The Hall of Fame Finalists
At least four candidates must be elected from the 17 listed but the total class cannot number more than seven. In order to be elected they must receive 80% of a yes/no vote. Here is the complete list of finalists: Bruce Smith, DE; Rod Woodson, DB; Shannon Sharpe, TE; John Randle, DE; Dermonti Dawson, C; Cortez Kennedy, DT; Cris Carter, WR; Andre Reed, WR; Richard Dent, DE; Russ Grimm, OL; Bob Kuechenberg, OL; Randall McDaniel, OL; Derrick Thomas, LB; Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner; Ralph Wilson, Buffalo Bills Owner; Claude Humphrey, DE; Bob Hayes, WR.
Last week, I posted the career accomplishments of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. and debated his worthiness for the Hall of Fame. He founded the Bills as an original AFL franchise and helped the AFL and later the NFL grow to new hieghts. Today we look at Andre Reed and his candidacy.
According to ESPN's Tim Graham, Reed is "a lightning rod for Hall of Fame debate." We saw him as an unstoppable force, especially in the playoffs and his numbers at the time he retired spoke for themselves... that is until he became eligible for Hall consideration.
In 1985, the Buffalo Bills used their fourth round pick in the draft to select wide receiver Andre Reed out of little-known Kutztown State University. The fact that the Bills also used a second round pick to select a wide receiver, and already had a Pro Bowl receiver in Jerry Butler, suggested that Reed would have to distinguish himself just to make the team. Reed, however, not only made the team, he managed to play 15 seasons with the Bills (1985-1999) and one final year with the Washington Redskins (2000). In the process he was selected to play in seven consecutive Pro Bowls (1989-1995), rewrote the Bills’ record book and added several entries in the NFL’s record book.
When Reed retired, he was considered one of the greatest "yards after catch" receivers and his 951 career receptions ranked third in league history. His 13 seasons, including nine straight in which he recorded 50-plus receptions is exceeded only by Jerry Rice. Eight years after he retied, though, Reed has dropped to sixth on the list with a total that doesn't look nearly as impressive as offenses have evolved. As an example, Larry Centers had more catches than Steve Largent. Reed, who will be surpassed by tight end Tony Gonzalez next year, has 68 more catches than Keenan McCardell.
The most prolific receiver in Bills history, Reed, a four-time All-AFC choice, is still the team’s all-time leading receiver with 941 receptions - 266 more than number two on the list, Eric Moulds. His 13,095 career reception yards are still a team best (4,000 above Moulds), as are his 36 games with 100-plus receiving yards and his single-game mark of 15 receptions.
A scoring threat, Reed is tied with Bills running back Thurman Thomas for most career touchdowns (87), most of which came on passes from Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. The Kelly-Reed tandem also held the NFL record for career completions (663) until 2004 when it was eclipsed by the Indianapolis Colts combination of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison.
Reed made most of his career receptions over the middle where hard-hitting linebackers and safeties often lurked. "He was really good at running the short route and turning it into a long gain," said teammate Steve Tasker. "Jim (Kelly) loved it because it was an easy throw for a lot of yards. We all loved it because he could turn a nothing five-yard completion into a 65-yard touchdown. That's what Andre's gift was."
Reed added an additional 85 catches for 1,229 yards, including five 100-yard games, in the post-season during his career. He started in five AFC Championship games and four Super Bowls.
So why is he a "lightning rod"? Here's Graham's take:
He retired with the requisite stats, but as NFL offenses have evolved into highly efficient passing systems, what Reed accomplished becomes less and less impressive as time goes by.
The man many people identify Reed's candidacy with is Art Monk. Monk retired in 1995 with the league record for catches in hand. By 2000, when he became eligible for induction, Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Reed had passed him on the receptions list and many names were climbing very fast. Monk's stats didn't look as impressive. He was an eight-time finalist when he entered the Hall of Fame last summer.
Wide Receivers in the Hall of Fame
Currently, 19 receivers are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the most recent being Monk last year and Michael Irvin the year before. This year, Carter and Bob Hayes are also finalists for the Hall. Hayes is a Senior Committee Nominee. He played on the Dallas Cowboys from 1965-1974. Reed will mainly be battling Carter for enshrinement and Carter has superior career numbers. He has 701 more receiving yards than Reed, 150 more receptions and 43 more touchdowns and they both played in the exact same number of regular season games (234). Reed's post-season numbers dwarf Carter's, however. I would expect that in order for Reed to get in this year, Carter would also have to be elected.
"In 2005, Reed should join his coach and Quarterback, Jim Kelly, in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame..."
Doing my research for this post, I came across the above quote on Reed's official website where he lists himself as "Future Hall of Fame and Former Buffalo Bills Running Back" on the top headline. (Seriously. Running back. Look it up.) The fact that he wrote "Future Hall of Fame" kinda rubs me the wrong way, even if it's true. In his biography it mentions "Future Hall of Fame" five times and says Reed "will be broadcasting for the NFL or NCAA in the near future". Why am I mentioning this? Could his attitude be rubbing voters the wrong way? I can't remember where I read that his griping is having a negative impact on his goodwill, but I have read it.
If you narrow the focus to this year I don't think Reed gets in. Monk getting in last year bodes well for Reed by comparisons to Monk and by freeing up the logjam at receiver. In the coming years Carter, Reed, Jerry Rice, and several other receivers should enter. If Carter goes in this year, expect Reed to follow next year. If not, you can expect Reed to wait a while before changing his website from "Future Hall of Famer" to "Hall Of Famer".
What do you think? Vote in the poll now.