2021 Offseason Questions: Will Hines Ward Or James Harrison Ever Get Into Hall Of Fame?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will James Harrison or Hines Ward ever be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is supposed to represent the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the greatest players of their generation. You can be a great player and not be in the Hall of Fame, without a doubt, which is why people talk about a fictional ‘Hall of Very Good’.

Especially as the years pass, I think that more and more Steelers fans are accepting of the possibility that that is as far as former greats like wide receiver Hines Ward and outside linebacker James Harrison will get. Ward has been eligible for the Hall of Fame for years. While Harrison is not yet eligible, his case is a tough one to argue.

After all, he literally ranks 63rd all-time in sacks. 63rd. In a stat that came to be in 1982. Justin Houston has nearly 100, to his 84.5, and I don’t think anyone is talking about him going in to the Hall of Fame. Joey Porter had 98, and nobody talks about him going into the Hall of Fame.

But never is a long time. Will both of them never get in? While I wouldn’t get on them ever getting in as modern-era candidates, what about when they are senior candidates? What about the next Centennial class? Will they be eternally fated to the ranks of the Very Good?

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