Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero: Brett Favre is at the head of 2016 NFL Hall of Fame class

Brett Favre was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with Marvin Harrison, Tony Dungy, Orlando Pace Kevin Greene, Edward DeBartolo Jr., Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel.
Brett Favre was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with Marvin Harrison, Tony Dungy, Orlando Pace Kevin Greene, Edward DeBartolo Jr., Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel. AP

The entire Earth knew Brett Favre was going to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday because one does not throw 508 touchdown passes, second most in NFL history, play 20 years and win a Super Bowl without landing a first-ballot induction.

It was also pretty clear to me, one of the country’s 46 Hall of Fame selectors, and the other 45 men and women in the room that Favre was getting in when the invitation to introduce Favre and debate his merits came and went in the room and all that was said was that it was Favre’s turn.

Introduction made. No debate. Done deal.

The selectors’ meeting took 8 hours 49 minutes, and approximately 30 seconds of that time was spent on Favre.

Favre made it as a modern era entrant along with Indianapolis Colts receiver Marvin Harrison, Tampa Bay and Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy, St. Louis offensive tackle Orlando Pace and linebacker Kevin Greene, who played 15 years with four teams.

Former San Francisco owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. got in as a contributor and quarterback Ken Stabler and offensive guard Dick Stanfel got in as veteran’s committee inductees.

It is a class of eight. It is a strong class.

And if you’re paying attention in South Florida and or are a Dolphins-centric reader, the most important thing that happened Saturday is that Greene made it.

He deserved it. No doubt. He collected 160 career sacks and was about as productive late in his career as he was in his prime. It puzzles that he didn’t get in earlier.

But the reason his induction is important now is it clears the runway for Dolphins defensive end/linebacker Jason Taylor, eligible for consideration for the first time in 2017, to get into the Hall of Fame.

No, I’m not guaranteeing next year, although I would argue Taylor making it as a first-ballot candidate is proper. Indeed, I’ll do everything I can to convince my voting colleagues he deserves to be a first-ballot inductee.

But what I’m saying is Greene getting in opens the door for Taylor to definitely be in eventually.

Why?

It’s as easy as looking at the list of all-time NFL sack leaders. That list, according to Pro Football Reference, is led by Bruce Smith with 200 sacks. Then Reggie White had 198 sacks, Greene was next with 160 sacks, Chris Doleman was fourth with  150 1/2 and Michael Strahan was fifth with 141 1/2.

And, no, this list does not include the greats who came before the sack was an official statistic. Deacon Jones, for example, collected something like 197 1/2 sacks in his career and is not on the list although he is in the Hall.

But on that official statistical sack list, the top five players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And Jason Taylor, with 139 1/2 career sacks, is No. 6 on that venerable list.

And there are players already in the Hall of Fame — Richard Dent, John Randle, Derrick Thomas and Lawrence Taylor, who had fewer than 139 1/2 sacks — are in the Hall of Fame.

The point is getting Greene in now rather than having him come back around next year removes a strong argument against making Jason Taylor wait his turn to get in the Hall of Fame.

Taylor might still have to wait, and I know he recognizes that. But a good reason for him waiting disappeared Saturday.

By the way, complete, elite players get into the Hall of Fame. So the sack isn’t the end all and be all of playing the edge of a defense. There is the need to defend against the run. There is a need to cover if playing outside linebacker.

Taylor did that at the highest levels. The statistics, the film, the facts prove that. He won’t be dinged for that.

Not all worthy candidates could get in this year. Don Coryell, for example, was a personal favorite of mine. No, he didn’t coach in Miami. Nowhere close actually — having spent five seasons in St. Louis and nine seasons in San Diego.

And, no, his .572 winning percentage and 3-6 record in the postseason aren’t awe inspiring.

But all he did was revolutionize the game.

The digit system offense that is the counterbalance blueprint to the West Coast offense was mostly Coryell’s.

The one-back offense? The H-Back? All Coryell.

Oh, yes, Air Coryell wasn’t named after some guy named Smith.

Some Coryell pupils? Joe Gibbs, Norv Turner, Mike Martz, Al Saunders and John Madden, who coached under Coryell at San Diego State.

But enough of him.

Another finalist who didn’t get in Saturday is former University of Miami running back Edgerrin James. The temperature in the room simply wasn’t right for James.

Yes, he has those 12,246 career yards and is one of only four running backs who ever had four 1,500-yard seasons — Barry Sanders, Eric Dickerson and Walter Payton are the other three.

But James was eliminated when the field was cut to 10, and I think part of that had to do with his good-but-not-great 4.0-yard-per-carry average and 3.9-yard-per-carry average in the playoffs.

James will be back in the room at some point. This simply wasn’t his time.

Brett Favre and Kevin Greene and the other new Hall of Famers?

It was their time.

Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero represents South Florida as one of 46 national voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments