Good, but Not Great: Players Who Don’t Belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

By David Root

The Hall of Fame is reserved for the greatest players to ever step on the gridiron. While some players, such as Joe Montana, Jim Thorpe, and Jim Brown are rightfully immortalized in Canton, there are a few players who I believe just don’t make the cut. Virtually every sports writer has a few players that they don’t believe belong in the Hall, and I am no exception. Break out your torches and pitchforks, football fans, as these ones might make you angry.

1.) Troy Aikman: USA Today writer Chris Chase was one of the first to say that Troy Aikman isn’t good enough to be in the Hall of Fame (Chase 2015), so here I am to follow suit. Troy Aikman was a good quarterback, there is no doubt about that. The Cowboys wouldn’t have won three Super Bowls if he wasn’t. But was he a great quarterback? No. Never once did Troy Aikman make the AP All-Pro Team, and only once did he make Sporting News’ team, sharing the distinction with the much better Steve Young. Aikman never posted great numbers, and his career high in passing yards is 3,445, and his high for touchdown passes is 23. These were numbers that plenty of other quarterbacks obtained even in the 1990’s, and if Aikman played in the NFL today, he wouldn’t even be considered one of the top ten quarterbacks in the league. His passer rating is a measly 81.6, which was 49th in NFL history as of 2015 (Chase 2015). While he did win 3 Super Bowls, he was never at any point the best quarterback in the league and never did he dominate the game. He was overshadowed by many better passers such as Brett Favre, Steve Young, John Elway, and Dan Marino. While this may make many Cowboys fans angry, Troy Aikman is not a Hall of Fame quarterback.

2.) Andre Tippett: The general belief is that you have to sustain greatness over a good period of time in order to make it into the Hall of Fame. This is why players like Terrell Davis and Sterling Sharpe aren’t in the Hall. Why is Andre Tippett in? Don’t get me wrong, in the five year span of 1984 to 1988, Tippett was a dominant force in the NFL, and one of the best linebackers of his day. However, the other half of his career was mediocre. Andre Tippett, while a Patriots icon, is not a Hall of Famer, for the same reason Terrell Davis and Sterling Sharpe aren’t in Canton.

3.) Marcus Allen: Raiders fans will be mad about this one. Marcus Allen was an extremely dominant rusher in college, and had one of the biggest hype trains for any rookie running back. In his first 4 seasons, he was fantastic. He ran for 4,638 yards and 44 touchdowns on the ground, and caught for 2,304 yards and 13 touchdowns through the air. The “greatness” ends there though. After the 1985 season, Marcus Allen never hit 1,000 yards again, reaching only as high as 890. In 16 years, he only had 3 100-yard seasons, which is lackluster considering running backs like Walter Payton and Barry Sanders were able to pick up 1,000 yards on a regular basis. Marcus Allen was great for a very brief period of time but was only average after that. He simply wasn’t dominant long enough to be in the Hall of Fame.

4.) Joe Namath: I will freely admit that “Broadway Joe” is a legend, but that is perhaps more because of his off the field antics than his play on the field. While he was football’s brightest personality off the field, on the field, his play seems really poor compared to other great quarterbacks of his era such as Bart Starr, Len Dawson, and Johnny Unitas. He completed a measly 50.1 percent of his passes, and boasts an awful 65.5 quarterback rating, and also has a 173-220 touchdown to interception ratio. While Joe Namath was quite a personality and perhaps the biggest sex symbol in the history of American athletics, his on the field play doesn’t earn him a spot in Canton.

5.) Lynn Swann: Now that I have the fan bases of 4 teams mad at me, why not make it a 5th? Lynn Swann was a good receiver. But he wasn’t a great one. His statistics are mediocre for a receiver of any era, and he never once made it past 880 receiving yards in a season. He only played nine seasons, and none of those nine seasons were really all that amazing. While he was able to make some big plays, he wasn’t dominant enough to warrant being inducted into the Hall of Fame. In fact, Swann did not make it into the Hall of Fame until 2001, while he was eligible in 1988, meaning that many Hall of Fame voters must have shared my opinion at one point.