By John Turney
The day before Super Bowl 51 the Hall of Fame selection committee will meet and debate and discuss the credentials of 15 modern-era players, one senior and two contributors. We will attempt to break down and predict who will be in the Class of 2017.
Remember only five of the 15 modern-era players can be voted in, and there will be a simple yes or no vote on the contributors (Paul Tagliabue and Jerry Jones) and the senior nominee (Ken Easley).
Now, the receivers:
The Hype: Terrell Owens has the numbers, the catches, yards, especially touchdowns to be a Hall of Famer. He also has the "honors" Five-time All-Pro and six Pro Bowls. He was also a Pro Football Hall of Fame Second-team All-2000s Team member. He led the NFL in touchdown receptions three times and has 153 career touchdown receptions.
The Knock: The knocks are still the same, dropped quite a few passes for an elite receiver, accused of being a poor teammate, a "me-first" guy.
The Prediction: The knocks will keep T.O. out of the Hall of Fame for a couple more years, while players who are more of a "complete package" like Tomlinson pass him, but he will get in. Lots of great receivers had to wait, we think because they didn't have it all, like the first-ballot careers of a Don Hutson, Lance Alworth, or Jerry Rice. But they all get in eventually.
We also predict the "numbers" crowd will spout off and rip the Hall of Fame selection committee but will omit the fact that Owens didn't get much support for NFL Offensive Player of the Year, etc. Marvin Harrison got more votes for those awards, as did Randy Moss. None, however, were close to Jerry Rice. And that is the difference in first-ballot receivers and the others. Rice and Hutson had it all, the others, while great, we behind in what we term "the extra".
The Hype: Isaac Bruce was a pro's pro. He was one of the top route-runners ever, according to many accounts. He had good hands, got open, and could get deep, he was a complete receiver. He was All-Pro in 1999 and went to 4 Pro Bowls, and should have gone in 1995 as well. he was part of a massive passing game under Mike Martz and was a hero of the Rams only Super Bowl win and ended his career with over 15,000 receiving yards.
The Knock: Here, the "honors" are the knock. He was All-Pro only once, and led the league in yardage just once. He didn't leave a monster trail of numbers and honors like, for example, Owens or Randy Moss. He had to share catches with Torry Holt, since the Rams didn't really have a #1 WR and a #2, they had two #1s. He didn't total 100 career TDs, though some other HOF WRs didn't either.
The Prediction: It won't be Ike's year, we don't think he'll advance to the Final 10, though we could be wrong there. He's one of the players the presenter will have to make the case for in the following way: He Was Better Than The Numbers Might Indicate. And because of that induction to the HOF will have to wait.