A simple question was posed yesterday in the comments section of an article; "Does Jason Witten get into the hall of Fame?". Easy enough. Absolutely, but....
As I started to type a reply, it quickly became apparent that I have a little too much to say for me to say it there. So I thought I might try one of these fancy fanposts instead.
I'd like to start by saying that, personally, I hope Witten does get into the Hall. I love this guy. I love what he stands for, I love how he approaches his job, and I love how he plays the game. If I had a vote, I'd vote for him twice. I'm all in.
But that isn't really the question is it? Doesn't really matter what I would do. Does Witten get into the Hall? That's the question. The short answer is I think he should get in, I think he deserves to get in, and I think, eventually, he will get in. But I don't think it will be right away, and I don't think it will be a first-ballot situation.
And it won't be because of stats. If you look at his body of work, he stacks up nicely to the TE's already enshrined.
Compared to the other modern-era TE's in the Hall right now, Witten's 879 receptions would be the most of any of them. Shannon Sharpe comes in second with 815. Yardage wise, Witten's 9799 total ranks second to Shannon Sharpe's 10,060. Touchdown totals have him tied for second at 52 with Dave Casper, behind Shannon Sharpe's 62. Witten's 8 Pro Bowls tied with Sharpe's 8 for most in the group.
Some other fun facts about the Senator's career:
- Most receptions in a single season by a tight end: 110 (2012)
- Most receptions in a single game by a tight end: 18 (October 28, 2012)
- Third most receiving yards in NFL history by a tight end: 9,799
- Second most receptions by a tight end in NFL history: 879
So, if he never catches another pass, the numbers are definitely there.
But, it's not just the numbers. He's the consummate professional, the ultimate team guy. Need a go-to guy when your QB is in trouble? No problem, put me in coach. Stay in to block with the big nasties while other TE's are running around like WR's? No problem, put me in coach. Play with a lacerated spleen? No problem, put me in coach.
Seriously, he puts the "pro" in professional.
He also won the NFL Walter Payton Man Of The Year award in 2012. You have to be one hell of a guy off the field, as well as one hell of a guy on the field, to win that. And Jason Witten? Nailed it.
All this is why he should get in. This is why he should go in on the first ballot. Should being the operative word.
As much as I want it to, I just don't think it will happen that way. There are a few things I think will prevent him getting the bust and gold jacket right away.
One, is the voting process itself. Very few players get in on their first year of eligibility. There are several guys every year, who you look at and say "how the hell is THAT guy not already in?" I think, repeatedly, the voting members have shown how difficult it is to get a consensus among themselves.
Then, there's the position that he plays. Since the "modern era" began, there have only been eight TE's selected to the hall. That's it, just eight. Over the past 50-something years, just eight guys have made it to Canton playing TE. That seems crazy to me, and tells me a couple of things. First, that the voting members don't really value the position all that much, and second, that if you are a TE, then you better bring a little something extra with you.
Look at the guys who are in right now: Dave Casper, Mike Ditka, John Mackey, Ozzie Newsome, Charlie Sanders, Shannon Sharpe, Jackie Smith, and Kellen Winslow. What did they all have in common that separated them from the rest?
To me, they changed the definition, and more importantly, the perception of what a TE was, relative to the time they were playing.
As much as I love him, I'm not sure Witten did that. I'm not sure he has altered the perception of how a TE is used on the field.
In my opinion, what he has done has exemplified the position as it currently stands.
Want to see a perfect example of how to be a TE? See Jason Witten. Want to know how to block as well as catch? See Jason Witten. Want to know about work ethic and consistency? See Jason Witten.
You would think that would be enough for them to have his bust ready the day he hangs up his cleats. But, I'm not sure it does. I'm not sure Witten doesn't hang around in voting limbo for a few years.
I have very little faith that the voting members will do the right thing the first time around.
But, if you want to know about doing the right thing? See Jason Witten.