Sport 30 biggest Hall of Fame snubs in NFL history
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Not everyone gets to Canton when they finish their NFL career, but these 30 players have been overlooked when it comes to getting a gold jacket.
As Hall of Fame finalists for the class of 2022 get announced, it seems fitting to look at those who have been overlooked by the Hall of Fame and deserve to get more attention for how great their careers were. These are the top 30 Hall of Fame snubs in NFL history.
Who are the biggest Hall of Fame snubs in NFL history?
30. Tiki Barber
Tiki Barber was one of the best players on the New York Giants of the late 1990s and early 2000s. While he put together very solid seasons, he didn't get a ton of accolades until the final years of his career.
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In 2000, he rushed for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Two years later in 2002, he ran for just under 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns, but was snubbed from the Pro Bowl. He was a Pro Bowler for the first time in 2004. He ran for 1,518 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season. The Giants were in the midst of transitioning Eli Manning into the starter that season, and finished the season 6-10. In 2005, Barber was a Pro Bowler again, as well as an All-Pro. He ran for over 1,800 yards and nine touchdowns.
Barber ran for over 1,600 yards in his final season in 2006. He retired with 10,449 yards and 55 touchdowns for his career. He retired just one season before the Giants won the Super Bowl, which is a shame because he clearly had gas left in the tank. Locker room issues were public, though, and Barber decided to call it a career.
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29. Pat Swilling
Pat Swilling was one of the best defensive players on the Saints "Dome Patrol" defense that made New Orleans winners for the first time in franchise history.
Swilling was drafted by the Saints in the third round of the 1986 NFL Draft, and would go on to put together a portfolio that is Hall of Fame worthy. He made it to his first Pro Bowl in 1989, as he and Sam Mills (more on him later) patrolled the second level of the defense. He was a Pro Bowler every season from 1989-92, and was a two-time All-Pro selection in that span, as well.
Swilling left New Orleans after the 1992 season and was with the Lions from 1993-94. He was a Pro Bowler once again with Detroit in 1993. He retired after the 1998 season as a member of the Oakland Raiders. He finished his career as a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro. He also won the 1991 Defensive Player of the Year as the Saints had one of their best seasons in team history.
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Swilling's resume speaks for itself. He is definitely worthy of Hall of Fame honors. The door isn't shut on that happening, but the fact that he has waited this long is telling.
28. Herman Moore
Most people would be hard-pressed to name a Detroit Lion other than Barry Sanders throughout the 1990s, but Herman Moore was a fantastic receiver that gave the Lions some resemblance of balance.
He made his first Pro Bowl in 1994 after catching 72 passes for 1,173 yards and 11 touchdowns, and became one of the best receivers in the league over the next several seasons. From 1995-97, he was an All-Pro in every season. He led the NFL in receptions in 1995 with 123 catches for 1,686 yards and 14 touchdowns. In 1996, he caught 106 passes for just under 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the NFL in catches once again in 1997 with 104, along with 1,293 yards and eight touchdowns.
His production began dropping off after an 82 catch season in 1998, but Moore put together a three-season stretch that stacked up against any of the best receivers of the decade. He retired with 670 receptions for 9,174 yards and 62 touchdowns. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro during his time with the Lions, and is easily one of the most underrated players in history.
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27. Tommy Nobis
The Falcons of the late 1960s and 1970s were really bad, but they fielded some noteworthy defenses in that span. "The Grits Blitz" was statistically one of the best defenses of all time, but the Falcons offense was so terrible that the Falcons couldn't win games, even when they held their opponents to low scores.
Nobis was one of the best players on the Falcons roster for a decade. He was drafted first overall by the Falcons in the 1966 NFL Draft and was a Pro Bowler as a rookie. In his second season, he was an All-pro as he became one of the NFL's best young defenders. He made his third consecutive Pro Bowl in 1968.
As the decade turned, Nobis was still one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL, as he made his fourth Pro Bowl in 1970. The Falcons were a bad team, but Nobis was one of their few standouts.He retired as a five-time Pro Bowl selection and was named an All-Pro one time. He would go on to be known as "Mr. Falcon" for being the franchise's first great player. His resume is as good, and in some cases better, than several players at his position that are already in the Hall of Fame.
26. Devin Hester
The NFL had never seen anything like Devin Hester, and still hasn't ever since he retired after the 2016 season.
Hester was instantly the best returner in the NFL as a rookie with the Chicago Bears. He returned three punts for touchdowns, including one in his first career game. Along with three punt returns for scores, he returned two kickoffs for scores, as well. He topped his rookie season by scoring on four punt returns in 2007, and two more kick return scores, as well.
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He was held out of the end zone in 2008 and 2009, but returned to form in 2010. He scored on three punts in 2010, and was once again named All-Pro. He returned two more punts for scores in the 2011 season, as well as one kick return.
Hester retired with 14 punt returns for scores, and five kickoff returns for touchdowns, as well. "The Windy City Flyer" is without a doubt the best return specialist in NFL history, and was a highlight waiting to happen every time he touched the ball or waited for a kick to fall in his hands. It's not a matter of if he will get in, just when. Will it be in 2022? We will find out.
25. Ottis Anderson
How Ottis Anderson isn't in the Hall of Fame is actually astonishing, and not in a good way.
He was drafted No. 8 overall by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1979 NFL Draft, and immediately became a focal point of the offense, as well as one of the best running backs in the league. He ran for 1,605 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie, which earned him a ton of honors in his rookie season. He was a Pro Bowler, as well as an All-Pro and he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
He was a Pro Bowler in 1980, as well. He ran for over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns for the Cardinals that season. He continued to be productive for the Cardinals up until 1986 when he was traded to the Giants. He had his best season with the Giants in 1989. Anderson ran for 1,023 yards and 14 touchdowns for the G-Men, and ran for 11 more scores in 1990.
Anderson retired with 10,273 yards on the ground and 81 touchdowns. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro once, as well as helping the Giants win two Super Bowls.
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24. Steve McMicahel
Wrestling fans remember Steve McMicahel as the commentator alongside Bobby Heenan in WCW, as well as putting together a solid career in the ring. NFL fans remember him as a great defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears in the 1980s and 1990s.
McMichael began his career with the New England Patriots in 1980 before he was traded to Chicago in 1981. In the latter part of the decade, McMicahel began building up solid season after solid season. He was a Pro Bowler in 1985 as a member of the greatest defense of all time that led the Bears to a Super Bowl win over his former team. He repeated as a Pro Bowler in 1986 and '87. McMichael was named All-Pro in the latter season, disrupting plays as well as any interior defensive lineman in the league.
McMichael retired after the 1994 season in which he spent with the Green Bay Packers before heading for the world of professional wrestling. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a vital piece to the greatest defense in NFL history. The man known as "Mongo" is as big a crossover star as there is in terms of going from football to the squared circle with effortless ease.
23. Joe Jacoby
Washington was one of the best teams of the 1980s, and they had great running attacks for the best part of the decade. That was in large part because of the "Hogs" up front, and Jacoby was one of the best offensive linemen of that time.
Jacoby kept the pocket clean for the likes of Joe Theismann and Bret Rypein to throw the ball downfield and lead the team to multiple Super Bowls. He also opened up outside running lanes for John Riggins as Washington defeated Miami in the Super Bowl.
Jacoby had a great stretch from 1983-86. He made the Pro Bowl every year in that span, and was named All-Pro twice in 1983 and '84. Washington had one of the best offenses of all time in 1983. Jacoby keeping the pocket clean for Washington to run up points helped them break several records that season.
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Jacoby was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and won three Super Bowls in his career with Washington. There were plenty of great lineman on that same team that got more attention than Jacoby, but he was as good as any offensive tackle in the league during his career and is certainly worthy of a Hall of Fame bid.
22. Steve Tasker
Steve Tasker is somewhat of a folk hero in northern New York. Regarded as the best pure special teams player ever, Bills mafia has called for Tasker to have a bust in Canton for the better part of 20 years.
The best comparison for those who never saw Tasker play, or just aren't familiar with him, would be Matthew Slater. Many have even said that Slater has surpassed Tasker as the best special teams gunner in history, as he has carved out a great portfolio for himself with the Patriots.
Tasker made his first Pro Bowl with the Bills in 1987 covering punts and keeping returners from getting any real yardage on their returns. This is what he made a career out of for the next 10 years. He was occasionally used on offense as a receiver on offense, but his predominant role was getting downfield on punts.
Tasker was a member of all four Bills teams that won four consecutive AFC Championship Games, and is one of the most beloved cult players in NFL history. Will he get in? The book isn't closed, as we see more and more specialists get in as the years go on.
21. Darren Woodson
The Cowboys of the 1990s are largely remembered for Jimmy Johnson and the trio of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin, and rightfully so, they were all fantastic at what they did. That said, the Cowboys fielded some great defenses in that span with great players on that side of the ball in their own right.
One of the best players in that time was safety Darren Woodson. Woodson was drafted by the Cowboys in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft, and it didn't take long for him to become one of the best safeties in the game.
From 1994-96, Woodson was an All-Pro in each season. He picked off five passes in 1994, returning one for a touchdown, and also totaled 77 tackles on the year. He had 95 tackles in 1995 and picked off two passes as Dallas won their third Super Bowl of the decade. He picked off five more passes in the previous season to complete his All-Pro hat trick.
Woodson was a five-time Pro Bowler in his career, and was a focal point of a defense that won three Super Bowls in four years. He doesn't get the attention he deserves because of how great the offense was, but Woodson was fantastic.
20. Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews is one of the greatest, and most beloved, Cleveland Browns of all time. He is also one of the most underrated players of all time, as he is not in the Hall of Fame after a long, successful career.
While Matthews was always a solid player, he took the next step into becoming a Pro Bowl-caliber player in the middle stage of his career. He was drafted No. 12 overall by the Browns in the 1978 NFL Draft out of USC, but didn't make his first Pro Bowl until the 1985 season. The Browns had one of the best stretches in franchise history in the 1980s, and Matthews was their leader on the defensive side of the ball.
He was a Pro Bowler every year from 1977-89, giving him four appearances to round out the decade, and his career. He spent three quality seasons with the Atlanta Falcons from 1994-96 to finish off his career at the age of 40.
While Matthews was never part of a Super Bowl winning team, he was the defensive leader for multiple teams that came within moments of getting to the biggest game of the year, and carved out a long, successful career that spanned two decades.
19. Ken Riley
The Bengals of the 1970s will have multiple players on this list, and Ken Riley is the first of them to be featured.
Riley was drafted by the Bengals in the sixth round of the 1969 NFL Draft, and all he did for the next 15 seasons was be one of the most productive defensive backs in NFL history while getting almost zero recognition for it.
Riley had at least four interceptions in nine of his 15 seasons, and retired with 65 interceptions overall, which is the fifth most in NFL history. Even while doing that, Riley was never selected as a Pro Bowler. He had nine interceptions in 1976- no Pro Bowl selection. He had six in the season prior to that, and got zero recognition by the national media.
Even in the late stages of his career, Riley was still a great ball hawk. He picked off five passes in 1982, and he intercepted eight passes in 1983, the final year of his career. He was named All-Pro that season, which is more important than a Pro Bowl selection, but still somehow wasn't selected to go to the Pro Bowl.
He is easily the most disrespected defensive back in history and never got the attention and respect he deserves. Even now, he is rarely mentioned in the conversation of great defensive backs.
18. Hines Ward
Ward played in a boom period for wide receivers. While he was never as talented as the likes of Chad Johnson, Steve Smith, or Marvin Harrison, he was the focal point of the Steelers air attack for a decade, and put up solid numbers in his own right.
Ward made his first Pro Bowl in 2001. He caught 94 passes for 1,003 yards and four touchdowns for the Steelers that season, and Pittsburgh made it to the AFC Championship Game. He would repeat as a Pro Bowler in 2002 with 112 catches for over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns as Pittsburgh made it back to the playoffs.
Even in a down year for the Steelers in 2003, Ward was a Pro Bowler once again, and parlayed that success into a fourth straight Pro Bowl in 2004 with Ben Roethlisberger under center. In 2005, Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl, and Ward caught the game-sealing touchdown on a reverse pass from Antwaan Randle El.
Ward helped Pittsburgh win another Super Bowl in 2008, and he retired with exactly 1,000 catches for over 12,000 yards and 85 touchdowns in his career. He wasn't flashy, but he could do all the things the Steelers needed, including block better than any receiver.
17. Richard Seymour
When you think of the Patriots of the early 2000s, you obviously think of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. One of the next names that most think of, though, is Richard Seymour.
Seymour was one of the best defensive linemen of his era. He was a Pro Bowler every season from 2002-06, and was the focal point of the dominant New England defenses of that time. In 2002, Seymour totaled 56 tackles and 5.5 sacks, before having a breakout year in 2003. That season, he had eighth sacks while spending most of the time lined up on the interior of the defensive line.
He was one of the best run stoppers in the league in the early 2000s, and was constantly disrupting plays, both on the ground and by getting to the quarterback and disrupting pass plays.
Seymour went to Oakland in 2009, and was named a Pro Bowler in 2010. He had 5.5 sacks that season, and accounted for 48 tackles on the interior.
Seymour was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro, as well as being a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots in the earliest years of the New England dynasty.
16. Otis Taylor
Otis Taylor was one of the best receivers of the late 1960s and 1970s. He put up huge numbers as the AFL was at its peak, and continued his dominance after the merger in 1970.
In 1966, Taylor caught 58 passes for just under 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns, His average of 22.4 yards per reception led the league. He led the league in touchdowns in 1967 with 11. Taylor's 1968 season was cut short due to injury and he only played in five games.
He had his best season, though,in 1971. Taylor caught 57 passes for a league-high 1,110 yards and seven touchdowns. He was a Pro Bowler and named All-Pro for his constant deep receptions and constantly putting the Chiefs in good positions to win. He was a Pro Bowler in 1972, which would turn out to be his final great year. He caught 57 passes for 821 yards and six touchdowns that season before his production started to drop.
Taylor was a big part of the Chiefs win over the Vikings in Super Bowl IV, and is one of the best receivers in franchise history. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro throughout his career, and deserves more recognition for being one of the dominant players of the early Super Bowl era.
15. Cliff Branch
Cliff Branch had a career that spanned 14 seasons, as he was part of all three of the Raiders Super Bowl wins from 1972-85.
In his third season in 1974, Branch was a Pro Bowler, as well as an All-Pro. He led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,092 on 60 catches. He also led the NFL in touchdown receptions that season with 13. Branch would go on to be an All-Pro from 1974-76. The next season in 1975, he caught 51 passes for just under 900 yards and nine touchdowns. He led the NFL in receiving touchdowns for the second time in 1976 with 12.
Even as he aged, Branch was still a big part of the Raiders offense. Even if he wasn't the big-time, go-to target that he used to be, he transitioned into a secondary role on the team. He caught 44 passes for 858 yards and seven touchdowns in 1980, and would put up similar numbers until his retirement after the 1985 season.
Branch was one of the most dominant and reliable targets of the 1970s, and continued to be a big part of the Raiders success in the twilight of his career. He should be in the Hall of Fame, and it's a shame that he isn't.
14. Reggie Wayne
In the early portion of his career, Wayne was largely overshadowed by Marvin Harrison, as he put up record numbers on a yearly basis. As the mid-200s rolled around, though, Wayne slowly became the go-to target of Peyton Manning, and at the same time became one of the best receivers in the game.
Wayne earned his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2006, catching 86 passes for over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns. Indianapolis went on to beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI that season. In 2007, Wayne led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,510 on 104 catches for 10 touchdowns.
Wayne was a Pro Bowler every season from 2006-10, and earned his first All-Pro selection in 2010. He caught 111 passes that season for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns. After Manning left, he continued to be the go-to target in the Colts offense with Andrew Luck.
In 2012, Wayne caught 106 passes for over 1,300 yards and five touchdowns as the Colts became a playoff team under the rookie signal caller. He retired after a productive 2014 season, and will definitely get into the Hall of Fame within the next five years.
13. Tony Boselli
There is a very good chance that Bosseli is enshrined in Canton within the next calendar year, but he has been snubbed multiple times up to the writing of this piece.
Boselli was one of the best players of the early Jacksonville Jaguars teams. He was the second overall pick by the Jags in the 1995 NFL Draft, and immediately became one of the best tackles in the NFL. From 1996-2000, he was a Pro Bowler in every season, keeping the pocket clean for Mark Brunell to throw to Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell.
The Jaguars made a surprising run to the AFC Championship Game in 1996, defeating Denver on the road in the Divisional Round as heavy underdogs before falling to New England in the AFC Championship Game, one game shy of the Super Bowl.
Boselli suffered an injury that would keep him from playing any longer in 2001. Had he kept going, he could have ended up in the conversation of the best lineman of all time, and he would certainly already be in the Hall of Fame. He is expected to get in as early as 2022, but he has been waiting to get the call for over a decade.
12. Lester Hayes
The 1970s Raiders were one of the meanest, nastiest teams of all time, and featured a ton of great defensive talents. Lester Hayes was one of the best shutdown cornerbacks of his era, and was a key part of two Super Bowl championships coming to Oakland and Los Angeles, respectively, in their wins over the Eagles and Washington.
Hayes was an instant impact player for the Raiders upon arrival in 1977. He intercepted one pass as a rookie, and then picked off four more in 1978 in his sophomore campaign. 1980, though, was Hayes' best as a pro. He intercepted 13 passes, which is the second most in NFL history. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year that season, and established himself as arguably the best cornerback in football.
While Hayes never got close to that type of production again, that's hard to expect from any player to play at that level year in and year out. He was a Pro Bowler each season from 1980-84, though, and continued to shutdown the league's best receivers.
He retired after the 1986 season. He intercepted 39 passes in his career, and was a five-time Pro Bowler and one of the best defensive backs of the early 1980s.
11. Torry Holt
Torry Holt came into the league in 1999 and was immediately part of one of the greatest offenses in NFL history with "The Greatest Show on Turf." The Rams won the Super Bowl that season, but Holt was overshadowed by Marshall Faulk and Issac Bruce, as well as his MVP quarterback, Kurt Warner.
Holt was quietly one of the best, and most consistent, receivers of the 2000s. He led the league in receiving yards in 2000 with 1,635 yards on 82 receptions, good for an average of 19.9 yards per reception. Holt led the league in both receptions and yards in 2003, totaling 117 catches for 1,696 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning All-Pro honors that season.
Unfortunately for Holt, the years after Kurt Warner weren't kind to the Rams as a whole. The Rams were hopeful about Marc Bulger, but he never panned into what they were hoping he could be, and the Rams were a mediocre team throughout the remainder of Holt's time in St. Louis. Regardless, he retired with over 13,000 yards and 74 touchdowns. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler and was named All-Pro once. He is another one of these guys that will absolutely get in, but he has been kept waiting.
10. Zach Thomas
The Dolphins didn't do a lot of winning in the years immediately following the retirement of Dan Marino, but they fielded two of the game's best defenders in Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. While Taylor has since been inducted into the Hall of Fame, Thomas is still waiting his turn.
Thomas was one of the best middle linebackers of the late 1990s and 2000s. He was named All-Pro in 1998 after totaling 137 tackles, forcing two fumbles, and intercepting three passes. He repeated as an All-Pro 1999 with 134 tackles.
From 1999-03, Thomas was a Pro Bowler every year. He led the league in tackles in 2002 with 156, which earned him his third All-Pro selection, and he was named All-Pro for the fourth time the following season.
The Dolphins legend played for a lot of bad teams throughout the 2000s. While it isn't his fault the team started the likes of A.J. Feely and Daunte Culpepper at quarterback, it seems that the lack of wins has kept him waiting to get into Canton. He will most certainly get in eventually, but for now, he waits. Will he get the call in 2022? We will find out very soon.
9. Randy Gradishar
It's shocking that Randy Gradishar doesn't have a bust and a gold jacket because he was one of the best linebackers of the 1970s.
In his second season in 1975, he earned his first Pro Bowl bid with Denver and was already one of the best middle linebackers in the sport. In 1977 and '78, he was named All-Pro. Gradishar had the misfortune of playing in the AFC while the Steelers and Raiders dominated the decade, and the Broncos never found any sort of consistent success throughout the decade. If Denver was able to take a step forward in that time and win the Super Bowl against Dallas, odds are that Gradishar may have gotten more looks at getting into the Hall of Fame.
Even without a Hall of Fame berth, Gradishar is one of the best Broncos of all time, and certainly was the franchise's best player during his 10 seasons with the team. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler, as well as a two-time All-Pro, and won the 1978 Defensive Player of the Year. Had Denver been able to finish the job against the Cowboys, maybe Gradishar would be in the Hall of Fame instead of being on this list.
8. L.C. Greenwood
The Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers fielded a montage of some of the best players in NFL history. With the likes of Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, and others all dawning the black and gold throughout the 1970s, they overshadowed the likes of guys like L.C. Greenwood.
Greenwood came into the league with Greene in 1969 when Pittsburgh was still the laughing stock of the NFL. He was a member of all four Super Bowl winning teams for the Steelers in the decade, and was among the league's best defensive lineman during that span.
Greenwood made his first Pro Bowl in 1973, and was named All-Pro in 1974, the year of the Steelers first Super Bowl win over the Vikings in Super Bowl IX. He repeated as an All-Pro in 1975 and Pittsburgh defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X. The big defensive end was a Pro Bowler again in 1976, a year in which a lot of players on the team claimed that they were the best versions of themselves, but came up short of another Super Bowl win.
Greenwood earned two more Pro Bowl nods in 1978 and '79, both seasons in which Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl, once again. He was a six-time Pro Bowler in his career, as well as a two-time All-Pro.
7. LeRoy Butler
LeRoy Butler would hit you so hard that the end result would look like Daffy Duck in a Looney Tunes skit. Then, he would get up and do it again on the next play. He was one of the hardest hitters of his era, and also one of the best safeties of the 1990s.
Butler was drafted by the Packers in 1990, and immediately began to make an impact. He intercepted three passes as a rookie. He repeated with three more interceptions in 1991, and was on his way to becoming an All-pro. He earned the first of his All-Pro selections in 1993, intercepting six passes for the Packers and also totaling 90 tackles.
Green Bay won the Super Bowl in 1996, and Butler was one of the best players on the roster. Along with Reggie White, the Packers had two of the best at their respective positions on the other side of the ball. Butler intercepted five passes that season, and helped the Packers bring home their first Lombardi Trophy since the days of the trophy's namesake.
Butler retired after the 2001 season as a four-time All-Pro, as well as a four-time Pro Bowler. He is one of the best safeties of the 1990s, and will surely have a bust sooner than later.
6. Sam Mills
Mills is a guy who continues to be on the fringe of getting into the Hall of Fame, and could very likely get in sooner rather than later, but he is still awaiting his call to get a gold jacket.
The New Orleans Saints were the laughing stock of the NFL for a long time, but in the late 1980s and early '90s, they began to turn the ship around- Mills was a big part of that. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1987 in his second season with New Orleans, and was quickly becoming one of the best linebackers in the NFL. He had three fumble recoveries on the season in just 12 games. In 1988, Mills racked up 105 tackles and made it to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.
While his days in New Orleans were his most notable, he never slowed down. As a member of the Panthers in 1996, Mills was named All-Pro after totaling 122 tackles. He had notched 110 tackles in the prior season with Carolina.
Mills retired following the 1997 season. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and a one-time All-Pro. He was one of the best linebackers of the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.
5. Patrick Willis
Willis is another player whose name could be called as a Hall of Fame inductee for the class of 2022, as he reached the finalist stage for this upcoming class. That said, he is still not in, so he qualifies for the list.
Willis was one of the best linebackers in the league from the moment he stepped on an NFL field. As a rookie in 2007, he was named a Pro Bowler and All-Pro. He led the league with 174 tackles, and also forced two fumbles throughout the year. He was a Pro Bowler in every year of his career except for one- his final season in 2014 in which he only played six games.
In 2009, he led the league in tackles once again with 152. He was the best interior linebacker of his generation, and one of the best interior presences when it came to stuffing the run. The 49ers went to the Super Bowl off the strength of Colin Kaepernick and their incredible defense, with Willis leading the charge on that side of the ball.
Willis was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a five-time All-Pro, and is a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team.
4. Jim Marshall
Marshall was one of the key members of the Vikings "Purple People Eaters" of the 1970s. While he is mostly remembered for running a fumble recovery the wrong way into the wrong end zone, earning him the moniker of "Wrong Way Jim," Marshall was one of the best defensive lineman of his era.
Marshall has a few NFL records to his name, as well. He played in the NFL for 20 years, which is the most by any defensive player, and played in 282 consecutive games. He also has the most fumble recoveries by any player in history with 30.
Marshall was a two-time Pro Bowler throughout his long, and productive, career. He helped the Vikings win an NFL Championship in 1969 before losing Super Bowl IV to the Kansas City Chiefs, who were led by quarterback Len Dawson and head coach Hank Stram. The Vikings went to multiple Super Bowls throughout Marshall's stint in Minnesota.
One would think that if the Vikings were able to win at least one of those Super Bowls that Marshall would be remembered in a brighter light, and would have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. That said, he is still on the outside looking in.
3. Sterling Sharpe
Sterling Sharpe is one of the best receivers of all time, and was on pace to be in the upper echelon of any receiver to ever play before his career was cut short by injury.
He had a solid rookie year in 1988, catching 55 passes for 791 yards, but 1989 is when he really burst onto the scene in Green Bay. He led the NFL with 90 catches for over 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning him Pro Bowl honors and an All-Pro selection.
When Brett Favre arrived in Green Bay in 1992, Sharpe's production shot into the stratosphere. He pulled off the receiving triple crown that season, leading the NFL in catches, yards, and touchdowns. He was named All-Pro in 1992, and repeated as an All-Pro in 1993. He once again led the league in receptions with 112,, topping his total of 108 from the previous season. Along with the 112 catches, he totaled 1,274 yards and 11 touchdowns.
WHile his career ended after the 1994 season, he went out with a bang. He caught 94 passes and led the NFL with 18 touchdowns. It's a shame he had to retire because he and Favre were becoming the best duo in football, and they would have won multiple championships together if he was able to keep playing. He was one of the most polished players of his era, and could have been remembered as one of the best receivers of all time.
2. Roger Craig
You could make the argument that Roger Craig is the most underrated player in NFL history. Without Craig in the backfield, the 49ers don't win the three Super Bowls that he was a part of. They may still win one based on the fact that Montana was amazing, and they had great weapons on both sides of the ball, but Craig was the unheralded hero of the 49ers dynasty.
Craig was the first true receiving threat as a running back.
In 1985, he made his first Pro Bowl, leading the NFL in receptions with 92. Yes, in an offense that featured Jerry Rice, Craig led the team, and the league, in catches- that shouldn't be understated. He also ran for over 1,000 yards that season and tallied a total of 15 touchdowns for the 49ers.
He was named All-Pro in 1988, rushing for over 1,500 yards and catching 76 passes. In total, he ended his career with over 8,100 rushing yards, 566 catches for just under 5,000 yards, and 73 total touchdowns. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and named All-Pro once, and was a vital part of three of the 49ers four Super Bowl championships of the decade.
1. Ken Anderson
The fact that Ken Anderson isn't in the Hall of Fame is a travesty. The man was one of the best quarterbacks of the 1970s, and guided the Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance, all while having the world's best mustache that would have made Burt Reynolds blush.
Anderson built up a solid portfolio of accomplishments during his 16 seasons in Cincinnati. He made his first Pro Bowl in 1975, leading the NFL with 3,169 yards, along with 21 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. This was in an era where 20 interceptions were commonplace for quarterbacks- Anderson protected the ball.
He repeated as a Pro Bowler in 1976, throwing for 2,367 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Bengals were constantly winning with Anderson leading the charge, and in 1981 he led them to a Super Bowl appearance against the San Francisco 49ers, the year in which he won the NFL MVP award.
While the Bengals never won the Super Bowl, they got there off the back of Anderson and his right arm leading the charge. As a four-time Pro Bowler, and with a league MVP to his credit, it's insane that Canton doesn't feature a bust of Ken Anderson.
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