The finalists for the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame class were announced Thursday, featuring some recognizable names from recent NFL history. The list is headlined by offensive linesman Walter Jones, defensive end Michael Strahan and linebacker Derrick Brooks. Jones and Brooks made the final ballot in their first year of eligibility and are favorites to earn their gold jackets when the final announcement is made in February.
Jones is one of the greatest offensive linemen in history, playing all 13 seasons of his career with the Seahawks. He started 180 games in Seattle, making the Pro Bowl nine times in his career while only being flagged for holding nine times.
Thomas Beekers at Field Gulls is convinced that Jones belongs in the Hall of Fame:
Walter Jones is a slam dunk Hall of Famer, it's just a question of when he'll get it. Arguably the best left tackle in a generation of great left tackles, perhaps even the best left tackle to play the game, Seahawks fans should be well familiar with his unique brand of dominance. The Hawks were generally good during his career too, which helps give him that needed recognizability with the media. I will argue to my dying breath that the 2005 MVP award that went to Shaun Alexander should by all rights have gone to Walter Jones. Or at least the OPotY. Jones is such a slam-dunk Hall of Famer the Hawks retired his jersey number the moment he retired, whereas with Largent and Kennedy both the team waited until enshrinement.
Brooks is looking to join teammate Warren Sapp as a first ballot Hall of Famer. Brooks was an integral part of Tony Dungy's Tampa-2 defense with over 1,700 career tackles. He played a key part in Tampa Bay's 2002 Super Bowl winning season, earned 11 Pro Bowl appearances and was named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2002.
Sander Phillipse at Bucs Nation feels Brooks should be a "slam dunk" for enshrinement:
Derrick Brooks is almost certainly going to be among the enshrinees next year. This is his first year of eligibility and few players are as qualified as Brooks to enter the Hall. With 11 Pro Bowls, 9 All-Pro selection, two Man of the Year awards, a Defensive Player of the Year award and a selection for the 2000s All-Decade Team, Brooks should be a slam dunk selection.
Strahan -- more than just the co-host of a popular morning TV show -- played 15 seasons with the New York Giants, collecting 141.5 sacks, good for fifth all-time. In 2001, he set the NFL single season sack record with 22.5 on his way to being named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Strahan earned a Super Bowl ring in 2008 when the Giants upset the Patriots, preventing them from becoming the second team in NFL history to complete an undefeated season.
Strahan was a finalist to be included in the Hall of Fame class of 2013, as well. He didn't get in, and Ed Valentine at Big Blue View did not take the news well:
Whatever happened to the best players get elected? Period. Shouldn't that be the criteria? I don't care how many years he waited for selection, and I'm not trying to offend him, but Cris Carter was not a better NFL player than Strahan. Not close. To put him in mostly because he's waited a long time and bypass Strahan is a travesty of justice. Sapp was not a better player than Strahan, either. You can't put everyone in, of course. I get that, but if Sapp is a Hall of Famer so is Strahan.
Running back Jerome Bettis is back for another shot at enshrinement along with receiver Tim Brown. Bettis is sixth on the all-time NFL rushing list, breaking he 1,000-yard mark eight times during his career. Brown had 14,934 receiving yards and 1,094 receptions in his career -- both totals are good for fifth all-time -- along with over 4,500 return yards. Charles Haley is back amongst the finalist as well, getting another shot at finally earning his place in the Hall of Fame.
Bettis is up for a Hall of Fame induction for a fourth straight year. He may finally break through, thanks to his role in power-running history. Via Neal Coolong at Behind The Steel Curtain:
Bettis is one of them. He rushed for 13,662 yards and 91 touchdowns in his career with the Rams and Steelers. "The Bus" was a figurehead in Pittsburgh during an era where the Steelers re-built a reputation for power running.
During that time, 2012 Hall of Fame inductee Dermontti Dawson became the first center to pull on run blocking assignments. It quickly became a staple of the Steelers running game, as Dawson and Bettis plowed their way to back-to-back AFC Central championships after Bettis arrived in 1996.
Here is the full list of Hall of Fame finalists for 2014:
K Morten Anderson
RB Jerome Bettis
LB Derrick Brooks
WR Tim Brown
Eddie J. DeBartolo Jr.
DE/LB Kevin Greene
DE/LB Charles Haley
WR Marvin Harrison
OT Walter Jones
WR Andre Reed
OL Will Shields
DE Michael Strahan
CB Aeneas Williams