It’s Hall of Fame induction week around the NFL world. The best time of the year to pay homage to the greatest players in league history.
Yardbarker just broke down Hall of Fame candidates by tier in a sweeping focus on those who have been snubbed. There’s a number of Canton-worthy players. This number spans a couple dozen.
Here, we look at the 10 biggest Hall of Fame snubs in history. They include players from the recent past that most of us remember watching. Others have been forgotten because they played in a bygone era.
These are the 10 most worthy players to have been snubbed by the HOF.
Jim Marshall, defensive end, Minnesota Vikings
Marshall might be best known for running the wrong way following an interception. Though, that’s just disrespectful to the brilliance he brought to the Minnesota Vikings and their Purple People Eaters defense for almost two decades. Sacks didn’t exist during Marshall’s career, spanning all of the 60s and 70s. But he was a consistent force in the backfield creating mayhem for opposing quarterbacks. Marshall started an NFL record 282 consecutive games and recovered the most fumbles in league history. Surely, this giant of a man belongs in Canton.
John Lynch, safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lynch has now been a finalist for the Hall of Fame a whopping six times. That seems to be a clear indication that he’ll end up getting in one day. For good reason. The current San Francisco 49ers general manager earned nine Pro Bowl appearances in a career that spanned 15 seasons. He also played an instrumental role on a historic Buccaneers defense that defeated the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. He should be in already. It’s that simple.
Pat Swilling, linebacker, New Orleans Saints
Swilling doesn’t get a whole bunch of credit because he suited up for a bad Saints team throughout the majority of his career. But for a good four-year span in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Swilling was right up there with Lawrence Taylor as the best ‘backer in the game. That span saw Swilling record 55 sacks and 18 forced fumbles. For comparison’s sake, Khalil Mack has 49 sacks and 14 forced fumbles over his past four seasons. A five-time Pro Bowler and the 1991 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Swilling certainly belongs among the game’s best.
Alan Faneca, guard, Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s truly remarkable to realize that Faneca remains the only true HOF castoff from previous generations of Steelers championship teams. Sure he played guard. That’s not among the sexiest of positions. Even then, his pure domination was something to behold. Faneca earned nine Pro Bowl appearances in his 13 seasons. He opened up running lanes for a Steelers offense that dominated on the ground with the likes of Jerome Bettis, Duce Staley and Willie Parker. The one constant here was Faneca. He should be recognized.
Chuck Howley, linebacker, Dallas Cowboys
A Super Bowl MVP, six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro during his time with the Cowboys, Howley was one of the primary reasons this team transitioned to Super Bowl contender during the early years of Tom Landry’s legendary tenure.
He does not get enough credit for instilling life into a previously weak defense, enabling the Cowboys to boast a sense of bravado on that side of the ball. It led to a turnaround from 4-9-1 during Howley’s first season in Dallas to consistent title contention. The likes of Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes and Mel Renfro get most of the press, but Howley was just as important for the creation of America’s Team.
Roger Craig, running back, San Francisco 49ers
Craig was the modern NFL running back before we even knew what that meant. A true dual-puporse player during the 49ers’ dynasty of the 1980s, this three-time Super Bowl champ became the first back in NFL history to put up 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season. He gained north of 2,000 total yards twice, earned four Pro Bowl appearances and was recognized as a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 1980s. If that weren’t enough, Craig tallied 420 total yards and four touchdowns in his three Super Bowl appearances.
Torry Holt, wide receiver, St. Louis Rams
Dominant. That would be the best way to describe an eight-year span in the 2000s that saw Holt average 95 receptions for 1,450 yards and eight touchdowns. He gained north of 1,100 yards all eight seasons and earned seven Pro Bowl appearances during that span. It took Isaac Bruce a while to get in, representing the first of two receivers from the Greatest Show on Turf to make his way to Canton. Holt should follow here soon.
Sterling Sharpe, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers
Sharpe might have played only seven seasons in the NFL, but he made the most of them. Before seeing his career shortened to injury, the former Packers star earned five Pro Bowls. He averaged 85 receptions for 1,162 yards and nine touchdowns. In fact, Sharpe amassed 314 receptions for 3,854 yards and 42 touchdowns in his final three seasons. One could have only imagined how his career would have gone if he wasn’t forced into retirement with a neck injury at the young age of 29.
Dick Schafrath, offensive line, Cleveland Browns
In front of every all-time great running back stands an offensive lineman that was willing to do the dirty work. For the vast majority of Jim Brown’s great career with the Browns, that was Mr. Schafrath. He anchored Cleveland’s offensive line for the final six years of Brown’s career, helping the Hall of Famer to nearly 11,000 total yards and 84 touchdowns during that span. Schafrath also earned seven Pro Bowl appearances, six All-Pro honors and a championship during his brilliant 13-year run in Cleveland.
Lester Hayes, cornerback, Oakland Raiders
Yet another all-time Raider great that has been shunned by HOF voters. That comes in the form of one of the best play-making cornerbacks in modern NFL history. A five-time Pro Bowler and former Defensive Player of the Year, Hayes intercepted 39 passes in a nine-year career. That included a whopping 13 during Oakland’s championship run in 1980. Void of advanced stats, we don’t have a ton to back up Hayes’ candidacy. That’s unless we consider the film. It’s there. And it shows a downright dominant corner.