Manning Era NFL Hall of Fame Candidates

Andy Lyons

Looking at the Hall of Fame chances for players in the Peyton Manning Era.

As many of you know, this past weekend was the NFL's Hall of Fame induction for this year. A big congrats to the Class of 2013: Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson, and Warren Sapp.

The induction got me thinking about which Manning-Era Colts have a shot at the Hall one day, as both Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy become eligible next year. I had several good discussions on twitter about the topic and thought it would be a good thing to look at on an off day at training camp.

Here are the guys who I think have a chance at the Hall of Fame from the Peyton Manning Era:

Peyton Manning, Quarterback: Of course Peyton will be a first ballot hall of famer. There's no reason even to discuss his case because, well, he'll be in first ballot whenever he becomes eligible. Chances: 100%

Edgerrin James, Running Back: Edge is beloved amongst Colts fans, but among the rest of the country? Not as much. Edge has a very interesting case because his numbers are impressive, but they don't put him in just because of that. He had a big impact on games and, if the voters go back and watch him in 1999 and 2000, they will see a truly dynamic runner. Even after his torn ACL in 2001, he came back and was a very good back. He's borderline to me, and I'm leaning towards no for the Edge. Chances: 40%

Marvin Harrision, Wide Receiver: Marvin, statistically, should be a no-brainer. He's arguably second all-time to Jerry Rice, and that's worthy of a first ballot hall of famer. I don't think there is much doubt that Marvin gets in, but the question is whether he gets in first ballot or not. There is a big wide receiver logjam right now for the Hall (which the voters need to resolve NOW) which could possibly prevent Marvin, who has some off the field questions that shouldn't impact the voting but which might, from being a first ballot hall of famer. I'm not sure if he'll get in next year or the year after, but I'm confident he'll get in. Chances: 95%

Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver: Reggie spent a long time in Marvin Harrison's shadow, but in recent years he has emerged as a hall of fame worthy receiver himself. He is the second best playoff receiver ever (to, of course, Jerry Rice) and has had pretty impressive regular seasons too. Reggie too could get held up because of the logjam, but I think that he has had an impressive enough career to merit a hall of fame induction. Chances: 75%

Jeff Saturday, Center: Saturday is a very interesting candidate and is borderline as well. It is hard to quantify how good a lineman is, but the voters have seemed to do a good job with it in the past. Saturday was a very good player on the field and led the offensive line for years. But is that good enough to get him into the hall of fame? Probably not. But wait, there's more - Saturday played a crucial role in resolving the NFL lockout, has the lasting image from it with him embracing Robert Kraft in a hug, and did great things for the NFLPA. If the voters take that into account, Saturday's case becomes much better. I'll say it's 50-50, about as borderline as you can get. Chances: 50%

Dwight Freeney, Defensive End / Outside Linebacker: Many fans want to see Freeney in, but I'll just start out with this - his stats aren't good enough on their own to get in right now. They're just not. But here's the thing about Freeney - his impact on the field was incredible. If voters truly look at how disruptive he was and how much teams had to prepare for him, his chances get much better. A fan correctly suggested on twitter that, if players were voting, Freeney would be in, but it's undecided with the media. I think that's accurate. Based on his play and disruptiveness on the field, I think he has a shot. I'm very much on the fence on Freeney. Chances: 50%

Robert Mathis, Defensive End / Outside Linebacker: Mathis is another guy that many people want to see in, but if Freeney's resume isn't good enough, than neither is Mathis'. Here's the thing on Mathis - he still has a few good years left in him (hopefully). He can get that up there. I fear that voters may attribute too much of Mathis' success to Freeney, which is inaccurate but a commonly held opinion. Mathis needs to have a few more good years in order to give him a good chance, but for now I'll say no. Chances: 40%

Adam Vinatieri, Kicker: Kickers never get into the hall of fame, but it has been long thought that Vinatieri could be the one to break that trend. He has won 4 Super Bowls in his career, 2 of which came by his leg. He is unquestionably the best clutch kicker in league history and has been very good throughout the rest of the game as well. It might take a little while, but I think that Vinatieri gets in. Chances: 70%

Tony Dungy, Head Coach: Dungy also is eligible next year, but I'm pretty sure he won't get in then. But I do think he has a pretty good chance to be in sometime. He has a very impressive coaching resume (which includes a Super Bowl), but on top of that, he is a great guy and leader and influence on the NFL, he rebuilt the Buccaneers from pretty much nothing, he invented the Tampa 2 defense, and he did huge things for African American coaches, becoming the first to win a Super Bowl. I think Dungy has a good shot, but he'll likely have to wait. Chances: 70%

Bill Polian, General Manager: Most fans cringe when they hear this and immediately say no, but like it or not, Polian is the greatest executive in football history. He built the Bills team that went to 4 straight Super Bowls, quickly took the expansion franchise Panthers to the NFC Chamionship game in just their second year, and then built that Colts team that has 9 guys we're looking at for the hall of fame. Forget about his last few years (which can be attributed somewhat to his son Chris as well) and look at his resume as a whole, and it's pretty impressive. His case is kind of like Vinatieri's - if a GM is going to get in, it will (or should) be Polian. Don't overlook the fact that a lot of media people don't like him, however, and while that shouldn't factor into it, it probably does. I'll say no for Polian at this point, but I think he definitely deserves it. Chances: 45%

Thoughts? Any you think I got wrong? Any names you think I forgot? Let me know in the comments!

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