With the recent retirements of Michael Strahan on Monday, and Jonathan Ogden officially announcing retirement today, the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 is looking to be stockpiled with first ballot guys. Here's a look at everyone who will be in their first year of eligibility, in the order I think they should be put in:
- Brett Favre - QB: It seems fairly obvious that Favre will be in the HoF on his first try. He's the all time NFL leader in Yards, Touchdowns, Completions, Attempts, consecutive games played, and Interceptions. He was the face of one of the great franchises in the league, and genuinely had fun on the field. He owns a Super Bowl ring as well. It's as close to a lock as you can get.
- Michael Strahan - DE: Strahan is doing what so few have done, which is go out on top. In recent years, it's only been done by John Elway and Jerome Bettis. Strahan holds the record for most sacks in a season at 22.5 sacks, and is 5th all time at 141.5 sacks for his career. He also was a very good run stopper, and anchored the defense that won Super Bowl XLII. He also was not afraid to surround himself with young guys who were pushing him at the end of his career, making the team better.
- Warren Sapp - DT: Sapp, for a good portion of his career, was the most dominant defensive lineman in the game. He was fantastic playing in Coach Dungy's Tampa 2 defense, with 96.5 sacks, which is 2nd all-time for a DT behind John Randle. Sapp was also the unquestioned leader in Tampa Bay, making 7 Pro Bowls, and named 1st Team All-Pro 4 times. He recorded 10 sacks in 2006, so he could still play late in his career. He should get in on the first ballot.
- Larry Allen - OL: I hadn't realized that Allen was named 1st Team All-Pro 6 years in a row, at 3 different positions on the OL (RG, LT, and LG). He is one of the main reasons Emmitt Smith holds the career rushing title, as he anchored the left side of the Cowboys OL for many years. Towards the end of his career he was making Pro Bowls on name only, as his level of play dropped off from what he was in the late '90s. He should also be in on the first ballot.
This is where, in my opinion, the list ends for 2013. There could potentially be one more in this class, but Junior Seau hasn't announced anything as of yet. He'd be behind Strahan on my list, as Seau is a lock once he retires. Some others that I think will have to wait at least a year, or maybe longer:
- Jonathan Ogden - OT: Many Ravens fans will obviously disagree with this, but I saw too many times Ogden getting beat around the end by faster players, all while getting voted to the Pro Bowl by name only. Sure he was a good NFL player. I just can't see much distinction between him and Tarik Glenn, who is never mentioned by anybody. If Ogden is a lock for the HoF, so is Glenn, who protected the most valuable backside in the NFL for 9 seasons.
- Bryant Young - DL: A guy you don't hear much about, but has quietly put up a fantastic NFL career. He's been to 4 Pro Bowls, named All-Pro once, and does own a Super Bowl Ring from his rookie season, where he started all 16 games. He also was a leader in San Francisco for much of his career, even during their recent stretch of sub-par seasons. He's also 3rd all time in safeties, with 3, tied with 17 others. Here is Fooch's argument for Young's inclusion over at Niner's Nation.
- Steve McNair - QB: I'll let Joe Biddle of the Tennessean make my argument for me. He's not a Hall of Famer.
Lots of NFL greats retired this season, of which 4 should make it into the HoF on the first ballot. A fifth will be added if Seau retires. They only allow 5 modern day players per year, so that will be everyone. Ogden will get in eventually, but I don't think it will be on the first ballot.
What's also great about this list of players, is that they all, at most, played for 2 teams. It is not often this happens any more in today's NFL. (Seau played for 3, but he's not retired yet).