2014 Hall of Fame: offensive linemen vs. wide receivers

USA TODAY Sports

Offensive linemen have no problems getting into the hall of fame. Why is it so hard for wide receivers?

In today's NFL, quarterback is king. The signal-caller directs an offense, dispensing the ball to his receivers to move the team down the field. Yet in this time of the passing game, offensive linemen are dominating the Hall of Fame enshrinements. Bill Polian, the general manager that selected two receivers up for enshrinement this year - Andre Reed and Marvin Harrison - doesn't feel there should be a logjam to speak of, instead opting that more receivers get into the Hall of Fame.

"I believe it's time to get Tim Brown in too. It's time for the receivers. They've been left behind. For other people, particularly offensive linemen," Polian told Mike Rodak of ESPN.com this week after extolling Reed's resume. "I've made this argument for years. The modern era of football is a passing game, and it's time to rectify that."

To Polian's point, in 2013 two linemen (Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen) were elected with one receiver (Cris Carter). In 2012, two offensive linemen were enshrined (Dermanti Dawson and Willie Roaf) with no receivers making the cut with neither position group being electing in 2011. When Jerry Rice went in during the 2010 ceremony, Russ Grimm did, too. Art Monk and Gary Zimmerman went in together in 2008 with Bruce Matthews and Michael Irvin preceding them. In 2003, former Bills James Lofton and Joe DeLamielleure were inducted together. You have to go all the way back to 2002 for the last time a wide receiver was selected (John Stallworth) without an offensive lineman on the list, as well.

All told, in the last ten years, eight linemen were enshrined while only five receivers received busts. Despite having more linemen on the field at any given time than the receivers, it's hard to say that linemen have a bigger impact on the game.

While the offensive lineman's job hasn't changed much over the last 20 years, numbers for receivers have skewed remarkably, leaving more receivers from the 90s and eventually 00s in a position where their numbers are well below new receivers coming onto the ballot.

Harrison, Brown, and Reed will have to compete with Walter Jones and Will Shields with Jones getting the lion's share of "slam dunk" talk as another Hall of Fame offensive lineman. It's a problem the Hall of Fame needs to rectify and hopefully it began last year with the selection of Carter. The stream of great offensive line hasn't hurt any of the admittedly dominant linemen on their path to enshrinement, but voters continue to talk about the logjam at receiver instead of electing them. In a league dominated by passers and catchers, it's the protectors getting the accolades while the men moving the chains are left waiting by the phone year after year.

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