Given that the Pittsburgh Steelers have a deep history of success, both in terms of tangible tokens like Super Bowl trophies and in their prior rosters of players, it’s understandable that Pittsburgh-focused outlets have been paying fairly close attention to the developments with the Centennial Hall of Fame class being proposed.
While it hasn’t been officially voted on yet, the expectation that the 100th anniversary class for Canton will consist of 20 players, including five modern candidates, 10 senior candidates, three contributors, and two coaches.
We know that Alan Faneca remains a strong possibility to get in as a modern candidate this year. Troy Polamalu is now in his first year of eligibility and there is a great chance that he will be a first-ballot inductee as Ed Reed has been. But what about the senior candidates?
Clark Judge recently talked to a number of the Hall of Fame voters to try to get a feel for where they might be leaning in terms of getting together their list of the senior candidates. He jotted the notes of that conversation down into an article that highlights some of the most common names that came up in those discussions. No Steelers, however, were brought up. The names that Judge relayed:
Duke Slater. Maxie Baughan. Alex Karras. Cliff Branch. Ken Riley. Drew Pearson. Al Wistert. Randy Gradishar. Mike Curtis. Jimbo Covert. Tommy Nobis. Joe Klecko. Chuck Howley. Cliff Harris.
No Donnie Shell. No L.C. Greenwood. No Andy Russell (seen above with one of our own). The three former Steelers players who figured to most qualified to make it into the Hall of Fame as senior candidates. Tony Dungy, a member of the Hall of Fame as a coach, has frequently made the case in particular for Shell, with whom he played as a young defensive back with the Steelers, and later even coached.
One of the issues these players might have is that none of them made their All-Decade team, though that was particularly an issue for Shell, whose prime years were split between the 1970s and the 1980s. Had all of his best years been in the 1970s, perhaps he would have gotten in by now.
Judge does mention that there are currently 65 senior candidates who have been members of All-Decade teams who have not yet made it into the Hall of Fame, however. There are even seven on the first-team All-Decade teams who have not been enshrined, and only one, Cliff Harris, has been previously discussed for consideration.
The thing to keep in mind about this article, and of Judge’s, is as he makes very clear, this is nothing but a straw poll. It does give an indication of the sort of players the senior committee members are thinking of, which is not insignificant, but this is far from official, and other candidates will have their cases made once we get to the real deal.