Hall Of Fame Just Two Good Season Away For Hines Ward

It is hard to believe that after this past weekend’s Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions that only 21 receivers are currently enshrined in Canton. The latest was a no-brainer, first ballot enshrine in Jerry Rice. That discussion should have lasted all of 2 minutes as Rice’s stats dwarf everyone both active and retired.

Every year following the induction ceremonies, the talk begins of next year’s class as well as current players chances of one day getting a bust of their own. Several Steelers come to mind with the list being led by Jerome Bettis, Dermontti Dawson and Hines Ward. I have plenty of time to address both Bettis and Dawson, but wanted to dedicate this post to Ward with the season fastly approaching and the sports talk radio air waves buzzing with this arguement.

Hines Ward Hall of Fame BustWard is about to embark on his 13th season in the NFL and has totaled 895 catches for 10947 yards and 78 touchdowns. In 2009 he posted five 100-yard receiving games, giving him 25 for his career and tying John Stallworth’s team record. He also posted his club-record sixth 1,000-yard receiving season of his career. Another little known fact about Ward is that he has caught at least one pass in a Steelers’ record 178 consecutive games. The streak began on Nov. 9, 1998 versus Green Bay and ranks first among active players for consecutive games with at least one reception and sixth in NFL history. Jerry Rice (274) owns the top all-time record for consecutive games with a reception. Ward also ranks first in nearly every Steelers receiving category except for most receptions in a Single Game, single season receiving yards and most receiving yards in a game. Still most will tell he will have a hard time getting enshrined when he retires.

In the first table below, I have the stats of the current 21 receivers enshrined in the Hall and have sorted them by receiving yards as I feel it is the most important of all the stats. In the second table, I have compiled both retired and active players that are ahead of him in either receptions, yards or touchdowns. That list totals 15 and I have inserted Ward as well as a comparison and sorted them via receiving yards as well. As you can see, Ward has 15 players ahead of him in yardage, but ranks in the middle of the pack in both touchdowns and receptions. If you were to stack his numbers against current enshrines, you can see that his numbers certainly stack up, but the voters do not look at the stats that way. They look at the era, the player compared to others in his era and whether or not the player was a game changer. Then they look at the stats.

Current Hall of Fame Receivers

Player Years Played G REC YDS YDS/R TD
Jerry Rice 1985-2000 303 1549 22895 14.8 197
James Lofton 1989-1992 233 764 14004 18.3 75
Steve Largent 1976-1989 200 819 13089 16.0 100
Art Monk 1980-1993 224 940 12721 13.5 68
Michael Irvin 1988-1999 159 750 11904 15.9 65
Don Maynard 1958, 1960-1973 186 633 11834 18.7 88
Lance Alworth 1962-1972 136 542 10266 18.9 85
Raymond Berry 1955-1967 154 631 9275 14.7 68
Charlie Joiner 1976-1986 164 586 9203 15.7 47
Charley Taylor 1964-1975, 1977 165 649 9110 14.0 79
Fred Biletnikoff 1965-1978 190 589 8974 15.2 76
John Stallworth 1974-1987 165 537 8723 16.2 63
Paul Warfield 1964-1977 157 427 8565 20.1 85
Tommy McDonald 1957-1968 152 495 8410 17.0 84
Bobby Mitchell 1958-1968 148 521 7954 15.3 65
Bob Hayes 1965-1975 132 371 7414 20.0 71
Elroy Hirsch 1946-1956 127 387 7029 18.2 60
Dante Lavelli 1946-1956 123 386 6488 16.8 62
Pete Pihos 1947-1955 107 373 5619 15.1 61
Lynn Swann 1974-1982 116 336 5462 16.3 51
Tom Fears 1948-1956 87 400 5397 13.5 38

Active & Retired Receivers Not In Hall of Fame

Player Years Played G REC YDS YDS/R TD
Isaac Bruce 1994-2009 223 1024 15208 14.9 91
Terrell Owens* 1996-2009 205 1006 14951 14.9 144
Tim Brown 1988-2004 255 1094 14934 13.7 100
Marvin Harrison 1996-2008 190 1102 14580 13.2 128
Randy Moss* 1998-2009 186 926 14465 15.6 148
Cris Carter 1987-2002 234 1101 13899 12.6 130
Henry Ellard 1983-1998 228 814 13777 16.9 65
Torry Holt* 1999-2009 173 920 13382 14.5 74
Andre Reed 1985-2000 227 951 13198 13.9 87
Irving Fryar 1984-2000 255 851 12785 15.0 84
Jimmy Smith 1992-2005 179 862 12287 14.3 67
Muhsin Muhammad 1996-2009 202 860 11438 13.3 62
Rod Smith 1995-2006 183 849 11389 13.4 68
Keenan McCardell 1992-2007 207 883 11373 12.9 63
Derrick Mason* 1997-2009 202 863 11089 12.8 59
Hines Ward* 1998-2009 186 895 10947 12.2 78

Based on his comparative era, you can see that retired players like Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Isaac Bruce and Andre Reed will need to be enshrined before Ward gets in with his current numbers. It is just the cold hard facts. The best thing Ward has going for him right now is the fact he his coming off one of his better years in the NFL and plays for a competitive Steelers team that should continue to throw the ball in 2010. Ward also is signed through the 2013 season, but logic tells you he will only play 2 more season and 3 at the most. He also has two Super Bowl championships to his name and one MVP award as well. Lombardi’s seem to go over well with the selection committee.

In my honest opinion, if Ward puts up 125 catches for 1500 yards and 12 touchdowns over the next 2 seasons, he will bow out gracefully and take his chances with the voters. Those stats are certainly obtainable over the next couple of season and would put Ward in the neighborhood of 1000 receptions, 12500 yards and 90 touchdowns. Mix those stats with how Ward played the game, how he changed the rules of the game and how he ambassadored the game and I firmly believe there is no way he will be kept out of Canton. The voters might not let him in on the first ballot depending on who sits ahead of him on the waiting list, but 10 years from now, I fully expect to visit the Hines Ward bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  • r4kolb

    Another thing to consider…not that the hall voters will…is the fact that if you look at a lot of the names of the active and retired players list how many of them were on teams that pass first, run second. Let’s not forget under Cower we were for the most part a run on first, run on second, pass on third down team. I think when time for the hall comes he will get in due to not just his stats receiving but for the way he really changed the game as a blocking reciever. Can you name another reciever before Hines that was talked about for his blocking skills? Of course the flip side of that is the fact many consider his hits dirty. Will that affect the vote? Time will tell…….

  • Swanny

    Marvin Harrison did indeed play in a dome with a great passing offense. The great Hines Ward didn’t have a quarterback for a good part of his career. I completely agree with Isaiah Hunter. People need to understand what kind of football player and warrior Hines Ward is. His blocking and style of play sets him apart, let alone his numbers. One of the greatest to ever play the position!