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The Ballots Are In, But What Do The Fans Think?

November 28, 2009

Earlier today, hall of fame voters put in their ballots for the semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was narrowed down to 25 great modern era players, coaches and one commissioner. They included: Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Andre Reed, Cris Carter, Cliff Branch, Ray Guy, Dermontti Dawson, Russ Grimm, Roger Craig, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, John Randle, Kevin Greene, Rickey Jackson, Lester Hayes, Aeneas Williams, Steve Tasker, Art Modell, Paul Tagliabue, Shannon Sharpe, Terrell Davis and Don Coryell. It will be narrowed down to a final 15 players in January.

While there is no turning back now on who the final 25 will be (plus the two senior committee players) it brings up an interesting question. What do the fans think? Even bigger than that, who would they pick instead?

Van Heusens’ recently polled close to 225,000 NFL fans for their opinions on who belongs and who doesn’t belong in the semifinalists for the Hall of Fame. The votes came in this order:

1. Jerry Rice, WR –20,599 votes

2. Emmitt Smith, RB –17,523 votes

3. Ray Guy, P –12,899 votes

4. Tim Brown, WR –11,868 votes

5. Cris Carter, WR –11,720 votes

6. Shannon Sharpe, TE –11,048 votes

7. Otho Davis, Contrib. – Athletic Trainer –8,360 votes

8. Jim Plunkett, QB –7,807 votes

9. Richard Dent, DL –6,387 votes

10. Lester Hayes, DB –6,311 votes

11. Cliff Branch, WR –6,246 votes

12. Tom Flores, Head Coach –5,688 votes

13. Charles Haley, DL –5,400 votes

14. Randall Cunningham, QB –5,143 votes

15. Phil Simms, QB –5,134 votes

16. Todd Christensen, TE –5,040 votes

17. Steve Atwater, DB –4,418 votes

18. Andre Reed, WR –3,188 votes

19. Jim Tunney, Contrib. –2,565 votes

20. Joe Theismann, QB –2,530 votes

21. Ed “Too Tall” Jones, DL –2,274 votes

22. Sterling Sharpe, WR –2,168 votes

23. John Randle, DL –2,097 votes

24. Steve Tasker, Special Teams –1,857 votes

25. Kevin Greene, LB –1,767 votes

Now as you can see, a couple of things immediately stand out to you. First off, the actual Hall of Fame Board of Selectors did not allow a single Quarterback into their top 25 while the fans voted for 4 including Joe Theismann, Phil Simms, Randall Cunningham (don’t get me started on that injustice) and Jim Plunkett.

Actually, their were discrepancies between the fans and the actual voters all around. The fans cited 11 candidates that did not make it past the Board of Selectors as worthy of making the list. The fans and Selectors did however agree on 14 candidates including: Cliff Branch, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Richard Dent, Kevin Greene, Ray Guy, Charles Haley, Lester Hayes, John Randle, Andre Reed, Jerry Rice, Shannon Sharpe, Emmitt Smith, and Steve Tasker.

There is a surprise or two though for Broncos fans. First off, while both the Board of Selectors and the fans thought Shannon Sharpe deserved to be one of the semifinalists, only the Board of Selectors deemed Terrell Davis worthy while the fans passed him over. Instead, the fans opted for another Denver Bronco, Defensive Back Steve Atwater.

It’s great food for thought, seeing what the fans think versus the actual voters. If I had a choice, I would probably take the Board of Selectors votes (for once) only because looking at this voting it doesn’t look like Sharpe would be inducted by the fans. Still, seeing players like Randall Cunningham, Sterling Sharpe and Steve Atwater making the list by the fans, is definitely great to see.

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