The NFL recently announced its 25 semi-finalists for the Hall of Fame voting that will take place over Super Bowl weekend. Four members of the Minnesota Vikings made the cut, and not surprisingly, they all have very strong cases as to why they should be considered for enshrinement in Canton.
The first one is Cris Carter. . .who, as we all know, should have gone into the Hall of Fame last season on the first ballot, considering that he is the greatest non-Jerry Rice receiver of all time. I don't really need to make the case for Carter, because we all know that it's a joke that he isn't already in. But, I'll just remind everyone again that when he retired, he was the NFL's all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns for all NFL wide receivers not named Jerry Rice. Have I mentioned that him not getting into the Hall last year is a complete travesty? Because it is.
The next Viking on the list is defensive tackle John Randle, making the cut in his first year of eligibility. Randle is one of the great pass rushers of this or any era, and his 137 career sacks (good for sixth on the all-time list) is a testament to that fact. That tally gives him more sacks than any defensive tackle in the history of the National Football League. In fact, there isn't even another defensive tackle in the Top 20 in that department. Outside of Randle, the rest of the list is comprised of defensive ends and linebackers. (Although I think Neil Smith played some DT in his day. . .Randle, however, was almost exclusively a DT.) Randle is also the main character in one of the all-time great football-related commercials.
I don't think Randle has much of a chance of getting in on his first attempt. I think he'll get in eventually, but it will more than likely take him a while.
Next up, and making his second appearance on the list, is Randall McDaniel. I don't need to make the case for McDaniel, either, because he was quite simply the best offensive guard of the 1990s, bar none. He was an 12-time Pro Bowler and a 7-time first team All-Pro. He was also the only guard to be named to the All-Pro team in every year of the 1990s (whether it was first or second team). He dominated from the guard spot from the moment he stepped on the field his rooke year, and could probably still get the job done right now. Again, he might not make it this year, but if he doesn't get into the Hall eventually, they should probably just stop having a Hall of Fame all together.
The last Viking on the list is defensive end Chris Doleman. That list from earlier with the top 20 all-time sack leaders? Yeah, Doleman's on it at #4. He's also #3 on the list for sacks in a single season for putting up 21 in 1989. Another in the long tradition of outstanding Minnesota defensive lineman, he was part of a group that was truly dominant when he teamed with Keith Millard, Henry Thomas, and Al Noga during that 1989 season. Doleman had 21 sacks that season, but Millard was right behind him with 18, Noga put up 11.5, and Thomas put up 9. The team as a whole posted 71 sacks that year, a total that's second only to the 1984 Bears (72) for most sacks by a team in NFL history. Doleman had a great career, but with Bruce Smith being a lock this year at the DE spot, he'll probably have to wait at least another year before he gets enshrined.
All four former Vikings that made the cut this year should eventually make it to Canton. If one, or even two, of them manage to get in this year, I'd be willing to guess that the Vikings will be opening up the NFL pre-season in Canton for the Hall of Fame Game, which would be a nice bit of recognition. Good luck to the four of them, and here's hoping that we have a little something to celebrate in early February.