Jared Allen says he doesn’t think about the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but maybe he should. Canton loves nothing more than to enshrine candidates at Allen’s position.
That would be the all-important edge rusher, and check the history books, people. At least one was enshrined nine of the past 10 years, including 2014 when there were two (Claude Humphrey and Michael Strahan).
Then there’s this: Former Miami star Jason Taylor not only is a 2017 inductee to Canton; he’s a first-ballot choice. He was the only edge rusher among this year’s 15 finalists, and voters couldn’t wait to put him in … even with decorated offensive linemen like Alan Faneca, Tony Boselli, Joe Jacoby and Kevin Mawae waiting in the queue.
Safety John Lynch was in line, too, and, like Jacoby, was a returning Top-10 finalist. But Taylor leapfrogged them to reach Canton in his first try, and that’s significant. Because Jared Allen is a virtual mirror image of Taylor. I’m not talking about their style or how they approached the game. I’m talking about bottom-line results.
Taylor had 139-1/2 career sacks. Allen had 136. Taylor led the league in sacks once. Allen led it twice. Taylor was a Defensive Player of the Year. So was Allen. Taylor was a three-time first-team All-Pro. Allen made it four. Taylor was a six-time Pro Bowler. Allen made it five. Taylor had six double-digit sack seasons. Allen had eight.
If there’s a difference, it’s this: Jason Taylor was an all-decade choice, and Jared Allen was not. Taylor, Hall-of-Famer Michael Strahan, Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney were chosen ahead of him for the 2000s’ all-decade squad.
And maybe that’s significant.
After all, it’s Hall-of-Fame voters that determine all-decade teams. But it was Hall-of-Fame voters that chose Strahan to the first team, along with Dwight Freeney, and it was Hall-of-Fame voters that then turned around and chose Taylor on his first run at Canton while making Strahan wait a year.
Then there are Faneca, Mawae and Boselli. All were first-team all-decade choices, but none are in Canton – not yet they’re not, though Boselli and Mawae were Top-10 choices this year as first-time finalists.
And don’t get me started on the Cowboys' Drew Pearson. He’s the only first-team all-decade wide receiver from the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s not in Canton and the only first-team member of the 1970s’ all-decade offense to be excluded. Reason? You tell me.
So maybe an all-decade selection isn’t all that significant. I mean, Charles Haley wasn’t an all-decade choice, yet he was a 2015 Hall-of-Fame inductee. Jerome Bettis and Mick Tingelhoff, also 2015 inductees, weren’t all-decade, either. Nor was 2017 inductee Kurt Warner.
Now back to the edge rushers.
Kevin Greene was part of an all-decade squad, the 1990s’ team. Furthermore, he’s third among the league’s career sack leaders, behind only Bruce Smith and Reggie White, and one of only three players in NFL history to produce 10 or more sacks in 10 or more seasons. Great, huh? He waited 12 years – including five as a finalist -- before he was inducted in 2016.
I know, so what? In the end, he, Strahan and Taylor made it, and that’s all that matters. Well, so maybe Jared Allen should start thinking about making it to Canton, too. Yes, he’s in a Hall-of-Fame class that is top-heavy with qualified candidates. Peyton Manning is in there. So are Charles Woodson and Calvin Johnson. But Jared Allen has the necessary credentials to be a serious contender.
More importantly, he played the right position.