Hall of Fame 2013: Favre and who else?

Brett Favre and Michael Strahan will be part of a bumper crop of first-year eligibles up for induction in five years. Only five modern-era candidates can be voted in each year, so some deserving names will have to wait, says PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence.

Brett Favre will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer for Canton's Class of 2013. With that, there is no question.

Who will be joining Favre, on the other hand, is an intriguing question.

The Green Bay Packers' legend will be joined on the ballot by a star-studded cast in their first year of Hall of Fame eligibility. Other first-year candidates include defensive end Michael Strahan and another nemesis, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, along with offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and quarterback Steve McNair, all of whom have announced their retirement in the last few months.

They could be joined on the ballot by guard Larry Allen, who hasn't announced his retirement but appears to be leaning that way, and linebacker Junior Seau, who is 39, coming off rotator-cuff surgery and is unemployed.

Another first-year nominee will be Bill Parcells, assuming he doesn't jump out of the front office to become coach again.

At the end of the process each year, Hall of Fame selectors vote on the two candidates from the Veterans Committee, then vote on the 15 modern-era finalists.

Both senior finalists and up to five modern players can be selected for induction each year. With Favre, Strahan, Sapp, Ogden, McNair, Allen, Seau and Parcells, that's eight Hall of Fame-worthy candidates vying for five spots. And that doesn't count the leftovers from the previous year's ballot.

Complicating matters further, Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote that, excluding the first year of Hall of Fame voting, when all of the candidates were first-timers, the Hall of Fame never has selected more than three first-year-eligible candidates.

Of the aforementioned eight candidates, the only hopeful to easily dismiss as a first-ballot Hall of Famer is McNair, who helped revolutionize the position and helped open the door for more black quarterbacks, but never won a Super Bowl — and that's the defining criteria for a quarterback without jaw-dropping stats.

Ogden and Allen are both 11-time Pro Bowlers, with Allen probably boasting slightly better Hall of Fame credentials with a Super Bowl ring and by helping Emmitt Smith set the NFL's career rushing record.

Sapp was perhaps the most feared defensive tackle in the game during his reign of terror in Tampa Bay, finishing his career with 96.5 sacks at a position known mostly for run-stuffers. He was the guy who made the Bucs' pressure defense click.

Strahan ranks fifth all-time with 141.5 sacks, and holds the NFL's single-season record with 22.5 in 2001.

Seau made 12 trips to the Pro Bowl and was one of the finest linebackers in league history, which says something because he was never a big-time pass-rusher.

Parcells won two Super Bowls with the Giants and led the Patriots to a Super Bowl XXXI loss to the Packers. He boasts a career record of 172-130-1 (.569 winning percentage) in the regular season and 11-8 (.578) in the playoffs.

So, who will join Favre?

If Hall of Fame voters stick with their unwritten precedent of only three first-timers per class, it's hard to imagine Parcells isn't one of them. To me, the No. 1 criteria for any Hall of Fame is this: Can you write the history of the league without mentioning (fill in the blank)? I don't think you can talk about the last two decades of the NFL without mentioning Parcells.

The last selection is the toughest, but it goes to Seau, though there's a chance he plays in 2008. Sure, he never won a Super Bowl, but it wasn't his fault he was stuck on some average to bad teams. Being a member of the NFL's All-1990s team helps, too.

And if voters break from precedent and go with four or five? My fourth would be Strahan. He was consistent, durable and raised everyone's level of play. The fifth would be Allen, simply because of Smith's rushing record.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com


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