Who's the best safety not in the Hall of Fame?
(Kenny Easley photo courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks)
(Johnny Robinson photo courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs)
Talk of Fame Network
The most overlooked position in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is safety.
There are only seven pure safeties enshrined in Canton -- and none since Paul Krause was inducted in 1998. He’s the NFL’s all-time leader in interceptions, and it still took him 14 years to get on.
The last safety who actually played and has been enshrined was Ken Houston, who retired from the Washington Redskins after the 1980 season. So the Hall-of-Fame selection committee has not found a pure safety worthy of induction in the last 36 years.
Ronnie Lott was not a pure safety. Neither was Rod Woodson nor Mel Renfro. All were multi-time Pro Bowl cornerbacks before moving to safety. The seven pure safeties enshrined in Canton are Jack Christiansen, Houston, Krause, Yale Lary, Emlen Tunnell, Larry Wilson and Willie Wood.
There are 11 all-decade safeties eligible for the Hall of Fame, and eight of them have never even been discussed as finalists, including all four pure safeties from the 1980s. So who is the best safety eligible for Canton but not yet enshrined? That’s the question we pose to listeners and readers in this week’s poll of the Talk of Fame Network. Note: Ed Reed is not yet eligible for Canton.
Here are your options:
Steve Atwater. One of two safety finalists for the Class of 2016. Atwater played 11 seasons, went to eight Pro Bowls and was named to the 1990s' all-decade team. He won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos.
Kenny Easley. A kidney ailment ended his Easley’s career after seven seasons – but what a seven seasons they were. Easley was voted to five Pro Bowls, led the NFL with 10 interceptions in 1984 and was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. He was voted to the 1980s' all-decade team.
John Lynch. One of the two safety finalists for the Class of 2016. Lynch was not named to an all-decade team but has more Pro Bowl selections – nine -- than any eligible candidate at the safety position. Lynch played 15 seasons, winning a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay and losing one with the Broncos.
Eddie Meador. One of three NFL safeties selected to the 1960s all-decade team but the only one not enshrined in Canton. Meador went to six Pro Bowls in his 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and still holds the franchise record for most career interceptions (46) and blocked kicks (10).
(Eddie Meador photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams)
Johnny Robinson. One of only six AFL players named to the 1960s' all-decade team but the only not enshrined in Canton. Robinson played for 12 seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, won three AFL titles and went to six Pro Bowls. His 57 interceptions are tops among eligible safeties not in Canton.
Darren Woodson. Woodson was among the first of the NFL’s “cover” safeties, used by the Cowboys in the coverage of slot receivers during the run of three Super Bowls in the 1990s. He played 13 seasons and went to five Pro Bowls, but was passed over for the 1990s' all-decade team.
(Darren Woodson photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)