The 2014 NFL Hall of Fame class was official announced the day before the Super Bowl. The voters are now beginning to look ahead toward the next set of players who will be enshrined in 2015. Voters typically like to see great stats and championships, and also look at how certain players compared to other players of the same era. However, the most important factor in deciding who is worthy of joining the Hall of Fame is the player’s historical significance. Basically, Hall of Fame voters want to induct players whose names would undoubtedly be mentioned if one were to tell the entire history of professional football.
It is always very difficult to say who is and is not Hall of Fame material. There are many players who were very good throughout their entire careers, but are not considered elite enough to join the ranks of the greatest players in the history of the game. Each year a panel of voters comprised of high-ranking sports journalist and sports historians from each city with an NFL franchise gather together to discuss who will be inducted. Prior to this meeting, they discuss who makes the first two cuts. A list is comprised of all of the players who are eligible for enshrinement and it is then cut down to just 25. Following this cut down, there is a second cut down to 15. After a long discussion and voting period by the Hall of Fame voters, only a few men will be inducted.
Usually, the voters induct some more senior members of the NFL. This is done by a special panel of voters and is highly unpredictable. For this reason, we have limited this list to only players from the modern era of professional football. These players are voted on by the entirety of the Hall of Fame voters’ panel. Though not all of these players will be enshrined, these are the most likely people to be putting on the gold jacket in 2015. As you continue through the list, the player’s likelihood of being inducted in 2015 increases.
10. John Lynch
A 2014 NFL Hall of Fame finalist, John Lynch is remembered as one of the hardest hitting safeties in history. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler and made First Team All-Pro twice. He was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ team who won Super Bowl XXXVII. Both Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks are already members of the Hall of Fame from that team. Even with the Denver Broncos, Lynch was still a feared force in the secondary. He will face an uphill battle to get induction in 2015 because the Hall is notorious for enshrining very few pure safeties.
9. Eddie DeBartolo Jr.
It was very hard putting 49ers’ owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. ahead of John Lynch on this list. However, with twelve team owners already in Canton, it seems much easier to get inducted as an owner than as a safety. DeBartolo’s Niners were winners of five Super Bowls. Under his ownership, the 49ers were the most dominant team of the 1980s. During that decade, the team recorded the highest winning percentage over a ten year span of any team for any decade in the history of professional football. His shady business deals marred his career, but the Hall of Fame voters are not supposed to take into consideration anything other than the football career of anyone they are thinking about inducting.
8. Orlando Pace
Seven-time Pro-Bowl Offensive Tackle Orlando Pace will be on the enshrinement ballot for the first time in 2015. Pace was a key member of the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” which won Super Bowl XXXIV. He is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s. Pace’s stifling blocking paved the way for Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk to win the MVP Award each time between 1999 and 2001. His contemporaries Jonathan Ogden and Walter Jones were both first ballot Hall of Famers. Pace was just as good as either tackle during his career. The only thing that could stand in Pace’s way for enshrinement in 2015 is Kurt Warner. The Hall voters might not be too keen on putting two players for the same team through in the same year.
7. Tim Brown
Raiders’ wide receiver Tim Brown has been a Hall of Fame finalist for the past five years. One would think this is his last chance before being overshadowed by a group of younger wide receivers who will become eligible in the upcoming years. However, this might very well be his year. Both Andre Reed and Art Monk were passed over a number of times before they finally were able to wear the gold jacket. Brown definitely has Hall of Fame worthy stats. He is sixth all-time in receiving yards, fifth in receptions, and tied for seventh in receiving touchdowns.
6. Kevin Greene
Like Tim Brown, Kevin Green is a player who has been overlooked by the voter a number of times. Greene has the third highest sack total in NFL history. He was a five-time Pro-Bowler and was named First Team All-Pro three times. He was the league’s sack leader twice during his fifteen year career. Greene is a member of NFL All-Decade Team of the 1990s and was an outside linebacker coach for the Green Bay Packers until January, 2014.
5. Charles Haley
Charles Haley had a lot of support in 2014 and 2015 could very well be the year he puts on the gold jacket. Haley is the only player in history to have been a member of five Super Bowl winning teams. He won two with the 49ers and three with the Dallas Cowboys. Haley was most certainly a contributor to all the playoff runs, which is shown by his 100.5 sacks.
4. Tony Dungy
It was a bit surprising that coach Tony Dungy did not get enshrined in 2014. There is very little chance he will be passed over again in this upcoming election. Dungy coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 to 2001 and then took over as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2002 to 2008. His Colts won Super Bowl XLI, making him the first African American Head Coach to win the big game. However, Dungy’s most important contribution is the “Tampa-2” Defense. It is a modified version of the Cover-2 defense. His teams’ success with this defensive coverage style popularized the use of the Cover-2, making it one of the most used defensive schemes in the game today.
3. Jerome Bettis
There is no way Jerome Bettis will not be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. The former six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro is sixth all-time in career rushing yards. With the Los Angeles Rams, Bettis was voted as the Rookie of the Year in 1993. Over his career he compiled 13,662 rushing yards and 91 touchdowns on the ground. “The Bus” as he was known in Steeler Nation, retired after the team won its sixth Super Bowl in franchise history.
2. Marvin Harrison
Marvin Harrison was one of the most dominant wide receivers in NFL history. He spent his entire 12-year career with the Indianapolis Colts. In 2006, Harrison hoisted the Lombardi Trophy after his team won Super XLI. He was voted as a member of the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2000s. Harrison led the NFL is receiving yards in 1999 and 2002. He also led NFL is receptions in 2000 and 2002. Harrison currently has the second most receptions of all time behind Jerry Rice.
1. Kurt Warner
It is very likely Kurt Warner will be enshrined in Canton in his first year as an eligible candidate. During his ten-year career, Warner led both Rams and Cardinals to the Super Bowl. In 1999, he turned around an abysmal Rams franchise and became a Super Bowl MVP. Warner and the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” ushered in a new era for the NFL. The 1999 Rams were the first real high-powered, pass-happy team in the NFL. Aside from his Super Bowl appearances, MVP trophies and four Pro-Bowl appearances, there is another major thing contributing to Warner’s chances of getting in the Hall. He is considered to be the first quarterback worthy of wearing the gold jacket since Troy Aikman and Warren Moon were inducted. The Hall is very big on inducting quarterbacks and Kurt Warner was one of the best there was.
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