ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine combined to put out list of the 20 current players who a 20-member Pro Football Hall of Fame panel and ESPN\’s very own John Clayton believe could excel in any era of the NFL. The top 20 was finalized today and four current Pittsburgh Steelers players made the top 10. Finishing 10th was linebacker James Harrison, finishing 8th was wide receiver Hines Ward, finishing 3rd was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and finishing 2nd was safety Troy Polamalu.
Harrison finished 4th as far as linebackers went behind Patrick Willis (7th), Brian Urlacher (5th) and Ray Lewis (1st). Many will argue the ranking of Harrison as being a little high but there is no doubt that he would have fit in just fine with the great linebackers of the 1970\’s. It really is hard to argue with any of the names on the list that also includes DeMarcus Ware (12th).
Ward was the only wide receiver on the list and it is hard to argue that doesn\’t deserve to be in the top 20. He blocked so ferociously that that the NFL changed the rules to where it makes it illegal to deliver a blindside block if it comes from the blocker\’s helmet, forearm or shoulder and lands to the head or neck area of the defender. Ward\’s longevity and long term production also likely helped him with Hall of Fame panel.
Roethlisberger was the top rated quarterback of the 5 on the list as he beat out Aaron Rodgers (9th), Tom Brady (11th), Tim Tebow (19th) and Peyton Manning (20th). While 3rd might be a little high, there is no denying his toughness and this likely resonated with the panel. They must have all seen the game against the Cleveland Browns this year.
Polamalu finished 2nd and that must drive hack media types like Pete Prisco crazy. He finished ahead of defensive backs Charles Woodson (4th), Ed Reed (13th) and Darrelle Revis (15th) and it was an easy choice I am sure for the panel.
Below are the top 20 counting down:
No. 20: Colts QB Peyton Manning
No. 19: Broncos QB Tim Tebow
No. 18: Lions DT Ndamukong Suh
No. 17: Colts DE Dwight Freeney
No. 16: Vikings DE Jared Allen
No. 15: Jets DB Darrelle Revis
No. 14: Ravens RB Ray Rice
No. 13: Ravens S Ed Reed
No. 12: Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware
No. 11: Patriots QB Tom Brady
No. 10: Steelers LB James Harrison
No. 9: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
No. 8: Steelers WR Hines Ward
No. 7: 49ers LB Patrick Willis
No. 6: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
No. 5: Bears LB Brian Urlacher
No. 4: Packers CB Charles Woodson
No. 3: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
No. 2: Steelers S Troy Polamalu
No. 1: Ravens LB Ray Lewis