The NFL has never been in a rush to enshrine defensive backs. There are only 25 with busts in Canton covering the two positions, cornerback and safety. On the other side of the ball, there are 33 quarterbacks, 47 running backs and 29 wide receivers enshrined.
The slow trickle of defensive backs into Canton has created quite a backlog of worthy candidates and, according to last week’s the Talk of Fame Network poll, there is none more worthy than former Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins.
We asked our listeners and readers which of the seven defensive backs among the 27 semifinalists for the Class of 2018 is most deserving of a bust and Dawkins won out with 33 percent of the vote, outdistancing Green Bay safety LeRoy Butler at 20 percent. Cornerback Everson Walls was next at 16 percent, followed by cornerback Ty Law at 10 percent.
Safeties Steve Atwater and John Lynch and cornerback Ronde Barber rounded out the field with single-digit support.
As usual, the three Talk of Fame Network hosts were split in their voting. Ron Borges and Clark Judge voted Law and Rick Gosselin Walls.
“One guy has over 50 picks, led the league in interceptions twice and has three Super Bowl rings,” Borges said. “That would be Ty Law.”
Law won those three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and ranks 24th all-time in interceptions (along with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders) with 53.
“One guy was the only cornerback and one of only two players ever to lead the NFL in interceptions three times and also has a Super Bowl ring,” Gosselin said. “That would be Everson Walls.”
Walls won his Super Bowl with the 1990 New York Giants but led the NFL in interceptions three times in the 1980s with the Cowboys. He ranks 13th on the all-time interception list (along with Hall of Famer Mel Blount) and fifth among pure cornerbacks with 57.
“They all deserve busts,” Judge said, “but if I had to choose one…I couldn’t. I’d make it a push between Brian Dawkins and Ty Law. I have trouble making the choice, and probably lean toward Law because of the Super Bowls, but both are worthy. Heck, all these guys are worthy.”
Indeed. Atwater, Butler and Dawkins were all first-team all-decade selections and both Barber and Law second team.
Dawkins played 16 seasons and went to the Pro Bowl in nine of them. He became the 10th member of the NFL’s 20/20 club, intercepting 37 career passes and sacking 21 quarterbacks. He also forced 32 fumbles and was named to the 75th anniversary team of the Philadelphia Eagles. The franchise also retired his jersey number 20. Both Butler and Dawkins are from Jacksonville, Fla.