By: Nate Leer
Last month I had the great pleasure of visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio. After seeing the busts of all of the games great players, I immediately thought about whether the players who retired after 2015 should join the others in Canton when I saw the NFL Network recently share a Facebook video highlighting the “Ten Best Graduates” from 2015. So, which of these are Hall-of-Famers and which are first ballot players?
1. Peyton Manning
2. Charles Woodson
3. Calvin Johnson
We can probably all agree that Peyton is a sure-fire HOF, 1st ballot player. The next two are also sure-fire HOF players but are they worthy of being inducted in their first year of eligibility? While their candidacy will be effected by which other players are on the ballot in 2021, we can still debate whether they are worthy of being put into the HOF ASAP. To me, both players were the best at their position (Woodson was actually great at CB and S) for an extended period AND both were borderline MVP candidates in roles that virtually never get that kind of recognition. I think Woodson and Megatron are worthy of being elected right away along with Peyton when they are all eligible.
4. Jared Allen
5. Marshawn Lynch
6. D’Brickashaw Ferguson
The second set of players on this list seem like HOFers to me. Allen, Lynch and Ferguson were all top players at their positions for extended periods of time. All three were also key players and leaders on teams that won lots of games – all three played in at least one league championship game and many play-off games.
7. Justin Tuck
8. Matt Hasselback
9. Heath Miller
10. Logan Mankins
Tuck is a borderline candidate in my mind – good, complete D-lineman who played on some good teams with the Giants – who may get inducted because of New York and Super Bowl biases. However, none of these four are really deserving of being in the Hall with the greats of the game. Tuck and Mankins are the only ones that it could be argued about as being top-5 players at there position at any point in their career. However, Tuck played on a line with a truly great player (Michael Strahan) for the best years of his career and Mankins’ window of elite play was very small.
One last thought on Tuck: His career achievements were undoubtedly lesened by taking big money from Oakland to switch coasts. I can’t fault another person for maximizing their earnings but it wasn’t the best move for Tuck from a strictly football sense. All that being said, I remember Tuck being the one true professional and competitor on the incredibly dysfunctional Oakland teams of the late Al Davis era AND trying to instill some of that mentality in his teammates. I have tremendous respect for men like Tuck who take their incredible opportunity seriously. Maybe he should be in the Hall!
Who do you put in the HOF? Is there anybody the NFL Network missed on this list of top 10 retirees?