Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - One of my favorite topics of conversation
came up again the other day.
A friend (ironically the same friend who asked a similar question a while back)
wanted to know which current NFL players will be headed to the Hall of Fame
five years after they retire.
I love these kinds of questions. They're fun and they're great for arguments.
We did this in this space for baseball, so it's only fitting to do football.
(Yes, we'll also do it for the current NBA players in a couple of months. And
maybe even for the current crop of players in the NHL. Remember the NHL? I'm
But the task at hand is the NFL and the rules are simple.
You take a look at all 32 teams in the league and see if any of their players
jump out at you. That's the key. There can be no hesitation with the Hall of
Fame. If you have to think about whether or not a guy deserves enshrinement,
then he doesn't.
Here, then, is one man's opinion of the no-brainers who can start having their
busts carved (in no particular order):
DREW BREES, QB, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - He has the Super Bowl win. He has the
record for a touchdown pass in the most consecutive games. And he's beloved in
his city. That's plenty to get him in (and to think the Chargers gave up on him
RANDY MOSS, WR, Several teams - He won't win any Man of the Year awards, but he
revolutionized the position. Guys who do that always get in. A touchdown
DEMARCUS WARE, DE, DALLAS COWBOYS - He impacts every game he plays in from his
defensive end spot. And every game he doesn't play in, too. That speaks
PEYTON MANNING, QB, DENVER BRONCOS/INDIANAPOLIS COLTS - He's only won one Super
Bowl, but he makes an impossible position look easy.
DWIGHT FREENEY, DE, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS - Not the biggest D-end by far, but
Freeney's speed is what makes him special. A threat to quarterbacks on every
BEN ROETHLISBERGER, QB, PITTSBURGH STEELERS - Multiple Super Bowl wins already
and he has plenty of time left. Plus, he's like a bear in the pocket shedding
TROY POLAMALU, S, PITTSBURGH STEELERS - Some scoffed when he was taken in the
first round because of his position. Nobody scoffs anymore.
RAY LEWIS, LB, BALTIMORE RAVENS - A great leader and just a great player. No,
he hasn't been playing for 30 years, it just seems that way.
RONDE BARBER, CB, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - Ageless, like Lewis, Barber is the
only defensive back in NFL history with at least 25 sacks and 30
TONY GOZALEZ, TE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS/ATLANTA FALCONS - In his time with the
Chiefs, he put up Hall of Fame numbers. Then, considered washed up, he went to
Atlanta and did it again.
ELI MANNING, QB, NEW YORK GIANTS - Multiple Super Bowl wins. Plenty young
enough to get more. And maybe better than his brother Peyton.
BRIAN URLACHER, LB, CHICAGO BEARS - So much hype when he came into the league
and he lived up to it. That's hard to do.
AARON RODGERS, QB, GREEN BAY PACKERS - Green Bay Packers. We all wondered how
good he was as he sat on the bench behind Brett Favre. Turns out he was really
CHARLES WOODSON, DB, OAKLAND RAIDERS/GREEN BAY PACKERS - He won the Heisman
Trophy as predominantly a defensive back at Michigan. That should have told
us something way back then.
LARRY FITZGERALD, WR, PHOENIX CARDINALS - A sturdier version of Randy Moss with
the same pair of great hands.
TOM BRADY, QB, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - The best ever at his position? If he's
not, he's still in the conversation.
Not surprisingly, 13 of the 16 guys I picked were first-round draft picks. Only
Brady (the famed sixth-round pick), Barber (a third-rounder) and Brees (a
second-rounder) didn't go right at the top rung of their respective drafts.
Of course, there are other current players on the HOF fence or about to clear
the fence who could be on this list. Next time they might be.
Ask your buddies the HOF question. It makes for good conversation.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-
area newspapers for over 25 years.
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