John Clayton had an article this morning talking about the draft class of 2013 that would theoretically include Favre, Sapp, Strahan (assuming he makes it, I think he will), and possibly Ogden (assuming he retires). Here's the link.
Edit: Reading Peter King's column yesterday reminded me that Larry Allen and Junior Seau (assuming he's retiring) would also be in this class.
This got me thinking about the Hall of Fame, the league right now, and current Cowboys. If you look at the contending teams of the past few years, it seems they all have a couple of players who are either locks for the HOF or have very good chances. For example, New England (Brady, Moss, Belichick), Indy (Manning, Harrison probably), and San Diego (LT, maybe Merriman one day). These are players who are first-pick Pro-Bowlers every year, often All-Pro, and have Player of the Year awards.
So here's my question: We all think of the Cowboys as serious Superbowl contenders (myself included), so are there any players on the team now who are considered strong HOF candidates? Here's my list of guys, in order of my perceived strength of their HOF bids.
1. TO: Should be Top 3 in TD's by the end of his career. 2nd best receiver of this generation. 6 Pro-Bowls, 5 time All-Pro to go with what should be 1000 catches and almost 15,000 yards. I think he's a lock either way, but winning a Superbowl solidifies his first-ballot status. Prediction: Canton-bound.
2. Ware: He's young, this is more projection than anything. I think he has the potential, but he has to maintain this level. So far, he's been in the league 3 years and has been to 2 Pro-Bowls, and been All-Pro twice. He's averaging about 11 sacks a year, meaning he would have to play another 10 years at this rate to reach Strahan's totals. Like Strahan, he is not just a sack artist but is just as good in run defense. Strahan was All-Pro six times, NFL Defensive player of the year once (NFC twice), and won a Superbowl. All of these (especially the last hopefully!) are in reach for Ware, but he's got a long way to go. Prediction: Projecting a lot, but I say yes.
3. Romo: He will be hurt by 2 things: 1. He became a starter later than most, so he's got a couple less years of stat accumulation. 2. The competition at QB is always so tough. Possibly also that he throws a lot of interceptions, but I expect that to improve. Working in his favor, he's the QB of the Cowboys, so he gets plenty of attention and he dates really hot women, so he gets plenty of attention. Uhh...moving on. Jerry has put together a good team around him and should continue to do so, so he should always have the good receivers/TE's to throw at. Assuming Red is the next head coach, I expect the offense to continue to put up big numbers. But numbers alone do not assure a HOF ticket. For QB more than any other position, postseason wins matter. In the younger generation of QB's, he is in a battle with Big Ben, Carson Palmer, possibly Brees, and (UGH!) Eli Manning; only a couple will be picked and SB wins will probably matter most. Prediction: Too much projection, too much competition, I just don't know.
4. Witten: Fortunately, the HOF voters usually look past just the big stats like sacks, TDs, receptions, etc. I say this because Witten was not put into the same position that Dallas Clark or Antonio Gates was from the start (being more of a checkdown option than an actual deep threat). However, he has steadily improved each year going to 4 Pro-Bowls and making his first All-Pro team last year. I think he is a definite possibility, but he will need to improve on last year slightly and then maintain that level for a few more years. It's tough for TE's to make it, but hopefully the writers will realize that the spread offenses have taken TE's into account more and put more of them into the HOF. Prediction: Should be yes, assuming continued performance and the HOF voters wising up.
5. Flo: I just don't know. I'd like to say yes, because he has been very good for a while. But in his ten year career, he has only been All-Pro once (last year), and made 4 Pro-Bowls. If the Cowboys win 2 superbowls and he All-Pro a couple more times, then maybe. But as of right now, I think the penalties and lack of consistent excellent performance doom his chances. Prediction: Sadly no.
Honorable Mention: Greg Ellis
If you made it this far, congrats! Now let me know what y'all think...