There are two Oakland Raiders who are finalists for the NFL Hall of Fame this year. The inductees will be introduced on February 1, but despite impressive resumes both Tim Brown and Ray Guy could be considered long shots to make it to Canton.
Brown is sixth all time in receiving yards with 14,934, fifth in receptions with 1,094 and is tied for seventh with 100 touchdowns. But the league has changed drastically since he retired nine years ago. Nearly every single season since then, the NFL has become more of a passing league. At the time Brown retired, his yardage number was good enough for second place, his receptions number was third best and his touchdowns was tied for third all time.
Brown was one of the most prolific receivers of his era and did so with a crew of 12 different quarterbacks throwing him the ball: Steve Beuerlein, Jay Schroeder, Vince Evans, Todd Marinovich, Jeff Hostetler, Billy Joe Hobert, Jeff George, Donald Hollas, Wade Wilson, Rich Gannon, Rick Mirer and Marques Tuiasosopo.
He was in nine Pro Bowls during his career and two of them were as a kick returner, another aspect of his game that is often forgotten. In his rookie season, Brown led the league in kick and punt return yardage.
In addition, two other wide receivers are also finalists in Andre Reed and Marvin Harrison. This is Reed’s second time as a finalist and many consider him to be better than Brown even though he had fewer receptions, yards and touchdowns. Harrison is considered by many to be a first ballot hall of famer and rightfully so. With competition like that, it will be an uphill battle for Brown to get inducted this year.
The other Oakland Raider finalist is actually a finalist on the senior committee. There is very little debate as to whether or not Ray Guy was the best punter in NFL history. Guy was a six-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler who was known for both the strength of his leg as well as his accuracy. He routinely booted the ball 60+ yards and pinned the opponent inside the 20-yard line more than 209 times (the stat was not kept during his first three seasons in the NFL).
Guy revolutionized punting in the NFL and the terms “hang time” and “coffin corner” are often considered to have been created because of his career. He was one of the first punters to use directional kicking in the NFL. Before then, kicking towards sidelines was considered too risky and most punters simply kicked the ball straight and as far as possible. Later in his career, Guy became known for his use of the sideline, often kicking the ball out of bounds intentionally as he pinned opponents deep in their territory.
But he is a punter. There are still many who do not believe that any punter, no matter how good he was, deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. Being a senior committee nominee increases his chances as the majority of such nominees get enshrined.
Both guys clearly deserve to be in the NFL Hall of Fame, but fans should not get their hopes up since both guys should be considered long shots to make it in 2014.