Mazel tov to the newest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s tough to quibble with the guys deemed worthy of a gold jacket this year. Well, except for the guys voted in by the Seniors Committee … but that’s a debate for another time.
As a man of justice, I’m especially pleased to see Cris Carter get in. I have no idea what took so long, but at least he’s getting his just reward. (Sidenote: he’s taking a serious run at the prohibitive favorite Ray Lewis for “Most Tears Shed in NOLA This Week.”) By almost any measure -– the most important one being the eyeball test – Carter ranks among the 20 best wide receivers of the Super Bowl Era.
Applying that same standard, I’m disappointed to see Charles Haley and Jerome Bettis still on the curb outside the Hall. Have there been 20 better players at their respective positions over the last half century? (That was intended to be a rhetorical question, the answer to which is ‘no’.) However, when I tweeted that opinion on Saturday night, I was surprised so many people disagreed with me on Bettis. Seems like a no-brainer to me. He’s probably the most durable big back ever, he finished sixth all-time on the rushing list, and had a requisite “defining” style, paradoxically nimble-footed but punishing all the way through the last game of No. 36′s 13 seasons.
I now feel obliged to self-validate -– and hopefully convince you –- by listing off the best runners of the NFL’s modern era.
First of all, though, there are four guys who’d be in the Hall and much higher on this list if it weren’t for injury. They are:
And here are seven current rushers whose stories still need a few more chapters before a determination can be made:
Wasted years in the USFL might have deprived four more guys of a trip to Canton:
And now, with those human caveats out of the way, here’s the list of … the best running backs of the last half century:
Agree? Disagree? Speak now or … do it later.