Now that the confetti has been cleared following Hall of Fame Weekend in Canton, it’s time to look ahead at the class of 2015. And with apologies to Will Shields, Jerome Bettis and Marvin Harrison, here’s who we think should be enshrined next August…
Junior Seau: A posthumous induction seems like a lock here in Seau’s first year of eligibility. A 12-time Pro Bowler and eight-time All-Pro shouldn’t wait, period.
Kurt Warner: We’ve had 67 first-ballot Hall of Famers. Is Warner one of the 67 best players in NFL history? Having led two teams to the Super Bowl and having appeared in the big game three times, I’d say so. Plus, it’s been nearly a decade since a quarterback has been inducted. Give Warner this moment and open things up completely for Brett Favre in 2016.
Orlando Pace: Will they split Warner and Pace up? It’s a possibility that some voters resist going heavy on the Rams, but both of those guys deserve to be first-ballot entries. Pace was arguably just as dominant as Walter Jones, who went in on the first ballot in 2014. “The Greatest Show on Turf” wouldn’t have happened without Pace.
Charles Haley: The only player in NFL history with five Super Bowl rings, and he’s a member of the 100-sack club. He and L.C. Greenwood are the only players in league history with four-plus Super Bowls and at least one All-Pro honor who aren’t in the Hall of Fame. It’s a bloody shame that Haley has had to wait this long. I know he didn’t get along with a lot of people, but it’s time to stop holding his bipolar disorder against him.
Tim Brown: I think they make Marvin Harrison wait, even though Harrison had better career numbers, won a Super Bowl, and never benefited from playing with a guy like Jerry Rice. That’s because Harrison is a lock for 2016 or 2017 at the latest, while Brown — who was simply one of the most electric players in the game for nearly two decades — risks falling off the radar if he’s passed on yet again. The voters have been cleaning up that wide receiver logjam recently with Cris Carter in 2013 and Andre Reed in 2014. It’s Brown’s turn in 2015, and then you’ll see Harrison, Isaac Bruce, and Terrell Owens get their moments.
Paul Tagliabue: Now that contributors have their own category and Tagliabue won’t be competing with players and coaches, the man who oversaw the game during its largest grown spurt in history deserves to be honored.