I’VE been flirting with the idea of doing a ‘HOF check-in’ with some of the active NFL players for a whole now. There are undoubtedly first-ballot Hall of Famers still taking snaps and names like Tom Brady, J.J. Watt, and Aaron Rodgers won’t be found on this list. There are roughly 15-20 players who, barring anything crazy, will call Canton home when they hang up their cleats for good. For some though there is still plenty of fighting to be done.
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Terrell Suggs, DE, Ravens
NOTABLE NUMBERS: 15 seasons, Super Bowl XLVII Champ, 2011 Defensive Player of the Year, 7x Pro Bowler, 2x All-Pro
SUGGS is probably a bit unlucky to find himself on this list and not be in the ‘locks’ category. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year is just two sacks shy of sitting 15th all-time for career sacks with Suggs having an impact for the Ravens’ D for most of the 21st century. Some may argue that he lacks a ton of consistency, with a few mediocre seasons in the 00’s. Still, his huge body of work gets him over the line and if he can push toward double-digit sacks in 2018 then he should be a first ballot HOFer.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
NOTABLE NUMBERS: 8 seasons, 2015 NFL MVP, 3x Pro Bowler, 1x All-Pro
THERE is no blueprint on how to have a Hall of Fame career. Cam Newton, for example, isn’t viewed as your stereotypical quarterback, with the 6′ 5″ Panther very much a dual-threat player. Not only can he hurt you with his arm, but his ability to run with the ball makes him perhaps the best rushing QB we have seen. His 55 rushing touchdowns have already surpassed Otto Graham for the most by a quarterback and by no means is he finished yet. With only a hair over 25,000 passing yards for his career, the 2015 MVP will have to ramp up his numbers or claim football’s elusive prize to warrant selection for the Hall. The determining factor will be how much longer Newtown, who turned 29 in May, can keep going at this pace.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
NOTABLE NUMBERS: 15 seasons, 7x Pro Bowler, 2013 Comeback Player of the Year
THIS one is TOUGH. While Philip Rivers hasn’t had a lot of playoff success his numbers are off the charts. Having chalked up 348 touchdown passes (6th most all-time) and 51,028 passing yards (9th all-time), there is no denying Rivers has a case. However, he does have just four playoff wins and has never advanced past round 2. The lack of a defining moment is going to hurt his candidacy, but Rivers still might have something left in the tank this season. Every other quarterback with at least seven Pro-Bowl nods is either still playing or in the Hall as well. Worth noting.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills/Seahawks/Raiders
NOTABLE NUMBERS: 11 seasons, SB XLVIII Champ, 5x Pro Bowler, 2x All-Pro
WITH just 144 games to his name, Lynch doesn’t have the same lofty numbers that other Hall of Fame tailbacks do. Still, there aren’t many Hall of Famers with the same reputation as ‘Beast Mode’. Forging a name for himself in Seattle, Lynch was a pivotal part of the Seahawks Super Bowl win in 2013 and if Pete Carroll trusted him 12 months later, he might have been a two-time champ. Say what you will about his lack of stats, Lynch deserves a seat in Canton.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
NOTABLE NUMBERS: 11 seasons, 2016 NFL MVP, 4x Pro Bowler, 1x All-Pro
MATT Ryan is almost a younger version of Philip Rivers. Possessing similar per game numbers, Ryan does have an MVP in his trophy cabinet, something he can hold over Rivers. Matty Ice also fueled a Super Bowl run for Atlanta back in 2016. We all know how that one ended. While a lot of signs point to Ryan one day being enshrined I have my doubts with a lot of his passing numbers bolstered by the ‘pass-happy era’ in which Ryan played. In recent times Ryan has struggled and if he falls off the cliff quickly, it could really hamper his Hall of Fame chances.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos/Dolphins/Bears/Jets/Giants/Seahawks
NOTABLE NUMBERS: 13 seasons, 6x Pro Bowler, 2x All-Pro
WHEN he was on, boy was Brandon Marshall on. Having bounced around the league for most of his career Marshall has recorded 1,000-yard receiving seasons with four different franchises and he can add Seattle to the list if he completes the feat in 2018. It’s hard to attribute Marshall for a team’s long-term success considering he can’t sit still for more than a few seasons. Sitting either just inside or just outside the top-20 in most major career receiving stats, Marshall misses the cut.
Image from fantasynflstore.com
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers/Colts/Dolphins
NOTABLE NUMBERS: 14 seasons, 5x Pro Bowler, 1x All-Pro
ONLY on Sunday did Frank Gore move into 4th place all-time for career rushing yards. You could be forgiven for not knowing a lot about the 35-year old, who has been quietly going about his business since 2005 in the NFL. With ultimate consistency, Gore can be pencilled in for 1,100 yards on the ground with a handful of touchdown and receptions along the way. Similar to other HOFers a lack of postseason glory will be the biggest blemish naysayers bring up regarding Gore. While in San Fran he did have a golden three-year run (’11-’13) in which they played eight postseason games, but they failed to win it all. 14,000 career rushing yards (and counting) should make those same people reconsider their point of view.
Earl Thomas, SS, Seahawks
NOTABLE NUMBERS: 9 seasons, SB XLVIII Champ, 6x Pro Bowler, 5x All-Pro
AND then there was one. The ‘Legion of Boom’ fell quickly before our eyes this offseason and as a result, Seattle went through a lot of turnover. For a period of time, it looked like Earl Thomas, who has been a premier safety in the league since he was drafted in 2010, was also going to be moved. However, hairy offseason negotiations have left him on the Seahawks roster. For now. Other teams will be eager to add Thomas, who has recorded an interception in all of his nine seasons to date. Some could argue that Thomas deserves a spot for his achievements already. Some others make the case Thomas benefitted from playing in such a dominant defense, inflating his accolades. When it’s all said and done there won’t be much of a debate.
Clay Matthews, LB, Packers
NOTABLE NUMBERS: 10 seasons, SB XLV Champ, 6x Pro Bowler, 1x All-Pro
HAVING dominated in the early part of his career, Clay Matthews deserves consideration. After recording double-digit sack tally’s in his first two pro campaigns the writing was on the wall for Matthews to become a future HOFer. As Green Bay romped their way to a Super Bowl victory in 2010, Matthews was a key contributor in the Packers dominance earlier this decade. As the former Trojan aged though, his production started to slow, with Matthews recording 8+ sacks once in the last five seasons. Another Lombardi trophy or adding another 20-25 career sacks would probably push Matthews over the edge. I don’t see either of those things happening.
Banner from miamiherald.com
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