Heads of the (Hall of Fame) Classes

(Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

(Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

I got a tweet the other day…

I agreed with Devon: it was a good topic for the podcast… so I discussed it with ‘Around The League’ scribe Dan Hanzus on a recent ‘Dave Dameshek Football Program’ .  (We also talked with Darren Sharper about the Riley Cooper fallout and Michael Fabiano about the NFC East & AFC West from a fantasy perspective… but enough with the self-promotion.)

Here’s my ironclad, undeniably accurate ranking of the best Hall of Fame classes on this, the 50th anniversary of Hall’s opening… with one caveat: I’m not including the inaugural class from 1963.  It just ain’t fair to weigh that group of 17 legends against the ensuing smaller classes.  With that said, here ya go -

1. 1993 QB Dan Fouts, G Larry Little, HC Chuck Noll, RB Walter Payton, HC Bill Walsh

Two of the top five head coaches of the Super Bowl era (at worst), the best RB of the Super Bowl era, key lineman from the ‘70s Dolphins’ dominant running game, & the triggerman of one of history’s best passing attacks

2. 1985 C Frank Gatski, QB Joe Namath, Pete Rozelle, RB OJ Simpson, QB Roger Staubach

Rozelle & Namath: two of the most influential men in making the NFL America’s most popular sport; plus, the QB of America’s Team and the one-time star of ‘America’s Most Wanted’ who remains the only RB to rush for 2000 yds in 14 games

3. 2000 DT/E Howie Long, S Ronnie Lott, QB Joe Montana, Dan Rooney, LB Dave Wilcox

A Bay Area trifecta: the best QB of all-time, one of the top three safeties of all-time, and the AFC’s most dominant d-lineman for a decade

4. 1971 RB Jim Brown, DE Bill Hewitt, T Bruiser Kinard, HC Vince Lombardi, DE Andy Robustelli, QB YA Tittle, QB Norm Van Brocklin

Brown & Lombardi: two all-timers whose legends have only grown through decades of mythology (and the same goes – to a lesser degree – for Tittle, Van Brocklin & Robustelli)

5. 1999 RB Eric Dickerson, G Tom Mack, TE Ozzie Newsome, G Billy Shaw, LB Lawrence Taylor

The best OLB ever; one of three best TEs ever; one of the five best RBs ever

6. 2010 G Russ Grimm, LB Rickey Jackson, CB Dick LeBeau, RB Floyd Little, DT John Randle, WR Jerry Rice, RB Emmitt Smith

The best WR (and maybe player?) ever and the NFL’s all-time leading rusher

7. 1990 LB Buck Buchanan, QB Bob Griese, RB Franco Harris, LB Ted Hendricks, LB Jack Lambert, HC Tom Landry, T Bob St Clair

Two key pieces of the NFL’s greatest dynasty; one of the top three head coaches of the Super Bowl era; two of the best LBs of their respective eras; the QB of MIA’s three straight Super Bowl appearances

8. 2006 QB Troy Aikman, LB Harry Carson, HC John Madden, QB Warren Moon, DE Reggie White, T Rayfield Wright

Underappreciated QB of Dallas dynasty that would’ve been best ever had JJ & JJ not fallen apart; one of the top three DEs ever; CFL-turned-Houston Oilers icon who might hold every passing record had NFL embraced him out of Washington

9. 2013 G Larry Allen, WR Cris Carter, DT Curley Culp, OT Jonathan Ogden, HC Bill Parcells, LB Dave Robinson, DT Warren Sapp

HOF stalemate: Allen & Ogden going 2-on-2 in scrimmage drills with Sapp & Culp; plus, two-time champion coach & the man with two of the best hands in history

10. 1980 CB Herb Adderley, DE Deacon Jones, DT Bob Lilly, C Jim Otto

Deacon: The best passrusher ever(?)/the best interview ever(?); the shutdown corner of the ‘60s Packers dynasty; plus, two of the best-ever interior linemen (from what older, smarter people tell me)

Final cut:

2004 OT Boomer Brown, DE Carl Eller, QB John Elway, RB Barry Sanders

Broncos legendary gunslinger who was surrounded by very little talent ‘til the end of his career; plus, the could’ve-been all-time rushing champ & a Purple People Eater 

And just for fun, here are the other eight classes that got serious consideration…

1979 LB Dick Butkus, S Yale Lary, T Ron Mix, QB Johnny Unitas

1988 WR Fred Biletnikoff, TE Mike Ditka, LB Jack Ham, DT Alan Page

1977 RB Frank Gifford, OT Forrest Gregg, RB Gale Sayers, QB Bart Starr, G Bill Willis

1987 RB Larry Csonka, QB Len Dawson, DT Mean Joe Greene, RB John Henry Johnson, C Jim Langer, WR Don Maynard, OT Gene Upshaw

2011 DE Richard Dent, RB Marshall Faulk, LB Chris Hanburger, LB Les Richter, Ed Sabol, T CB Deion Sanders, E Shannon Sharpe

2009 WR Bob Hayes, G Randall McDaniel, DE Bruce Smith, LB Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson Jr, CB Rod Woodson

1989 CB Mel Blount, QB Terry Bradshaw, OT Art Shell, S Willie Wood

1997 CB Mike Haynes, Wellington Mara, HC Don Shula, C Mike Webster

And that’s that.  Agree?  Disagree?  Lemme know in the comments section below…

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