Who Should be in the NFL Hall of Fame Series, Wide Receivers

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Who Should be in the NFL Hall of Fame Series,  Wide Receivers.

 

Earlier this offseason, CowGirlCas and I posted our opinions and reasoning for who should next be enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. This was in our He Said (Darren Woodson); She Said (Harvey Martin) series. Afterwards, we had a lively discussion on which Cowboys players should be in the NFL Hall of Fame. With the 2014 Hall of Fame induction this past weekend, we will finish out the series.

That got me thinking. While that in itself is a dangerous thing, I was interested in looking at which players, by position, were the most deserving of getting a call from the Hall of Fame throughout the league. Over the next few days, we will do this by looking at the players I believe are the top 5 players who are not currently Hall of Famers at each position. This is not a ranking, but rather an alphabetical listing of my top 5 wide receivers. For reference, the player must be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014. Here is the order of our journey through some of the NFL’s all-time greats.

Today we will take a look at the players electrified NFL fans with great catches and big time runs. The running backs that carried the ball and their teams hopes. Some were possession receivers that moved the chains, while others were play-making burners that took it all the way to the house. They helped their quarterback’s put up great numbers and scored points in bunches. These five wide receivers distinguished themselves as the best at their position when they played and deserve further consideration for induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.

These are my five most worthy for induction. I’m interested in your opinion on where I got it right and who I may have missed. You can add your comments or suggestions below.

Cliff Branch Receiver Cliff Branch

Case for the Hall of Fame:

4-time 1st team All-Pro selection; Cliff Branch played his entire 14 year career with the Raiders and was the only wide receiver to be apart of all three Super Bowl winning Raiders teams. He had four consecutive years where he was a 1st team All-Pro and dominated the league as one of the best deep threats in the history of the NFL. Branch was at the top of his game as the games got more important. He retired as the record holder for most post season receptions and yards. Branch has been a semi-finalist for Canton in both 2004 and 2010

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Cliff Branch’s career was overshadowed by his Hall of Fame teammate, Fred Biletnikoff, lining up at receiver for the same team as him in his early years. Branch had a 4 year period of dominance but many voters feel that his excellence was not sustained long enough to warrant entrance to Canton’s hallowed halls. There is also a perception among many observers (not just Raiders fans) that the Raiders players do not seem to get the same consideration as others. Whether that is true or not, Cliff Branch’s impact on the football field was easy to see.

Tim Brown Receiver Tim Brown

Case for the Hall of Fame:

2-time All-Pro selection; Voted member of NFL 1990’s All-Decade Team; Tim Brown was the 6th overall pick in 1988 by the Los Angeles Raiders and waste no time in paying the team back on its investment. Brown led the NFL in kickoff returns, return yards and average per return. He was voted to the Pro Bowl his rookie year as a return man. He is the all-time NFL record holder in several categories; for most combined yards in a rookie season (2317 in 1988); most consecutive seasons with at least 75 receptions (10); most consecutive seasons with at least 5 TD’s (11-tied); most consecutive starts by a wide receiver. This is on top of nearly a dozen Raiders records. He was also the only player ever to retire in the top five all-time of receiving yards and return yards

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Tim Brown path to the Hall of Fame has been blocked for years by a gluttony of great receivers becoming eligible. While not many can match his statistics, several bring something to the table Brown never got…a Super Bowl Ring. He was also hurt by playing the majority of his career with marginal quarterbacks and on teams that were not highly competitive. Once the Raiders became competitive again, Brown was overshadowed by the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT), Jerry Rice, lining up at receiver for the same team as him. As with Cliff Branch there is a perception among many observers (not just Raiders fans) that the Raiders players do not seem to get the same consideration as others. Whether that is true or not, Tim Brown’s ability on a football field was undeniable.

Harold Carmichael Receiver Harold Carmichael

Case for the Hall of Fame:

3-time All-Pro selection; Voted member of NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team; Harold Carmichael was the perfect example of a dependable receiver. He set the record in 1980 by catching at least one pass in 127 consecutive games. He le the league in receptions and receiving yards in 1973. At 6′ 8″ and 225 pounds, Carmichael was an enormous target. His size helped him to provide an open receiver for his quarterbacks even when he didn’t have much separation. It also allowed him to remain a top red zone target later in his career, even after his speed began to slip

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Harold Carmichael’s hall of Fame candidacy is hurt because he was never on a championship team. Carmichael also suffers because he had only three 1000 yard seasons. He also only had one season with double-digit touchdowns. While his numbers were considered very high among his contemporaries, the advances in the passing game have made receiving numbers explode. These modern numbers dwarf the accomplishments of the quarterbacks and receivers of the 1970’s.

Marvin Harrison Receiver Marvin Harrison

Case for the Hall of Fame:

8-time All-Pro selection (includes 3 1st team selections); Voted a member of the NFL 2000’s All-Decade Team; 2002 NFL Wide Receiver of the Year; Marvin Harrison was the hands on the end of Peyton Manning’s passes for several years. Harrison holds the NFL record for receptions in a single season with 143, set in 2002. This is one of a dozen or so records that he holds or shares. 2014 was the first year in which Harrison was eligible for the Hall of Fame and he was a finalist this season. On top of all that, he has the one team accomplishment that the Hall voters seem to value. He was a major contributor on the Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl XLI championship team.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Marvin Harrison appears to be on the fast track to get his gold jacket. A few detractors try to diminish Harrison’s accomplishments because he caught passes for all those seasons from one of the best quarterbacks to ever play. Many voters may not have wanted to make Harrison a 1st ballot Hall of Famer but there is little doubt that his career achievements will earn entrance into Canton in the near future.

Drew Pearson Receiver Drew Pearson

Case for the Hall of Fame:

4-time All-Pro selection (includes 3 1st team selections); Voted a member of the NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team; Drew Pearson is one of only three 1970’s All-Decade performers on offense that have not yet been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Pearson was the clutch performer that always seemed to get open late in games for Roger Staubach and later Danny White. This was never more apparent than when he caught the original “Hail Mary pass” against the Vikings in the 1975 playoffs. His big play ability is reflected in his 16 yards per catch career average. Pearson was also the top wide receiver on the 1977 Dallas Cowboys Championship team.

Reasons he isn’t in the Hall of Fame:

Drew Pearson is simply not in the Hall of Fame because the Cowboys lost to the Steelers in both of their 1970’s Super Bowl Meetings. Pearson’s statistics compare favorably to both Steelers Hall of Fame wide receivers and he played without a second great receiver for much of his career. Many voters overlook the fact that he performed as the unquestioned top receiver threat on his team and was the focal point of every defensive coordinator’s pass defense. With all that extra attention, #88 still made the biggest plays on the biggest stages throughout his career.

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