Many more wide receiver debates coming to the Hall of Fame

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Last year, when Cris Carter was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his sixth year as a finalist, it seemed to break up a bit of a logjam at the wide receiver position. This year, another wide receiver who had been waiting for years, Andre Reed, was selected in his eighth year as a finalist.

But the Hall of Fame debates at the wide receiver position have just begun.

Two finalists who were voted down this year, Tim Brown and Marvin Harrison, will remain on the ballot. Harrison is highly likely to get in at some point, but Brown is going to be a tough case: Although Brown retired with 14,934 receiving yards, putting him behind only Jerry Rice on the all-time list at the time he retired, he has now been surpassed by four more players on the career receiving yards list, and each year his stats may look less impressive in comparison.

Next year receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt become eligible. Bruce is fourth all-time with 15,208 receiving yards, while Holt is 12th with 13,382. They both have strong cases, particularly Bruce, but if Harrison couldn’t get in during his first year of eligibility, Bruce and Holt may not either.

In 2016 Terrell Owens becomes eligible. Owens is second only to Rice with 15,934 receiving yards and third all-time with 153 receiving touchdowns. In 2017 Hines Ward becomes eligible. Ward’s receiving numbers aren’t as good as the other receivers mentioned here, but Ward was the best blocking receiver of his generation, and he has a Super Bowl MVP award to his credit. In 2018 Randy Moss becomes eligible. Moss is second only to Rice with 156 receiving touchdowns and third all-time with 15,292 receiving yards.

Of the players who will become eligible in the years ahead, Moss seems the most likely to be selected in his first year of eligibility. Harrison will probably be selected at some point, and there will be interesting debates around Bruce, Holt, Owens and Ward. Brown, despite a very good career, may have a tough time getting in. Every year, he has more competition at the wide receiver position.

62 responses to “Many more wide receiver debates coming to the Hall of Fame

  1. I don’t know who else at other positions becomes eligible next year, but the jam at receiver looks like it’s going to have a big domino effect.

    I would be surprised if TO doesn’t have to wait a couple of years. No one can deny his talent, productivity, or longevity, but his attitude and his negative effect on locker rooms are going to hurt him.

    It’s surprising that Holt and Bruce will be eligible at the same time because when Holt was drafted in 1999 Bruce was the old veteran on the Rams. Bruce played for a long time while injuries cut Holt’s career short, though it was still pretty long.

  2. Steve Smith.

    He’s already passed a bunch of Hall of Famers. He’s likely to pass a number of the guys mentioned on this list.

    Imagine his production if he hadn’t played the majority of his career on a run based, poor teams and years with absolutely awful awful awful QB play? (Jimmy Clausen, anyone?)

    If Michael Irvin gets in because of the injury excuse (a guy Smith has passed or is about to pass in virtually every category) then why shouldn’t Smith based on similar projections?

    Isn’t the Hall about honoring the most talented guys? Smith has been one of the very best to play and deserves it.

    That isn’t to say a number of the guys listed above don’t of course. It’s outrageous that Tim Brown isn’t in yet. Laughable even.

    Time to take the voting out of the media’s I’d say. They’ve proven they’re no longer qualified to do this job competently.

  3. I doubt Moss goes in before Owens, Moss Quit on his team and Plays Many Times plus had a few off the Field Issues, Moss deserves to be in H O F but if he Does and Owens Isn’t that Would be WRONG

  4. They should create the Terrel Owens Wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame for Wide Receivers who Racked Up Yards in an Era When the Rules Hamstrung the Defense

  5. T.O. and Moss have stats, but not hardware. They hardly even have any big playoff performances.

    They should not be considered in the same class as Ward, Holt, and Bruce, who had huge playoff performances leading to Super Bowl titles for their teams.

    Plus, Ward’s stats are incredible given that he played his entire career in a bad weather city on bad turf, and for half his career he had sub-par QB’s.

  6. Hines ward shouldn’t get in. His career is based on longevity, not being top of his class. Being a good blocking receiver is not something that pops on a resume

  7. Owens deserves to make It within his first year or two of eligibility. Moss should also get in in the first few eligible years, but not before Owens. Randy Moss may have been a bit more dominant than him, but when you look at every angle, catching, Red Zone effectiveness, value to his team, blocking and so on, Owens ranks higher. Brown will eventually make it, same goes for Bruce, Holt, Harrison and Ward, just not as quick.

  8. Tim Brown will never get in the HOF…..nor should he. The guy is not only a bump, he was a raider and the main reason the Raiders lost Gruden and then lost the SB against TB who was coached by Gruden.

  9. Those who think brown is truly better than reed don’t watch football. Reed had to share the ball with Thurman Thomas, ken Davis, lofton, moulds, bill brooks . Who did brown share the ball with

  10. Regarding Holt…

    Find me one other WR (Hall of Fame or not) that had over 1,300 yards receiving in six consecutive seasons.

    Find me one WR mentioned in this article or in the HOF that averaged more yards per game than Holt. You can’t do it.

    If Holt isn’t a HOFer, no one is.

  11. Ram fan here. I’ve never thought Holt was Hall of Fame worthy. Bruce, yes. He piled up most of his numbers when the Rams were battling the Bengals for the worst team of the decade.

  12. I don’t really care one way or the other, however, Brown’s stats were better in every category than Reed’s record. How did Reed jump over Brown? They are BOTH worthy and if Reed is in, so Brown should be as well.

  13. I don’t think TO should be in Hall of Fame. Shouldn’t a Hall of Famer be someone who helped his teams in the end. TO was disruptive in every locker room he was and in the end didn’t help the teams he played on. Shouldn’t be just about stats, this isn’t baseball, football goes deeper than some numbers.

  14. ” … Ward was the best blocking receiver of his generation, …”

    That’s a true statement, but it could be expanded to read as Ward was the best blocking receiver in NFL history, and the receiver who’s second – is a very distant second best.

    Even today, most receivers who are even willing to block at all really just run low impact screens and soft blocks – where Ward would go in full speed ahead. Yes, Ward authored some better-get-your-head-on-a-swivel hits — but Ward also hit defenders face up too. And it wasn’t just DBs and LBs, he’s hit DEs, DTs and NTs — on broken plays where Ben tucks it and runs.

    For instance, I recall Ward blasting CIN DL John Thornton’s 300 lbs. right between the numbers just about as Thornton was about to make the play on Ben. I’ve seen no other wideout do that, and don’t recall many TEs making that play either.

    Also, unlike players like Moss who basically ran all his routes within 5 yards of the sideline — Ward would get his nose dirty and eat the big hits in traffic to pick up the tough yards and move the sticks. Ward also has played in 3 Super Bowls, winning 2 of them.

    Confession however: a bit of a Steeler homer here, but the true belief here is that Ward should get into the Hall on merit for his unique approach to the position, heart, toughness and playing excellence.

  15. one guy largely over looked and it seems for no good reason is cliff branch. comparable stats to other wrs in his era. better stats than a few wrs in the same era already in the hof. 4 pro bowls. 3 time all pro. led the league in receiving once and receiving tds twice. AND 3 rings.
    yet no love for him at all when it comes to the hof. it is a shame!

  16. Anyone who knows jack about the NFL and watched Tim Brown play knows he is a hall of famer

  17. TO was a top-10 all time receiver. He should make it in his first year of eligibility, but may have to wait a couple because of his reputation. Same with Randy Moss. Harrison will also get in pretty soon.

    Tough case for the other guys. Isaac Bruce has longevity, and his 1995 season was the second-best ever for a WR for a very long time, but he only made 4 Pro Bowls. While Torry Holt was a few years younger, which gave him a statistical advantage, he was the better WR at his peak, which was actually pretty long. I believe Torry Holt was the all-time leader in receiving yards per game as of 2005. He was also the only receiver ever to have 6 straight 1300-yard seasons. Still, his career was a little injury-shortened and a few other guys were more dominant than him during his career, so I don’t think he ever makes it. Tim Brown may be the best receiver never to make the HOF. 7 Pro Bowls and great longevity. I do thik Hines Ward will make it based on reputation. Tim Brown, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt were all better receivers, but Hines Ward has the reputation of being a great blocking WR in a run-heavy offense. He also has two rings and a Super Bowl MVP. The writers will favor him.

  18. T.O. caught 9 passes for 129 yards in the Super Bowl with a high ankle sprain and you say he didn’t help his team? He put up great stats regardless of who he ever had throwing him the ball! For a long stretch, there was Owens and Moss, and then everybody else. Those two deserve to be in 1st ballot, they are in a different class than all the others mentioned.

  19. Not only did Terrell Owens put up huge numbers, but he did have big playoff performances -game winning catch against Green Bay1n 1999, 11 catches for 126 yards on a broken leg in Super Bowl XXXIX etc. His unique combination of size, strength and speed made him a nightmare for defensive backs and helped shape today’s demand for plus size receivers. He is undoubtedly a first ballot Hall of Famer

  20. Can anybody tell me how many QBs Tim Brown had throwing him the ball durring his career?

    Then tell me how many of those QBs where actually good. I can honestly say ONE and that was Gannon at the end of browns career.

    People forget Brown put up those numbers with some of the sorryest QBs to ever play with the Raiders.

    AND he never quit, what happen when Moss had a bad QB throwing him the ball? quit….TO? cry and quit…..

  21. You can make arguments for or against all these guys, it’s an interesting discussion. But there’s no way of figuring out what criteria the selectors are using in making their picks. I don’t know that any of them could explain why Lynn Swann but not Cliff Branch, why Charlie Joiner but not Harold Jackson.

    But one thing that’s worth noting is that with only one exception (Mac Speedie) every WR who’s made the final fifteen has eventually gotten in. So Mr. Brown, Mr. Harrison, it’s fairly safe for you to start working on your speech….

  22. There needs to be some kind of * for Brown and older receivers, If Brown had played in today’s offenses he would be the all time receiver. Heck, what would guys like Warfeild, Biletnikoff or Largent do in today’s NFL with the ball in the air 40 times a game and the no touchie rules for the DB’s

  23. How is Hines Ward even in the conversation? If we’re talking about Ward, then we should be talking about Jimmy Smith and Rod Smith too.

    Ward wasn’t on the level of any of the other WRs mentioned in this article. He was a nice little possession receiver who played a long time and could block.

    12.1 YPC for his career. Once caught 94 passes in a season and barely made it to 1,000 yards.

    First ballot Hall of Very Good inductee.

  24. “was the best blocking receiver of his generation” That’s as moronic as saying a RB is a Hall candidate due to their pass blocking skills.

  25. This is plain ridiculous..
    Tim Brown is the 2nd best WR of all time! Look who he had throwing to him..a bunch of nobodies but Marvin Harrison had Manning. Harrison sucked before Manning came aboard. Cris Carter is not even in Tim Browns league nor is Andre Reed. Reed had Jim Kelly throwing to him..
    This is just a case of the media hating the Raiders but nobody will say anything..
    If Marcus Allen never left the Raiders I bet he wouldn’t be in either..
    There are a ton of Raiders that should be in the Hall of fame but they won’t be because of people who hate The Raiders. Jim Plunket a 2 TIME WINNING SUPERBOWL CHAMPION.
    Ken Stabler is not even in the hall of fame!
    Bo Jackson should be in the hall of fame.
    I even believe a guy like Rich Gannon should be in the hall of fame. The guy was a NFL MVP,, three All-Pro selections (2000 to 2002) had 1 superbowl appearance which he would of won if Bill Callahan did not throw the game….See it all comes back to why Brown is not in the hall of fame.. He was the only one that was brave enough to confront the NFL that the super bowl was rigged which we all know was

  26. 1 MORE THING:
    Bill Romanowski should be in the hall of fame as well.
    Way more deserving than a guy like Warren Sapp.
    The only reason why Sapp is in is because he works for NFL Network.
    That’s all u got to do is work for the Network and you are sure to get in.
    Next thing you know Heath Evans will be in the hall of fame!
    Or maybe that over rated CB Eric Davis who now works for NFL Network. Marshal Faulk is s me of a guy like who was average RB who got in just because he works for NFL Network. Faulk was good, he was never great.

  27. The problem with putting in the more modern era receivers over Tim brown and other later era receivers is the NFL changed the rules to protect the offensive players at close to the end of Browns career!!! that is why the more modern receivers have more yardage they didn’t have to worry about getting paralyzed like Darrell Stingley did!!! Tim Brown had to worry about more violent and dangerous safeties and cornerbacks then Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt and some of those others, going across the middle back then could ruin your day and the rest of your life. The unbalanced favoritism “rules” are padding the stats of the modern offensive players, Tim Brown would have a field day in today’s defense handicapping NFL!!!!!! for many years he was the best wide receiver not named Jerry Rice.

  28. That 80 touchdown to win the Super Bowl sealed the HOF for Bruce. That was the icing on the cake for a great career. Maybe not next year, but eventually.

  29. I always expect Raiders whiners to cry bout Tim Brown and a case can be made for Brown to be in the Hall. Stabler isn’t in because of his ties to known gamblers. Plunkett? Give me a break! No Pro Bowls, no All Pro teams. Four winning seasons total in a 15 year career. More INTs than TDs. Bo Jackson? Since when does 2500 yards and 16 TDs total equate to a HOF career? Bo in the Hall is as laughable as Rich Gannon in the Hall.

  30. LOFL…Faulk was just “good”?

    Over 2,000 yards from scrimmage for 4 straight seasons.

    Set the record for yards from scrimmage in a season.

    Set the record for TDs scored in a season. And by the way, the year he scored 26 TDs…he fumbled zero times.

    Over 1,000 yards RECEIVING in a season

    136 TDs scored

    19,154 yards from scrimmage

    Two time NFL Offensive Player of the Year

    Rookie of the year

    3 time AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year


    7 time Pro Bowler

    3 time First Team All-Pro

    Wow…What a moronic statement.

  31. People need to think of the HOF much like baseball thinks of their HOF. You have to judge players according to the history/context they played in. The NFL today is not the same as when many of these older players played. For example, Tim Brown played much of his career in a very passing depressed run oriented stretch of NFL history. Back when he played it was completely unheard of that a QB might throw for 5,000 yards. It was even unheard of for anyone not an elite QB to throw for over 4,000 yards. Now we have players coming out of college and throwing for 4,000 yards their first season.

    You can make the arguments for or against any of these players, but the point remains. You have to judge each player relative to the time they played and not according to some non existent “universal” standard.

  32. Say what you want about TO, but on Sundays he came to ball and ball hard.. Don’t let your hate cloud your judgement.

  33. Owens, Moss and Harrison belong in the hall, like them or not (I dislike the first two). Bruce too.

    Ward, Brown and Holt don’t.

    Too much discussion about this position, and not enough about why great position-redefining studs like Robert Brazile aren’t in Canton.

  34. The hatred for Al Davis will continue to screw over Tim Brown next year, the NFL has hated Davis for nearly 50 years

  35. If we want to talk about unappreciated WRs, we should discuss Henry Ellard. He was 3rd all time in receiving yards when he retired and still ranks in the top 10. All the while playing second fiddle to Eric Dickerson on the run first Rams.

    His first 11 seasons he played for run first coaches John Robinson and Chuck Knox and over his career he caught passes from these studs….Jeff Kemp, Dieter Brock, Steve Dils, TJ Rubley, Heath Shuler and Gus Frerotte.

    His career YPC of 16.9 dwarfs virtually all WRs inducted in the last 20 years.

  36. Harrison had Wayne, Carter had Moss, Moss had Carter, Rice had Owens/Taylor, Irvin had Harper….. Who did Brown have? James Jett? Not only did he have a bunch of sorry Qbs throwing to him, he had no one to take pressure off of him. No one to draw attention away from him. Everyone in the stadium knew where the ball was going and he would beat double and triple teams…. That IS the definition of dominance… Look at the numbers.

  37. The problem lies solely on the voting system that is. There is no reason that Carter/Reed/& Brown couldn’t have been selected to go in at the same time, in any one of the past several years! All 3 deserve it, over the years the voters have always said that “all are deserving”. They are from a certain era when the rules weren’t as favorable to offenses. The other guys discussed are all great as well, but they will have to fight it off, why should Monk have waited or Reed and now Brown…makes no sense at all!

  38. I was a fan of the Kelly/Thomas/Reed Bills, as a kid I remember begging my parents to take me to an Andre Reed signing at the mall.

    With that said, I don’t see how he is in before Marvin Harrison or Tim Brown. And I’d also rank Bruce and Moss ahead of him too.

  39. billsfan1 wrote:

    “Reed had to share the ball with Thurman Thomas, ken Davis, lofton, moulds, bill brooks . Who did brown share the ball with”

    First off.. Andre Reed was an excellent WR, and his spot in Canton was well deserved. To answer your question?

    How about Marcus Allen, Todd Christenson, Mervyn Fernandez, Willie Gault, Bo Jackson,
    Jerry Porter?

    Or Jerry Rice’s 238, and Charlie Garner’s 211 in
    the SAME three years? (’01-’03) Brown had 224.

    Head to head?

    4.3 – 4.0 receptions per game
    100 – 87 career TD’s
    14-8 seasons playing all 16 games
    58.6 – 56.4 avg yards per game

    Oh.. and Andre had Jim Kelly for all but 4 of his Buffalo years. Then he had Doug Flutie.

    Brown? He did get 4 1/2 years with Gannon. BUT, he also got time with Donald Hollas, Rick Mirer, and Jay Schroeder!

    Congrats to Andre… now he can keep a seat warm for Timmy!

  40. The fact that so many WRs are retiring with stats in the top 15 all time kind of makes them all less impressive. Less HoF worthy.

  41. No one but Steeler Homers think Ward should get in the HOF.

    Hines Ward: “the best blocking WR of all time when no one is looking”

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