Tim Brown’s numbers speak volumes but is the committee listening?

Saturday the Pro Football Hall of Fame will announce who is going to be part of the class of 2011. There are currently 15 modern day finalists on a list that will be whittled down to between 5 and 7 inductees. Wide receiver Tim Brown is among those finalists in his second year of eligibility. And from the looks of it, his chances are slim.

Last year was Tim Brown’s first year of eligibility. He and Jerry Rice became eligible in the same year. There was never more of a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame than Jerry Rice who owns every receiving record in existence. So of course everyone else among the top receivers of all time must either already be in or close behind.

Tim Brown has the second most receiving yards in NFL history among Hall of Fame eligible players. So why is there even a question of whether he gets in this year? He is not even the most talked about RECEIVER among the finalists. ESPN’s NFL “guru” was asked on Friday about who is a lock for the Hall this year and after listing off several running backs and a few others, he said “wide receivers Andre Reed and Cris Carter.” That was it. Not even a mention of the next best receiver to the greatest receiver of all time. To further illustrate the oversight that the Hall of Fame committee appears to be ready to commit for a second straight year, let’s look more closely at the numbers. I will stick to those receivers eligible (retired for more than five years) or already enshrined to keep it from getting confusing.

Receiving Yards

1. Jerry Rice 22,895  HOF
2. Tim Brown 14,934
3. James Lofton 14,004 HOF
4. Cris Carter 13,899
5. Henry Ellard 13,777
6. Andre Reed 13,198
7. Steve Largent 13,089 HOF
8. Irving Fryar 12,785
9. Art Monk 12,721 HOF

Receptions

1.  Jerry Rice 1549  HOF
2.  Cris Carter 1101
3.  Tim Brown 1094
4. Andre Reed 951
5. Art Monk 940   HOF
6. Jimmy Smith 862
7. Irving Fryar 851
8. Steve Largent 819 HOF

Receiving TD’s

1. Jerry Rice 197  HOF
2. Cris Carter 130
3. Tim Brown 100
3. Steve Largent 100 HOF
5. Don Hutson 99  HOF
6. Don Maynard 88 HOF
7. Andre Reed 87
8. Paul Warfield 85  HOF
9. Lance Alworth 85 HOF

One of the more telling stats not listed here is Brown’s 15,124 yards from scrimmage, which is ranked eleventh overall. Every other player ahead of him, along with plenty below him on the list, are either in the Hall of Fame or are in their first year of eligibility. The only other receiver ahead of him in that category is Jerry Rice. All of the others are running backs.

Tim Brown was also an extremely good punt returner for most of his career. He averaged over 10 yards a return and ran three back for touchdowns — numbers that no other receiver of his caliber ever accomplished.

There are a few interesting observations to be made based on the above numbers. In receiving yards Tim Brown is bookended by Hall of Famers. In receptions, he and Cris Carter are separated by just 7 catches for second most ever. And among the top six players in receiving TD’s, Brown and Carter are the only two not already in the Hall.

What it comes down to is, besides Jerry Rice, the only receiver that can even compare to Tim Brown is Cris Carter. Andre Reed is much further down the list.

Tim Brown was the model of consistency on an incredibly inconsistent team throughout his great career. He had a myriad of different quarterbacks throw to him – most of whom are not worth mentioning. Yet despite it all, he had nine straight seasons over 1000 yards receiving and he started every single game during that time. The year after his final 1000 yard season, he had 931 yards while sharing touches with Jerry Rice en route to a Super Bowl berth. He went to nine Pro Bowls, twice as a punt returner. As a Raider, Tim Brown played in three conference championship games and a Super Bowl.

Cris Carter had the likes of Randall Cunningham, Brad Johnson, Warren Moon, and Daunte Culpepper throwing passes to him. Despite his good fortune, Carter had one less season over 1000 yards (eight) and one less Pro Bowl invite (eight). Neither player won a Super Bowl but Tim Brown at least played in one. Carter would play in an equal amount of Conference Championship games as Brown (three) but lost all of them. 

Andre Reed had Jim Kelly throwing to him his entire career in Buffalo. His Bills team lost four straight Super Bowls in the 90’s. Reed’s fellow teammates Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Bruce Smith are already in the Hall of Fame.

So I am left wondering how exactly these two receivers are so much more likely to get in the Hall of Fame than Tim Brown? I hope all the speculation is wrong because it is already tremendously disrespectful as it is.

Carter and Reed aside, there are a few other players who are thought to garner a good portion of the votes this time around. Running backs Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin, and Jerome Bettis, corner back Deion Sanders, tight end Shannon Sharpe, offensive tackle Willie Roaf, and defensive lineman Charles Haley are considered the frontrunners. The Hall will only induct so many players and it appears there is a bit of a log jam for entry this season.

It would appear the odds go up next season with there not being a lot of worthy first year eligible candidates. Junior Seau is the only name that jumps out from next year’s crop. If Tim Brown doesn’t get in this year, he will certainly be a shoe-in next year. Or I should bloody well hope so.

But then again with the way the Hall of Fame committee has denied Cliff Branch, Ray Guy, Lester Hayes, Jack Tatum, and Ken Stabler all these years, nothing would surprise me at this point.

The Hall of Fame inductees will be announced Saturday Feb 5 at 4pm PST televised on NFL Nework.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

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