The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of individual accomplishment in the sport. Only 371 players have been enshrined into Canton, although there are 200 others more than worthy of induction. The Hall of Fame is very hard to get into, and getting even more crowded over the last few years.
Newly retired DeSean Jackson is a player , hoping to get in at one of the toughest positions -- wide receiver.
"That was a goal for me. It was a vision. It was a dream," Jackson said Friday. "I definitely feel like my body of work speaks for itself. (I'm) breaking records and creating records. There are records that wasn't even heard of that I was putting in the record books."
Jackson has definitely been a game-changing weapon throughout his 15-year NFL career, but was he great enough to make the cut?
"That's not for me to answer," Jackson said. "That's not for me to vote on. As for as the body of work, I think it's there ... I'm hopeful that I can get in and blessed if I ever do get in."
The odds of Jackson getting in are a disadvantage based on his position. Which positions are the hardest for enshrinement to get into Canton? This is based on the players who are eligible, and how the NFL is trending over the last decade.
1. Wide receiver
- Notable names not in HOF: Torry Holt, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Henry Ellard, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, Hines Ward, Harold Jackson, Julio Jones (not retired), Larry Fitzgerald (not yet eligible), DeSean Jackson (not yet eligible), Jimmy Smith, Sterling Sharpe, Rod Smith
Wide receiver has always been an overcrowded list, which is about to get even more crowded as pass numbers skyrocketed. Great wideouts from the 2000s are having a hard time getting into Canton now, a list that will be adding Fitzgerald (a future Hall of Famer) in a few years.
A few of these players listed should get in, as no players under 14,000 career yards isn't in the Hall of Fame. There are great wideouts like Irving Fryar and Brandon Marshall with over 12,000 receiving yards who aren't serious candidates for Canton -- and they're amongst the top-25 wideouts in receiving yards in NFL history.
The list is long and not everyone will get in. Things will get even more interesting when Mike Evans and Tyreek Hill eventually decide to hang up their cleats. Even when a very good player like Keenan Allen enter the conversation.
- Notable names not in HOF: Patrick Peterson (not retired), Richard Sherman (not yet eligible), Lester Hayes, Dave Grayson, Eric Allen, Sam Madison, Troy Vincent, Antione Winfield, Asante Samuel
All of a sudden cornerbacks going into the Hall of Fame are scarce. Unless that player was a bona fide superstar at the position, cornerbacks getting into the Hall of Fame has gone by the wayside in a passing league. Thanks to Darrelle Revis and Ken Riley, the number of cornerbacks has gone up from 17 to 19.
What's hurt the cornerback position is there hasn't been many difference-makers of late. Revis is arguably the last of the great shutdown cornerbacks, although Peterson and Sherman have an excellent shot at Canton (even if they aren't selected on the first ballot). After them, who gets selected?
Allen is the only cornerback amongst the semifinalists. His case is growing for Canton, but analysts have to fight tooth and nail for him to get in. The number of cornerbacks getting in over the next decade will be scarce.
- Notable names not in HOF: Earl Thomas (not yet eligible), Eric Weddle (not yet eligible), Darren Woodson, Lawyer Milloy, Dave Grayson, Jimmy Patton, Rodney Harrison, Jake Scott
This is a position that has recently opened up over the last few years. Brian Dawkins, Troy Polamulu, Ed Reed, John Lynch, Ronde Barber and LeRoy Butler have all entered the Hall of Fame within the past five years -- significantly opening up a position that had less than 10 Hall of Famers just a decade ago.
Splitting up the cornerbacks and safeties in the voting significantly helped safeties get into the Hall of Fame. That's an excellent sign for the players who have set on the bubble the past few years.
- Notable names not in HOF: Tom Brady (not yet eligible), Drew Brees (not yet eligible), Ben Roethlisberger (not yet eligible), Philip Rivers (not yet eligible), Matt Ryan (not yet eligible), Aaron Rodgers (not retired), Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair, Tony Romo, Michael Vick, Eli Manning (not yet eligible), Ken Anderson, Cam Newton (not yet eligible), Jim Plunkett
Quite a long list of quarterbacks who were very good, but not quite good enough for enshrinement into Canton. As the NFL has evolved into a passing league, more quarterbacks have moved up the all-time passing yardage list and reset the record books.
Brady and Brees will be first ballot, so will Roethlisberger. Rivers and Ryan are in the top 10 on the all-time passing list, but are they Hall of Fame-worthy without a Super Bowl on their resume? Cunningham, McNabb, McNair and Vick changed the game for running quarterbacks -- yet haven't sniffed Hall of Fame consideration. Perhaps that changes when Newton is eligible.
Manning has two Super Bowls, but is he getting in with his regular-season stats? Or will postseason success factor in (which it has in the past)?
This position is going to open up soon, but quarterback may be even harder to make the Hall of Fame without the Super Bowl titles and numbers rising by the year. The very good quarterbacks from 15-20 years ago don't even have a good shot now.