Tomlinson takes first step toward Hall; heads list of semifinalists


Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Chargers

By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson is more than one of 26 modern-era semifinalists named Wednesday for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017. He’s a favorite to make it to Canton on his first try.

Tomlinson, who holds the NFL single-season record for touchdowns (31), is fifth on the league’s career rushing list and was the 2006 league MVP, is one of four first-year eligibles named as semifinalists. The others are defensive end Jason Taylor, safety Brian Dawkins and wide receiver Hines Ward.

LaDainian Tomlinson (#21)Of that group, Tomlinson is a virtual certainty to go in first. But the smart money says he goes in on his first try, just as Brett Favre did this year, and for good reason: He’s one of the most qualified … if not THE most qualified … candidates in the entire group.

“The thing I liked about L.T.s game,” Hall-of-Fame running back Eric Dickerson said on a Talk of Fame Network broadcast in September, “was that you never knew when – but it was going to happen sooner or later; he was going break a big run, if it was out of the backfield or catching a screen play. He was always that home-run hitter.

“They were never out of it when he played in San Diego. He gave the San Diego fans a lot of pride and a lot of excitement. When you have a player that … you never know what’s going to happen … that’s the kind of guy who’s a Hall-of-Fame player.”

The 48 Hall-of-Fame selectors agreed and should make Tomlinson one of 15 finalists when those names are revealed in January. The selection for Hall-of-Fame induction occurs the day before Super Bowl LI, with the Hall’s board of selectors cutting the field from 15 to 10 and then to five.

Votes also will be taken on contributor candidates Jerry Jones and Paul Tagliabue, as well as senior nominee Kenny Easley. They must gain 80 percent of the ballots to be inducted.

kurtwarnertwoWhile Tomlinson is the favorite among modern-era candidates, former quarterback Kurt Warner isn’t far behind – with the former Rams’ and Cardinals’ star a popular pick to make it on his third try. Warner made the cut to 10 the past two years, which puts him on the doorstep to Canton.

Tackle Joe Jacoby, running back Terrell Davis, safety John Lynch and former coach Don Coryell were others who made it to 10 this year but didn’t survive the last cutdown. All are considered possibilities for 2017, a class where the one sure thing appears to be Tomlinson.

But keep your eyes on Jacoby. He made the list of finalists this year for the first time in his 18 years of eligibility. Then he surprised everyone by moving into the Top 10, a launching pad for the next year.

Jacoby is one of six offensive linemen named Wednesday, a group that includes the only candidate never named as semifinalist – former Colts’ and Falcons’ tackle and guard, Chris Hinton. Hinton appeared on the Talk of Fame Network this summer to argue his case, and he made a compelling one.

“As a voter,” he said, “it’s tough to wrap your arms around a career you did not see, or it’s basically going on paper. Being the only player to make the Pro Bowl at four different positions, nobody knows that But if I was a receiver or running back and gained 2,000 yards … everybody would know that.”

(LaDainian Tomlinson photo courtesy of the San Diego Chargers)
(urt Warner photo courtesy of the Arizona Cardinals)

SEMIFINALISTS FOR THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAMES CLASS OF 2017

QB  (1) — Kurt Warner.

RB (4) – Terrell Davis, Roger Craig, Edgerrin James, LaDainian Tomlinson

WR (4) – Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Terrell Owens, Hines Ward

OL (6) – Tony Boselli, Alan Faneca, Chris Hinton, Joe Jacoby, Mike Kenn, Kevin Mawae.

DEFENSE

DE (1) – Jason Taylor.

LB (2) – Clay Matthews, Karl Mecklenburg.

CB (1) – Ty Law.

S (4) – Steve Atwater, Brian Dawkins, John Lynch, Darren Woodson.

P (1) – Morten Andersen.

COACH (2) – Don Coryell, Jimmy Johnson.

 

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13 Comments

  1. November 16, 2016
    Reply

    How on God’s green earth does OJ Anderson get snubbed again?? He has 8 SB titles and the Heavyweight Championship of the World backing him!!!

    • November 16, 2016
      Reply

      Eugene, cant tell you. My guess: His best chance is going to be with senior committee. This keeps happening, and, after awhile, guys just disappear from the radar. Doesnt mean its right. Just means it happens.

  2. Rob
    November 16, 2016
    Reply

    Why isnt Leroy Butler a Semifinalist?

  3. Justin
    November 17, 2016
    Reply

    Very interested in everyone’s thoughts on Zach Thomas. He was four time all pro, seven time pro bowler and a member of the 2000 all decade team. Yet he hasn’t even made the semi finalists list. Jason Taylor, his teammate, has less all pros and less pro bowls but made the semi finalists list immediately. More over, Clay Matthews, another linebacker, made the semi finalists for the second time with a much worse post season profile than Thomas. Has Thomas just been forgotten? What are his chances going forward?

  4. Jeff
    November 17, 2016
    Reply

    Good question on Zach Thomas. I think it’s hard to keep him out based on his honors. Taylor was higher profile, certainly, and was defensive player of the year so I guess I’m not surprised that he’s a semifinalist. I’d take Thomas over Matthews.

  5. Marc
    November 17, 2016
    Reply

    Disappointing to not see LeRoy Butler in that semifinalist list. When comparing the accolades of safeties, he is just as, if not more deserving than the four that are still candidates. Can you explain how the other four are being considered ahead than Butler? Especially since he was 90s All-Decade with Atwater over Woodson and Lynch, and has more all pros than both as well.

  6. Marc
    November 17, 2016
    Reply

    Disappointing to not see LeRoy Butler in that semifinalist list. When comparing the accolades of safeties, he is just as, if not more deserving than the four that are still candidates. Can you explain how the other four are being considered ahead than Butler? Especially since he was 90s All-Decade with Atwater over Woodson and Lynch, and has more all pros than both as well.

    • Rasputin
      November 17, 2016
      Reply

      I disagree. Butler (who only has 4 Pro Bowls btw for what that’s worth) was more of a box safety and didn’t possess the coverage skills of Woodson. Woodson was robbed out of All Decade status during the climax of the anti-Cowboys bias. He hit like a LB but also routinely shut down slot receivers and elite TEs in one on one coverage like a top level CB. Butler couldn’t do that.

      • Marc
        November 18, 2016
        Reply

        Respectfully disagree. My opinion is that All Pro’s are a much better measure than Pro Bowls’ but Butler consistently was covering the TE. How Butler was used in the box transformed the safety position under DC Fritz Shumur. Sacks were not really a recognizable stat for the safety position until Butler. There is a great NFL films on Super Bowl XXXII that breaks down how Denver’s entire offensive game plan revolved around Butler and his abilities. He was also the first safety to record over 30 ints and 20 sacks in a career. (38 and 20 for Butler compared to Woodson’s 23 and 11, Lynch’s 26 and 13, and Atwater’s 24 and 5).

        • Rasputin
          November 18, 2016
          Reply

          Interceptions are a poor measure of lock down coverage ability. Deion Sanders is recognized as the greatest cover corner of all time and was certainly a ball hawk, but he’s not even close to holding the interception record. Darren Woodson routinely took slot receivers and elite TEs out of games in a way you never saw safeties do back then, and still usually don’t. He doesn’t have a ton of interceptions because teams didn’t throw his way. His guy wasn’t open. Woodson should have gone to more Pro Bowls and had more first team All Pro selections than he did. There weren’t any other safeties through the bulk of his career who combined the coverage and hitting aspects of the position as well as he did. In addition to that Woodson is bright and was the field general for the defense, getting people properly lined up on each play.

  7. Rasputin
    November 17, 2016
    Reply

    Yeah, Thomas should have been on. Agree that Tomlinson is the most deserving of this bunch. Glad to see Darren Woodson make it to the semis again. Pro Bowl counting aside, if you actually watched those guys play Woodson was the greatest safety of the 90s. If I’m building a team I’d take him over Lynch or Atwater in a second because his 4.3 speed and outstanding coverage ability complemented the former collegiate linebacker’s ferocious tackling. The Cowboys defense has been struggling and looking for someone to replace him ever since he retired. There’s a reason they put him in the Ring of Honor. That’s a very exclusive club. Unlike most other teams, the Cowboys don’t do that for every great player who comes along.

  8. bachslunch
    November 19, 2016
    Reply

    Definitely think Zach Thomas (5/7/00s) belongs in, no idea why he’s having so much trouble so far.

  9. bachslunch
    November 19, 2016
    Reply

    Thirteen of the finalist slots look obvious: Tomlinson, Lynch, Owens, Warner, Jacoby, Taylor, Coryell, Davis, Atwater, Andersen, Dawkins, James, and Faneca. The last two are tougher to predict, though I hope Mecklenburg and Kenn make it as they are deserving and have only two eligible years left — and they’ll need as much of a leg up as possible.

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