There are some retired NFL players who are definitely going to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are others who should be there but, for some reason or another, they are not.
Most of the players on this list have been continuously snubbed, making most people think they will never get their rightful place in the Hall.
Others, it will just be a matter of time.
The 2016 Hall of Fame class saw previously snubbed players Kevin Greene and Marvin Harrison get gold jackets for enshrinement in Canton, so there is hope.
While some of them will probably get in eventually as a result of their contributions to the game, it is just surprising how long it’s taking. With so much talent in one league, there are a lot of pretty good players. But with only a few great players eligible each year, it is a wonder these guys have never been voted in.
Many of these guys are credited for their entire team’s success and have accomplished feats still have not matched years later, here are the 15 best NFL players currently not in the Hall of Fame.
15. Terrell Davis
Just as many people will argue that former Denver Broncos star running back Terrell Davis shouldn’t be elected to the Hall of Fame as those are for it. We’ll make the argument for, considering that Davis’ career mirrors those of members Gale Sayers and Earl Campbell. Sayers and Campbell both played seven and eight seasons in the league, respectively. They each had a few seasons of dominance at running back before tailing off, too. Their short careers, then, are in direct correlation to Davis’ brief seven-year stint. Only Campbell outgained Davis in yardage, 9,407 to 7,607 and narrowly beat him in TDs, 74 to 70. Adding fuel to the argument Davis should be in were his three first team All-Pro selections, two Super Bowl titles, NFL MVP award, rushing yards leader (1998, 2,008 yards, 21 TDs) and inclusion in 1990s all-decade team.
14. Cornelius Bennett
The NFL wasn’t all that great tracking tackles until recently. Otherwise, a guy like Cornelius Bennett would have a legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame. According to the NFL.com website, Bennett, who played 14 seasons in the league, mostly with the Buffalo Bills, has zero tackles. A little more digging (thanks Pro Football Reference) saw that he actually made 1,190 tackles in his career, 1,048 of them solo (he had 60 more tackles than Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott). Bennett is also 78th on the all-time sack leaders list with 71.5. He also forced 31 fumbles and had seven interceptions. The longtime Bill went to five Pro Bowls, four straight Super Bowls, was a two-time AFC Defensive Player of the Year and is a member of the NFL’s 1990s all-decade team. He’s in the College Football Hall of Fame (for his outstanding career at Alabama) and we see no reason he shouldn’t be in the NFL version.
13. Kurt Warner
We wouldn’t be going that far off the board for saying that Kurt Warner should be in the Hall of Fame. From a purely statistical point, his numbers warrant inclusion, including passing yards (32,344, 36th), TDs (208; 34th), passing yards per game (260.8; 6th) and passer rating (93.7; 10th). From a success perspective, Warner, who didn’t start in the NFL until he was 28, he won a Super Bowl and was MVP and went to three all together, was a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro and twice was NFL MVP. We think that the fact he was stocking grocery store shelves and biding his time in the Arena Football League before making the leap is all the evidence we need.
12. Deron Cherry
If not for a failed career as a punter, safety Deron Cherry wouldn’t have enjoyed one of the better careers as a safety in the history of the NFL. The popular Kansas City Chief, signed as a free agent punter in 1981 out of Rutgers, was so unimpressive that coach Marv Levy cut him. But, given a chance at his other position, safety, he made an immediate impression, recording the first of 50 career interceptions in a game shortly after his debut. He would play in 148 career games in 11 seasons between 1981 and 1991, all with Kansas City, garnering six Pro Bowl nods and three first-team all-Pro selections. His 50 picks ranks him 35th on the all-time list and he was named to the NFL’s all-decade team for the 80s.
11. L.C. Greenwood
There have been few defensive front lines as feared as the famed “Steel Curtain” in Pittsburgh, one of the most ferocious units of all time. Leading the charge of a very successful Pittsburgh Steelers team in the 1970s was DT Mean Joe Greene, who is in the Hall of Fame. Riding shotgun, and no less feared, was defensive end L.C. Greenwood, who passed away in 2013 still awaiting enshrinement. He was a finalist in 1991, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2005 and 2006. With his team, he made six Pro Bowls and was a Super Bowl winner four times. Because the NFL didn’t track sacks until 1982, Greenwood’s 73.5 sacks are not officially entered among all-time leaders and he would be tied for 74th. Among his many feats in the Super Bowl, Greenwood sacked Hall of Fame QB Roger Staubach an incredible four times as Pittsburgh won Super Bowl X 21-17 over Dallas.
10. Peyton Manning
It is just year one of Manning’s eligibility for enshrinement in Canton, but we will argue the five-year period should be bypassed in order to induct (arguably) the greatest quarterback the game has known. Manning rode off into the retirement sunset as a winner and his many feats of greatness and hall-worthy performances are legion. Running down his list of accomplishments, we see: two Super Bowl championships, one Super Bowl MVP, five times NFL MVP, 14 Pro Bowls, 7 first team All-Pro nominations, most career passing yards (71,940), most passing yards in a season (5,477), most career passing TDs (539), most passing touchdowns in a season (55) and most career wins (186). Whew. We could go on, and on, and on. In any case, in five years he’s a first ballot slam dunk honoree.
9. Terrell Owens
We think the selection committee voted with their hearts and not their heads this year, bypassing Terrell Owens in his first year of eligibility. Or, the “rules” say only one wide receiver can make it per year, he being Marvin Harrison — who is deserving — in 2016. The committee probably (wrongly) took into account Owens bombastic personality and his propensity for being a hot dog and trash-talker. Who knows. So, let’s compare the numbers of the two wideouts, just for the heck of it. Owens had 15,934 career receiving yards, which is second all-time, while Harrison had 14,580. Owens hauled in 153 touchdown passes, which is third all-time, compared to Harrison’s 128. Three times Owens led the NFL in touchdowns, while Harrison did it once. Owens averaged 14.8 yards a catch, Harrison 13.2. Lastly, Owens was a first team All-pro five times and Harrison was so honored on just three occasions. An egregious oversight we’re sure will be fixed.
8. Ricky Watters
Much like Charles Haley, it seems that it is Ricky Watters’ personality that is keeping him from the distinction of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame. As a running back in the NFL for 11 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Seattle Seahawks, Watters was as much of a threat as a receiver as he was on the ground. He ended his career with over 10,000 yards rushing plus 4,248 receiving yards. He was also a five-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XXIX champion, in a game where he scored three touchdowns. While his mouth may be the reason he hasn’t been voted into the Hall of Fame, his play speaks for itself and it says he is one of the best not yet honored in Canton.
7. Ken Anderson
Ken Anderson was a quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1971-1986, playing his entire career with one team. Although there are arguments for many QBs who aren’t in the Hall of Fame yet should be, it seems Anderson is continuously underrated. In his career, Anderson was named a Pro Bowler four times and even won an NFL MVP Award in 1981. He almost pulled off a stunning comeback in Super Bowl XVI, which was the first Super Bowl ever for the Bengals franchise. After his retirement, Anderson held numerous QB records including single season completion percentage (70.6) and still holds one of the best postseason quarterback ratings in NFL history. While he has come close to being inducted, he has never made the final ballot for Hall of Fame induction, making him one of the best still not in.
6. Marshawn Lynch
We’ll start off right away saying that Lynch hasn’t even filed retirement papers, so the clock is not yet ticking on his own Hall of Fame eligibility. Though he did tell us all by Twitter that after just nine seasons, he’s out. We’re not going to advocate that the five-year eligibility rule be bypassed like we did for Peyton Manning, but we feel Lynch should be a first ballot honoree. He did more in 127 games, on average, than a few of his honored peers did to get the call. Beast Mode’s numbers, without comparison, speak for themselves. He rushed for over 1,000 yards six times in nine NFL, finishing with 9,112 and was tops in rushing touchdowns twice. If you want a comparison on who he resembles, look no further than Earl Campbell, who was inducted in 1991. We think Lynch was just as dominant and imposing as Earl.
5. Jim Marshall
While Jim Marshall may have been one of the most reliable and consistent players of his era, playing in 282 consecutive games, he has only been nominated for the Hall of Fame once and did not make the final cut. He played for 20 seasons in the NFL, all for the Minnesota Vikings except one. He holds an NFL record for 30 fumbles recovered. He is also known as being one of the Vikings famous “Purple People Eaters” along with Alan Page, Gary Larsen, and Carl Eller. Although Marshall is known for his ironman career, he is also known for one of the biggest mistakes in football history when he recovered a fumble and then ran 66 yards the wrong way into his own endzone. Without a single standout season, it seems Marshall will never be a Pro Football Hall of Fame member.
4. Steve Tasker
The name Steve Tasker often coincides with being called the best Special Teams players of all-time, yet he has still not made it into the Hall of Fame. Many believe Tasker has been rejected in favor of guys who are out there every down but just because he was on special teams doesn’t mean Tasker wasn’t as important as any other player to the Buffalo Bills’ success. He was elected to the Pro Bowl seven times and was named Pro Bowl MVP once. Even if it is special teams, being the best ever on any group should mean a definite trip to the Hall of Fame ceremony.
3. Jerry Kramer
To no surprise, Jerry Kramer is the best NFL player not in the Hall of Fame. At right guard for the Green Bay Packers from 1958-1968, Kramer became known as a key part of the “Packer Sweep” play. He was named to the Pro Bowl three times, was an All-Pro First Teamer five times, and won the very first two Super Bowls with the Packers. He was one of the most resilient and tough guys in the league and always returned from injuries ready to give it his all. He was recognized for his superior blocking and it was his block that allowed Bart Starr to score in the final seconds and win the infamous Ice Bowl in 1967. On top of all of his abilities, he also served as the team’s place kicker for a few years, making him even more versatile and invaluable. He is the only member of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team to not be in the Hall of Fame. Definitely one of the best players to grace the game. No one can figure out how Hall of Fame voters have left Kramer out for so many years.
2. Calvin Johnson
Calvin “Megatron” Johnson shocked the football world by announcing his retirement at the ripe old age of 30 and while he was still the most imposing receiver in football. Maybe the most imposing ever. Like Marshawn Lynch, Johnson’s career was relatively short, coming in at nine seasons. If there is a slam dunk in five years, it’s him, along with Lynch and Peyton Manning. The season he had in 2012 should cement his induction. He amassed an eye-popping 1,964 yards, which is most in a single season, ever. He also caught 122 passes that year, which ties him for seventh all-time in single season receptions. Johnson went to six Pro Bowls as a Detroit Lion and was first team All-Pro three times. His 11,619 receiving yards puts him 27th on the all-time list, just 285 yards less than Michael Irvin, who played more seasons.
1. Randy Moss
Randy Moss retired in 2012, for the second and final time, so it’s just a matter of time before he’s on the ballot. And, we believe he’s a shoo-in for induction right away. He finished his 13-year career third all-time in receiving yards (15,292). He was a true deep threat with sure hands right out of the box, leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns five different seasons, including the 23 with New England in 2007. That number is the most ever in a single season for a receiver and was done on just 98 total catches. His greatest single season was with Minnesota in 2003, when he caught a career high 111 passes for 1,632 yards and 17 touchdowns. Moss was selected to play in six Pro Bowls and was a first team All-Pro four times. The only thing that might cloud the committee’s judgement, pardon the bad analogy, was Moss’ admitted use of marijuana as well as that infamous mooning incident. Move over, Terrell Owens.