The list of first-year NFL Hall of Fame candidates is loaded, with each candidate boasting impressive credentials. All five candidates — Deion Sanders, Willie Roaf, Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis and Marshall Faulk — are worth of induction, though it’s likely more than one will be snubbed, just based on simple math and the rules in place limiting the number of non-senior players inducted each year to five.
Here’s a look at the headliners — the players that should be inducted when the voting results are made public on Saturday evening.
Deion Sanders: It’s tough to see a way Sanders doesn’t get in. Primetime, as he’s known, did it all in his 14-year NFL career. From starting on both sides of the ball to being one of the most electrifying special teams player, Sanders was a man among boys on the field. He was, and still is, flashy, brash and made the plays to back up the flamboyance.
Jerome Bettis: A bruising runner, Bettis pounded his way up the all-time rushing leaders list, finishing as the fifth-best of all-time. Bettis finished with 13662 yards and 91 touchdowns on the ground, putting him amongst names like Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. And he did it all with a powerful, between-the-tackles style that made him a working man’s back.
Marshall Faulk: The list of finalists is stacked at running back, and Faulk is one of many worthy of induction. It was his versatility — the ability to burn a defense in a variety of ways — that got Faulk to this point, and should lead him to Hall of Fame induction now or in the near-future. Between his receiving statistics — 6875 yards and 36 touchdowns — and his rushing stats — 12279 and 100 touchdowns — it’s tough to argue with Faulk’s credentials.
Of the list of 15 finalists, all are worthy of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, though many will have to wait. With such a stacked rookie class, and plenty of returnees up for selection, choosing just five finalists to induct looks to be a daunting task.
We’ll find out with the rest of the world at 4 p.m. as the class of 2011 is announced on NFL Network. For more, check out our NFL Hall of Fame StoryStream.