NEW YORK – A sturdy list of first-year eligible candidates, a backlog of holdovers who have been waiting to get in and a 9-10 postseason record all were factors in keeping former Buccaneers and Colts head coach Tony Dungy from even making the first cut of modern-era finalists during a record-long voting session for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
During an 8 hour, 59 minute session, the 46-member selection committee chose the maximum number of seven that’s allowed. They are: Senior Committee candidates Ray Guy, who is the first punter to make the Hall of Fame, and former Falcons and Eagles defensive end Claude Humphrey, and five modern-era candidates that included former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones, Bills receiver Andre Reed, Giants defensive end Michael Strahan and Cardinals and Rams cornerback/safety Aeneas Williams.
Brooks and Jones were in their first year of eligibility. Strahan was in his second year of eligibility, while Reed finally broke free from the receiver logjam in his ninth year of eligibility and eighth year as a finalist.
Reed’s selection probably cost former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison a spot in his first year of eligibility. Some had expected him to be a shoe-in because of his 1,102 catches for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns. But if there’s anything that the committee learned from Cris Carter’s long wait before getting in last season it’s that nothing is a guarantee when it comes to the discussions about receivers.
Dungy, the former Gophers quarterback who also served as Vikings defensive coordinator from 1992 to ’95, was an intriguing candidate in his first year of eligibility. But he was eliminated when the 46-member selection committee had to cut the list of 15 modern-era finalists to 10. Also missing the first cut were former Bucs and Broncos safety John Lynch, Raiders receiver Tim Brown, former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., and 25-year veteran kicker Morten Anderson, the NFL’s career-leading scorer who was a Viking in 2004.
Although Dungy turned around a moribund Bucs franchise before going to Indianapolis and becoming the first black head coach to win a Super Bowl, his teams also went one-and-done in six of Dungy’s 11 playoff seasons. Four of those came with the Colts, including three in which the Colts won 14, 13 and 12 regular season games.
Those missing the cut from 10 to five were former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, 160-sack linebacker Kevin Greene, Cowboys and 49ers defensive end Charles Haley, Chiefs guard Will Shields, and Colts receiver Marvin Harrison, who some believed was among the locks in his first year of eligibility.
The selection of Guy will make former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe happy. Kluwe gained attention for criticizing the selection committee and the process two years ago. He argued that Guy should be in the Hall of Fame and then was fined by the league when he took a piece of paper, wrote “Ray Guy HOF” on it and put it over the Hall of Fame logo on his Vikings jersey during a nationally-televised Thursday night game in 2012.