Source - The Modern-Era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021 is comprised of 130 players. Among the group announced Wednesday are 14 first-year eligible players, including quarterback Peyton Manning; running back Steven Jackson; wide receivers Calvin Johnson, Wes Welker and Roddy White; tight end Heath Miller; offensive linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Logan Mankins; defensive linemen Jared Allen, Justin Tuck and Kevin Williams; linebacker Jerod Mayo; and defensive backs Charles Tillman and Charles Woodson.
When it comes to Halls of Fame in any sport or cultural institution, I'm a big "Less is More" guy. All too often, as time goes on, HoF selections become less about the career than about the Transitive Law. If A is equal to B and B is equal to C then ... And that's how we end up with Bert Blyleven in Cooperstown and a Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame with Randy Newman in it.
But even a man of my exacting standards agrees that Halls themselves have stratas. Jim Rice might be deserving, but that doesn't make him Willie Mays, say. In any HoF, you've got your all time legends. Your unquestionably deserving greats. But also your children of a lesser god. The bottom rung that were good enough to qualify but future generations who pass through the turnstyle might not immediately recognize. Think Frank Gatski, Craig Biggio or Lou Reed.
This new class for Canton is no exception. But still, that is a preposterously large group of obvious, mortal lock, generational players, deserving of getting in on the first ballot.
Regardless of your loyalties, there's no arguing the strength of the 2020 noobs.
I had my issues with Peyton Manning, God knows. And enjoyed every one of them down to the last sip of the straw. But even I'll admit that if he doesn't get in, there is no point in having a Hall; they should just give the busts back to the families and sell the place as an Amazon distribution center.
Calvin Johnson is one of the five best wide receivers ever to line up outside the numbers. And if he didn't have the misfortune of being drafted by Detroit, could've broken every one of Jerry Rice's records.
Charles Woodson played his entire career in an era where you can't roll your eyes at a receiver without getting flagged for DPI. And having his side of the field ignored by quarterbacks. Yet there are only four players in history with more interceptions. And every one of them played when you could commit felonies against wideouts with immunity.
While he might not be the name those three are, Charles Tillman played 13 years and, since they started tracking forced fumbles in 1999, has lapped the field in the category with a record 44, which is eight more than No. 2.
Steven Jackson doesn't have the postseason success Hall of Famers usually need - and I think postseason success should count for something - but he's Top 20 all time in rushing yards, with more than no-brainer HoF choices like John Riggins, OJ Simpson and Earl Campbell. And has a higher YPA than Franco Harris or Marcus Allen.
Most of the rest of the list are guys who probably won't get in on the first try but will be strong candidates for years to come. Wes Welker will have to wait just because he'll be slot shamed. Canton likes WRs who stretched fields, not who tortured the middle of defenses. Also because his production mostly came in a six-season stretch in the middle of his career. D'Brickashaw Ferguson never missed a game in 10 years and went to three Pro Bowls, but was stuck blocking for the Jets. Logan Mankins went to seven Pro Bowls in his 10 years, played in 17 postseason games and was one of the best interior linemen of his generation. But the operative word there is "interior." It's easier for a blitzing linebacker to get through Logan Mankins than it is for a guard to get into Canton.
Still, like I said, this is a hell of a list. It'll be fascinating to see how many join those first three mortal locks. The only issue I'm having is that Manning, Johnson and Woodson all somehow retired five years ago when it seems like it was 18 months ago, tops. I guess it's what happens when you measure time by what athletes you've seen. They used to tell me this is what getting old felt like, and now it's happening. Anyway, congratulations in advance to those three and whoever else gets in.