The NFL has recently announced its 2022 Hall of Fame class last week, and similar to every class before, the public does not completely agree with the inductions. Seven players and eight people in total were inducted all with spectacular careers:
– LeRoy Butler
– Sam Mills
– Richard Seymour
– Bryant Young
– Cliff Branch
– Art McNally
– Dick Vermeil
While this article will address players that I felt should have made the Hall of Fame this year, there will be no slander of any of the people who did make it. They all are deserving of the bid, but in doing so, many great players were left out.
Devin Hester, Return Specialist (2006-2016)
The most controversial name up for a Hall of Fame induction, Devin Hester retired as the undisputed best return man in the history of professional football. Hester finished his career with an NFL record twenty return touchdowns, along with seven in a single season including playoffs.
His elusiveness in the open field turned the Chicago Bears’ special teams into must-see television. There is no doubt he would have finished with more touchdowns if NFL teams stopped kicking the ball towards him.
Dissenters point to Hester’s lack of success at wide receiver as a reason he should not be inducted. Many believe someone with seventeen career non-return touchdowns should not belong in the hall.
However, anyone that is the best ever at their position is worthy of the league’s highest honor. Hester may have not been the greatest player on offense, but had an impact on the game that few had before him.
Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver (2003-2016)
Another playmaking machine, Andre Johnson has produced more than a multitude of wide receivers already in the Hall of Fame, and is arguably the greatest Houston Texan in NFL history.
Johnson finished his career 11th all time in receiving yards, along with 70 career touchdowns. He spent years regarded as one of the best three receivers in football, with his best season coming in 2012, where he had almost 1600 yards.
While not inducted this season, it is a matter of time before Johnson gets in. Wide receivers have historically not been inducted on the first ballot. Legends such as Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens were unable to get elected their first year eligible despite their historic careers.
Patrick Willis, Linebacker (2007-2014)
One of the most feared players of his era, Patrick Willis was regarded as a top middle linebacker throughout his entire career on the 49ers.
Willis was selected as a first team all-pro five times in eight seasons, and a pro bowler every year but his last. He was the face of the San Francisco defense during a four year run in which they were ranked as a top five defense in points allowed, and made the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season.
While nobody can question Willis’ production or dominance during his career, many point to his short, eight year career to why he is not in the Hall of Fame. However, this is not fair. Legends such as Gale Sayers and Terrell Davis were elected with only six career seasons, and Calvin Johnson was selected in his first year of eligibility despite retiring at age thirty.
DeMarcus Ware, Linebacker (2005-2016)
The most confusing omission from the class, Ware checks off all squares one could ask for when identifying a Hall of Famer.
Ranked ninth all-time in sacks, Ware proved to be an unblockable force as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He recorded over ten sacks in eight of his twelve seasons, including a twenty sack season with the Cowboys in 2008.
After his stint with Dallas, Ware joined the Denver Broncos, who would go on to win Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers. Ware recorded two sacks in the game, despite being in the second to last year of his career.
Ware, along with all players mentioned, will get another chance to be inducted soon enough. However, all were deserving of a bid this season.
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