by Bryan Dietzler
The 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame modern-era semifinalists have been announced and it’s time to let the speculation begin as to who is going to make the Hall of Fame. There are some newcomers to the list and then there are some that have been on this list for a while but just can’t seem to make their way into the Hall. As we will find out, some of them are deserving of the honor while others should wait a bit to get in, not because they are bad players, but because their career may not have been as impactful as the career of others.
In this first part of a two-part series on the Hall of Fame semi-finalists, we take a look at the offensive players. Of the 25 semi-finalists, there are 11 players including one special teamer. Let’s look at the accomplishments of each player and what their chances of getting into the Hall of Fame are before the vote takes place.
Boselli played his seven-year career entirely with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has been a semi-finalist five times. During his time in Jacksonville, he played in 91 games with 90 starts. Some of the honors that he racked up during his career there in Jacksonville include being named to five Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro honors.
Boselli has the accolades to get in but does he have the longevity? That’s what might be holding him back (is just how long he played in the NFL). There are others out there with just as many honors and more time in the league. But how can you deny such strong play on the field? I would look for Boselli to eventually get in but not this year.
This is Bruce’s sixth time as a semi-finalist as he hasn’t been able to garner enough votes to get in, just yet. Bruce played for two teams during his time in the NFL, the Saint Louis Rams, and the San Francisco 49ers. During his 16-year NFL career, Bruce started in 201 of the 223 games he played in. He caught 1024 passes for 15208 yards and 91 touchdowns. Bruce was named to the Pro Bowl four times, was named Offensive Player of the Week four times and Offensive Player of the Month once.
Bruce’s production cannot be denied. He doesn’t quite have as many accolades as some of the others on this list might have but his play and the fact that he played on some great teams may be enough to finally propel him into the Hall.
Bruce’s teammate, Torry Holt, is also up for the Hall of Fame this year having been a semi-finalist six times too. Holt played for the St. Louis Rams for ten years of his eleven-year career. His final season was with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He started in 158 of 173 games played. Holt caught 920 passes for 13382 yards and 74 touchdowns. A few of the All-Star honors that Holt picked up included being named to seven Pro-Bowls, being part of the All-Pro team once and being named Offensive Player of the Month once.
Holt has been here before but for some reason, he has had a hard time getting into the Hall. I suspect that he will get in depending on who he’s up against (read on to find out) and this should be the year that he gets strong consideration for the Hall.
Faneca spent most of his 13-year career in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also played for the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals. Faneca played in 206 games with 201 starts. Some of the accolades he received while playing in the league include being named to the Pro Bowl nine times and first-team All-Pro six times.
There is hardly a player on this list that is has received as many honors as Faneca has. I consider him to be a lock to make the Hall of Fame and he should finally make it this year. He does have a little competition from other linemen (Steve Hutchinson being his main competitor) but Faneca should be able to get in sooner rather than later.
Hutchinson is one of the most decorated offensive linemen in NFL history. He played a total of 11 years in the league with both the Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings. This is his third time as a semi-finalist and he’s bound to get in this time. Hutchinson played in 169 games starting all of those games. He was honored by being added to the Pro Bowl seven times and was named an All-Pro five times.
Hutchinson and Faneca are two guys that have a lot of accolades and will compete with one another for a spot in the Hall. Of course, ideally, both would get in at the same time but knowing how voting goes, typically only one player at a position makes it in (although that theory is somewhat dashed after last year when two linebackers, Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, made it into the Hall of Fame the same year). So, anything is possible.
James spent his 11-year career with three teams but will be remembered most for playing with the Indianapolis Colts. He was with the Colts as well as the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks. This is his sixth year of being a semi-finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During his career, he rushed 3028 times for 12246 yards and 91 touchdowns (11 of those were receiving touchdowns). A few of the honors that James won throughout his NFL career include being named to the Pro Bowl four times, being named All-Pro once as well as being named Offensive Player of the Week six times and to the All-Rookie Team in his first year in the NFL.
While James may not have as many All-Star credentials as some players, he is still, perhaps, the best at the running back position on this list (although Ricky Watters and Fred Taylor may have something to say about this). I think that he gets in on this ballot simply because the has the winning pedigree to do so.
Tasker is famous for his ability to play special teams. He has been a semi-finalist seven times. Tasker started his career in Houston (with the Oilers) where he played just under two seasons but ended up in Buffalo where he played 12 years. His stats aren’t strong because he played special teams but he did score nine touchdowns during his career.
Tasker was huge on special teams and it shows because he is on this list. Will a special teamer be able to make it solely on his play there rather than being a complete player? If Tasker does make it, he is going to set a precedent for guys like Devin Hester and Eric Metcalf to get in. This would be very interesting and exciting. So, I think that Tasker gets in, maybe not this year, but sometime down the road.
Taylor was a running back who played 11 years with the Jacksonville Jaguars and then two years with the New England Patriots. During his time in the league, he started in 137 of 153 games rushing 2534 times for 11695 yards. Taylor scored 74 total touchdowns (running the ball and receiving). Some of the honors that Taylor earned during his career include one trip to the Pro Bowl, three Offensive Player of the Week honors, one AFC Offensive Player of the Month honor and he was voted to the All-Rookie team in his rookie year.
This is Taylor’s first time as a semi-finalist. He doesn’t have the honors and accolades that a guy like James has but he’s got longevity and the Hall seems to like that. I am almost certain he won’t make it this year but should make it in soon. Just stacking him up against the others in this class, he just doesn’t have the notoriety. Not saying that he didn’t do anything but his accolades are few and far between.
This long-time Pittsburgh Steeler will be a semi-finalist for the fourth time and is looking to get in this time. Ward played all 14 of his years in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers starting in 190 of the 217 games that he played in. He caught 1000 passes for 12083 yards and 86 touchdowns (including one rushing score). When it came to Pro Bowls, Ward was selected to the league’s All-Star game four times. He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week one and AFC Offensive Player of the Month once. Ward also earned Super Bowl MVP honors.
Consistency is the name of the game for Ward. He was a long-standing NFL player who was very consistent. He may not have won a lot of honors but he was a Super Bowl MVP and a fixture on some good Steeler teams. I would think Ward would get in soon, most likely with this years’ ballot.
Watters played ten years in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks. This is his first time as a semi-finalist. Watters played in 144 games with 142 starts. He rushed 2622 times for a total of 10643 yards averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Watters scored 91 touchdowns including receiving touchdowns. Some of the honors and accolades that he picked up during his career include being named to five Pro Bowls and being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week three times.
Once again, if it comes down to honors, Watters is a little bit on the short side with those. His production was very good, however, and he just might be able to get in on this ballot. I think that he has a strong case.
Wayne is best known for his time in Indianapolis with the Colts. This is his first time as a semi-finalist so we will see how he does. Wayne spent a total of 14 years in the NFL all with the Colts. He played in 211 games with 197 starts. Wayne caught 1070 passes for 14345 yards. He had 82 touchdowns during his long career. In terms of honors earned, Wayne was voted to the Pro Bowl six times. He was named a first-team All-Pro once. He was also named AFC Offensive Player of the Week once.
Wayne has the longevity and a few honors that should grant him access to the Hall of Fame. The fact that this is his first time being a semi-finalist may put him at the back of the pack compared to some of the other guys on this list. However, he is deserving of the Hall of Fame honor and will get in at some point.
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