If the Indianapolis Colts Marvin Harrison is indeed one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, then he certainly hasn’t been treated as such by the NFL’s Hall of Fame Selection Committee.
Despite being named a finalist for the 2015 Hall of Fame class, Harrison was once again left out of the final inductees for enshrinement on NFL Honors night. It marked the 2nd year in a row that Harrison was on the ballot and got passed over by another one of his wide receiver contemporaries.
Instead, Oakland Raiders all-time great Tim Brown got the final nod at wide receiver. It was his 6th year on the ballot, and as the elderstatesman on the ballot, Brown knew he may have had an edge on Harrison heading into the voting process:
"”I really think, not that this is my best shot, but now that I’m the veteran guy in the receiving group, I’m hoping that I will get a little bit more favor this time when it comes to this deal,” Brown said. ”We’ll see what happens.”"
Jan 31, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders former receiver Tim Brown speaks at a press conference to introduce the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Favor, he did in fact receive, as Brown was the latest decorated NFL wideout to receive a bronze ticket to reach football immortality in Canton, Ohio. Nothing against Brown, who was a great wide receiver in his own right, but this “good ‘ol boys” system of Hall of Fame voting is absurd. It’s the year 2015. No one should have to “pay their dues” or “wait their turn” if they’re one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the position, and the superior player at that.
Instead, Harrison was left out yet again because of a spill-over from the previous logjam at wide receiver, despite it looking like he was the superior wideout to Brown. Last year, Harrison was snubbed in favor of Buffalo Bills receiving great Andre Reed, who was on the ballot for his 8th year. Regarding Reed last year, his selection committee presenter was Mark Gaughan, a Buffalo Bills News beat reporter, who has explained his thinking and rationale during the previous 2014 Hall of Fame voting process:
"“The second cut down I was sweating because of Marvin Harrison. Yes, Andre had been waiting longer and deserved to go in, but if you’re just looking at numbers Marvin Harrison has a lot more numbers,” said Gaughan. “When Bettis and Brown didn’t make it and then Greene, Haley and Harrison didn’t make it I kind of knew.”"
This is really what it’s come down to now, seriously? How about the NFL Hall of Fame Selection Committee actually make a tough decision to evaluate players at the same position based on merit and not simply whether they’ve waited longer on the ballot?
No one’s saying Brown shouldn’t have gotten in. In fact, if it were up to me, he should’ve gotten in before his 6th year on the ballot. However, his induction shouldn’t have come at the expense of Marvin Harrison. From everything I’ve read, I have yet to read much of a compelling case as to why Brown got in before Harrison. The Hall of Fame voting is all politics, and about “paying your dues” and “waiting your turn”, which is truly sad in this current day and age. It happened with Cris Carter, then Andre Reed:
"“I think two years ago there was a concerted effort to break the logjam at wide receiver because there were so many deserving wide receivers who needed to get in,” said At Large Selector Sal Paolantonio of ESPN. “The first was Cris Carter and the second was Andre Reed. And they wanted to knock the dominoes over. Andre Reed should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The fact that he wasn’t in there earlier was more because of politics and the dynamics of the vote and who was getting in and who wasn’t getting in.”"
It happened just recently to Tim Brown, and now it’s happening to Marvin Harrison as part of a neverending vicious cycle at wide receiver. Just comparing the two, and it’s hard for me to see what exactly Brown was better at. Yes, he played longer and returned punts, but is that enough to give him the edge given these numbers:
- In 17 seasons, Tim Brown had 1,094 receptions for 14,934 receiving yards and 100 touchdowns.
- In 13 seasons, Marvin Harrison had 1,102 receptions for 14,580 receiving yards and 128 touchdowns.
Given the circumstances, it’s clear that these are the only numbers the Hall of Fame Selection Committee really ever cared about:
- Tim Brown: 6 years on the Ballot
- Marvin Harrison: 2 years on the Ballot
Still, always gracious in both victory and defeat, the Colts Marvin Harrison had nothing but praise for his fellow wide receiver in Tim Brown making the final cut (via Mike Chappell’s Twitter):
"“I’m ecstatic that Tim Brown got in. I’m glad he doesn’t have to wait and go through this another year. Tim Brown is the man. Tim Brown should have been in there 5 years ago. Now my night is made. I’m cool that Tim Brown is in the Hall of Fame. I like Tim Brown as a person. I love Tim Brown as a player,” said Marvin Harrison."
Jan 31, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees pose at press conference to introduce the 2015 class at Symphony Hall. From left: Jerome Bettis and Tim Brown and Charles Haley and Bill Polian and Tyler Seau (representing father Junior Seau) and Will Shields and Mick Tingelhoff and Ron Wolf. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports