August 7, 2006
The Chat House
Brooklyn, N.Y.: In your opinion, who are the greatest athletes who will never make the Hall of Fame in their respective sports? For me, it’s Bo Jackson, Darryl Strawberry and Shawn Kemp.
Michael Wilbon: They wouldn’t make my list at all. Jim Rice. Go look up his stats. Rice, Ron Santo, Don Mattingly, Buck O’Neil of the Negro Leagues. I can’t think of any in pro basketball, because all the greats get in. And in football, there are tons, starting with Art Monk…The list is too long in pro football, which is harder to analyze…
Washington, D.C.: Speaking of Art Monk … recently read where Peter King has decided to switch his stance on getting Monk into the Hall.
Any chance it will happen next year or are there still sportswriters that need convincing??
Michael Wilbon: I just don’t know because I don’t know how many people are voting thumbs down on Monk. Peter makes his public, but not everybody does.
Dallas Morning News
August 8, 2006
From the 50: WR’s Caught in Hall Jam
I feel for Michael Irvin. And Art Monk. And Drew Pearson. And Andre Reed. And just about anyone else who has lined up at wide receiver in the NFL over the last three decades.
As a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, we seem to collectively have decided no wide receiver is worthy of Canton until Jerry Rice becomes eligible. We’ve lost sight of what greatness is.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame needs to define what a Hall of Fame wide receiver is for us. Is it the statistics? Is it the championships? Is it big plays in big games? Is it longevity? Is it consistency? Is it sizzle? What? The selection committee needs some guidance here.
If it’s statistics, Monk would be in. He set NFL records for most catches in a season (106) and career (940) before retiring after the 1995 season. He also played on three Super Bowl championship teams. He’s been a finalist for the Hall of Fame each of the last six years but has been voted down by the committee every time.
If it’s championships, Irvin would be in. He won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys in the 1990s as Troy Aikman’s go-to guy. He also has the stats. Despite a career shortened by a neck injury after 12 seasons, Irvin still ranks 13th on the all-time receiving list with 750 receptions. Irvin has been a finalist for the Hall the last two years but has been voted down both times.
If it’s big plays in big games, Pearson belongs. Remember the Hail Mary? Yet he’s never been a finalist.
If it’s longevity, Irving Fryar with 851 catches in 17 seasons ought to be in. He’s another guy who can’t get to the finals.
If it’s consistency, Reed belongs in. He played for the Buffalo Bills for 15 years and caught at least 50 passes in 13 of those seasons. He went to four Super Bowls and ranks fourth on the all-time receiving list with 951. But he’s another guy who has never been to the finals.
If it’s sizzle, Bob Hayes belongs. The nickname says it all – Bullet. But Hayes was voted down by the committee in his only appearance as a finalist in 2004.
The committee elected Lynn Swann in 2001, John Stallworth in 2002 and James Lofton in 2003. Now, for whatever reason, the tap has been turned off.
I’m not sure any of those three would be re-elected if they returned to the 2007 ballot. If 1990s inductees Tommy McDonald, Charlie Joiner and Steve Largent had to repeat the process in today’s climate, I doubt any of them would get in, either.
The selection committee seems to be waiting on Rice, which is not good news for Cris Carter and Tim Brown. Carter ranks second all-time with 1,101 catches and Brown third with 1,070. The stats may be there, but neither wears a championship ring. Carter never even played in a Super Bowl.
So what does a Hall of Fame receiver look like? The selection committee needs to figure that out very, very soon. The queue is getting backed up at the position.