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Butler, Atwater think that Harrison Smith could be a future Hall of Famer

Pretty high praise from a couple of guys that would know

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Hall of Fame week in the National Football League, with the Hall of Fame Game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars happening tonight and the actual induction ceremony taking place on Saturday. While nobody with ties to our Minnesota Vikings will be enshrined in Canton this year, a couple of guys that have achieved that level of immortality think that a current member of the Vikings will be joining them someday.

Steve Atwater, who was inducted as part of the Hall of Fame Class of 2022, and LeRoy Butler, who will be enshrined this weekend, both expressed to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that they hope that current Vikings safety Harrison Smith will have a bust right next to theirs.

Both men had significant praise for the Hitman.

“I love the way that he comes up to the line of scrimmage and he can play away from it,” said Butler, who played for Green Bay from 1990-2001. “He’s a smart guy. I’m a big fan of his. I’m a huge fan.”

. . .

“He’s fearless,” said Atwater, who played for Denver from 1989-98 before finishing his career with the New York Jets in 1999. “I think safeties who are physical safeties, that’s a very good trait. And he’ s very smart. He’s not a highly penalized guy, he plays within the rules. Most definitely, I’m a fan of his.”

As you can imagine, #22 was flattered by the compliments from the two Hall of Famers.

“That’s a huge compliment,” Smith said. “I grew up watching (Atwater) and LeRoy, so those were some of the first guys I watched. I loved watching them play. … Those were guys who paved the way, changed the game, and they could do it all.”

Smith has been among the best safeties in the National Football League since the Vikings drafted him in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He had an outstanding rookie season, and save for a season or two that he’s dealt with injuries he has been on the short list of the league’s best at the position. Is it going to be enough to get him into Canton someday? I think it will be, but I’m biased.

Honestly, I can’t think of too many guys on the current Vikings roster that have an inside track for the Hall of Fame at this point. Patrick Peterson is probably going to get there someday, but he played the majority of his career with the Arizona Cardinals. . .nobody is going to readily identify him as a Viking when it’s all said and done, I don’t think.

What do you think of what LeRoy Butler and Steve Atwater had to say about Harrison Smith and his Hall of Fame chances, folks?