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Guest Post: Linebackers and the Hall of Fame

Today’s guest post comes from one of the longest followers of this blog (and its predecessor), Richie Wohlers. Richie is 44-year-old accountant from Southern California who is a Dolphins fan despite never being to Florida. As always, we thank our guest posters for contributing.

This is the first part in my series looking at the NFL Hall of Fame.  I am going to take a look at which players are in the HOF, and look at some objective attributes of HOFers.  I am only going to focus on players who played any part of their career after the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.  While this will include many players who played in the pre-merger days, the bulk of the careers will have at least been played since 1960 with at least 21 combined teams.  Before the AFL came along there were generally many fewer teams, so things like draft position and Pro Bowl/All Pro honors are more difficult to compare.  Also, the game of pro football was much different before the 1950s.  I am mostly going to stick with looking at the few statistics that can be compared across positions, such as All Pros, Approximate Value, etc.

I created a very quick and simple formula to give each player a career score based on the average of six statistical categories (All-Pros, Pro Bowls, Weighted AV, Total AV, Super Bowl Appearances, Super Bowl wins) at a position.  Each category is weighted equally (though, the categories are related, and winning a Super Bowl essentially becomes worth 2 categories).  The average HOF player at each position will have a score of 100.  This makes an easy (though not exhaustive) way to rank careers, and to quickly see if anybody is missing from the HOF.  I feel that using honors (Pro Bowl, All Pro) helps factor in peak value, AV factors in total value and Super Bowls helps factor in players on winning teams, who HOF voters seem to favor.

Today I am taking a look at linebackers.

There are 20 HOF linebackers who played in the post-merger NFL.1

Ray Nitschke1958-19721978
Dick Butkus1965-19731979
Bobby Bell1963-19741983
Willie Lanier1967-19771986
Jack Ham1971-19821988
Ted Hendricks1969-19831990
Jack Lambert1974-19841990
Mike Singletary1981-19921998
Lawrence Taylor1981-19931999
Dave Wilcox1964-19742000
Nick Buoniconti1962-19762001
Harry Carson1976-19882006
Andre Tippett1982-19932008
Derrick Thomas1989-19992009
Rickey Jackson1981-19952010
Chris Hanburger1965-19782011
Dave Robinson1963-19742013
Derrick Brooks1995-20082014
Junior Seau1990-20092015
Kevin Greene1985-19992016


First year: 8 players
Median: 4 years
Longest: 34 years (Dave Robinson)


First Rounders: 6 players
Highest: 2nd Overall (Lawrence Taylor)
Lowest: 18th round (Chris Hanburger)
Median: 35th overall


Most All-Pros: 8 (Lawrence Taylor)
Fewest All-Pros: 0 (Harry Carson, Rickey Jackson)
Average All-Pros: 4 (Chris Hanburger, Ted Hendricks, e.g.)

Most Pro Bowls: 12 (Junior Seau)
Fewest Pro Bowls: 1 (Ray Nitschke)
Average Pro Bowls: 8 (Jack Ham and others, e.g.)

Approximate Value

Most weighted AV: 144 (Derrick Brooks)
Least weighted AV: 72 (Dave Wilcox)
Average weighted AV: 104 (Nick Buoniconti, e.g.)
Most total AV: 194 (Brooks)
Least total AV: 91 (Wilcox)
Average total AV: 136 (Lambert, e.g.)

Super Bowls

17 of the 20 (85%) played in a Super Bowl and 13 (65%) won a Super Bowl.  Butkus, Wilcox and Derrick Thomas are the three who didn’t.  Four others never won a Super Bowl.

Career Score

Highest: 170 (Lambert and Ham)
Lowest: 46 (Dave Wilcox)
Closest to Average (100): Bobby Bell (110), Willie Lanier (90)

Who’s not in but should be?

Dave Wilcox would probably have the weakest statistical HOF case of those who are in.  Andre Tippett is 11 game score points ahead of him, due mainly to his one Super Bowl appearance.  Kevin Greene is close, but gets in due to his high sack total, which is not directly factored in here.  Derrick Thomas also is towards the bottom, but that’s partially due to his career being cut short.

Every HOF linebacker has at least two All-Pros or a Super Bowl win.  Everybody but Dave Robinson (3) and Ray Nitschke (1) has at least five Pro Bowls.  They both make up for it by winning two Super Bowls, and some NFL Championships before that.

A few of the guys who are eligible, and would qualify in the Wilcox range are Robert Brazile, Sam Mills and Pat Swilling.  Brazile is quite similar to Wilcox with 2 AP, 7 PB and 91 total AV.  Mills and Swilling have fewer honors but more AV.

Then there is a group of 8 players who would be in the bottom third of HOF linebacks should they make it:

Hardy Nickerson (51 career score)

Isiah Robertson (53)

Lance Briggs (60)

Randy Gradishar (61)

Greg Lloyd (62)

Terrell Suggs (70)

London Fletcher (74)

Zach Thomas (74)

All of the above seem like unlikely HOFers.  They all come up short in either Super Bowls or in honors.  Thomas’ five All-Pros and seven Pro Bowls is impressive, but I think missing out on the Super Bowl may cost him.

Brian Urlacher (82) – His numbers are very similar to Zach Thomas, but he has the Super Bowl appearance.  He seems like a probably Hofer.

Karl Mecklenburg (84) – He’s been waiting 17 years for the HOF to call.  He doesn’t have the AV or honors like Thomas, but he makes up for it with 3 Super Bowl appearances.  At this point an invitation seems unlikely, but I think he has the credentials, and he’d be far from the bottom.

DeMarcus Ware (90) – Still playing, but already checks all the boxes of a HOFer thanks to last year’s Super Bowl.

James Harrison (102) – Another active player.  He ranks this highly due mainly to his Super Bowl hardware.  His career score would make him an above average HOFer, but maybe Super Bowl wins have a diminishing value?  He doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who is going to get a lot of HOF support, but I could easily be wrong.

Ray Lewis (156) – Obviously a no-brainer who will be inducted in 2018.  Once in, he would rank as the 4th-best LB behind Lambert, Ham and Hendricks.

Who will make it?

The guys at the bottom of my chart either had to wait over a decade for induction or were Derrick Thomas or Dick Butkus.  I think it would take a career score of 80+ for anybody else to get in.  My guesses, just based on typical qualifications and general feel:  Urlacher, Peppers, Ware and Lewis.  If Suggs can get another Pro Bowl and/or be a contributing member of another Super Bowl team before he retires, he might get in as well.

  1. From here on out, unless otherwise specified, I am only going to be discussing post-merger players. []
  • Anders

    Are Ray Lewis really the 4th best LB since 1970? Is Ray Lewis really that much better than London Fletcher or Zach Thomas? (and yes I think Ray Lewis was overrated and the other two was grossly underrated, by everybody and I think methods that only uses AV, All Pro’s and SB’s will due that as well)

    • sacramento gold miners

      Fletcher and Thomas were excellent players, but Lewis played at a different level. He was faster, covered more ground, and had more turnovers, I believe. We have to also factor in Lewis’ role in two world championship teams, and that 2000 Ravens defense was incredible. I would also assume Lewis had more tackles for losses.

    • Yes, Ray Lewis really was that much better than Zach Thomas and London Fletcher. Thomas was a very good LB whose post-playing reputation has been inflated by the AP’s curious decision to award two first-team selections at MLB in a league where very few teams were running the 3-4, turning what should have been a bunch of second-team honors into a bunch of first-team honors. Thomas was never named All Pro- first or second team- by any other awarding institution in his entire career, (though he did earn a lone first-team all-conference nod from PFW in 2002, largely because Lewis was injured and only played five games).

      Ray Lewis, by comparison, earned seven first-team AP All Pros and three second-team AP All Pros, was a 6-time Sporting News All-NFL pick, made four PFW all-conference teams, four first-team PFWA All Pro teams, and even added a first and second team Pro Football Focus all pro award at the end of his career, despite them coming on the scene so late after he was well past his prime. He was also a two-time DPoY and the PFHoF’s first-team all-decade linebacker. (Thomas was second-team.)

      So according to every major awarding body who judged them both contemporaneously, Lewis really was that much better than Zach Thomas.

      • Anders

        Maybe its because I have a problem with the people awarding All Pro’s and HoF inductions.

        I argue quite a few of those All pros and pro bowls in the end was more name than substance.

        Maybe I do not understand your scale, but my point was more that Ray Lewis was not twice as good as Zach Thomas and 100% not the 4th best LB since 1970

        • Richie

          Definitely one of the problems with my system, for the purpose of ranking players on actual ability/performance is the circular reasoning between AP/PB and AV for non-skill players (AV is calculated in part by using AP and PB nods). But, for the purposes of comparing HOFers, I think it’s relevant because I think similar logic is used for AP/PB as is used for HOF.

          Lewis played 17 years, so that’s going to help his numbers quite a bit. Most LB’s only seem to have about 11 or 12 seasons in them.

          Derrick Brooks is a pretty good comp to Lewis, and their careers overlapped quite a bit. But Lewis collected a little bit more hardware than Brooks in every category. 2 more AP, 2 more PB, 1 more Super Bowl win and about 10% more Weighted AV and Total AV and a lot more histrionics. That really helps Lewis move up the list.

          Out of curiosity, who would you have as your top 5 linebackers since the merger?

          • Anders

            Yea the circular relantionship between it all is a big problem for me. I also have the problem with Pro bowler voters who seem to vote for guys they know while some are totally left out (4-3 OLBs will always be undervalued in this type of rankings).

            As en Eagles fans I think Seth Joyner is criminal underrated because he was a 4-3 OLB and the pro bowl never really liked him

            In terms of LBs its tough but in not particular order:

            Derrick Brooks
            Lawerence Taylor
            Derrick Thomas
            Dick Butkus
            Mike Singetary

            • sacramento gold miners

              I remember Seth Joyner and that Eagles defense in a Monday Night game at Houston back then, and how the physicality of the Eagles dominated the potent Oilers offense. It was a very impressive win, Houston was rarely shut down like that, especially in the Astrodome.

        • Okay, but in this case “those awarding All Pros” is literally every all-pro-awarding body, *including PFF*. And everyone has their own thoughts on PFF, but they don’t give a flying fig about reputation, they grade exclusively based on film, and they didn’t come onto the scene until Ray Lewis was a half-decade past his prime. And they still gave him a 1st and 2nd team award.

          • Anders

            You mean PFF who can see things on the TV feed that not even the best HC in all of football cant see on All-22?

  • How does Patrick Willis fare by your methodology?

    • Richie

      Not sure how I missed him. He rates similar to Zach Thomas. They both have 5 All Pros and 7 Pro Bowls. Thomas played longer, so has way more AV. Willis has the Super Bowl. Willis only played 8 seasons. No HOF linebackers played fewer than 11 seasons.

  • Randy Gradisher seems an unlikely Hall of Famer? Most lists of “most deserving players not yet in the Hall of Fame” features him very prominently, even as high as #1. He’s definitely seen as more deserving than former teammate Mecklenburg. I personally think he’s as much as an eventual lock as any player can be at the mercy of the senior’s committee.

    I’d imagine the shorter career (less raw AV) hurts him, as does missing out on Denver’s SB runs with Elway. But his seven Pro Bowls are the most by an eligible-but-not-enshrined linebacker, and he also has a DPoY award in his trophy case.

    • Richie

      Gradishar has had to wait 18 years already. I called him unlikely because he hasn’t gotten in yet and his numbers don’t quite seem to match up with other HOF linebackers. However, he would be similar to 3 other fairly recently inducted linebackers: Kevin Greene, Andre Tippett and Derrick Thomas. So maybe the senior committee will get him in.

      FWIW, Zach Thomas and Robert Brazile also have 7 pro bowls, but haven’t gotten in.

      • Kyle

        He might be too old to compare to the above players, but doesn’t Maxie Baughan have 9 Pro Bowls on his resume?

        • Richie

          Yep, 9 pro bowls and 2 all pros. No Super Bowls (though he did win an NFL championship as a rookie).

          Like Chuck Howley, I miscalculated him. He scores a 54, which would put him ahead of only Wilcox of inducted LBers.

          Another noteworthy player I missed was Mike Curtis. He scores 64, similar to Dick Butkus.

          • bachslunch

            Baughan has five 1st team all pro selections. And Curtis has a weak honors profile of 2/4/none and doesn’t grade out that well over at Ken Crippen’s film study site — not at all a fan of his being inducted.

            Question: are you not equating pre-Super Bowl titles with Super Bowl titles? If not, that’s a problem.

            • Richie

              No, I’m not looking at pre – super bowl titles. Since I’m only looking at post-merger players, this shouldn’t have a huge impact.

  • Alejandro

    I find it curious that all middle linebackers in the HOF have a Super Bowl win on their resumes. Great analysis!

    • Richie

      Looks like Butkus would be the exception.

      • Alejandro

        Ah, fair point there. So I guess the Bears parallels will help Urlacher there.

  • JeremyDeShetler

    Somewhat related. Here’s the 2017 linebacker nominees released last week by the Hall: Carl Banks, Cornelius Bennett, Tedy Bruschi, Seth Joyner, Levon Kirkland, Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest (also DE), Karl Mecklenburg, Sam Mills, Joey Porter, Zach Thomas.

    I think Mecklenburg, Mills, and Thomas are the only ones mentioned above.

    • Richie

      Of the ones I didn’t mention, those are all guys who played in multiple Super Bowls except Joyner and Matthews. Matthews played a long time, but he only had 4 pro bowls and no all pros. None of them seem like HOFers to me. Bruschi grades out the highest, but that’s mainly due to his 5 Super Bowls (and 3 wins).

    • bachslunch

      Of this group, I think only Mecklenburg, Mills, and Thomas belong in. I’m fine with the rest not being mentioned.

  • Richie

    Anybody know anything about Dave Wilcox? He played 1964-1974 all with San Francisco. Interestingly, he didn’t get any All-Pros in the 1960’s when it was easier (the AFL and NFL each were giving out 3 or more All Pro awards), but he got them in 71 and 72. What was the push to get him inducted in 2000?

    • Dr. Z is the secondary reason Wilcox is in (the primary being Wilcox himself). Read Z’s thoughts here http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2016/06/26/dr-z-paul-zimmerman-memoirs-alltime-team-defense-special-teams

      • Richie

        Good link – thanks.

    • sacramento gold miners

      I saw Dave Wilcox play towards the end of his career, and he was a special player. Overshadowed by one of the best, Dick Butkus, Wilcox was incredibly durable, but seemed to only get recognized when the Niners had a strong run from 1970-72.
      Butkus had such a popular following as a great linebacker, he tended to get the lions share of the recognition. Tommy Nobis of the Atlanta Falcons was also a terrific linebacker during the 1960s, but I think he had knee issues later which affected his production.

  • Kyle

    What about Chuck Howley?

    • Richie

      Great question. Turns out I miscalculated a few guys who played the majority of their careers before 1970.

      Howley gets an 87 career score, which would put him similar to Ray Nitschke. It would also put him between Ware and Mecklenburg for the guys who aren’t in the HOF.

      Howley had 5 All Pros. That puts him in line with Zach Thomas, Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis of guys with 5+ All Pros and not in the HOF yet. It also includes Larry Grantham who I missed. Grantham is just a little behind Howley on my scale.

      On the other hand, these guys were getting their All Pros when it was at least twice as easy to get an all pro nod.

  • sacramento gold miners

    I don’t think SB wins will ever have a diminishing value, DeMarcus Ware will be a HOF player someday. James Harrison has two rings, and a spectacular TD on the biggest stage, but his biggest problem is time. At 38, he’s still making plays, when most HOF backers have retired, but Harrison didn’t become a full time starter until his age 29 season. It’s a tremendous story of perseverance, he was released multiple times, but don’t think the peak will be quite long enough. He’s also not a media-friendly type of player, who doesn’t do commercials(to my knowledge), and don’t know if coaching is in his future.

    Greg Lloyd’s severe knee injury in the late 90s was enough to ruin his career, so he won’t be getting in.

    Isiah Robertson was a fine linebacker, but no hall of famer. As unfair as this sounds, his most famous moment was getting crushed by Earl Campbell in the Astrodome, this play has been repeated countless times.

    Karl Mecklenberg was a talented, versatile, player in the mold of A.J. Duhe. But he was pushed around in those three Denver blowout losses, and unlike the three Viking defensive players in the HOF, didn’t play excel long enough, in my opinion.

    • Richie

      I agree that HOF voters will always give weight to Super Bowl wins and appearances. (Either consciously or subconsciously.)

      But what I meant by diminishing value is that winning 2 Super Bowls is way more valuable than never playing in a Super Bowl. But winning 4 Super Bowls is not going to be worth twice as much as winning 2 Super Bowls.

      Tedy Bruschi, James Harrison and Willie McGinest are examples. They all score over 100 points on my career score, which would make them locks for the HOF. For all three of them, over half of that score is tied into their Super Bowls. They aren’t locks for the HOF. Maybe some of them make it, but probably not all 3, and it might take them a long time to get in.

    • bachslunch

      For me, MLBs/ILBs are badly underrepresented from the 80s-90s (only Singletary and Carson are in). For me, Mecklenburg (4/6/none) and Sam Mills (3/5/none) are the best such players not in. And 12 years doesn’t strike me as a short career.

  • Ramsey Francis

    Any analysis that uses only AP All-Pro teams will not give full picture. The HOF gives out information packets and they use Total Football: The Official NFL Encyclopedia for their All-Pro teams. Those include the AP, UPI, NEA, PFWA, PFW, Sporting News and NY Daily News (through 1969)

    Thus, to call Rickey Jackson or Harry Carson players who were “zero” in the All-Pro category is inaccurate, Jackson, according the Total Football (and the NFL Record and Fact Book) was All-Pro in 1986, 1987 and 1992 and 1993.

    Accurately, he was a 4-time All-Pro.

    Carson was All-Pro in 1981 and 1984.

    They were not consensus All-Pros, but many AP All-Pros are not either. Sometimes the only All-Pro a player made was the AP.

    Since the HOF itself and the HOF voters (and the NFLPA in the CBAs) use Total Football, any analysis would be more fair and accuarate and representative of what the HOF voters have in mind if it used Total Football as well.

    • Richie

      Yeah, I realize that HOF inductees aren’t voted in strictly based on a couple of basic binary stats. But there is a correlation – especially for guys who get inducted to the HOF quickly.

      Pro Bowls and All Pros are a reasonable proxy for how many great seasons a player had.

      Total AV is a reasonable proxy for guys who played well for a long time.

      Career AV is a reasonable proxy for a player who had a strong peak.

      Super Bowl appearances and wins are things that help players become “famous”.

      It seems to take decades for the HOF committees to look past those sorts of factors and induct a player in the HOF.

      • Ramsey Francis

        I understand, but when you only use AP, you are skewing your results. It’s your choice, but to gage what they are doing, you need to consider using the All-Pro teams they use. Not just one.

        • bachslunch

          Agreed. For me, that’s a significant issue.

    • Adam

      I don’t know why the AP became the default publication for declaring All-Pros. I think it’s better to account for each of the various All-Pro teams, as it helps cancel out any bias or mistakes found in any one voting bloc. The voters from the Associated Press are not any more knowledgeable about football than other publications, so why should we treat them as such?

      • Richie

        I assume the reason is just history.

        But you make a good point. It would be cool if PFR would pick 3 or 4 publications for All Pro mentions, and then put the “+” in a player’s profile if he got the most All Pro mentions (at his position) that season.

        • I tried to work on this once. I ended up crunching most of the data but I never published it because I couldn’t think of a good way to publish the data.

          • Richie

            I’d be curious if there is even much difference. My gut is that for most players they will gain some all pros here and lose some all pros there, and it won’t make a huge difference for their career totals.

            And of course, some publications do an all pro in each conference, and some do just for the NFL.

            Rickey Jackson, at least, is an example of somebody who would be helped out. He has no AP All Pros, but other publications gave him 1st team All-NFL in 1986, 1987, 1992 and 1993.

            I would definitely factor them all in if there was an easy way to get the data.

            • Adam

              I wonder this, too. It’s possible that there are systematic differences between the voting priorities of each publication, but we wouldn’t know unless we compare them all side by side.

          • Adam

            How about tallying the total votes from each of the six official HoF publications, then create a ranking list for each position? Or maybe that’s a logistical nightmare, I don’t know….

      • Ramsey Francis

        It never did become the “default”. PFR is not the definitive source. For the Hall of Fame it is Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia. It is the OFFICIAL source. They use AP, UPI, NEA, PFWA, PFW, Sporting News and NY Daily News (through 1969). All of those are equal. And if a player makes the majority of the teams in a given year, then he’s a consensus All-Pro.

        That is history. There is no history whatsoever that supports a default AP All-Pro. None.

        • Adam

          The publications you listed are official according to the HoF, but the AP is cited by far the most frequently. I think the majority of fans consider the AP All-Pro team to be the “official” source even if that’s not literally the case. PFR could certain help things by diversifying their All-Pro listings.

    • Completely agree, although I don’t begrudge Richie (or any guest poster) who just uses AP All-Pro teams. It’s a good enougher thing, which I’m okay with. But I agree that ideally, you use all of them.

    • Richie

      Here’s an article from 6+ years ago about Rickey Jackson and the HOF. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/indexe58e.html?p=5690#comments

  • Clint

    Clay Matthews is the Browns all-time AV leader. Ahead of Jim Brown, Joe Thomas, etc. He’s also the franchise sack leader.

    Unfortunately, he’ll never get considered for the HOF. If those Browns teams had one just ONE SB in the 80s, him, Hanford Dixon, Frank Minnifield and maybe another would be in the HOF.

    • bachslunch

      The Brown player who I think has the best HoF argument from the 80s-90s period is actually Michael Dean Perry, who has a profile of 4/6/none. That’s pretty darned good for a DT of the time. I don’t see an argument for Clay Matthews (1/4/none) that doesn’t apply even more solidly for, say, Cornelius Bennett (3/5/90s) — and OLBs are already heavily represented in the HoF from this era.

  • jim

    Two players that should be included:Tommy Nobis and Jessie”the Hammer”Tuggle

    • Richie

      Nobis doesn’t grade out very well. He has 1 All Pro, 5 Pro Bowls and no Super Bowls. What really hurts is the 66 total AV. He never had an AV season above 9. The lowest total AV in the HOF is Dave Wilcox at 91.

      Tuggle is slightly better. No All Pros, 5 Pro Bowls, 1 Super Bowl appearance and 96 Total AV. That gives him a score of 42 in my system. The lowest HOFer is Dave Wilcox at 46.

      • jim

        Does length of career matter,and what city you played in?

        • Richie

          I haven’t specifically looked at those things, but I think they are kind of built in to the system.

          A player’s AV is going to increase the longer he plays.

          And players who play in certain cities probably get more Pro Bowl and All Pro honors than others, so it would help their HOF chances. And really, I think that is also probably related to Super Bowls.

          New England (Boston) basically has 2 (or 3 if you count Mike Haynes) HOFers, but Pittsburgh has 12 HOFers.

          Boston is the bigger city, but Pittsburgh has had more Super Bowls (and overall success), so that’s why they have more HOFers.

      • bachslunch

        One of Nobis’s primary problems was staying healthy, and it affected his career adversely. His honors profile of 2/5/60s doesn’t cut it for me given how badly OLBs are represented in the HoF from this era. For me, his contemporary Lee Roy Jordan has at least as good a HoF argument (2/5/none) and had a longer productive career.

  • jim

    Nobis played 11 seasons,Tuggle played 13,and is the NFLs career tackles leader

    • bachslunch

      Counting tackles is essentially pointless, as there is no uniform standard for assigning them and some teams are far more generous then others doing so. Rich Gosselin wrote an excellent article on this a few years ago.

  • bachslunch

    One thing to consider is how many MLBs/ILBs vs. OLBs are in. During the 50s, 60s, and 70s, the former are underrepresented. Given the emphasis on sack numbers, the problem is reversed for the 80s and 90s. For the first group, I can see great cases for Chuck Howley (5/6/none), Maxie Baughan (5/9/none), and Robert Brazile (5/7/70s), and reasonable cases for Joe Fortunato (3/5/50s), Larry Grantham (5/5/allAFL), and Bill Forester (4/4/none). The omission of Randy Gradishar (4/7/none) remains a mystery as well. Other MLBs from this earlier era like Tommy Nobis, Lee Roy Jordan, Bill Bergey, and Mike Curtis should wait until the rest are in. The primary omissions that should be elected at MLB/ILB from the 80s-90s are Karl Mecklenburg (4/6/none) and Sam Mills (3/5/none). The best OLBs left over from that time are probably Cornelius Bennett, Pat Swilling, and Greg Lloyd, but can’t say I’m thinking any of them are major oversights. No idea why Zach Thomas (5/7/00s) hasn’t gotten the time of day so far — I think he definitely belongs in.

  • Ryan

    Congrats to DeMarcus Ware on a fabulous career, the #1 edge player in the Pro Football Focus Era:

  • Brazile is now up for induction — what do you think, Richie?

    • Richie

      I never saw Brazile play, and even so I’m not really equipped to subjectively evaluate linebacker play.

      So sticking to my attempt at objectively reviewing HOF qualifications, Brazile scored 46 points in my analysis. That is the same as the lowest-rating LB in my study; Dave Wilcox.

      Brazile and Wilcox both had 2 All Pros and 7 Pro Bowls. Neither played in a Super Bowl. Both had about 72 weighted AV and 91 total AV.

      I see a lot of eligible guys who look like they have stronger resumes, particularly if appearing in a Super Bowl is a worthy factor for evaluating HOFers, starting with Chuck Howley, Karl Mecklenburg and Randy Gradishar.

      Gradishar and Brazile’s careers overlapped almost entirely. Pro Bowl and All Pro voters liked them equally. But AV favors Gradishar by about 10% – which indicates that he may have contributed more to better defenses than Brazile.

      Is it possible that the voters want to try to get in a player from a team (Houston Oilers) that is less represented in the HOF?

      Dick Butkus, Derrick Thomas and Wilcox are the only post-merger LB’s in the HOF who haven’t played in a Super Bowl.