The Pro Football Hall of Fame yesterday inducted seven new members into its hallowed halls: G Larry Allen, WR Cris Carter, DTs Curley Culp and Warren Sapp, OT Jonathan Ogden, LB Dave Robinson, and coach Bill Parcells. It’s as strong a Hall of Fame class as there has ever been (not that they aren’t all good picks, it is the Hall of Fame after all), but it got me wondering: Based on what we know now, what current and former Indianapolis Colts players have a chance at joining the 280 Hall inductees?
I decided to break it down into four different categories: The Shoe-ins, the Probables, the guys who Need Help, and those with HOF Potential.
The Shoe-ins should be obvious: these are the best of the best of the players that Indianapolis has seen. They may not be first ballot inductees, but they will get in.
Then we have the Probables. They have been very good over their careers, multiple Pro-Bowl winners or acknowledged as elite for an extended period of time. The main hold up on these guys could be statistical, could be due to position, that they haven’t played long enough, or any combination thereof. These guys likely have anywhere between a 60 to 85% chance at election.
The Needs Help category is an extension of the Probables, but the deficiencies are greater. These guys have less than a 60% chance.
The Potentials are guys who are currently playing that have shown flashes, but we don’t know enough about them yet.
On to the list:
QB Andrew Luck (2012 – present) – Ok, so I get that he’s only played one season, but what a season it was. He took a team that went 2-14 in 2011 to 11 wins in 2012 and made the playoffs. He set numerous rookie passing records, including total yards, yards in a single game, 4th quarter come-backs, and passing attempts. I get that we need to see a whole lot more before we start waving the “HOF” flag around – he’s going to need a few MVPs, multiple Pro-Bowls, and a couple of Super Bowls before we get to that point. But with what we all saw last year, there’s no doubt he showed potential.
P Pat McAfee (2009 – present) – I really struggled with this one. First of all, he’s a punter. No pure punter has ever made the Hall. Second of all, he’s never won any kind of post-season award or Pro-Bowl. Third, he’s a punter. Fourth, he’s not led the league in average or net yards. And lastly, he’s a PUNTER. That being acknowledged, McAfee has shown a great ability to send the ball flying with his “Boomstick,” as seen on his punts as well as kick-offs. And for those of us that have seen him nail 60-70 yard field goals in practices, we know that if/when Adam Vinatieri leaves or is injured, we’re know will be in good shape. Hall good? Probably (almost definitely) not, but there is some small potential there.
QB Curtis Painter (2009 – 2011) – Wait, what? HAHA, made you look didn’t I? Just making sure you’re paying attention. The only way this kid gets to the Hall is if he buys tickets. This is the only “fooled you” one, I promise.
OT Tarik Glenn (1997 – 2006) – Glenn was a mainstay on the Colts offensive line since day 1, and protected Peyton Manning’s blind side for 9 years. In that span, Glenn started all 154 games in which he played, was elected to 3 Pro Bowls and helped win Super Bowl XLI. But when you look at that resume compared to other tackles who have made the Hall, especially in the same era as Glenn, it pales in comparison. Take for example 2013 inductee Jonathan Ogden – Ogden started 176 out of 177 games (he did play for two years more than Glenn, in all fairness), was elected to 11 Pro Bowls, named to 10 All-Pro teams, and also won a Super Bowl (XXXV). If Glenn had decided to play a few more years, he might have closed the gap a bit more on HOF enshrinement.
TE Dallas Clark (2003 – 2011) – A fan favorite, but ultimately not a Hall guy. Clark was on a pretty good tear from 2007 to 2009, logging in 235 receptions for 2,570 yards and 27 TDs in that span. Had that pace been maintained for a few more years, things would look better for his Hall chances. But, fate being the fickle thing that it is, Clark was beset by injuries the next three years and was released by the Colts in 2011 during the Great Rebuild. His career totals of 474 receptions, 5,322 yards, and 50 TDs just aren’t enough to warrant any serious HOF consideration.
S Antoine Bethea (2006 – current) – Bethea is generally considered one of the better safeties in the NFL today. But being “one of the better” isn’t “one of the best.” He’s been a strong presence on a shady defense, logging in 696 tackles in 6 years, adding in 12 interceptions and 2.5 sacks in that time as well. For his efforts, he’s been named to 2 Pro Bowls and even helped the Colts win their lone Indy Super Bowl his rookie year. But, if he can keep piling up the stats, he should be able to place himself in better Hall territory.
HC Tony Dungy (2002 – 2008) – There’s only one reason I don’t include Dungy in the “Shoe-Ins” list, and that’s the number of Super Bowl wins. He only has one, from 2006. If he had been able to lead the Colts to even just one more SB win, there’d be no doubt AT ALL about his Hall chances. That being said, he’s still likely to get in. With the Colts, Dungy never had a season with fewer than 10 wins (and only one with fewer than 12), won 75.9% of those games, made two AFC Championship Games and the lone Super Bowl. His transcendent victory in Super Bowl XLI, being the first coach of color to win a Super Bowl , also can’t be understated.
K Adam Vinatieri (2006 – present) – He’s won 4 Super Bowls, 2 of which he was personally responsible for. He hit the Kick Heard ‘Round the World in the Tuck Rule game. He’s generally considered the greatest clutch kicker in NFL history. So why not a shoe-in? Well, its because there’s only one pure kicker in the hall today (Jan Stenerud). The fact that a kicker is even on the list this high is something. But Vinatieri’s chances of Hall enshrinement are pretty darn good. His career accuracy of 82.6% could be a little better, but if you consider Stenerud’s 66.8% accuracy, that probably won’t be too big of a hindrance.
C Jeff Saturday (1999 – 2011) – Saturday was the heart and soul of the Colts offensive line since his arrival in 1999. He had the kind of repoir with Peyton Manning that is rare even for a QB-C relationship. The highlight of Saturday’s Colts career for me is the 2006 AFC Championship game against New England. In that game, Saturday recovered a fumble in the end zone to tie the game at 28 a piece, then made a huge key block on Joseph Addai’s touchdown run with 1:00 to go that wound up being the difference in the game. But is that enough for a brass bust in Canton? I’ve commented previously on Saturday’s chances, with them not being very good. However, things that I have heard in both the local and national media since have made me reconsider and bump him up to Probable status.
RB Edgerrin James (1999 – current) – As a young Colts fan, Edge was one of my favorite players. He’s one of the all-around good guys the team and the league has seen. And he certainly has a great resume – 12,246 rushing yards (#11 all time) with 80 TDs, and 4 Pro Bowls. But he was one year out when the Colts won Super Bowl XLI. He did lead the league in rushing twice (1999 and 2000), and was renowned not only for his running abilities, but also for his pass blocking and ability to catch the ball – he managed 433 receptions for 3,364 yards and 11 touchdowns. But while he has a decent chance at Hall induction, Edge might be one of those players that is either overlooked forever (which would be a huge miscarriage of justice), or it could take him a very long time to get in. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
DE/OLB Robert Mathis (2003 – present) – For years, the book end tandem of Mathis and Dwight Freeney was the best in the NFL at not only sacking the quarterback, but also in causing fumbles when they got their. For his career, Mathis has 91.5 sacks, stripping the ball 40 times in that stretch. He made a smooth transition last year the OLB in Chuck Pagano’s hybrid 3-4 scheme, registering 8 sacks in 12 games (he was injured for 4). He’s also won a Super Bowl and been to 5 Pro Bowls. If he can build on his current numbers the next four years of his contract, he’ll get some serious Canton consideration.
DE/OLB Dwight Freeney (2002 – 2012) – Considered under sized for an NFL defensive end when he was drafted 11th overall in 2002, all Freeney has done is prove everbody wrong. since he was drafted, he has logged 102.5 sacks and caused 44 fumbles. He’s been to the Pro-Bowl seven times, named an All-Pro three times, elected to the 2000’s All Decade Team, and also won the Super Bowl. Of all the Probables, Freeney is the one closest to a shoe-in at this point.
WR Reggie Wayne – (2001 – present) – If you had asked me last year if Reggie Wayne was a shoe-in for Hall of Fame induction, I would have hesitated some. Not because his stats aren’t worthy, and not because he’s been doing it for a long time. My initial answer would have been: “Let’s see how he does without Peyton first.” Well, all he did in year 1 PP (Post-Peyton) was catch 106 passes from rookie Andrew Luck for 1,355 yards. Both of those are the second highest totals of his career, and he did it while being the only legitimate receiving threat the Colts had for most of 2011. He also added in 5 touchdowns and went to the Pro Bowl for the sixth time. He’s got two years left on his current contract, but he’s already solidified his status. He may not be first ballot worthy (seems like these days no receiver is), but the stats he puts up in those two years will just be icing on the cake.
WR Marvin Harrison (1996 – 2008) – Marv will actually be up for consideration for the first time in 2014. Will he get in? Yes, he will get in. Will it be in 2014? I’d have to say probably not. It took Cris Carter 6 tries, and Tim Brown still isn’t in. Neither is Andre Reed. So while Harrison’s career stats of 1,102 receptions, 14,580 yards, and 128 touchdowns (not to mention the 8 Pro Bowls, 8 All Pro nominations, NFL 2000s All-Decade Team nomination, and numerous NFL records) are more than enough to get him in, it might take a few years. But hopefully not.
QB Peyton Manning (1998 – 2011) – The Man. It won’t take a few years after eligibility. Manning is without a doubt a first ballot guy. 4 MVPs, 12 Pro Bowls, 6 All Pro teams, 2000’s NFL All Decade team, one Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP, Pro Bowl MVP, etc., etc., etc. Manning is in on Day One. If they could elect him immediately after his retirement, they would.
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