LaDainian Tomlinson looms as a first-ballot enshrine for the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2017.
If there’s another first-ballot selection, it will be safety Brian Dawkins, according to listeners and readers of the Talk of Fame Network. We asked in our weekly poll if another first-time candidate should be joining Tomlinson in this class, and Dawkins won by a thin margin over cornerback Ty Law.
Dawkins received 33 percent of the vote and Law 31 percent. Tackle Tony Boselli was next with 18 percent, followed by wide receiver Isaac Bruce at 12 percent and pass rusher Jason Taylor at eight percent.
The three Talk of Fame Network co-hosts were split, with Ron Borges voting for Law, Clark Judge for Dawkins and Rick Gosselin for Taylor.
Dawkins played 16 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos and went to nine Pro Bowls. He was a first-team NFL all-decade selection for the 2000s. Dawkins intercepted 37 passes, recovered 16 fumbles and sacked 26 quarterbacks, proving himself a playmaker on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
"Brian was an all-decade choice, named to nine Pro Bowls and six All-Pro teams," Judge said. "Two problems, though: 1) He has safety John Lynch in line ahead of him and, 2) he played a position the Hall is blind to. The last pure safety who played and was elected to the Hall retired 37 years ago."
Law played 15 seasons, went to five Pro Bowls and also was named to the 2000s all-decade team. He led the NFL in interceptions twice, picking off nine passes with the Patriots in 1998 and 10 with the Jets in 2005. His 53 interceptions rank 24th all-time, tying him with Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders. Law also played on three Super Bowl champions.
"The NFL changed the laws of pass defense because of the way Law manhandled Peyton Manning's receivers," Borges said. "That's an impact player."
Taylor played 15 seasons and ranks 10th all-time in sacks with 139 ½. He also forced 48 fumbles and recovered an NFL-record 29 of them. The Hall of Fame has inducted a pass rusher in each of the last three classes and in eight of the last nine classes.
(Law photo courtesy of the New England Patriots)
(Taylor photo courtesy of the Miami Dolphins)