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Top 10 Questionable Pro Football Hall of Famers

Updated on January 11, 2015

These men have been enshrined amongst the greatest, but should they have? Today I rank the top 10 questionable pro football Hall of Famers in NFL history.

10. Troy Aikman

He is one of the most accurate quarterbacks ever to play the game but never had the statistics to show for it.

The first overall pick in 1989, Troy Aikman showed the toughness needed to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. By 1991, Dallas had one of the most productive offenses in the league and Aikman was the leader who guided the way. In 1992, he set career highs in completions, passing yards, and touchdown passes while leading the Cowboys to a team record 13-3 regular season record. Aikman led the team to three Super Bowl victories in four years while being named the MVP in Super Bowl XXVII. The connection of Aikman to Michael Irvin is one of the greatest passing combinations in league history. Concussions and back injuries forced him to retire after 2000 as the teams all time leader in passing yards and won more games in the 90's than any quarterback in the decade. In his 12 seasons in Dallas, Aikman was an All-Pro in 1993, a six time pro bowler, and three time Super Bowl champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

A lot of people look at Aikman and see a guy who was surrounded by phenomenal talent on offense. The big thing that people question with Troy Aikman is his stats. He only had one season in his 12 year career where he threw for more than 20 touchdowns in a season. In today's game that's very pedestrian. Based on the offense he played in, he was rarely required to take control of games and his stats never were over the top.

9. Dwight Stephenson

If he would have had a longer career, he would have been remembered as the greatest center in history.

A second round pick in 1980, Dwight Stephenson was seen as the greatest player Alabama head coach Bear Bryant ever coached. He was used on special teams only until late in the 1981 season, when then starter Mark Dennard was injured. With the exceptionally explosive Stephenson as offensive captain, the Dolphins offensive line gave up the least sacks in the NFL for a record 6 straight seasons which doubled the previous record. He was seen as quiet, intense, hard-working and competitive offensive lineman. He was forced to retire after the 1987 when a serious knee injury ended his productive career. Stephenson ended his eight year career as a five time pro bowler and All-Pro, and a member of the 80's all decade team. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

The fact is Stephenson only played eight seasons. One of the biggest criteria for the hall is longevity and toughness. Eight seasons played on the offensive line is hardly long enough to justify a Hall of Fame career.

8. Bud Grant

He can be considered the best coach to never win a Super Bowl.

Hired by Minnesota in 1967, Bud Grant instantly changed the mentality of the team. Over his tenure as Vikings head coach, Grant was known for instilling discipline in his teams and displaying a lack of emotion during games. He believed that football is a game of controlled emotion and teams would not follow the coach's lead if he were to panic or lose his poise during the course of a game. He required his team to stand at attention in a straight line during the entire national anthem played before the game and even had national anthem practices and required outdoor practice during the winter to get players used to the cold weather and would not allow heaters on the sidelines during games. In his 18 year career in Minnesota, Grant led his team to 11 division championships, four conference titles, and posted a 158-96-5 record. He was inducted into the Hall of fame in 1994.

The big nock on Grant was he never got his team over the hump. In the Vikings four Super Bowl loses, his teams just collapsed. Against Kansas City, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Oakland, the famed "Purple People Eaters" defense was just man handled in all of those games. Grant has to bare some of that responsibility for not preparing his team for these big games.

7. Ken Houston

Of the safeties in the Hall of Fame, Ken Houston isn't the first one that comes to mind.

After six years with the Oilers, Houston was traded to the Washington Redskins for five veteran players in 1973. While with the Redskins, Houston went to seven straight Pro Bowls. Throughout his career he had an extraordinary ability to know where the ball was going. Houston intercepted 49 passes, recovered 21 fumbles, gained 1,498 return yards, and scored 12 touchdowns. In all, Houston retired as a 12 time pro bowler and a member of the all decade team of the 70's and the 75th anniversary team. He was a member of the Hall of Fame class of 1986.

The big problem when you think of Ken Houston is what is his defining moment? A Hall of Famer to me is a player or coach that you cannot leave out of the history of this game. As time passes, Ken Houston gets more and more forgotten in the realms of the NFL.

6. Andre Tippett

He is the most productive pass rusher in franchise history.

A second round pick in 1982, Andre Tippett was the defense for many years. From 1984 to 85, he recorded the highest two season sack total by a linebacker in NFL history totaling 35.0 sacks during the two seasons. His 18.5 sacks in 1984 are the third most by any linebacker in a single season and his 16.5 sacks in 1985 helped the team reach its first Super Bowl. Tippett holds the Patriots franchise record with 100.0 career sacks. He also owns the top three single season sack performances in Patriots history. Tippett retired after the 1993 season as a five time pro bowler, four time All-Pro, and the 1985 co-defensive player of the year. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

Tippett's Hall of Fame status is debatable because of a lot of things. One is that is he was seen as a pass rusher and his play against the run and his ability to cover are in question. The second is the team around him hurt him. He played on bad New England teams and the 1985 season was the high point of his tenure with the Patriots.

5. Bob St. Clair

"The Geek" is one of the most memorable players in league history.

A third round pick in 1953, Bob St. Clair was a dominant offensive tackle. At 6'9" and 263 pounds, he outmatched many of his contemporaries with his size. In 1956, he recorded 10 blocked field goals. St. Clair holds the distinction of being one of the few players in history to have spent almost his entire playing career in the same city, playing in the same stadium. He was an outstanding blocker, both on passing plays and rushing attempts. St. Clair retired after the 1963 season as a five time pro bowler, nine time All-Pro, and a member of the 50's all decade team. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.

St. Clair played in an era where the offensive lineman was hardly a glamorous position. He is mostly remembered today because of his size and his memorable Hall of Fame speech.

4. Dan Hampton

He held the middle of the 46 defensive line but wasn't the leader of the defense.

A first round pick in 1979, Dan Hampton proved to be a versatile defensive lineman. He was equally affective as a defensive tackle or defensive end. During his tenure with the team, the Bears defense ranked #1 in the NFL in allowing the fewest rushing yards, the fewest rushing touchdowns, the fewest total yards, the fewest points and inflicted the most sacks. In his 12 year career, he recorded 82 sacks. Hampton retired in 1990 as a six time pro bowler and All-Pro, a member of the 80's all decade team, and Super Bowl champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

When I think of Dan Hampton, I picture more of the 46 defense than the individual. He was surrounded by great talent on the defense. William Perry, Steve McMichael, and Richard Dent drew just as many double teams as Hampton. Wilbur Marshall and Otis Wilson were great edge rushers and Mike Singletary manned the middle and was the leader of the defense.

3. Paul Hornung

He's one of the most versatile players of all time.

The first overall pick in 1957, Paul Hornung went from quarterback to left halfback and kicker. He led the league in scoring for three straight seasons from 1959-1961. During the 1960 season, the last with just 12 games, he set an all-time record by scoring 176 points that stood for over 45 years. He's by many to be the best short-yardage runner to ever play the game. Hornung holds the record for most games with 30 or more points, the most games with 25 or more points, and the most games with 13 points in a season. Hornung retired in 1966 as two time pro bowler, three time All-Pro, four time NFL champion, the 1961 NFL MVP, and Super Bowl champion. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.

There are a few things that would cause people to question Paul Hornung as a Hall of Famer. The first being his lack of yards with just over 5,000 total yards over eight seasons. The second being his suspension in 1963 for gambling. And finally, he played on one of the most talented teams of any era and it was rarely him being the difference maker.

2. Lynn Swann

Lynn Swann made the Hall of Fame based on his performances in the Super Bowl, But what he did in the regular season wasn't anything spectacular.

His career numbers are average at best, even for a run based offense like Pittsburgh. He has half the number of his Hall of Fame teammate John Stallworth as well as most receivers and tight ends in Canton and those still playing. He showed he lacked toughness in rival games as he was twice knocked out in games against Oakland. His skill set was based on out jumping defensive backs but he would not be a factor in today's game due to the increased physicality of defenses.

The ballerina may have some of the most famous catches in Super Bowl history, but the rest of his career is outshined by his underrated teammate. A few games does not make a career.

1. Joe Namath

This one was tough, but it had to be done.

Joe Namath's career as a football player is far from amazing. His production was curtailed due to serious knee injuries, but some of his career numbers just flat out stink. The stat that stands out the most are his 173-220 touchdown to interception ratio. Throw in his 65.5 career quarterback rating and his status in the Hall of Fame is debatable. Obviously his Super Bowl III "guarantee" remains one of the great moments in sports history, but he should not be in the same club as other Hall of Fame quarterbacks. He didn't even deserve to be the game's MVP over running back Matt Snell.

He was a prolific passer whose contributions to the game and its development go far beyond what his statistics say, but he doesn't belong in the conversation as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

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    • Ryan Daniel Smith profile image

      Ryan Smith 2 years ago

      Spot on. Loved #1 and #2.