With all the speculation of Hines Ward removal from the roster this season, it’s hard not to think of his storied carrier and imagining his bronze bust being cast for Canton in the near future. This year’s class of Hall of Famers is a pretty good one (except for Bettis not getting in of course). However, I feel there’s a key position lacking in representation this year – wide receiver. Tim Brown and Cris Carter are two guys who have been on the list for a while – Brown since 2010 and Carter since 2008 – and get consistently passed up. Or better said voted down. These two men have led very solid statistical careers in the NFL. Brown’s was a little more stellar, Carter’s was consistent. It got me thinking – If these two guys are having a hard time getting in year in and year out…. what are Ward’s chances of getting in?
Well let’s just look at the stats:
Cris Carter: 16 seasons/1,101 receptions/13,899 yards/130 TD’s
Tim Brown: 17 seasons/1,094 receptions/14,934 yards/100 TD’s
Pretty awesome stats over a pair of very long careers. Let’s throw Hines Ward into the mix….
Hines Ward: 14 seasons/1,000 receptions/12,083 yards/85 TD’s
Also impressive numbers. Let’s ‘extend’ Ward’s numbers for another two seasons using averages from the past three seasons for shits and giggles….
Hines Ward: 16 seasons/1,132 receptions/13,618 yards/93 TD’s
Ward’s numbers certainly get closer to the other two gentlemen. The only unrealistic number out of our imaginary stats would be yardage because Ward has had a huge drop-off over the past three seasons. He more than likely would accumulate half of what I’ve given him. Either case you are looking at a NFL wide receiver that continues to move up the ‘All-time’ list in receptions and yards. He is also a Super Bowl MVP and has two Super Bowl rings to go along with his career. So why do I get the feeling that it will take Ward a really long time before he gets into Canton?
Players are voted into the Hall by the media – guys like SI’s Peter King (though he may be leaving that role). Rumors are swirling about that some of the media who vote really hate Cris Carter and are influencing the votes to be against him so that he doesn’t get the required 80%. What? Politics in the NFL?! For retired ol fogies? Yup. Don’t be so surprised (if you even are). There’s politicking all over the NFL and in sports in general. The Hall of Fame is just another victim.
I would hope that Ward’s character along with his stats would carry him enough votes. But, doesn’t everyone love ‘The Bus?’ I’m a biased SOB when it comes to my Steelers, but Bettis AND Ward are two guys who deserve to get in sooner rather than later in their retirement years. Even if Ward leaves the game this season were the Steelers to choose not to bring him back, his numbers are awesome over 14 seasons. He brought more to the game than just stats too – character, work ethic, breaking racial barriers. All really good stuff, and the kind of guy you want to be showing your kids when you walk them through that building full of rich history of the game… not just the rich.
It’s hard not being pessimistic about this kind of thing. One can only hope that those voting would see how deserving Ward would be – whether he retires a couple months from now or two or even three years from now. But I think that Carter’s and Brown’s situation holds a mirror up to how it could go down for Ward. He could be part of the senior members before one of us gets to see him get a gold jacket. Look for Bettis to get his due next year, and I hope that Ward gets his as well when he becomes eligible.