Sports Reference Blog

PFR: Hof Candidate – Steve Atwater

Posted by Neil on December 12, 2011

Steve Atwater

Stephen Dennis Atwater

Position: DB
Height: 6-3    Weight: 218 lbs.

Born: October 28, 1966 in Chicago, IL
College: Arkansas   (school history)
Drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round (20th overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft.

Weighted Career AV (100-95-...): 78 (406th overall since 1950)
8-time Pro Bowler & 2-time First-Team All-Pro (fine print)

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year Age Tm Pos No. G GS Sk Int Yds TD Lng PD FF Fmb FR Yds TD Tkl Ast Sfty AV
1989 23 DEN FS 27 16 16 3 34 0 30 0 0 0 1 29 0 129 0 9
1990* 24 DEN FS 27 15 15 1.0 2 32 0 27 0 2 0 0 0 0 173 0 7
1991*+ 25 DEN FS 27 16 16 1.0 5 104 0 49 0 1 0 1 0 0 150 0 15
1992*+ 26 DEN FS 27 15 15 1.0 2 22 0 22 0 0 0 2 1 0 151 0 12
1993* 27 DEN FS 27 16 16 1.0 2 81 0 68 0 141 0 9
1994* 28 DEN SS 27 14 14 1 24 0 24 0 1 0 2 17 0 52 22 7
1995* 29 DEN FS 27 16 16 3 54 0 25 0 82 21 9
1996* 30 DEN FS 27 16 16 3 11 0 11 0 1 1 0 0 0 64 17 11
1997 31 DEN FS 27 15 15 1.0 2 42 1 22 0 0 0 2 0 0 53 15 6
1998* 32 DEN FS 27 16 16 1 4 0 4 0 43 12 9
1999 33 NYJ FS 27 12 11 1 0 0 0 0 36 19 4
Career 167 166 5.0 24 408 1 68 0 6 1 8 47 0 1074 106 98
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2011.
NumYrs Players whose career was of similar quality and shape
3 Rick Volk, Roy Williams, Wes Hopkins, Erich Barnes, Jim David, Butch Byrd, Willie Buchanon, Ed Reed, Jake Scott, Roynell Young
4 Mel Renfro*, Roy Williams, Charles Woodson, Rick Volk, Lemar Parrish, Andy Nelson, Ed Reed, Bobby Dillon, Mark A. Carrier, Abe Woodson
5 Jim David, Roy Williams, George Saimes, Mel Renfro*, Frank Minnifield, Rick Volk, Bobby Dillon, Abe Woodson, Tommy Casanova, Night Train Lane*
6 Jim David, Roy Williams, George Saimes, Abe Woodson, Frank Minnifield, Tommy Casanova, Rick Volk, Ken Houston*, Mike Wagner, Andy Nelson
7 Jim David, Ken Houston*, Larry Wilson*, Jerry Norton, George Saimes, Lawyer Milloy, Andy Nelson, Abe Woodson, Dave Elmendorf, Cliff Harris
8 Larry Wilson*, Jim David, Ken Houston*, Lemar Parrish, Jerry Norton, Cliff Harris, Bobby Dillon, Lawyer Milloy, Darren Woodson, Dave Elmendorf
9 Larry Wilson*, Carnell Lake, Jerry Logan, Jerry Norton, Eddie Meador, Jim David, Lemar Parrish, Ken Houston*, Cliff Harris, Lawyer Milloy
10 Larry Wilson*, Carnell Lake, Jerry Logan, Cliff Harris, Gary Fencik, Ken Houston*, Darren Woodson, Lawyer Milloy, Jerry Norton, Ken Riley
11 Gary Fencik, Carnell Lake, Larry Wilson*, Lawyer Milloy, Jerry Logan, Darren Woodson, Dick LeBeau*, Cliff Harris, Bill Thompson, Rosey Taylor
Career Gary Fencik, Jerry Logan, Cliff Harris, Darren Woodson, Jerry Norton, Carnell Lake, Jim David, Lester Hayes, Dick LeBeau*, Karl Kassulke
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/12/2011.

Click here for the full list of semifinalists.

11 Responses to “PFR: Hof Candidate – Steve Atwater”

  1. Packerfan4ver Says:

    Steve has great accolades in terms of being on the all 90's team and being a 2 time first team all pro. The first thing comes to mind with him for me was the fact he was a great hard hitting safety.

    Steve Atwater was a great player, but I don't see him going to the Hall of Fame before he the Senior Committee has a chance to select him for the voters to pick him for the Hall of Fame. It goes to the fact Steve doesn't have interceptions numbers and players that played the safety position have a difficult time getting voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Voters look at coverage and interceptions for a defensive back going into the Hall of Fame and doesn't really look at tackles. Steve is one of those players that would have gotten if the voters were former players, former general managers, former scouts, and former coaches.

    What goes against Steve this year is Donnie Shell and Aeneas Williams being on the ballot. Aeneas Williams has best shot of the three for going into the Hall because he was cornerback for most of his career and has the interception numbers. I don't see any of the three getting in these year though. Williams could be a finalist, but that is it this year.

    Steve is basically the same player type of a player as John Lynch. When I think of Steve Atwater, the first thing I think is hard hits and John lynch was the same thing. If John Lynch goes into the Hall of Fame once he is eligible, than there would be a huge problem on why Steve isn't in the Hall of Fame before John due to the fact both have very similar accolades as players. The only differences between lynch and Atwater in terms of Accolades is Lynch isn't on a first team all decade team and Atwater has 1 less pro bowl.

    That type of a safety has problems going into the Hall of Fame and matter of fact Cliff Harris isn't in the Hall of Fame yet. I think if Cliff Harris gets into the Hall of Fame, Steve needs to get in. Cliff Harris had the same reputation as Steve Atwater and John Lynch.

    I think Steve has a chance to go to Hall of Fame once Senior Committee is allowed to select him. It will be a long time because Atwater will be on the ballot through 2024. The first thing Steve would need is if he will be looked by the Senior Committee is if Cliff Harris gets picked by the Senior Committee and gets voted into the Hall of fame. The second thing is the amount players the Senior Committee from the cornerback or Safety position that have over 50 interceptions get into the Hall of Fame before 2025. The 2nd thing is a must because it would force Senior Committee members to look at players that don't have 50 interceptions.

  2. steve norris Says:

    i say yes. was the leader of the broncos d for a decade. might not get in this year but he is a player that passes the eye test. very feared. 8 pro bowls in 11 years. high level.

  3. Charles Butler Says:

    I think that Aeneas Williams should get in before Steve Antwater should because he was a better overall player! Antwater was one of my favorite players because of his size and hitting ability! However in today's game he would be a big liability because of his suspect coverage! My bet would be on Williams getting in this year and rightfully so which will leave Antwater out!

  4. Patrick Dotts Says:

    Atwater was a elite player in his prime, but he won't get in before Aeneas Williams, John Lynch,
    or Darren Sharper (when he is on the ballot), but two 150+ tackle seasons for a FS is impressive and over 1,000 tackles for a career is very impressive.

  5. Bill Says:

    Steve Atwater has the resume of a Hall of Famer for certain - although he may suffer from being in the same category as Rodney Harrison, Greg Lloyd, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Jason Taylor, Kevin Greene, Carnell Lake, Cornelius Bennett and Levon Kirkland.

    These represent some great defensive players - All Decade Team Level, Hall of Fame Semi-Finalist level, but for one reason or another - getting that call for the bust in Canton will be tough.

    Haley/Lloyd - The Media
    Haley has 5 Super Bowl Rings (Cowboys and 49ers) but a very volatile history off-the field and negative relationship with both his own teams and the media has been a major strike against the only player with 5 Super Bowl Rings. The 1990s Pittsburgh Steelers boasted the best group of LBs of any team in the decade - and Greg Lloyd was the best of the group. But 3 former teammates (Hardy Nickerson, Levon Kirkland, Kevin Greene) all were named 1990s All-Decade team because Lloyd's sour relationship with the media.

    Taylor/Kennedy - No signature moments
    Taylor and Kennedy are former Defensive Players of the Year - but not only lack championships, but have no playoff success nor signature plays.

    Greene - One Dimensional
    Greene has more sacks than any LB in NFL History - but his playing for multiple teams will keep him from gaining an advocate that will sell voters on his relatively one-dimensional game.

    Kirkland, Bennett, Lake - Just a little shy
    Kirkland, Bennett, Lake all were great players that went under the radar due to lack of winning the Super Bowl. Kirkland could have been MVP for his performance in Super Bowl XXX, but the momentum of that greatness was just missed.

    Atwater/Harrison -- Very Close
    Before Polamalu and Reed - the Safety Position simply was not a position of heavy importance on defense. As a result, being successful and even being significant parts of championship teams -- safeties were more like offensive lineman in receiving a disproportionate lack of credit. Atwater's performance in Super Bowl XXXII made a major difference in the outcome of the game - but in typical fashion - he did not get anywhere near the attention he deserved for it. Harrison is in the same boat - with some outstanding post-season performances helping to secure both playoff and Super Bowl wins, he flew under the radar and is more known for being a "dirty" player - a reputation that is non-sense and media created - Harrison was physical.

    In the end, you have 7 Super Bowls - 4 wins between them. But their under the radar "positions" present them with a challenge to overcome. Should they be in - yes. Will they -- it won't happen without a great advocate selling them to the rest of the voters and it won't happen until 6-8 years into their eligibility.

  6. Packerfan4ver Says:

    I very familiar with John Lynch and Darren Sharper.

    I think John Lynch wouldn't take less time to get in the Hall of Fame than Steve Atwater. It does down to the fact he only has 2 more interceptions than Atwater despite having a longer career and 1 more pro bowl and isn't on a all decades team. John really was not known a cover guy as a safety. What also goes against him is the players he played with in Tampa Bay that could argue hide Lynch weakness. Lynch played with Warren Sapp, Darrick Brooks, and Ronde Barber. At least one of the teammates that Lynch played with will be going into the Hall of Fame in Darrick Brooks with Warren Sapp will be getting a pretty good look. Ronde Barber at this time is in the Hall of very good.

    Darren Sharper is a player that may not go into the Hall of Fame right away despite having a lot of interceptions and interceptions returns for touchdowns. Paul Krause waited around 14 years to be into the Pro Football Hall of Fame matter of fact despite having 81 career interceptions.

    The problem with Darren Sharper is he only has 5 pro bowls and was not the best Free Safety at the time he played. Darren Played most of his Career in the Free Safety position and that is problem because Brian Dawkins has played Free Safety most of his career. Brian Dawkins has 26 less interceptions than Sharper, but is only one Fumble recover away from being in the 20/20/20/20 club. That is over 20 interceptions, over 20 sacks, over 20 forced Fumbles and at least 20 fumble recoveries. Dawkins is matter of fact is more of a complete player than Sharper to me with Dawkins having 37 interceptions, 26 sacks, 36 forced fumbles, and 19 fumble recoveries. Brian Dawkins also is a better tackler than Darren Sharper.

  7. Just Win Baby Says:

    Of the players named in this thread, Aeneas Williams is very clearly the most deserving of making the HOF. Not sure if that means he will get in first, but he should.

    John Lynch has been mentioned here, and IMO he is completely overrated and does not deserve to make the HOF. I have posted numerous comparisons of measurables for safeties of his era at FBG, and his numbers and accomplishments are worse than those of several of his contemporaries.

    As for Atwater, I find it curious that he has been eligible for 7 years, but this is the first year he has made it as a semifinalist. I doubt he'll make the finalist list. I would have no problem with him making it, but I think voting patterns would have to change for it to happen... there aren't many safeties in the HOF, and they generally had more compelling resumes.

  8. Xogo Says:

    Nope. Never.

  9. Noel Turner Says:

    If only because of the lick he put on the Nightmare!

  10. Packerfan4ver Says:

    While Steve Atwater was in 8 pro Bowls, he did not deserve it in 1998 based on his play. He only got that year because of how played against the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

    The Pro bowl every year seems to have some not deserving to go. This year matter of fact shows how bad the fan voter is by having 3 Green Bay Packer Offensive lineman having the most fan votes in including Chad Cliffton. He only played in 5 games this year. I watched all the Packer games this year, and the Packers only have an average offensive line.

  11. James Says:

    Steve Atwater should've gone in First Ballot. He plays so much like Troy Polamalu, John Lynch and Ronnie Lott. He can intercept the ball and he's a ferocious hitter of ball carriers. The hits he put on Christian Okoye in 1990 and the tackles he had in Super Bowl XXXII alone should make him a candidate and the fact that he played 11 years and was a pro bowler 8 times and first team all NFL twice puts him in my Hall of Fame.