Larry Allen’s recent induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame raised a question that I have pondered over the years. How many Hall of Famers from one team is too many? At what point do they become Hall of Famers simply because they played on a great team and with other Hall of Fame caliber players?
The Jimmy Johnson era Cowboys have four Hall of Fame players from their offense: Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Allen. Was Aikman really a Hall of Fame level player or did he achieve that status because he was handing off to Smith, throwing to Irvin and had Allen protecting him? Is Irvin a Hall of Famer because he had Aikman throwing to him? Is Smith a Hall of Famer because he had Allen blocking for him?
I know all of these things are interrelated and you can’t isolate individual players in football like in baseball. If I had to give an opinion, I would say Irvin was the weakest candidate of these Hall of Famers. But I’m curious to your view at what point does it become less about the players being HOF caliber and more about being a product of a great team.
- Joe Daly
A. That’s a good question, Joe. As a Hall of Fame voter, it is one of the things you have to consider in filling out the ballot. You’re right; it is easier in baseball because it is more of an individual sport. Football is a team sport. It isn’t as easy to isolate and evaluate one player apart from the whole.
As a voter, you have to evaluate each candidate and determine how he compares with other candidates, in particular those who played the same position. A player who had better coaches, better game plans and better players around him has an advantage. But that doesn’t mean other players can’t make it as well.
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