Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ALL HE EVER DOES IS NOT GET INDUCTED:  Because Cris Carter's name appears on the list of 26 semifinalists for 2012 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I'm pleased. Bill Parcells, Steve Atwater, Willie Roaf, and Jerome Bettis are the names that jump off the page for me, though you may have other ideas.

Also, I couldn't come up with a reason to do a separate post on the end-of-season baseball awards other than an itch to work in BRAUN OVER BRAINS? as a headline, but if you're exorcised over any of the selections this is as good a place as any to discuss.


  1. Benner10:36 AM

    Tim Brown, Charles Haley, and Air Coryell are worthy additions, too.  Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis have the career numbers, but they don't "feel" like hall of famers to me.

  2. isaac_spaceman11:13 AM

    Cris Carter, yes.  Tim Brown, yes.  Charles Haley, maybe.  Don Coryell, no (fun, but not actually successful).  Willie Roaf, maybe. Bill Parcells, yes with the taste of bile in my mouth. 

    But Jerome Bettis?  Bettis, behind what people seem to remember as an above-average offensive line (I won't vouch for that), had only four seasons as a 4+ yards-per-carry back.  He had only one 100 ypg season.  He never lead the league in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, or yards per carry.  He averaged 3.4 yards per carry in the playoffs and played no meaningful role (other than as media darling) in the Steelers' one Super Bowl run during his tenure, rushing for 52, 46, 39, and 43 yards, with no receptions, during the 2005 playoffs.  He was never a breakaway threat, never anything other than a check-down receiver, and never forced a defense to change its game plan to account for his talents.  Pro Football Reference lists his comps as Larry Csonka, a few marginal HOF backs from the 1960s and 1970s (when it was okay to be slow, and before the wide profusion of game-changing backs), and modern names like Corey Dillon, Earnest Byner, Freeman McNeil, Herschel Walker, and John L. Williams.  There may not be a bigger John L. Williams fan than me, but come on.  If Bettis were not affable and did not give good interviews, nobody would even consider him a serious candidate. 

  3. isaac_spaceman11:14 AM

    led, not lead.  And Curtis Martin -- don't make me laugh. 

  4. isaac_spaceman11:21 AM

    Incidentally, I was surprised that Pineda slipped all the way to 5 in the AL ROY balloting, but that's partly because I didn't think that Trumbo (2), Hosmer (3), and Ackley (6) would get real consideration, on account of their seasons being so short.  During the periods in which they actually played, I think all three ultimately outperformed both Pineda and, frankly, Hellickson. 

  5. Amy Watts11:23 AM

    <span>He also had a widely used and recognizable nickname. I'm not kidding when I say that's gonna help him.</span>

  6. Fifth most rushing yards of all time, during an era in which passing was ascendant. And in terms of "most 1000y rushing seasons, 1970-present":

    1Emmitt Smith*1-1719912001DAL112Curtis Martin3-7419952004NWE/NYJ103Walter Payton*1-419761986CHI104Barry Sanders*1-319891998DET105Jerome Bettis1-1019932001STL/PIT86Tony Dorsett*1-219771985DAL87Franco Harris*1-1319721983PIT88Thurman Thomas*2-4019891996BUF89LaDainian Tomlinson1-520012008SDG


    Which leads to the Martin question, and I'm not a fan either, but nor can I find a great way to distinguish them. Hell, only Tiki Barber has a better rushing season after the age of 30 than Martin.

    I'll flip the question around: if Bettis and Martin aren't in your football hall, which RBs from the last twenty years are other than Marshall Faulk, Emmitt Smith, and LDT?

  7. Okay, the table didn't translate.  It looke like this:

    Emmitt: 11 seasons
    Martin: 10
    Payton: 10
    Sanders: 10
    Bettis: 8
    Dosett: 8
    Thomas: 8
    LDT: 8

  8. Devin McCullen11:41 AM

    What makes me laugh is that Martin shows up better on most of the metrics you trotted out for Bettis, but you didn't bother to mention that.  Enjoy his induction next summer.

  9. Amy Watts12:05 PM

    This reply didn't go where I expected - I'm talking about Bettis. 

  10. One thing about Bettis that i think works in his favor is that he was a unique player for his era.  He was a big, bruising back that was surprisingly agile and managed a longevity that is unusual for his body type and style of play.  Additionally, in the pre-Roethlisberger era, he was the most important offensive player on a nearly perennial playoff team.  And although he was not vital to the Steelers' 2005 playoff run, he was vital to the end-of-regular-season run that got them into the playoffs.  Plus the late, great, Myron Cope once said of him, "Tha Jerome bettis, he's no head of lettuce!" 

    Martin is statistically the better running back, but his nondescript style and personality work against him.

  11. isaac_spaceman1:13 PM

    1000 yards is a very low bar -- 62.5 ypg.  You could hit that getting 20 carries a game and just over 3 ypc.  It's like using "number of seasons with a .300+ OBP" or "number of seasons hitting at least .260" as a metric for getting into the baseball HOF.  "Number of seasons where the player was at a minimum mediocre" is not a valid criteria for getting into the HOF.  Put another way, 1000 and 1600 are both arbitrary round numbers, but 1000 corresponds more to mediocrity and 1600 corresponds more to value.  You could change 1600 to 1500 or 1550 or 1523.5 and I'd be fine with it because anything in that range is pretty good.  You know what looks way worse than 1000?  999 does. 

    As I always say, peak value and length of peak (as opposed to general longevity and career counting stats) are what should matter the most.  Curtis Martin was a decent back his entire career and a very valuable back the second-to-last year of his career.  But he was never a 100 ypg back, he was never the best or second-best back in the league (and arguably was not even the third-best back in the league, even in 2004), and he was never anything more than an important part of his team.  Curtis Martin was one of those guys where nobody at the time said "God, that guy was one of the greatest of all time!"  If you can't say that about a guy, he shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame.   

    And the reason I dealt with Bettis instead of Martin was that Bettis was who Adam mentioned, and I suspect that Bettis has greater support just on account of his superiority in the political aspect of this -- friendships with the media and players, etc.  Martin has a better case than Bettis, but I really don't think he belongs anywhere near the HOF.  When you think of the best backs of the 1990s and 2000s, he's just not one of them. 

  12. From 1970-present, only 11 RBs have had multiple 1600+ yard seasons -- Dickerson 4, Payton/LDT 3, and a bunch with two each -- Alexander, Campbell, Tiki, TD, Larry Johnson, OJ, Sanders, and Emmitt.

    Lowering the threshold to 1500y brings Edgerrin James into prominence with 4, but otherwise it's that same group of guys. (Priest Holmes has two such seasons.)  

    So I go back to my question: if not Bettis and Martin, do any RBs of the last 20 years get in the Spaceman HOF other than Faulk, Emmitt, LDT, and Sanders?

  13. Devin McCullen2:58 PM

    Yes, anyone can run for 1,000 yards in a season.  But very few guys can do it over and over again.  Go look at the leading running backs from 5 years ago, and how many of them are still around?

    Martin's 4th all-time in rushing yards. (Tomlinson will probably pass him, but nobody else is close.)  This isn't Art Monk racking up receptions because the game changed.

    And here's a stat I didn't even know until just now.  Martin is 10th all-time in rushing yards per game. (83.9)  That's more than Edgerrin James, O.J., Emmitt Smith, Tomlinson, Earl Campbell.  Not that he was better than all those guys, but this is not someone just grinding out 65 yards a game.  (Bettis is 32nd at 71.2, BTW)

    And 2 of his top 3 comps are Tony Dorsett and Franco Harris, who I don't think are fringe HOFers.  Hell, Jim F'ing Brown is 6th!

    By the standards of the Football Hall of Fame, Martin is obviously qualified.  If he doesn't meet Spaceman Standards, so be it.

  14. isaac_spaceman4:23 PM

    Faulk, Smith, Tomlinson, Sanders, yes.  I would add James and probably TD.  But 4-6 guys at one position for 20 years?  Absolutely, I have no problem with that.  That's about right, actually.  If an RB peak is about 4-5 years, then that's exactly the number you'd expect.  I definitely think that if a guy in his peak 2-3 year period was not the best player at his position not to be in the HOF, then he shouldn't be in the HOF. 

  15. isaac_spaceman6:34 PM

    Martin, rank among RBs in yards from scrimmage and rushing, by year:

    1995: YFS - 3; Rush - 3
    1996: YFS - 8; Rush - 9 
    1997: YFS - 9; Rush - 8 
    1998: YFS - 6; Rush - 8
    1999: YFS - 5; Rush - 2
    2000: YFS - 9; Rush - 12
    2001: YFS - 4; Rush - 2
    2002: YFS - 16; Rush - 15
    2003: YFS - 11; Rush - 12
    2004: YFS - 3; Rush - 1 (beat Alexander by a yard when Holmgren benched Alexander in a Seahawks rout the last game of the year)
    2005: YFS - 27; Rush - 26

    From 1995 through 1997, Martin was not an elite back.  Sanders, ESmith, TD, Dorsey Levens, Bettis, Ricky Watters, and Eddie George were clearly better. 

    From 1998 through 2000, Martin was not an elite back.  Faulk, Jamal Anderson, EJames, George, and arguably Charlie Garner were clearly better. 

    From 2001 through 2003, Martin was not an elite back.  Priest Holmes, Faulk, Lewis, Ahman Green, and Tomlinson were clearly better, and Martin was really no better than a ton of backs, including Barber, Garner, Portis, Lewis, Alexander, Faulk, and Dillon. 

    In 2004, Martin was one of the best four backs in the league, though Barber and James were better and Alexander arguably was better. 

    In 2005, Martin got injured and didn't finish the season. 

    I just don't think that having a long career (or having a long career and a very accelerated decline phase instead of a long one) should get you into the HOF.  A decade of being the fourth-to-fifteenth-best RB in the league is just not a HOF resume.  I would much rather elect someone like TD, who was hands-down the best player in the league for four years, even if he only had those four years.   

  16. Cumulatively, Martin ends up as the 5th, 3rd, and 7th best RB in terms of YFS in each of the three-year periods you list, with only Ricky Watters ahead of him in two of them.  It really is a remarkable level of consistency, and he's more like the Paul Molitor of this Hall than its Harold Baines.   

    (Molitor: 9th all-time in hits, never an MVP, and only once higher than 5th in the voting.)

  17. At QB from 1990-present, the Hall will have inducted Marino, Aikman, Elway, Moon, Young, Kelly, Favre, Manning, Brady, and Warner, and possibly Roethlisberger (character), Brees, Rodgers, and Rivers.

  18. Eric J.9:01 AM

    Does any rusher belong in before Geddy Lee?

  19. Anonymous3:40 PM

    Roger Craig.   He was Faulk before Faulk.

  20. Anonymous4:12 AM

    Roger Craig and Charles Haley belong in the Hall this upcoming class finally, no more need be said until those 2 get the induction~