As most expected, former Buffalo Bills wide receiving great Andre Reed has been named one of the 15 finalists for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014, marking his eighth straight year of making it this far in nine years of eligibility.
Reed is joined among the final 15 by Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Marvin Harrison, Michael Strahan, Jerome Betis, Charles Haley, Tim Brown, Morten Anderson, Eddie DeBartolo Jr, Tony Dungy, Kevin Green, John Lynch, Will Shields and Aeneas Williams
The 15 finalists will be presented and discussed at length amongst the voting panel on February 1, before the field is cut down from 15 to 10. That same day the Class of ‘14, which spans from a minimum of four to a max of seven will be announced for induction later this year live on the NFL Network.
Reed is the Bills all-time leader in receptions (941), receiving yards (13,198) and receiving touchdowns (86) in a 15-year Buffalo career that saw him earn seven Pro Bowl nods. He also played one season in Washington, although that season he caught just 10 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.
One obstacle Reed will have to eventually overcome either this year or in the future is that no Buffalo Bill has ever been inducted into the Hall of Fame later than their third year of eligibility. Jim Kelly (2002), O.J. Simpson (1985) and Bruce Smith (2009) are the only Bills to be first ballot Hall of Famers. Joe DeLamielleure (2003) and Billy Shaw (1999) made the Hall their first time as finalists, but not their first year of eligibility. Thurman Thomas (2008) had to wait one year before punching his ticket. Marv Levy (2001), James Lofton (2003) and Ralph Wilson (2009) each had a three year wait before receiving their call…and no one from Buffalo has ever went in later.
Of this class that now currently stands at 15, Jones is a lock to get in on his first try and it would be a shock if fellow first-timer Brooks doesn’t join him. Strahan is very likely to be among the last men standing. That would leave between one to four available spots for Reed to get in. Reed has long had to deal with Brown, and now Harrison has joined the mix. That could end up being a problem.
Prediction For 2014 Class: Jones, Brooks, Strahan, Betis, Reed. Either Reed or Brown have little chance until one enters the Hall first. I’ll add Reed over Brown isn’t a hometown observation, though I’m obviously rooting for Reed. I’m basing that on Brown being among the first 5 of the finalists cut last year while Reed was one of the last to just miss out. I do feel, strongly both guys will each get in, just not at the same time.
One sleeper to look out for is Charles Haley. He narrowly missed out last year and it’s a matter of time before he finally gets the nod. Among Haley, Betis, Reed and Brown I think two get it done this year.
Harrison should be a future lock, but I’m not sold on him being a first-ballot inductee.
For what it’s worth Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Edgerrin James, Ty Law, Kevin Mawae, Orlando Pace, Junior Seau and Kurt Warner are eligible to join the mix as Hall of Fame candidates come next year.
Hopefully the wait for Reed finally comes to its excruciating end 23 days from now.