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Top Hall of Fame Candidates for 2016: NFC North

Over at NFL.com, Elliot Harrison recently published a list of each NFL team’s top candidate on the 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot.  His full articles for the AFC and NFC can be found at their respective links.  As to each NFC North team, Harrison’s picks are as follows, with my commentary.  Remember that this is a list for potential candidates next season, and so does not include current players or recent retirees.

1. Chicago Bears – Steve McMichael, Defensive Tackle

Harrison argues that McMichael was a complete defensive tackle, known as a run stopper in his day.  In addition, he has over 95 career sacks, just 1.5 behind fellow defensive tackle Warren Sapp.  As Sapp was considered a no-brainer Hall of Famer, McMichael should be eligible as well.

It is hard to argue with that logic.  The only reason one can conjure for McMichael not being included in the Hall of Fame already is that he was part of a great defense full of terrific players, and teammates  Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, and Mike Singeltary – all in the Hall already – overshadowed his candidacy.  Given how great those mid-80’s defenses were, however, it would seem the Hall of Fame could make room for one more.  Since McMichael has been repeatedly passed up, that is unlikely.  On the other hand, Dent was only recently included (Class of 2011) so there is some hope.

2. Detroit Lions – Buddy Parker, Coach

Before reading Harrison’s article, I had never heard of Buddy Parker.  It seems he led the Lions to three NFL Championships in the 1950’s.  Given the structural difficulties obviously inherent in winning in Detroit, one must admit Coach Parker overcame significant hurdles in order to create a (brief) successful stint of professional football in that city.  It is likely no accident that Detroit’s slow demise as a city matches that of its team.

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Since most of us would not be familiar with Parker, I thought I would offer another candidate: wide receiver Herman Moore.  Moore played 10 years in Detroit followed by one in New York with the Giants before retiring in 2002.  During the explosion of wide receiver play in the 1990s, when players such as Jerry Rice, Sterling Sharpe, and Chris Carter began semi-regularly catching over 100 passes a season, Moore was right there with the top of the crowd.  His pinnacle season occurred in 1995, when he caught 123 passes for 1686 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The truth is, Moore’s career numbers don’t offer him much of an opportunity for election in 2016.  He finished with just over 9,000 career yards and 62 touchdowns.  Given the wide receiver backlog and the upcoming candidacy of players such as Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, it is in fact highly unlikely that he will ever enter the Hall or even garner serious consideration.  But Moore, in his prime, could play with anyone.

3. Green Bay Packers – Brett Favre, Quarterback

This is fairly self-evident, and the entire football-watching world anticipates a Hall of Fame ticket for Favre next year.  So just watch this video of the Ol’ Gunslinger confessing to drug addiction, then having fun out there throwing touchdown passes in 1996.  So much time has passed that it is hard to remember him as a young football player.

4. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Blair, Linebacker

Brett Favre will technically count as a Viking Hall of Famer as well (as McMichael would for the Packers), which is silly and something the Hall should address.  Harrison does not note this in his article.  As that is the case, Favre is easily the most likely Viking Hall of Fame entry as well.

As to players associated with the purple, Randy Moss is not eligible until 2018 and the Vikings have had six players enshrined in the last eight Hall of Fame classes, including Chris Doleman, making it hard to to pick out an obvious snub.  This leaves the current competition fairly wide open.

Nevertheless, a number of Vikings from the 1970’s with fairly strong candidacies could be argued, including Jim Marshall, an early Iron Man at the defensive end position, and Chuck Foreman, one of the NFL’s early pass-catching running backs.  Harrison opts for Blair out of that group.  Though Blair is not a household name, as Harrison notes he made six straight Pro Bowls while playing on one of the strongest teams in the league.  I like the nod to a lesser known player even it, at this point, enshrinement seems unlikely.