Andre Reed was again denied access to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past weekend. While many have been up in arms over his perceived snub, I don't really have a problem with the five modern-era candidates that were selected over Reed. More important than complaining about how he didn't get selected for the 2011 class, at least for me, is looking forward to his future candidacy. I would say his chances are pretty strong for induction in 2012.
Reed made it past the first cut from 15 to 10 in 2010, and again this year. With a weak first-ballot class in 2012 featuring Bill Parcells and Bill Cowher as the only legitimate options, the writers could look to finally break the pass-catching logjam. The final five eliminated Saturday were Dermontti Dawson, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin, Reed, and, who will all have a great chance in 2012. If voting holds true from this year, that will be your 2012 class - unless Parcells steals a spot. I doubt Cowher will get a close look, since most believe he will decide to come back to coaching.
Missing among that final list of five is any other wide receiver or pass catcher. For the second year in a row, Reed stood ahead of Cris Carter and, landing among the final ten. One might assume that Reed has the upper hand in the wide receiver debate. If the past two years are any indication, Reed has the upper hand.
Then there's precedence. A total of 224 players have been named finalists including the ten who did not make it this year. Of those, 202 eventually made it into the Hall of Fame. Excluding the ten who didn't make it this year, only 12 players have been finalists and not eventually been enshrined.
The final, and I feel most important, factor is the sentimental vote. Richard Dent finally made it in this year. When players are on the finalist list for an extended period of time, the groundswell begins to grow in favor of finally putting that person over the top. We saw it with Dent, and Art Monk before him. This could be Reed's final push over the top.
Sports Illustrated writer and Hall voter Peter King disagrees on Reed's chances, however.
I'm getting the feeling more and more that it's possible receivers are being seen as interchangeable parts in a league in which teams are throwing so much more than ever. I fear Carter and Brown and Reed may end up being viewed as compilers rather than legitimate game-breaking players.
King's SI colleague and fellow Hall voter Jim Trotter said the discussion around Reed was the second-longest, behind only contributor and eventual inductee Ed Sabol. Surely most of Sabol's conversation was about contributors versus players in the Hall of Fame. Reed's discussion was different, explains Trotter.
The second-longest discussion followed the presentation for Buffalo's Reed, who was the third and final wide receiver presented. The debate not only focused on his performance, but also the backlog of players at the position. The problem isn't likely to go away anytime soon, because other talented receivers will be added to the mix in the coming years.
Obviously, part of the reason Reed was second-longest debate was because he was the final WR, so the discussion around which, if any, to include would have been made then. Still, it's noteworthy that Reed received so much attention.
Unfortunately, voters aren't allowed to divulge the inner workings of what actually takes place in the room. They can't say who voted for whom, or who had a problem with which player. All they can do is relate anecdotes like the ones I highlighted.
We, like Andre, will have to wait until roughly this time next year to find out if he can get over the hump. With the strong list of upcoming eligible candidates beginning in 2013, this coming year feels like a make or break year for Reed, not to mention Carter and Brown.