The National Football League has released the list of 17 finalists who will be voted on for the next Hall of Fame class, and two players who played a majority of their career with the Minnesota Vikings are on that list.
Cris Carter and Chris Doleman have made the final cut, and will be voted on for induction by a panel of football writers. The induction will take place the weekend of the NFL Hall of Fame game, which traditionally kicks off the NFL season.
Follow along after the jump for the full list of finalists, and my thoughts on the chances of Doleman and Carter for induction.
Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin, Willie Roaf, Deion Sanders, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Andre Reed, Ed Sabol and Shannon Sharpe are the list of this years finalists. Two senior members will also be considered, Chris Hanburger and Les Richter.
First things first--Cris Carter should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. He did more than catch thouchdowns, and when he was retired, he was the best receiver in NFL history not named Jerry Rice. He was second all time in just about every significant receiving statistic, and has been passed over for lesser talent, quite frankly. Now, I'm not saying that these other guys didn't deserve induction, I'm just saying that Carter should have been inducted before Rickey Jackson, Rod Woodson, Michael Irvin, and Andre Tippett, among others.
For Doleman, I think he is a Hall of Famer as well. The former first rounder out of Pitt is fourth all time in sacks, and the guy that is tenth all time, Rickey Jackson, is in. As are the guys that are 6th all time (John Randle), and 8th all time, (Lawrence Taylor). The top two guys (Bruce Smith and Reggie White) are in, but the number three all time guy, Kevin Greene, is not. That's almost as inexplicable as Carter not being in.
Part of the problem is that the Hall of Fame only allows five guys at a time, excluding members put forth by the senior committee, to be inducted. My thing about the Hall of Fame, be it football or baseball, is that a guy either deserves it or he doesn't. I think any rational person can look at Carter's and Doleman's statistics and say they belong.
But the fine folks that vote on the Hall of Fame have put in place this 'Hierarchy of More Deserving' in place, and it's infuriating, and it all revolves around the limited number of seats. A "this guy deserves to get in before that guy" mentality has taken hold, or 'this guy from team X is in, so we can't put another guy from that team in with this class' bubbles to the surface, and guys that have been waiting a long time need to be put in at the expense of other guys.
It's unfair to all players up for the Hall of Fame, and it needs to be corrected.
Bert Blyleven had to wait almost 20 years to get in to the baseball Hall of Fame. Why? What was different about what Bert accomplished 17 years ago that it was a few days ago, when he was finally elected?
It's frustrating as a fan to watch a guy you know that should be in Canton get rebuffed year in and year out, and the system that has fostered this yearly frustration needs to be changed.