The 2017 Hall of Fame Class was announced Saturday night and former Seattle Seahawks safety Kenny Easley was unsurprisingly elected after being nominated by the veteran committee. While I don’t want to take anything away from Easley’s great honor, I do question why he’s now been elected to Canton ahead of former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Donnie Shell.
Safeties, and all defensive backs for that matter, have a very tough road when it comes to them making it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I mean, just look at the list below which now includes Easley. Most of the defensive backs already enshrined in Canton played the cornerback position. Why is that?
Below, I have compiled all of the main stats for all of the defensive backs now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with Shell’s and as you can clearly see, his stack up to others. Is Shell penalized because of the fact that he was a member of so many great defenses? It certainly appears that way.
When you look at the NFL’s all-time career interception leaders you’ll see that only 31 players have registered more than Shell did. With that noted, very few players ahead of Shell on that list actually played the safety position for either all, or most of their NFL careers.
It’s really too bad that we don’t have the full game play-by-play listing of yesteryear in order for us to look at some other key stats such as successful tackles and the sorts as it would be interesting to compare the numbers of the players already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame to others who aren’t.
In short, ever since Shell was a Hall of Fame finalists in 2002, he seems to have been forgotten about.
“I don’t really think about it,” Shell said several months ago during a Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “It’s out of my hands. It’s up to the selection committee to look back at an individual player’s body of work and see if they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.”
Well, now that Easley has been elected, hopefully the veteran committee will once again reconsider Shell. Face it, f Easley’s accomplishments were good enough during his short NFL career to get him into Canton, Shell’s should be as well.
|HALL OF FAME DEFENSIVE BACKS + SHELL||GAMES||INTS||TDS||PRO BOWLS||ALL PROS||CHAMPION|
|Herb Adderley (CB) 1961-1972||164||48||7||5||4||8|
|Lem Barney (CB) 1967-1977||140||56||7||7||2||0|
|Mel Blount (CB) 1970-1983||200||57||2||5||2||4|
|Willie Brown (CB) 1963-1978||204||54||2||9||5||1|
|Jack Butler (CB) 1951-59||103||52||4||4||3||0|
|Jack Christiansen (S) 1951-1958||89||46||3||5||6||3|
|Darrell Green (CB) 1983-2002||295||54||6||7||1||2|
|Mike Haynes (CB) 1976-1989||177||46||2||9||2||1|
|Ken Houston (S) 1967-1980||196||49||9||12||2||0|
|Jimmy Johnson (CB) 1961-1976||213||47||2||5||4||0|
|Paul Krause (S) 1964-1979||226||81||3||8||3||0|
|Dick Lane (CB) 1952-1965||157||68||5||7||3||0|
|Yale Lary (S) 1952-1953, 1956-1964||133||50||2||9||3||3|
|Dick LeBeau (CB) 1959-1972||185||48||3||0||3||0|
|Ronnie Lott (CB-S) 1981-1994||192||63||5||10||6||4|
|Mel Renfro (S-CB) 1964-1977||174||52||3||10||1||2|
|Deion Sanders (CB-KR-PR) 1989-2000, 2004-2005||188||53||9||8||6||2|
|Emmitt Thomas (CB) 1966-1978||181||58||5||5||1||1|
|Emlen Tunnell (S) 1948-1961||167||79||4||9||4||2|
|Roger Wehrli (CB) 1969-1982||193||40||2||7||3||0|
|Aeneas Williams (CB/S) 1991-2004||211||55||9||8||3||0|
|Larry Wilson (S) 1960-1972||169||52||5||8||5||0|
|Willie Wood (S) 1960-1971||166||48||2||8||5||7|
|Rod Woodson (CB/S) 1987-2003||238||71||12||11||6||1|
|Kenny Easley (S) 1981-1987||89||32||3||5||3||0|
|Donnie shell (S) 1974-1987||201||51||2||5||3||4|