Fifth time's a charm? It's the fifth consecutive year in which longtime Indianapolis Colt Reggie Wayne has made it to the finalists phase of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's induction process. Of these fifteen finalists, five will be enshrined into football's greatest accolade.
Will this year be the year for Wayne? Has the tide finally turned in favor of Indy's beloved wide receiver and now coach? That fate is up to the voter but I feel confidently in Wayne getting in over three individuals in particular.
Let’s take a look at three fellow finalists that Wayne has a stronger case than.
1. CB Eric Allen
Eric Allen was a big part of the late 80s, early 90s Eagles teams. As the team's lockdown corner, Allen totaled 400+ tackles, four forced fumbles, five recoveries, and five INTs (four returned for touchdowns) during his seven years in Philadelphia, earning his three All-Pro nods along the way.
Allen would go on to play 14 years in the NFL, making stops with the Saints and Raiders, all while missing only seven games in his career.
2. RB Fred Taylor
A man who needs no introduction to Colts fans who are old enough to recall his days with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fred Taylor was a mainstay with the Jags for a decade straight (1998-2008) and soon would become half of a deadly rushing attack that also featured Maurice Jones-Drew.
Taylor garnered 11,271 rushing yards and 70 touchdowns across 11 seasons in Jacksonville, donning him the Jaguars' rushing king for years to come. Despite all that production, Taylor was only ever presented with one All-Pro Selection (second team) and one Pro Bowl nod, both coming in the 2007 season.
3. Jahri Evans
Jahri Evans is looking to become the first member of the Super Bowl XLVI-winning New Orleans Saints team to be enshrined into the hall. The early ground has been gained as this is Evans' first time being named a finalist in only his second year of elgibility.
The resume is hard to deny. Along with his massive part in keeping those Saints lines as one en route to a ring, Evans has five All-Pro selections (four first team), six pro bowl appearances, as well as a nod on the Hall of Fame's NFL All-Decade (2010s) Team.
The case for Reggie Wayne
As many years as Reggie Wayne has been elgible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he's made the cut to the 15 finalists each time. As previously mentioned, the waiting game is the norm when it comes to these processes. When it comes to Wayne's case, he's seemingly been invited over each year but left out on the doorstep upon arrival.
Wayne spent all 14 of his professional football career inside the heart of Indiana. During that span, he served as both Marvin Harrison's runningmate and reliable target to Peyton Manning as well as ushered in the new era of Colts football as the team's WR1.
Despite the second-fiddle perception he received thanks to both Harrison and Edgerrin James, Wayne prevailed to be one of the most prolific wide receivers in NFL history. He remains 10th in the history books in receptions (1,070) and receiving yards (13,345); he's one of 10 WRs all-time to have totaled 1,000+ receptions and 10,000+ receiving yards.
Most non-Colts fans might remember Reggie Wayne most from his playoff production. In the playoffs, Wayne ranks fifth all-time with 93 receptions and seventh with 1,254 receiving yards; he is one of five players in NFL playoff history with 1,200+ receiving yards and at least nine touchdowns.
Although the wait is necessary and the list of canidates this year is of the strongest in recent memory, the time feels like it's now for Reggie Wayne. To be immortalized as a football legend is no easy task, but the gold jacket fitting for Mr. Wayne is long over due.