Vikings. He’s had some off the field issues as well. To be a first ballot HOFer, you have to be the face of a franchise and lack legal controversy throughout their career. Look for Moss to for sure be inducted in the 2019 HOF class.