Last year, Brett Favre was a shoe-in first-ballot Hall of Famer. There may not be someone in this year’s class whose status is that certain, but if there is, it’s LaDainian Tomlinson.
“He’s close,” Talk of Fame Network analyst Clark Judge said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think he would be of this list that we’ve gotten. Of the 15 candidates, he’s the most appealing, and I think he’s the surest, surest bet. Then it’s wide open. Although I’ll tell you I think that the second surest bet – and he’s not really that close to LT, but he’s far ahead of the field – is Kurt Warner. Kurt Warner made the top 10 the past two years – his first two years of candidacy – and I think he gets in this year. In fact, I would say he’s probably the second-most likely. And I know what your listeners would say: ‘There’s a hole in the middle of his career.’ There was, and that’s an issue. But the fact of the matter is, he raised the Titanic not once, but twice, in Arizona and St. Louis, and he has a list of accolades that are impressive. But I think if you watched him and saw what he did, especially when he came back at Arizona, you’d say, ‘This guy does belong.’ So I think Kurt Warner is probably the second most likely.”
Tomlinson and Warner are among 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017. Joining them are Morten Andersen, Tony Boselli, Isaac Bruce, Don Coryell, Terrell Davis, Brian Dawkins, Alan Faneca, Joe Jacoby, Ty Law, John Lynch, Kevin Mawae, Terrell Owens and Jason Taylor.
Owens, in fact, has the numbers to be in the Hall – he’s second all-time in receiving yards and third in receiving touchdowns – but five teams essentially let him walk. Few potential Hall of Famers can say that.
Will Owens get in this year?
“I wouldn’t expect it,” Judge said. “In 12 months, I don’t think anyone’s changed his mind, and it was a pretty volatile subject last year. He didn’t make it to the final 10. He might this year, but it was (a heated) argument last year. And finally, after 50 minutes, somebody said, ‘Hey, let’s just stop it. Let’s just end this because he’s not getting in.’ So we stopped it. We’ve had two people leave and they’ve been replaced. We’ve added Dan Fouts and James Lofton as 47th and 48th voters, but I don’t suspect that there’s going to be any change there. . . . (But) I’ll tell you, guys: This year, it’s wide open. if you guys want to get TO in, this should be your year. Because after (the top two), it’s wide open. I think Joe Jacoby is probably the next most likely guy.”
Jacoby, 57, played for Washington from 1981-93 and helped the franchise to three Super Bowl wins.
Elsewhere, Judge is holding out hope for kicker Morten Andersen, a six-time All-Pro and a member of both the 1980s and 1990s All-Decade Team.
“That’s the guy that I would push to be the wild card this year,” Judge said. “There’s going to be a wild card. Someone’s going to sneak in there. To me, it should be Morten Andersen. Now realistically, do I think it will happen? No, I don’t because for the last three years he’s been a finalist. That’s at least improvement in that process. We’ve only got two specialists in there. We’ve thawed the process a little bit so that Morten Andersen has been up the last three times. I want to see him move to 15 to 10 and on up, but he can’t get past that top 15. I hope this is the year because he’s the all-time leading scorer. Tell me another major pro sports Hall of Fame that doesn’t have its all-time leading scorer in it? You can’t. You can’t. This is his opportunity. I don’t know if the room understands it because there are people in there who are dead-set against specialists. But hopefully we have enough people with marginal support to at least get him into that final 10, but maybe sneak him in as the fifth guy.”