Six individuals with connections to the state of Washington are among 103 candidates nominated for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. The HOF Selection Committee with pare the list to 25 by mid-November and to 15 in early January. The final Hall of Fame vote will be Feb. 4, when a minimum of four and a maximum of seven will be selected as the class of 2012.
Our assessment: only two of the six Washingtonians have a reasonable shot at induction, one is on the bubble, and the other three are longshots.
Three former Seahawks players — safety Kenny Easley (1981-87), defensive lineman Cortez Kennedy (1990-00) and running back Ricky Watters (1998-01) are also among the 103 nominees. So are former Seahawks coach Chuck Knox (1983-91) and Seattle native Don Coryell, who coached the St. Louis Cardinals (1973-77) and San Diego Chargers (1978-86). All, except Bledsoe, have been on the Hall of Fame ballot multiple times.
Bledsoe, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, threw for 44,611 yards and 251 touchdowns, and made four Pro Bowl appearances. He had his best statistical year in 1994 when he tossed for 4,555 yards and 27 touchdowns, topping the NFL in both categories. He had a career passer rating of 77.1.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame hasn’t admitted a quarterback since 2006, when Warren Moon, a former Husky and Seahawk, and Troy Aikman made it in their first years of eligibility. The Hall also welcomed two quarterbacks in 2005, when Dan Marino and Steve Young were elected.
Based on the standards established by Moon, Aikman, Marino and Young, Bledsoe faces a tough crawl to the Hall. Moon (49,325 yards, 291 TDs, 80.9 passer rating, 9 Pro Bowls) and Marino (61,361 yards, 420 TDs, 86.4 passer rating, 9 Pro Bowls) overwhelm Bledsoe statistically. Marino (1984) and Moon were also league MVPs. Bledsoe never was.
Bledsoe, who threw for more than 3,000 yards in a season nine times, had career statistics comparable to Aikman (32,942 yards, 165 TDs, 81.6 passer rating) and Young (33,124 yards, 232 TDs, 96.8 passer rating), but Aikman and Young were Super Bowl MVPs. Bledsoe made one Super Bowl (XXXI) appearance and threw four interceptions in a 35-21 loss to Green Bay.
Bledsoe’s chances at induction: Bubble. Doesn’t quite have the numbers, never won a Super Bowl, never earned an MVP.
While Easley made five Pro Bowls and won the 1984 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, he played just seven seasons, forced to retire with injuries and medical ailments (kidney), the principal reason Hall of Fame voters have rejected his candidacy in the past. Easley’s chances: Longshot. He certainly had HOF ability, but voters have so far refused to look past his relatively short career.
Kennedy, an eight-time Pro Bowler who played his entire 11-year NFL career with the Seahawks, appeared in 167 games, recording 668 tackles and 58 sacks. He reached the HOF semifinal round in 2008 and was a finalist in 2009 and 2011. Kennedy’s chances: Very good, if not this year, then one day.
Watters ran for 10,643 yards and 78 touchdowns, and had three 1,000-yard years with the Seahawks. But Jerome Bettis (13,662 yards, 91 TDs) and Curtis Martin (14,101 yards, 90 TDs) both had far better numbers and both are eligible for induction this year. Watters’ chances: Zilch.
Knox took three teams (Rams, Bills and Seahawks) to the playoffs and won 122 games (80 with the Seahawks) in 22 years. But he never coached a Super Bowl champion. Knox’s chances: Also zilch. HOF voters have already vetted Knox’s career, and if any coach will be inducted this year it’s going to be Bill Parcells, on the ballot for the first time.
Coryell, a 1949 University of Washington letterman who reached the round of 15 in 2010, never won a Super Bowl, but his vast contributions to offensive strategies — he pioneered the I formation and developed the West Coast offense — should get him into Canton, if not this year, then soon.