The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has a 44-member panel that selects the inductees into the Hall each year. The enshrinement occurs in August with the Hall of Fame pre-season game that starts the teams playing each other before the regular season.
There are 17 finalists chosen for the last ballot annually and each player must have been retired from the league at least five seasons before being considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When the finalists are publicized and voted upon, writers and bloggers always argue who should be voted in, who should be left out, and who will wait until next year as far as being labeled the NFL’s best.
Each year, a preliminary list of names is released to the public. In 2009, there were a lot of great names on the list that haven’t made it into the Hall of Fame yet. Here are my picks for some of the best on that list that haven’t gotten the call to the Hall just yet.
Gary Anderson’s long career finally came to an end after he retired from the Tennessee Titans following the 2004 season. When he left the game he had the most career points of any player even though the record fell two years later. Anderson’s most notable accomplishment is his 1998 season in which he didn’t miss a single attempt to split the uprights when he made 35 of 35 field goals and 59 of 59 PATs with the Minnesota Vikings. For his entire 23-year career he only missed seven out of 827 PATs and was perfect from under 20 yards on regular field goals. Fellow placekicker Morten Andersen is a sure bet for the class of 2013 as his long career made for a multitude of NFL records including most career points with 2,437, most games played with 382, and most games played consecutively with 248.
Richard Dent was one of the most feared defensive players in the league when he played for the Chicago Bears in the 1980s. During the formidable years of 1984 and 1985, Dent had an amazing 17 quarterback sacks in each season according to the Pro Football Reference website. His best years were yet to come as in 1990 through 1992 Dent recorded over 80 tackles in each season. Dent’s lack of enshrinement has been an enigma as he has been a finalist on the ballot every year except one since 2004.
Boomer Esiason never won a Super Bowl but the southpaw did excel at the quarterback position for the Cincinnati Bengals. Esiason retired with an over 80 percent pass completion rate and nearly 38,000 passing yards which puts him at 14th all-time. Esiason is still a broadcaster for NFL games and created a charity to fight cystic fibrosis when his young son was diagnosed with the disease. The Boomer Esiason Foundation and has become the passion of Esiason’s life outside of football.
Shannon Sharpe was one of the best receivers in the league when he played from 1990 until 2003, mostly with the Denver Broncos. He had three 1,000-yard seasons and won two Super Bowls one with the Broncos and another with the Ravens. His last season in 2003 saw him gain 770 receiving yards with an average of 12.4 yards per catch. Sharpe, like Esiason, is still a broadcaster for NFL games.
Herschel Walker came over from the USFL’s New Jersey Generals and became one of the most consistent running backs in the league and finished with more than four yards per carry in twelve seasons. His versatile attack as both a runner and receiver made him a deadly weapon on offense as he scored 61 rushing touchdowns but also 21 receiving. Even though his statistics don’t say much, Walker changed the game for running backs as he could beat defenses with his running and receiving abilities.
The NFL website, Hall of Fame website, and Pro Football Reference all supplied information for this article.