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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Updated: August 2, 1:58 PM ET
Who's ticketed for Canton?


Cantonized

By Thomas Neumann and Scott Symmes
ESPN.com

The Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomes six new members into its exclusive fraternity this weekend.

The additions of Gene Hickerson, Michael Irvin, Bruce Matthews, Charlie Sanders, Thurman Thomas and Roger Wehrli will bring the total number of players enshrined in Canton to 208.

This made us wonder which active players will ultimately walk across the stage at Fawcett Stadium wearing tacky bright yellow jackets and huge grins.

Matthews will become the 36th player from the 1985 NFL season to make the Hall of Fame. Fifty-four players from 1975 and 58 players from 1965 have been so honored. Therefore, it's reasonable to expect that at least 50 players from the upcoming season will land in Canton.

After extensive research, fact-checking, educated guessing and hunch playing, here are 50 active NFL players we predict will someday be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, listed in order of predicted Hall of Fame probability. Perhaps not everyone on this list will appear to be Hall of Fame material at first glance. Some might have to wait a few years to gain entry -- one of this year's inductees, Hickerson, last played in 1973.

We rated players on a 20-point scale in five categories. Details are found in the ratings key on the right side of the page.

Before you post a snarky comment at the bottom of this page … understand that these are predictions. Very few active players would be locks for the Hall of Fame if they retired today. That leaves the door open to interpretation on who else will fill the field of 50 -- even a couple players who have yet to take a regular-season snap.

OK, now check our list -- and post that snarky comment.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
20 20 16 6 16 78

1. Brett Favre
Brett Favre
At the top of the heap is an obvious pick. Favre's body of work is unmatched among active quarterbacks. The three-time NFL MVP ranks second in career passing yards (57,500 -- 3,861 shy of Dan Marino), and is poised to break Marino's all-time record for touchdown passes. Favre has 414 career TD passes, six shy of the record. Favre's résumé also includes back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, including a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. The face of the Packers' franchise since the early 1990s, Favre has been a fierce competitor and a model of durability. His consecutive games streak is at 237 and counting, an NFL record for quarterbacks. He also boasts 15 consecutive seasons with at least 300 completions and 3,000 passing yards.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
17 14 20 10 16 77

2. Tom Brady
Tom Brady
Brady is one of only four starting quarterbacks to win at least three Super Bowls. The others -- Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Troy Aikman -- are first-ballot Hall of Famers. So there is no doubt about Brady's future in Canton. Even the most ardent Peyton Manning supporter probably would admit that Brady, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, is still the best big-game QB in the business. With a supporting cast over the years that has been short on star power and game-breaking ability, Brady has nevertheless excelled. He's thrown for more than 3,500 yards five times and compiled 147 touchdown passes in only six seasons as a starter.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
20 17 14 11 12 74

3. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning
Even if Manning retired today, he'd be a first-ballot lock. If he plays as long as Favre, he'll almost certainly retire as the leader in every significant passing category. The 31-year-old has two MVPs, ranks seventh in career TD passes (275) and has a TD/INT ratio (275/139) that would make every Hall of Fame passer except Marino jealous. Manning also silenced his critics by leading the Colts to a Super Bowl victory. He also has posted a passer rating of at least 100 for the past three seasons. To put that in perspective, consider that neither Brett Favre nor John Elway has ever recorded a passer rating above 100.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
18 20 12 6 14 70

4. Larry Allen

Larry Allen
One of the strongest men ever to play in the NFL, many experts consider Allen to be one of the finest offensive linemen ever. The 6-foot-3, 325-pound guard has a legendary list of weight room exploits, including an assisted bench press of 700 pounds. Allen's on-field résumé includes a Super Bowl title with Dallas and 11 consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1995 to 2006. He also helped pave the way for Emmitt Smith to become the NFL's all-time leading rusher.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
18 16 12 8 15 69

5. Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis
Lewis will be remembered as the dominant force on one of the most dominant defenses in NFL history: the 2000 Ravens defense which allowed the fewest points over a 16-game season. Lewis, the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2000, has been a disruptive force since entering the league in 1996, and at 31, he appears to have a lot left in the tank. He recorded 103 tackles last season and remains the emotional leader of a defense that still ranks among the league's best.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
16 11 20 10 10 67

6. Richard Seymour

Richard Seymour
Seymour has been a defensive stalwart on the Patriots' three Super Bowl championship teams, and dynasties send multiple players to Canton. The Steelers' championship teams of the 1970s had nine future Hall of Famers, so it's reasonable to assume the Patriots will get more players than just Brady into the Hall. Seymour will be one of them. He's been named to the Pro Bowl five consecutive times -- every season except his rookie year -- and earned All-Pro honors from 2003 to '05. Seymour has played in all but nine of New England's games since being drafted sixth overall in 2001.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
18 19 12 4 13 66

7. Jonathan Ogden

Jonathan Ogden
Ray Lewis is the Ravens' most recognizable player, but Ogden has been in Baltimore just as long and arguably has been just as valuable. While the Ravens have struggled to pass effectively during much of Ogden's tenure, the team has relied on him to clear holes for the running game. In 2003, Ogden anchored an offensive line that helped Jamal Lewis rush for 2,066 yards. Ogden's résumé is highlighted by a Super Bowl ring and 10 Pro Bowl selections.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
17 16 14 8 10 65

8. Marvin Harrison

Marvin Harrison
One of the greatest receivers in NFL history, Harrison has been named to eight Pro Bowls in 11 seasons and ranks third in career touchdown catches, fourth in career receptions and sixth in career receiving yards. Harrison has finished in the top three in receptions in five different seasons. Of course, it helps to have Peyton Manning throwing the ball, but we still like Marvin's game a lot. Add a shiny new Super Bowl ring to the discussion, and there's no doubting Harrison's Hall of Fame credentials.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
16 16 6 12 14 64

9. LaDainian Tomlinson

LaDainian Tomlinson
"He is the finest running back to ever wear an NFL uniform." That is former Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer's assessment of Tomlinson. While that appraisal might be a bit premature, Tomlinson does rank sixth in career rushing touchdowns after just six seasons, and he could move as high as No. 2 this season. LT has averaged more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage per season and he's a Canton shoo-in if he adds one or two more seasons of similar production, whether or not he wins a Super Bowl. If he remains healthy -- and his impeccable workout regimen makes it likely that he will -- he does indeed have a chance to go down as the best ever at his position.


Mort. Stats Team Upside Int. Total
18 11 20 6 8 63

10. Adam Vinatieri

Adam Vinatieri
Clutch. It's clearly the word that describes Vinatieri best. His timely postseason field goals, including two to win Super Bowls in the closing seconds, are the stuff of NFL legend. He has four Super Bowl rings. He ranks fourth in career field goal accuracy. He has scored at least 100 points in all 11 of his NFL seasons. The only strike against Vinatieri is the scarcity of kickers represented in the Hall -- Jan Stenerud is the only one. Vinatieri will be the second, although his intangible score gets docked because of this.


Cantonized: Hall of Fame predictions

Selections 11-20
Selections 21-30
Selections 31-40
Selections 41-50
On the bubble
Odd men out
The list: 1-50

Thomas Neumann is an editor for Page 2. Scott Symmes is an editor for the NFL section.