The 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame class will almost certainly feature at least a couple of players who were voted down this year, as next year’s list of first-time eligible players likely has just a few Hall of Famers.
LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Hines Ward, Brian Dawkins and Donovan McNabb are the best players who are eligible for the first time in 2017.
The league MVP in 2006, Tomlinson probably has the best chance in that group. Taylor was the defensive player of the year in 2006 and also has a solid chance. Dawkins was a nine-time Pro Bowler but will probably have to wait a few years before he’s inducted. McNabb was a good player but was never a first-team All-Pro or a Super Bowl winner, and it’s hard for a quarterback to get into the Hall of Fame without either of those honors.
Ward will be one of the most interesting arguments in the Hall of Fame selection committee meeting room next year. His stats aren’t as good as some receivers who have been voted down, like Terrell Owens and Isaac Bruce, but Ward was one of the best blocking receivers in the league, and Ward has a Super Bowl MVP award to his credit. We’ll see next year whether the selection committee values some of those other criteria over stats.
On Saturday, NFL Network published a list of potential Hall of Famers comprised of Tomlinson, Taylor, Ward, Dawkins, McNabb and Chad Johnson. I tweeted that Johnson has no chance of getting into the Hall of Fame: We’ve already seen the Hall of Fame selection committee vote down receivers with much better resumes than Johnson. When Ochocinco saw my tweet, he pointed out that he already inducted himself. Ochocinco belongs in the Hall of Fame of guys who don’t take themselves too seriously.