Every year the NFL welcomes a new class of inductees into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Considered the greatest to ever play the game, athletes like Joe Montana and Randy Moss have their busts proudly displayed along the halls of the building.
And while some inductees unquestionably earned their spot, others did not. Terrell Owens was one of the best when he was on the field, but was he on the field enough during his short career to justify his spot? Keep reading to find out which Hall of Famers have the most questionable credentials!
If you watch the NFL, then you know who Terry Bradshaw is. He works for FOX as a pre-game analyst and has one of the biggest personalities in the industry. He’s also one a four-time Super Bowl winner and Hall of Fame inductee.
It was those big wins that likely earned Bradshaw his spot in Canton. If you look at his overall stats, you’ll see a player carried by his team, not a team carried by its quarterback. When he retired, Bradshaw had thrown 212 touchdowns and 210 interceptions and only complete 51.9 percent of his passes. Not exactly Hall of Fame numbers.
Andre Tippett was a dominant defender in the NFL for an incredible four-season stretch of his career. He recorded 18.5 sacks in 1984 and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1985.
For the rest of his career, Tippett was good, but he never maintained the form that quarterback scared to see him on the side of the line. His 100 career sacks may have been his golden tick to Canton, but the majority came early in his playing days.
Bob Griese was one of the best “game managers” in NFL history. A quarterback who would never lose the game for a team, but would rarely elevate the talent around him. Starting for the Dolphins in 1972, Griese was part of a tandem at QB that went undefeated.
Griese was also the starting QB for Miami that year in the Super Bowl. While that accomplishment might be a part of Griese’s legacy, his overall stats, which are average at best, should not have gotten him into Canon.
When Terrell Davis was healthy, he was one of the best running backs in NFL history. He rushed for over 2,000 yards in 1998 and helped send John Elway into his retirement with a Super Bowl championship.
The fact sill stands that Davis only played for seven seasons, and only rushed for more than 1,000 yards in four of those years. His career ended early, and for years that kept him out of the Hall of Fame. Eventually, his overwhelming talent made sure he got in though.
Punters rarely, if ever, make the Hall of Fame. For many, Ray Guy earned his spot in Canton for revolutionizing the position. The reality is that even though he changed the perception of punting, he was an average player at best by today’s standards (which is what we’re considering).
Guy played for the Raiders his entire career and retired with a 42.4 yard per punt average. His total punt yards of 44,493 places him 20th all-time. Should the 19 players ahead of him all be enshrined, too?
Jerome Bettis was known as “the Bus” during his NFL career for good reason. He was the size of a fullback with the speed of a running back. When he came barrelling through the offensive line, sometimes it was easier for defenders to just get out of the way.
Bettis retired with 13,662 yards, so we understand if you disagree with him being on this list. His 3.9 yards-per-rush average was less than elite, though, and by the end of his career, he was little more than goal-line power back, finding success “vulturing” touchdowns from other players.
Let’s be honest about John Stallworth. Is he a Pittsburgh Steelers’ legend? Absolutely. Is he a deserving Hall of Fame wide receiver. Absolutely not. Stallworth played for 14 seasons and retired with 8,723 career yards.
To be a Hall of Fame shoo-in, most receivers need to reach at least 10,000 yards. On top of that, Stallworth only had three 1,000 yard seasons. We’re not actually sure what Hall of Fame voters were thinking when Stallworth got the call.
Like John Stallworth, Bob Hayes just doesn’t have the overall numbers to justify his spot in Canton. He retired after 11 seasons with 7,414 career receiving yards and 71 touchdowns. He only surpassed 1,000 yards twice, his first two seasons in the league.
One important note to make is that during Hayes’ era, the NFL regular season only consisted of 14 games, making certain milestone harder to reach. That might play into the Hall of Fame induction.
Curtis Martin is one of the NFL’s all-time leading rushers and seemingly earned his spot in the Hall of Fame. Let us play devil’s advocate though and propose that he didn’t earn his spot.
Martin was always good, but he was never the best running back in the NFL. He played for a long time and built up stats as a result, but we can’t think of any single season in his career that really stands out above the rest.
Dick LeBeau was a high-quality Defensive Back for the Detroit Lions throughout the 1960’s. He was a talented player who made three Pro Bowls in his career which was successful but didn’t quite reach Hall of Fame heights.
After his playing career, he became an incredible Defensive Coordinator, most prominently with the Pittsburgh Steelers. One could argue that the success of both his playing and coaching career is worthy of enshrinement, but he entered Canton only as a player.
Warren Moon had some pretty great years playing in Canada. Then, he made the transition to the NFL and he put up some 4,000-yard seasons. Did you ever stop to consider that he did that because he threw the ball 600 times per year?
He once held the record for most attempts in a season with 655, which now ranks number ten. Moon was good, but the circumstances were different during his playing day and the stats show.
When considering players for the Hall of Fame, sometimes there are players who were excellent for a short period of time and other players who could be considered compilers. Compilers are players who were very good and relied on long careers to climb up leader boards.
While Art Monk only made three Pro Bowls over the course of his career, he also finished his career as the NFL’s all-time receptions leader. That seemed to be enough to land him in Canton. As of today, Monk now stands at number 20 on the all-time receptions list.
Tony Dungy began his head coaching with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is credited with creating the Tampa 2 defense. Following his firing from the Bucs, he moved onto the Indianapolis Colts and ran a team featuring quarterback, Peyton Manning.
Dungy experienced tremendous regular-season success with Bucs and Colts amassing a 139-69 record. The playoffs were a different story as he only went 9-10 in postseason games. While he captured a Super Bowl in 2006, he didn’t have the same level of success as other coaches in Canton.
Lynn Swann had an incredibly memorable NFL career. Not only was the wide receiver known for his remarkably balletic catches, but he was also a member of four Super Bowl-winning teams. When comparing his resume against other Hall of Fame WR’s, however, it is sorely lacking.
Swann only made one All-Pro team back in 1978 and he was only a three-time Pro-Bowler. His career-high in catches during a season was a mere 61. He never surpassed 1,000 yards in a single season either. Swann falls well under the high bar set for new WR inductees.
It is an undeniable fact that the Chicago Bears Monsters of the Midway defense was chock full of talent. And defensive tackle/defensive end, Dan Hampton, was certainly a talent. The Bear was a four-time Pro Bowler who recorded 57 sacks over the course of his career.
The numbers for Hampton fall a bit short of his contemporaries. It’s hard to know how much of a benefit he had playing alongside guys like Richard Dent, Mike Singletary, and Steve McMichael, but the career of Hampton seems a bit short of Hall of Fame quality.
It is really, really hard to compare today’s tight ends to those from the past. While previous tight ends had to both block and catch passes, modern tight ends are often specialized as either blockers or receivers. Still, while Charlie Sanders was a good blocker, his catching stats are quite empty.
Sanders only caught 386 passes and 31 Touchdowns in his 10-year career. His season-high in catches was 42 and his season-high in yards was 656. Those numbers don’t quite compare to other tight ends in the Hall of Fame.
John Riggins was sort of the 1970’s version of another player on this list, Jerome Bettis. Riggins was an absolute bull of a rusher who could also be counted on to punch the ball into the end zone in short yardage situations.
But Riggins was not efficient at all. Despite playing a nice chunk of his career with the famed Washington Redskins “Hogs” offensive line, he finished his career with a YPC under 4.0. He also wasn’t much of a threat out of the backfield with only 250 career catches over 14 years.
Marcus Allen was football’s golden boy since he began his college football career at Southern Cal in 1978. He captured the Heisman Trophy at USC and then became an Oakland Raider when they drafted him with the 10th pick in the 1982 draft.
And this is not to say that Allen didn’t have success in the NFL. He scored 144 total Touchdowns and was a threat both as a runner and a receiver. But a lot of his success was based on high volume. For his career, Allen averaged about 55 yards a game on the ground and that number does not scream Hall of Famer.
For some reason, tight ends can cause quite a bit of a blind spot for Hall of Fame voters. Casper was a fine tight end who was a part of a number of great Raider teams and won a Super Bowl in 1976.
Casper, though, was a contemporary of Ozzie Newsome and Kellen Winslow. They began the era of the dominant receiving tight ends who could also block. Casper wasn’t quite on their level so it’s hard to argue he should be in Canton.
The truth about Joe Namath is that he just wasn’t a very good quarterback. We understand why he got into the Hall of Fame. He made the guarantee to win the Super Bowl, then did exactly that. He was also one of the first running QBs in the league.
All that aside, He retired with more interceptions than touchdown passes and only completed 50 percent of his passes. If he played in today’s game, he would be a practice squad player at best with those numbers.
Cris carter already had to wait a couple of years before getting let into the Hall of Fame in 2013. The Hall of Famer started his career on the Eagles, made his mark with the Vikings, then finished his career with the Dolphins.
Carter had a few 1,000 plus yard seasons but they came later in his career on a pass happy team where he wasn’t even the best wide receiver. One former wide receiver says he practically “begged his way into the Hall of Fame.”
Winning Super Bowls as a quarterback drastically increases your chances of making the Hall of Fame. Troy Aikman would go on to win multiple rings, but he was never a true game changer.
The Cowboys already had some of the greatest talents in the world with Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. If we’re looking at stats alone, Aikman’s aren’t that spectacular. After 1996, his record was a measly 38052. His touchdown to interception ration wasn’t too impressive either at 165-141.
Marv Levy is, deservedly, a legend in Buffalo. Revered by both the city’s fans and the players that played for him, the Coach almost reached the mountain top on four separate occasions. He was never able to win the big game though.
While his teams reached four Super Bowls, Levy did not have the most impressive career totals. With a career record of 143-112 and a career winning percentage of 56.1%, the Coach’s track record doesn’t quite cut it for Canton.
When someone gets surprised by their own induction into the Hall, that pretty much sums it up. He wasn’t being humble either, he was genuinely shocked. Sometimes, they don’t get it right and this might’ve been one of those occasions.
“I got into it with no fanfare and I got out of it with no fanfare,” Hanburger said. “To me, it was a job and I was just going to do it to the best of my ability until it was over and move on. I never ever gave any thought to being in the Hall of Fame.”
As far as talented tackles go, Rayfield Wright needs to be in the discussion. Was he that great to earn a spot in the Hall, well we aren’t too sure about that. He had a consistency problem.
He played for 14 seasons and made six Pro Bowls. When you compare him to other great linemen in his day, he can stand up to them, but barely holds a light. Of course, this is subjective, but still.
During a time long ago, the Cleveland Browns weren’t as bad as they’ve been over the past decades (hopefully that changes in 2019 and beyond). Frank Gatski played on the Browns when they were good, but like we said, that was long ago.
It took him almost 20 years to make the Hall because he only made one Pro Bowl and wasn’t a star in any sense. You do the math now and tell us what you think.
Paul Hornung made it to the Hall in a similar way that Marcus Allen did. The running back had a brief run in with success; he was nothing more than a flash in the pan.
Yes, he won the MVP award in 1961, but other than that, he didn’t do much. He only averaged 4.2 yards per carry while never hitting the 700 yard mark in a single season. That’s tough to work with but hey.
Roger Wehrli shocked a lot of folks when he entered the Hall of Fame, similar to that of Hanburger. Wehrli wasn’t a bad player and was pretty good, but his numbers weren’t elite enough to get a spot.
The defensive back never led the league in interceptions, and only made waves between 1975 and 1977. After retiring in 1982, they didn’t even consider him for the Hall until 2005, which is an extremely long time.
Harry Carson began his career playing for some very bad Giants teams and ended it by playing for a Super Bowl winner. Carson was long the Giants leader and continued to mentor players like Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks.
While he made 9 Pro Bowls, the Linebacker only made 2 All-Pro teams. He was regularly the third-best Linebacker on his team’s defense behind Banks and Taylor. It’s ok to be a very good player and not quite a great one and that’s what Carson was.
Dan Deirdorf, was for a period, a very good NFL football player. After his career was over, he became a tremendous broadcaster. It seems like the former tackle might have been granted initiation into Canton on the strength of both of those things.
Dierdorf was a top-shelf First-Team All-Pro for five seasons. In 1980 though, he suffered a debilitating knee injury and was never quite the same. While he was a star for a legitimate chunk of time, his playing career didn’t warrant induction.
Fred Dean might’ve been a solid player who helped his team win two Super Bowls, but they let everyone in who did that, the Hall of Fame would PACKED. Sacks weren’t officially counted until towards the end of Dean’s career, but he’s estimated to have around 93. That’s not a bad number, but many other linemen had better stats when Dean entered the Hall.
Many considered him to be a one dimensional pass rusher, so it seems like he needed to have a little more on his resume to get elected.
There is an incredibly long list of players who have had three or four great seasons and then were largely forgotten about. One thing that can make those players much easier to remember is Super Bowl championships. Guard Russ Grimm was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams, but he was only a starter for one of those teams.
Some aspects of Grimm’s career are impressive. He made four All-Pro teams and was a member of the 1980’s All-Decade Team. But like most players on this list, when you compare his resume to other HOF Guards, it falls quite short.
Jan Stenerud, who kicked for the Kansas City Chiefs in the ’60s and ’70s was a trendsetter in more ways than one. Stenerud, born in Norway, was one of the first foreign-born kickers to make an impact in the NFL. He was also one of the first placekickers to use the soccer-style kick which all players use now.
But when you compare Stenerud to other Hall of Fame kickers, however, he falls far short. While he did make four All-Pro teams, he only had a kicking percentage of 66.8%. Morton Anderson, the only other Kicker in Canton finished at 79.7%.
A Bears’ fan got asked what he thought of Richard Dent, to which he responded in a laughing manner, “Dent was a ‘play when he wanted to’ guy who disappeared for long stretches. Totally pedestrian against the run, which he could luckily afford because everyone else on Buddy Ryan’s defense bailed him out.”
Need we say anymore? We know about his Superbowl MVP, but that could have easily gone to five or six other players.
There are a ton of folks that want O.J. Simpson tossed out of the Hall of Fame and right into the garbage can. The glove didn’t fit though, remember? (Kidding) There’s good reason to agree with that.
For the Hall, however, its about on-field achievements, not what’s going on off of it, so thats why he’s in there. Still, after causing such mayhem and tearing lives apart, perhaps it’s best to leave him out of there.
Gale Sayers, much like many other players on this list, had pretty average numbers. Here are his stats: 68 games played, 4,956 yards, 54 total touchdowns. Adrian Peterson could get that in his sleep in way fewer games.
He was a great running back but didn’t get as many touches as the backs get today. He also only played less than five full seasons, so that can skew your stats a bit. Still, nothing here screams Hall of Fame.
Y.A. Tittle played during the ’50s and he performed better than most during that time. In that era, running the ball was the focus and throwing took a back seat, so he only has two years where he threw for more than 3,000 yards.
He also only has two years with more than 30 touchdowns. Tittle threw more interceptions than touchdowns so that should tell you a lot. His completion rate is only 55% over his career. Shall we say more?
John Mackey played in the NFL for nine years standing 6’2″ and 224 pounds. He isn’t what you consider a powerful tight end these days, but he got the job done back then.
Over those nine years, he only caught 38 touchdowns. We’re sure that was great during that time, but didn’t Travis Kelce do that in two seasons alone? We know it’s hard to compare generations, but let’s be serious, he probably wouldn’t make the practice squad today.
Curley Culp was an offensive and defensive lineman that played his college ball at Arizona State University. He also wrestled there and was the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion. If anything that’s where his Hall of Fame bid should be.
He has some pretty impressive stats, don’t get us wrong. Culp won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 1975 and had six Pro Bowls to his name. Other than that, nothing stands out on his resume.
Did Jerry Jones buy his way here like he purchased the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million? If we’re talking strictly football triumphs, then yes, Jones helped the Cowboys secure three championships after he claimed the team.
Other than that, what has he done? He had a college football career at the University of Arkansas where he played the offensive lineman position. There, he was the co-captain of the 1964 National Championship team which is great, but players who have done more on the field haven’t even received a consideration to get in the Hall.