Posted by Jonah Gardner on August 7, 2015
It's been a long six months, but this weekend the NFL is back in our lives. However, while the Hall of Fame Game is always a fun spectacle to start the preseason, we're just as excited for the Hall of Fame Induction. In order to celebrate this year's inductees, we combed through our database to find some interesting or unique accomplishments. This post is by no means comprehensive, but here are the charts, graphs, and tables that begin to scratch the surface of the greatness of the Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Starting with one of my favorite football players ever, Junior Seau's dominance was exceedingly rare, especially for a player who wasn't a quarterback. How rare? Here's every non-QB with 10 or more seasons of Approximate Value above 10
Seau is in a cohort with players universally regarded to be the greatest at their positions. This makes sense, but what impresses me the most about Seau's record is his dual ability to get to the quarterback and the ball carrier. On the career sack leaderboard, Seau is only 125th and while tackle data is incomplete pre-1994, Seau comes in 7th overall from 1994 on. However, when you look for players in that span of time with 1000+ tackles and 40+ sacks, here's what you get:
|Games||Sacks & Tackles|
That, my friends, is historical dominance. And, by starting in 94, we're leaving out 3 100+ tackle seasons and 11.5 sacks. Since 1990, only one player in our database has 4 seasons with 100+ tackles and 4+ sacks:
That's not all. Seau's 8-consecutive years leading the Chargers in AV were the most in a row I could find for any franchise, and while those years included some bad teams, they also included the 1994 squad that made the Super Bowl.
In short, Junior Seau ruled.
With 8 1,000+ yard seasons, Jerome Bettis trails only 4 running backs for the most 1,000+ yard seasons in history (though one of the men he's tied with, Frank Gore, has at least a shot at #9 this year)
However, I'd like to focus on Bettis' absolute peak, his 1997 season for Pittsburgh. That year, Bettis rushed the ball 375 times and, despite one of the heaviest rushing loads of the 1990s, he still managed to put up 4.4 yards per attempt and 1,665 total yards. How rare is that? Since 1990, only 9 running backs have done what he did:
Interestingly, of those 9 seasons, Bettis is the only one not to crack double digits in TDs. How is that possible? Kordell Stewart kept taking them! If you play fantasy football and get frustrated when your starting RB takes the ball to the goal line and then someone else punches that in, imagine having someone posting a 1600+ yard season and only getting 7 TDs from him.
When you think of all-time champions, who do you think of? Perhaps Joe Montana, who famously went 4-0 in career Super Bowls? Or if you're younger, perhaps Tom Brady, who finally matched his idol's win total, if not his perfect record, in 2014. If you're more of a defense person, maybe you go with Mean Joe Greene's 4 Super Bowls. And, of course, who could forget Adam Vinatieri's reign of dominance, single-handedly leading 4 teams to Super Bowl titles within 6 years?
But you know what none of those guys have done? Win 5 Super Bowls. Charles Haley laughs at them all:
Charles Haley's Super Bowl Record is untouchable. In addition to being the only player with 5 rings, he is tied for 2nd in Super Bowl sacks with 4.5 and he's one of only 6 players to register a sack a 3 Super Bowls:
|Sacks & Tackles|
Charles Haley: Destroyer of Worlds, Winner of Super Bowls
Only 4 Wide Receivers have 8 or more seasons with 80+ catches and 1,000+ yards.
Of the four, only one of them never caught a pass from Joe Montana, Steve Young, Peyton Manning, or Kurt Warner: Hall of Famer Tim Brown. Of Brown's 8 seasons, 3 came with Rich Gannon, 1 with Jeff George, 1 with the immortal Donald Hollas, and the other 3 with Jeff Hostetler, which is easily the weakest collection of QBs of the 4 WRs on this list. Oh, and how about the 2001 Oakland Raiders, which had both Rice and Brown? (and saw Tim Brown beat Rice in both catches and receiving yards)
Offensive lineman may not generate the numbers that other positions do, but on reputation alone, Will Shields is pretty unassailable. Among players drafted in the 3rd round -- a list that includes Joe Montana, Jason Witten, Steve Smith, and Curtis Martin -- no one has more Pro Bowl appearances than Will Shields.
|1||1993||3||74||Will Shields HOF||G||21||KAN||1993||2006||2||12||13||113||224||223|
|4||1979||3||82||Joe Montana HOF||QB||23||SFO||1979||1994||3||8||12||123||192||164|
|5||1991||3||59||Aeneas Williams HOF||DB||23||PHO||1991||2004||3||8||12||103||210||206|
|7||1976||3||86||Jackie Slater HOF||T||22||RAM||1976||1995||0||7||13||87||259||211|
|8||1973||3||64||Dan Fouts HOF||QB||22||SDG||1973||1987||2||6||14||122||181||171|
|13||1970||3||53||Mel Blount HOF||DB||22||PIT||1970||1983||2||5||14||101||200||189|
|15||1995||3||74||Curtis Martin HOF||RB||22||NWE||1995||2005||1||5||11||100||168||166|
It's been over 50 years between Mick Tingelhoff's first NFL snap and his Hall of Fame induction. With 6 Pro Bowl appearances, 5 First-Team All-Pro appearances, and a finish just outside the Top 100 on our all-time weighted AV leaderboard, it's just one more accolade for one of the 1960s most decorated players.
If you were growing up in the 1990s, the chances are quite high that, no matter how much you rooted for your home team, your secondary allegiance was to Dallas, San Francisco, or Green Bay. In the same way that NBA fans from across the country rooted for the Bulls, these three teams loomed large of the 1990s NFL. Between Brett Favre and Reggie White, the 1990s Packers had one of the most dominant players of their era on either side of the ball. One of the men to thank for that is Ron Wolf. As GM of the Packers from 1992-2000, Wolf revolutionized scouting methods and brought the first title in 30 years to one of the NFL's most storied franchises.
He also built one of the best teams of that era. From 1993-98, the prime of Wolf's run, Green Bay was 2nd in point differential, trailing only the dominant 49ers.
If you've watched playoff football at some point in the last three decades, you've probably seen a Bill Polian team. As GM of the early 1990s Bills, the mid 1990s Panthers, and the late 1990s-2000s Colts, Polian built teams with 5 Super Bowl appearances and 16 playoff appearances between 3 franchises. We don't have searchable records for GMs like we do for head coaches since, as you'll see in a moment, that term is somewhat flexible. However, I asked the team to search our numbers and find all GMs sorted by number of playoff wins. Here's what we got:
1. Al Davis | 1963-2010 | 25 playoff wins | Coach/General Manager, Minority Co-Owner/General Manager, Principal Owner/General Manager
2. Bill Belichick | 1992-2015 | 22 playoff wins | Head Coach/de facto General Manager
T3. Bill Polian | 1986-2009 | 18 playoff wins | General Manager, President/General Manager
T3. Tex Schramm | 1960-1988 | 18 playoff wins | President/General Manager
T3. Dick Haley | 1971-2002 | 18 playoff wins | Director of Player Personnel, General Manager, Director of Player Personnel/de facto General Manager
Obviously, how you define GM matters a bit here, and I don't think anyone would disagree that Al Davis and Bill Belichick's roles in their organizations were somewhat different from Polian's. Still, it's a testament to Polian's team-building ability that, despite a shorter tenure than most of the people on this list, he still makes the Top 5 for all-time playoff wins.
So, there you have it. This year's class represents some of the greatest football players in history, but it also represents the breadth of achievement that's possible in football. From the field to the front office, offense to defense, regular season grind to Super Bowl glory, the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 has done an awful lot.