Who Can Really Know: Hall Of Fame Wide Receivers

Jon YorkContributor IFebruary 2, 2009

Like much of America, I watched a little pregame before the Super Bowl, and much like water coolers across the country, the question came up, "Is Kurt Warner a Hall of Fame quarterback?"

The question eventually found its way to Chris Carter, who let his own feelings come out a little bit much and replied how he used to know what a Hall of Famer was, but now he's not so sure.  At first it was amusing, seeing a "professional" TV personality lose their cool, but then it made me wonder: What is a Hall of Fame wide receiver?

Is it a playmaker with decent stats who won championships?  Lynn Swann would say yes.  Bob Hayes is another.  Cliff Branch would say otherwise.

Is it a consistent player who accumulates numbers over a career but is never quite considered the best in the game?  Henry Ellard, Keenan McCardell have good numbers, went to multiple Pro Bowls and have some All-Pro seasons to their credit—but are they Hall of Famers?

Is it a system receiver who as part of an offense instilled fear in defenders?  Charlie Joiner would say yes, Andre Reed can't agree.

Do Championship rings sway voters?  It sure seems so.  Michael Irvin statistically was passed up by several receivers of his era yet was considered a playmaker and leader en route to three Super Bowl wins.  Lynn Swann again (sorry, Lynn).  Yet it seemed like Art Monk would never get in, and I hate to bring up Cliff Branch again.

Art Monk is a strange case.  He played during that in between time when passing offenses were really starting to take off and seems to be lumped in as a "system player."  Yet at one point in his career he was the NFL's all time leader in receptions to go along with his own three rings and still voters did not seem to be huge fans.

So what is a Hall of Fame wide receiver?  After the most recent Super Bowl, can Santonio Holmes have a few good years and get his acceptance speech ready?  Hines Ward?  How long will Chris Carter wait?  How will they view Tim Brown, who had similar numbers to Carter but was a better downfield threat, a dynamic kick returner, and at least appeared in one Super Bowl?  And again, how will the fantasy football studs (Ellard, Reed, McCardell, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, etc) fare when their times comes up?

What is a Hall of Fame wide receiver?  I don't know, and like anyone else I sometimes wonder if the voters themselves even have it figured out.  I guess only time will tell.