Former Vikings Chris Doleman, Cris Carter, Randall McDaniel and John Randle have all been named as semi-finalists for the Hall of Fame. Carter and McDaniel were finalists last year but both got stiffed (obviously, otherwise they would not be in the running again this year). Maybe I’m biased, but I think all four guys deserve to get in. All were at or near the top of the league at their positions for considerable stretches and all had periods of genuine dominance. McDaniel, perhaps we forget, was All-Pro 9 times – and yes, I grant that offensive linemen often make it on reputation even after their skills have begin to wane, but still…9 time All-Pro (not just Pro-Bowl mind you, but All-Pro). What more does a guy have to do at offensive guard to impress the voters? Come over to their house and give them backrubs and walk their dog for them? If McDaniel doesn’t get it in again…well, then screw the Hall of Fame, quite frankly.
Randle’s case is, I think, almost as strong as McDaniel’s. He was All-Pro six times, and in 1997, he led the league with 15.5 sacks – as an undersized but freakishly skilled defensive tackle. I’d hazard to guess that, if Brett Favre had a vote, he would put Randle in the Hall without hesitation. And was there ever a more entertaining defensive lineman to watch? Stats and Pro-Bowl appearances shouldn’t be what this is all about – it should be about the feel of a guy, our memory of him. Randle left a huge mark (including that great commercial where he put the Favre jersey on the chicken) and, again, if he is kept out of the Hall, then there is something wrong with the whole process.
Carter and Doleman are slightly more problematic. I thought Carter got screwed royally last year, but I’ve softened slightly in my stance since then. I guess if Art Monk had to wait as long as he did, then Carter shouldn’t have gotten in the first year either. The other problem for Carter is that, with each passing year, his career stats seem less impressive. He’s been passed by people like Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss and now looks like a guy who benefited from playing in an era when possession receivers were fed the ball at a somewhat inflated rate. Still, we shouldn’t let ourselves get entirely hung up on stats – Carter was really an amazing player. Guy had the best hands I’ve ever seen and no one was ever better around the sidelines and the back of the endzone. I still think he should get in, but if he has to wait around like Monk, I’m cool with that.
Doleman probably has the weakest case and will not get in this year, with Bruce Smith a lock at the same position this time around. The best thing Doleman has going for him is his high career sack total – 150.5, including 21 in 1989 (when the Vikings’ defensive line was genuinely dominant, not just sometimes really good like now). Like I said before, I think he should eventually get in, but if he does he’ll probably have to wait a long time.