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A Letter From The Editor: When it comes to Hall of Fame credentials, what matters most?

When it comes to induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, what should be the most important factor?

Steelers Terry Bradshaw Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Just the other day I stumbled upon one of the many rankings that are run throughout the NFL offseason, and they were ranking all-time quarterbacks. As I stumbled through the list, the vast majority of these players had gold jackets associated with their name. Forever enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.

This always brings up the age-old question of what matters most when talking about credentials to get into the Hall of Fame. From a Pittsburgh Steelers perspective, just look at Terry Bradshaw’s career statistics:

Games Played: 165
Record: 107-51-0
Completion Percentage: 51.9%
Yards: 27,989
TD: 212
INT: 210

But the most important stat of his career would be obvious:

Super Bowls: 4-for-4

Compare it now to Dan Marino’s statistics:

Game Played: 242
Record: 147-93-0
Completion Percentage: 59.4%
Yards: 61,361
TD: 420
INT: 252

Marino’s career numbers are mind-blowing compared to Bradshaw’s, but where it matters most, Marino’s record shies to Bradshaw:

Super Bowls: 0-for-1

There is no denying Marino belongs in the Hall of Fame, but a hypothetical question would be, if Bradshaw never won a Super Bowl, would he be in the Hall?

Let’s look at another career, at a different position, and ask a very similar question. This time, let’s go with the running back position, and one Jerome Bettis.

Games Played: 192
Yards: 13,662
TDs: 91

Bettis only made it to the big dance once, and we all know how that went down:

Super Bowls: 1-for-1

Let’s also look at Barry Sanders’ statistics before he retired early from the game of football.

Games Played: 153
Yards: 15,269
TDs: 99

In nearly 40 games less, Sanders not only rushed for more than 2,000 yards more than Bettis, but clearly hit pay dirt 8 more times. Like Marino, Sanders never won the big game.

Super Bowls: 0-for-0

Despite not winning a Lombardi trophy, no one is suggesting the former Lions running back shouldn’t be forever enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Another hypothetical question for you: If Ben Roethlisberger hadn’t tackled Nick Harper after Bettis fumbled on the goal line in the 2005 AFC Divisional game vs. the Colts, and the Steelers never won Super Bowl 40, would he be in the Hall of Fame?

I don’t envy those who vote on the Hall of Fame, because for players like Bettis, if he didn’t have a Super Bowl ring to his name, would be extremely difficult to vote on. Look at Alan Faneca and even Donnie Shell. Both worthy of being in the Hall, but for whatever reason have yet to have their name called.

So, what say you? What are your credentials for someone to be considered a Hall of Famer? Let us know and join the discussion in the comment section below!