Ed note: This was originally written for packershalloffame.com, but wasn’t published because the board decided, after it was written, they only wanted features on current hall of famers. So, you can slurp it up in all its deliciousness right here.
There are a number of Green Bay Packers not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who deserve to be — Jerry Kramer, Dave Robinson, LeRoy Butler, etc. For most, if not all of those individuals, the call will likely never come.
There are still plenty of Packers who have made, are making or will make a strong case for Canton. Here’s a look at those players.
Love him or hate him, the old gunslinger will go into the Hall of Fame when his mandatory five-year wait is up in 2016. That is, if he stays retired. Favre is currently the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 70,000 yards and 500 touchdowns, and with more than 10,000 pass attempts. He holds the career NFL records for most touchdown passes, passing yards, pass completions, pass attempts, victories and consecutive starts. Favre owns three NFL MVP awards, he was an 11-time Pro Bowler, three-time first-team All Pro, five-time NFC Player of the Year and member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team. Favre also helped the Packers win Super Bowl XXXI.
Career Stats: 6,300 completions, 10,169 attempts, 71,838 yards, 508 touchdowns, 336 interceptions
We’d like to say Woodson is sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer, but voters can be a fickle bunch. That said, he certainly has the resume – 1998 Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2009 Defensive Player of the Year, eight-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All Pro, 1997 Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl XLV champion. When you compare Woodson to 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Deion Sanders, he stacks up favorably. Woodson has more than 250 more tackles than Sanders, two more defensive touchdowns and one more interception. Sanders played 14 years in the NFL, which is the same number Woodson has played, thus far. Beyond those numbers, Woodson is superior at rushing the quarterback and forcing fumbles. If you’re a betting man, it’s a pretty safe bet Charles Woodson ends up in Canton.
Career Stats: 753 tackles, 54 interceptions, 15.5 sacks, 28 forced fumbles, 12 defensive touchdowns
On The Right Track
The Packers current signal caller still has a long way to go. However, if he continues on his current pace, Rodgers could easily find himself with a bust in Canton. In his first four seasons as a starter, Rodgers has averaged 4,259 yards passing and 32 touchdowns versus only nine interceptions. He has a career passer rating of 104.1. If you compare Rodgers stats from his first four years as the Packers starter with those of Hall of Famer Steve Young’s first four replacing Joe Montana in San Francisco, you’ll get a better picture of Rodgers’ long-term potential. Rodgers has more completions and attempts. He’s outpaced Young by more than 2,000 yards (17,037 to 14,657), has 22 more touchdowns (131 to 109), seven fewer interceptions interceptions (37 to 44) and an equal number of titles. Really, the only area Young is superior to Rodgers is in MVPs. He won two in his first four years succeeding Montana, which Rodgers just won his first.
Work To Do
It’s hard to gauge someone’s Hall of Fame chances after only three seasons, but we’re going to try anyway. Kansas City’s Derrick Thomas is the last outside linebacker to enter the Hall of Fame and finished his career with 126.5 career sacks. Over his 11 NFL seasons he averaged 11.5 sacks per season. Matthews’ 29.5 career sacks give him an average of slightly less than 10 sacks per season. He was on pace to surpass Thomas after his first two seasons, but a disappointing 2011 campaign, where he registered only six sacks, set Matthews back. Still, if he averages 10 sacks over 11 seasons, Matthews will finish with 110 career sacks. Will that be enough to get him into Canton? Who knows? He’ll probably need to rack up an accomplishment list that looks something like Thomas’ as well – 1989 Defensive Rookie of the Year, nine-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time first-team All Pro and the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team. Matthews is already on his way toward equalling those accomplishments. If he stays healthy, he’ll have a very strong argument in several years.