I wanted to start a new series here at BTSC. I wanted to examine the careers of various players playing today, or in some cases, players who have retired in the past 5-15 yeas, to open up some debate on whether or not they are having, or have had, Hall of Fame careers. Let's start with Miami Dolphins' LB Zach Thomas.
This guy is a tackle machine, despite being undersized
I'm tired so I'm not going to dive extensively into Thomas' career, but it's pretty obvious to anyone who watches football that this guy is a special talent. At just 5'11" Thomas has managed to be in the middle of a ton of plays throughout his 11 year career as Dolphin. And, judging by his performance the last two years , he isn't done just yet. In fact, his 2005 and 2006, he recorded his 2nd and 3rd most productive seasons respecitively in terms of tackles.
I don't know how this guy does it; a steroid allegation would aboslutely not surpirse me because this guy is like the Energizer Bunny when it comes to making football plays. For all the Ted Johnsons of the NFL world who wear down phsyically and cognitavely, there are several players like Zach Thomas who seem to just keep going, and going, and going.
Thomas enters the 2007 season with 986 tackles. I can't seem to find a career tackles leader database (please share if anyone has a link), but I know he's got to be somewhere in the top 50 or so all-time.
Thomas' drawback, at least statistically, is his sacks and INT numbers. He has only registered 18.5 sacks in his career, only a shade more than Shawne Merriman was able to compile in a season cut short due to suspension.
Unlike Derrick Brooks, who has similar career stats, Thomas doesn't have a Super Bowl ring to bolster his resume. For whatever reason, that seems to go a long way towards determining HOF careers in the league.
Thomas is now 34, and probably only has 2-4 years of productive football left in him. He may be able to eclipse the 1300 tackle plateau (if that means anything; again share a link to career tackles if you have it), but I'm not sure it will be enough to convince HOF voters. Hell, Art Monk has a sick resume statistically but still can't seem to garner enough respect to make it to Canton.
So, I ask you, is Zach Thomas a HOF'er?
Before opening it up to the peanut gallery, let me first say that I thought of Thomas while thinking of Penn State LB Paul Posluszny. Lots of people are high on this guy, but for whatever reason, I seem to always think whether or not he'll be able to have the kind of career Thomas has had when thinking about his potential value in the NFL. Maybe that's unfair, but that's the barometer I currently have when evaluating 'instinctive', somewhat undersized LBs who have endured lots of wear-and-tear during their collegiate careers.
Zach Thomas' don't just fall in your organization's lap every year. It takes a special talent and body to hang around this long while maintainging a certain level of productivity and excellence on the field year after year. I just don't think it's fair to say that Posluszny will be able to do that. Then again, it may not be fair for me to set my measuring stick so high.
Thoughts? Also, if there's a player you'd like to discuss as a group, please share. We can even try to bring in some 'expert' advice to chime in. This could be a fun segment, being that HOF voting in the NFL is a far more strange science (IMHO) than is Major League Baseball.