Thursday, February 4, 2016

Prediction for the Hall of Fame Class of 2016

by John Turney

Tomorrow, the Hall of Fame Selection ommittee will have their annual meeting in the Super Bowl city, which is, of course Santa Clara.

There are 18 players who are up for being elected, 15 of them are "modern" players and coaches. There is also an "administration" selection and two "senior" players.

I have no special insight into what will happen tomorrow, I read what is posted by the voters and look at past trends. So, with that method, here is how I think it will go down.

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The most controversial vote will be for administrator/owner Edward Debartolo. The hype on him is he was major force in the 1980s 49ers dynasty and several teams followed in his footsteps on how to run an organization. The knock is he had some, let's call it shady dealings. My view is that won't be enough to keep him from getting 80% of the votes he  needs for election.

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The next group is the seniors: Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel. Stabler's hype is he was a Super Bowl winning quarterback that had MVP-type seasons and was special in two-minute drills. The knock is some off-field things that were never proven, but also he had some sub par seasons. One former Raider executive told me, "He had some great seasons, but he had some bad ones, too".

Credit: Colorization by John Turney
Still, I think he and Stanfel get the required votes. So, there are three of the class of eight I am predicting.

Next comes the modern-day players and coaches. There are 15, and they will be cut to 10, then five. Then those five will stand for a yes or no vote and if all five get 80% they all will be inducted.

The first five to be eliminated, in my best guess, will be  Morten Andersen, Joe Jacoby, John Lynch, Terrell Davis and Edgerin James. All are worthy, but when you have to eliminate five, these will be first to go. Kickers have a tough time, but Andersen's "hype" is all good, good percentage, great range and deep kickoffs and a long career. I don't know of any "knock" on him.

Jacoby's hype is being, likely, the best blocker of the 1980s Redskins "Hogs". The knock is his career was on the short side for a modern-era player and had to move to right tackle to make room for a better tackle: Jim Lachey.

Lynch's hype is being a well-honored player in terms of Pro Bowls and a great hitter, a great leader and performed well in Dungy's Tampa-2 defense. The knock is he had relatively few interceptions for a strong safety that played back a lot in that 2-deep zone.

Terrell Davis's hype is his MVP season, over 2000 yards, and Super Bowl wins, and a Super Bowl MVP. The knock has always been the short career due to a severe knee injury. He has not yet been able to win over enough voters to get him the "Gale Sayers" exception to longevity.

James is a first-timer and he will have to wait. His hype is being a great all-around back, running, receiving and as good a pass blocker for a running back the NFL has seen. I know of no real knocks on him, other than he lacks MVP season or even Offensive Player of the Year seasons.

The next five who will get the ax are Steve Atwater, Don Coryell, Terrell Owens and Alan Faneca. Again, for these it will just be a matter of time.

I think Atwater leaps Lynch. His hype is the hit on Okoye and the point-blank interception of Jay Schroeder. He, like Lynch, was a big-time hitter and also didn't amass a lot of picks. These two are very close.

I think Don Coryell will get a bump to the top 10 this year, he's been in Final 15 a lot, but has not advanced very often, This is more of a guy feeling than anything. The hype is his creativity and influence on the NFL passing game, the knock is not being one of all-time greats as a head coach and often not advancing in playoffs and never got his team to the Super Bowl.

Alan Faneca is a first-timer, and has all the honors needed to be inducted. But the knock is he wasn't a Jim Parker, John Hannah, Larry Allen-dominant type of player.

Terrell Owens has all the numbers, his hype is well known. The knocks are well known too. But this year is not his "year". It's the Marvin Harrison "year".

Kurt Warner will also be cut, I think, in favor of Dungy. It's also a gut feeling of the HOF committee likely to induct only one quarterback this year. Warner's hype is well known, too. Two MVPs (he also won the NEA MVP in 2008 but didn't win the PFWA and AP that year), one Super Bowl win, two other appearances. The knock is the "donut hole" in his career, the long span between successes with some mediocre years.

So, the final five will be Tony Dungy, Brett Favre, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace and I believe all will get the required 80% and be inducted.

Dungy has all the credentials, was in the top 10 last year, I think he gets in. His hype is his creativity and advancement of the Tampa-2 defense and his high winning percentage as a coach. The knock is only that there are a few coaches out there with more Super Bowl wins.

Marvin Harrison's hype is all deserved, big-time numbers, honors, etc. The knock was the end of the logjam of wide receivers likely put Tim Brown in last year.

Orlando Pace's hype is his honors, Pro Bowls, etc., playing in the Greatest Show on Turf and remarkable physical skills. The knock is he did have a lot of false starts, but mainly that he held out a lot. It was enough to ding him one year, but he gets in this year.

Kevin Greene has been patient. His hype is the 160 sacks, most ever by a linebacker. The knock is that there  have been several great ones who have been inducted recently. 2016 is his year.

The hype on Favre is endless, toughness, numbers, MVPs, Super Bowls. The knock? Maybe a little off-field stuff, but Favre will be a first ballot HOFer.

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