Anything NBA or NFL? Sam is your man!
Anything NBA or NFL? Sam is your man!
The NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2019 was announced on February 2. The group includes the three first-time-eligible players we all expected would get in: Champ Bailey, Ed Reed, and Tony Gonzalez. Last year’s class also included three first-time-eligible players and a trend seems to be forming around the wave of talent that’s started to come up for enshrinement recently.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Hall of Fame committee doubled down on defensive backs with Ty Law and also elected to put in center Kevin Mawae. Contributors Gil Brandt and Pat Bowlen were also selected along with Senior Committee finalist Johnny Robinson.
Champ Bailey CB (Washington Redskins 1999-2003, Denver Broncos 2004-2013)
Bailey went to more Pro Bowls, 12, than any other cornerback in NFL history. He was chosen as a First Team All-Pro three times and a Second Team All-Pro four times. The Pro Football Hall of Fame selected him for their First Team All-2000s. Essentially, Bailey has a ton of accolades and was easily the standout cornerback from all the finalists. No one else compared. Bailey spent 15 years in the NFL. During that time, he became one of the defining players of a generation. He finished his career with 52 interceptions, leading the league back in 2006 with ten. The only seasons Bailey didn’t make the Pro Bowl were his rookie season, 2008 when he played in just nine games, and his final season in 2013.
Reed has a complete resume. Besides being one of the players constantly tossed around in the conversation for being the best safety of all-time, he made nine Pro Bowls, five First All-Pro Teams, and three Second All-Pro Teams. Reed was voted Defensive Player of the Year in just his third season (2004) and won the Super Bowl in his final Pro Bowl season (2012). He led the league in interceptions three times and recorded seven or more interceptions in five of his 12 seasons.
Historically, Reed has the most interception return yards, leading Rod Woodson by over 100. He’s also got 64 career interceptions, the seventh most all-time, one more than Ronnie Lott. There wasn’t a game where quarterbacks didn’t fear throwing the ball downfield against Reed. He was a game-changer, capable of turning momentum with a single play. Reed finished his career with 13 touchdowns, all coming on defense or special teams.
This was Mawae’s third time as a finalist for the Hall of Fame. Mawae actually didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his sixth season in the NFL. From then on, he was one of the best centers in the game. He made six consecutive Pro Bowls from 1999 through 2004. He then bounced back in 2008, making the Pro Bowl and being named to his third and final First All-Pro Team. Mawae played in his final NFL season the next year and made his ninth Pro Bowl. He was also selected to four Second All-Pro Teams during his career. If you’re looking for a stat to defend this selection, his teams finished in the top five in rushing in eight of his 16 professional seasons. For his hard work, he was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame First All-2000s Team.
Ask anyone who the greatest tight end of all-time is, it should be a consensus response in favor of Gonzalez. He played in the league for 17 seasons and amassed numbers that put most wide receivers to shame. Of those 17 years, he recorded less than 800 receiving yards in just four seasons, which is ridiculous for a tight end. He finished his career with 14 Pro Bowls, six First All-Pro Team selections, and four Second All-Pro Team selections.
Looking at the declines that afflicted Jason Witten late in his career, the drop off of Antonio Gates, and the injuries Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen have dealt with, it’s incredible what Gonzalez was able to accomplish towards the end of his career. He recorded at least 80 receptions, 850 receiving yards, and seven receiving touchdowns in each of his final three seasons despite being over 35 years old. Gonzalez is second all-time in receptions, sixth in receiving yards, and eighth in receiving touchdowns. He’s the greatest player in this Hall of Fame class.
I guess this class was really good for defense backs huh? And Law isn’t even the last DB who was selected. He certainly was a standout on his own though. He won three Super Bowls, the most of any player selected for enshrinement this year. Law was the shutdown cornerback on the early 2000s New England Patriots teams. While he doesn’t have the individual accolades of the other players here, he was one of the true lockdown corners that came before Darrell Revis. He made the Pro Bowl five times and was a two-time First Team All-Pro. The Pro Football Hall of Fame named him to their Second Team All-2000s along with Ronde Barber.
Law finished his 15-year career with 53 interceptions, one more than Bailey, and seven interceptions returned for touchdowns, the same as Reed. The long-time Patriot led the league in interceptions twice, 1998 and 2005.
Johnny Robinson S (Dallas Texans 1960-1962, Kansas City Chiefs 1963-1971)
It’s nice to see the NFL finally paying attention to some of the great players from past generations who didn’t make it into the Hall on the first go. Robinson is only the latest player selected in a recent push to enshrine these overlooked stars. He spent his first two seasons playing on the offense and amassed over 1,800 yards from scrimmage during that time. He also returned a punt for a touchdown in his rookie season.
Starting in 1962, Robinson switched to the defensive side of the ball. The move worked out great for Robinson and his team. Despite only playing 14 game seasons, Robinson recorded five or more interceptions in six consecutive seasons. He recorded ten interceptions in 1966 and 1970, leading the AFL in 1966 and NFL in 1970. He finished his career with 57 interceptions, the fourth most in history at the time of his retirement. He made seven Pro Bowls and made six First All-Pro teams during his career to go along with a victory in Super Bowl IV.
Dallas Cowboys VP of Player Personnel 1960-1989
He was a part of the Dallas Cowboys organization for a long time. Brandt served as the VP of Player Personnel and was responsible for drafting some legendary Cowboys. He and his team worked tirelessly to find new and innovative ways to scout and develop talent. That’s why the team was so successful during his time there. Per ESPN, the Cowboys had 20 consecutive winning seasons along with 13 division titles while Brandt was with the team. Dallas also won Super Bowls VI and XII during that span.
Denver Broncos Owner 1984-Present
This is a pretty obvious selection when you think about it. I know the Broncos didn’t have a great season this year, but the team has really thrived under Bowlen’s rule. Through 35 seasons as the team’s owner, Bowlen has hoisted the Lombardi trophy three times. The team has appeared in seven total Super Bowls during that span, meaning they appear in the big game once every five seasons. Who wouldn’t want that kind of consistency from their team?
The Broncos are 333-225-1 during the Bowlen era. During that time, legends such as Brian Dawkins, Bailey, DeMarcus Ware, John Elway, John Lynch, Karl Mecklenburg, Peyton Manning, Shannon Sharpe, Steve Atwater, Terrell Davis, Von Miller, and many more have played for the team. Bowlen has truly made the Broncos one of the most successful franchises in league history.