Other than the Super Bowl, the best thing about this week is talking about the Hall of Fame selections - and for Buffalo Bills, fans it's all we can do. Former Bills wide receiver Andre Reed is among the 15 finalists this year for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What are his chances of finally ending his long wait?
A year ago I called his chances slim. Facing a daunting list of finalists, including two sure-fire inductees, I said there was probably not a good chance Reed would get the call. He promptly went out and made the first cut from 15 to 10. Essentially, Reed was among the five best players to not be enshrined in 2010. That should bode well for his chances in 2011 - or so you would think.
In 2009, Cris Carter was in the top ten ahead of Reed, but failed to survive the cut in 2010. Reed could very well end up in the same boat in 2011 with the logjam of receivers. Carter, Reed, andare likely splitting the votes they would need to move from the selection room to Canton.
That brings us to the list of 15 finalists. The first-year eligible candidates that Reed will battle against are Jerome Bettis, , Curtis Martin, Deion Sanders, and . With Sanders and Faulk being locks, and Martin also presenting a strong case, the spots could be dwindling early on.
Other finalists are Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Ed Sabol, and Shannon Sharpe. Brown, Carter, Dawson, Dent, Haley, Kennedy, Reed, and Sharpe have all been finalists in previous years.
Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News is the man tasked with making the case for Reed to the voters. He told WGRZ in Buffalo that he "feels good" about his chances in 2011.
"He has a good chance," said the reporter. "It's always a crap shoot - 50-50 at least - and that's good by Hall of Fame candidate chances. I don't know if you could ever go much more than that except for a guy like Jerry Rice or Emmitt Smith. Really with Andre it's more than about numbers it's about the impact he made and Andre had a trademark style that set him apart and he was great in big games and that set him apart. He was arguably after Jerry Rice the greatest run after the catch receiver in ever. How do you quantify that? Hard to quantify but Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders, the two greatest cornerbacks of his era, testified to that. He was huge in big games all through the Bills Golden Era of the nineties. His biggest game, his signature game was the Comeback game against Houston. Really they don't come close to winning that game without him."
Also in the voting room is ESPN football analyst John Clayton. Clayton is in the Hall's sportswriter wing and is more willing to speak favorably on Reed's chances than Gaughan.
"In the case of Reed, he completes what was a great offense," Clayton told WGR 550. "Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed. Unfortunately, it's just taking way too much time.... Reed deserves to get in."
Other people aren't so sure, specifically when it comes down to breaking the group of receivers up. Pro Football Reference compared the three wideouts a year ago saying Reed had a "poor chance" to be enshrined in 2010. While he didn't make the final five he beat out Carter and Brown who PFR gave much better odds to. This year they ran a poll to see what their readers thought.
A surprising 61% voted that they don't think Reed will ever make it into the Hall of Fame despite the fact that every player who has been named a finalist has eventually made it to Canton. You can also see PFR's thorough breakdown of each wide receiver through the link.
Reed, to his credit, still believes he will be inducted in 2011. The tagline on his website still says "Future Hall of Famer" and talked with the Buffalo News a week and a half ago.
"I believe it’s my time this year," said Reed. "Over the last six years, I’ve seen Jim [Kelly], Thurman [Thomas], Marv [Levy], Bruce [Smith], James Lofton and Ralph [Wilson] get in. I’m not going to lie and say I shouldn’t be in there with those guys. I was just as competitive as them, if not more."
"I’d be very disappointed, considering how the voting went last year," he said when asked about not getting in this year. "I knew I wasn’t going to make it with Jerry [Rice] and Emmitt [Smith] up. I’m not putting Cris or Tim down. People always say it’s a tough class. It’s been a tough class all four years. I’m going against some great players who have great careers and are very deserving."
I'm not going to give you guys odds on Andre Reed getting into the Hall of Fame. I'd say based on his top ten finish a year ago he will likely gain entry some day. Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter, who also gets a Hall vote, said it best.
"When you factor in the subjectivity of the rules and the human element of the voters, it's easy to understand why trying to predict the outcome of the voting is as foolish as it is dangerous."