Here we are in the National Football League playoffs but for us that it means it is time to discuss the potential class of the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Finalists have been announced, and along with regular contributor, Spheniscus, we will go back and forth with each candidate and openly debate as to which player would be a worthy Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
Committee Chairman: Spheniscus, we have a strong candidate for a first year inductee in Brian Dawkins…except for two things:
The first is that LaDainian Tomlinson is on the ballot and will probably get in. This might impact Dawkins getting in on the first ballot.
I can’t see how he doesn’t get in really soon, and if he doesn’t get in this year, the year after will see him enter. This is despite how the Pro Football Hall of Fame views Safeties.
Now seriously, how do you keep a guy nicknamed “Weapon X” out of Canton?
Spheniscus: The good news for Dawkins is that Tomlinson is on the other side of the ball. So it should have almost no effect on his candidacy. The other good news is that Brian Dawkins feels like a first ballot Hall of Famer. And with the other finalists, that is probably enough.
The Hall likes to take players from all over the field in each class. So unless you have two no brainers who happen to play the same position (usually QB), the voters will tend to compare each candidate against those who play their approximate position. I say approximate because Dawkins is going to be compared against the other defensive backs, not just the other safeties. So in this year that is Ty Law and John Lynch, (and perhaps Kenny Easley to a certain extent, but he is really in a separate category since he is the senior candidate).
So while the voters are going to weigh Dawkins’ and Lynch’s and Law’s stats against each other, more importantly they are going to weigh their perception of whether or not the player felt like a Hall of Famer when they were playing. Dawkins had a certain amount of gravitas in the way he carried himself. He felt like a Hall of Famer. I think that is enough.
Committee Chairman: He does feel like a Hall of Famer doesn’t he? The Eagles only made on Super Bowl, but there was four straight NFC Championship Games, and Dawkins was a huge part of that. He has the resume and the respect, but why is it that I think he will get passed over?
Initially, I did think Tomlinson’s presence would hurt, however the more I think about it, I don’t think it will. What worries me is John Lynch.
I don’t know why I think this, but I have this feeling that there are going to give it to Lynch and if they do, Dawkins will get shut out. Canton does not love Safeties as much as they should and I don’t see them inducting two of them. Dawkins should be ahead of Lynch, but I don’t know if they will see it that way.
Also…and I hate to say this…I think the Pro Football Hall of Fame doesn’t think there will be that much of a backlash (except in Philadelphia who booed Santa Claus) if they make him wait a year.
Spheniscus: You may be right. If one of these three first time candidates is getting squeezed, Dawkins is the most likely. Tomlinson is a shoo-in and Taylor has no competition at his position on this ballot. I just don’t think that Lynch will be the one squeezing him.
If anyone should worry Dawkins, it might be… Kurt Warner. Who also doesn’t have any competition at his position on the ballot. If Tomlinson and Taylor are going in, that leaves three spots. I imagine they are going to feel they have to pick an Offensive Lineman since four are on the ballot, and they have heard the criticism about not picking wide outs for years. That leaves one place. And there may be enough division over which defensive back to take that Warner sneaks in with the last spot. I don’t think that will happen, but I think that it is a likelier scenario than Lynch taking the 5th spot this year.
It would be a shame though. Dawkins really deserves to be there.
Committee Chairman: He does belong there and this should always be based on talent, not tenure on the ballot. This is how I felt when Tim Brown beat out Marvin Harrison, as the latter was the better candidate, but they had Brown as a Finalist in Susan Lucci like proportions.
Now if there is a year to put in two Defensive Backs into Canton, this is they year, but it always feels like the Pro Football Hall of Fame picks players like an NFL team drafts…as in “position of need”.
Dawkins would get in on my ballot, and I hope he is on the Hall of Fame Committee’s too.
Spheniscus: I actually disagree with you on that. Tim Brown was a better player with worse QBs playing in an era that didn’t favor the offense as much as when Marvin Harrison played. You give me a draft of all the players in NFL history and Brown and Harrison are the top 2 WRs left on the board, I take Brown 10 times out of 10.
I feel the same way about Dawkins vs. Lynch as well. Although Dawkins and Lynch are full contemporaries, there is no question who was a better player.
While Lynch has been on the list longer, I’d like to think who was actually the better player will hold the day. He’d get my vote, and I think he will get in this year.