Two Notre Dame legends who were finalists for this year’s NFL Hall of Fame class will have to wait a least another year to be fit for their gold jacket and ticket to Canton. Both Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown were not among the seven members selected for enshrinement in July.
Brown and Bettis were part of a group of 17 finalists from which a maximum of five could be selected for enshrinement with another two members eligible to be selected by the senior committee. The five who were selected from this year’s finalists were Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Richard Dent, Ed Sabol (NFL Films founder), and Shannon Sharpe. Les Richter and Chris Hanburger were the two members selected by the senior committee.
It’s hard to argue with any of the selections. Dent was one of the premier pass rushers of the 80’s and a member of the most dominant defense the NFL has ever seen. Sanders was one of the best cornerbacks and returnmen the NFL has ever seen. Faulk changed the running back position while he was in the league opening doors for smaller, athletic backs like Brian Westrbook and Chris Johnson. Sharpe was the best at his position throughout the 90’s and Sabol literally changed the way we watch the NFL.
Mike Wilbon actually had an outstanding article on Saturday for ESPN talking about Sabol’s contributions to the game. He made the point that in the NBA there are so many moments that fans have not seen because footage just doesn’t exist like it does with the NFL.
Earlier in the day Saturday the list of 17 finalists was trimmed to 10. Brown and Bettis both missed this cut as well.
For Brown, enshrinement could take a few more years. Both Andre Reed and Cris Carter have similar resumes to Brown and have been seeking enshrinement for years as well. Only Reed made the cut to 10 finalists among the three receivers. As more wide receivers begin to retire from the pass happy offenses that have developed in the NFL, more and more worthy receivers will continue to be eligible.
On the hand, for Bettis enshrinement might not be as difficult as NFL teams lean more on multiple running back sets and less on the featured, workhorse back mentality that was prevalent in the league for so many years. Bettis will be up against Curtis Martin, who did make the cut to 10, again next year though.
Both should eventually be elected although it will take some more time. The Hall of Fame in the NFL is much harder to get into than the other major leagues due to the sheer number of players. NFL teams feature a roster of 53 players with 24 starters compared to say 25 player rosters with 14 starters (including closers) in Major League Baseball or 12 player rosters with 5 starters in the NBA.