Bryant Young Worthy of a Place in the Hall of Fame?

Colan Lamont@clamontsportAnalyst IIJuly 26, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO - DECEMBER 23: Bryant Young #97 of the San Francisco 49ers waves to the crowd after playing his last career home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during an NFL game at Monster Park on December 23, 2007 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Bryant Young will first become eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Among the others who will be eligible for the first time are Michael Strahan, Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, Steve McNair, John Lynch and Warren Sapp.

I'm not going to speculate on how worthy the other candidates are, but It's pretty clear that Young will have a hard time making it in his first go-around.

Bryant Young holds a special place in the hearts of the 49ers faithful after dedicating his entire 14-year career to the Red and Gold.

Young is also no stranger to personal glory: He was a four-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro pick.

Young was also added to the esteemed NFL 1990s All-Decade team.

Even more important, though, is the success he achieved with the team as a whole in Super Bowl XXIX.

Winning the biggest game of all in your rookie year and then being consistently good for your entire career is something most players can only dream about.

Everyone describes Young as one of the more classy 49ers players of all time, and maybe the fact he wasn't controversial or attention-seeking is why he isn't respected more across the whole of America.

But just because he wasn't a flashy player didn't mean that he didn't dramatically alter games.

In fact, I just recently mentioned in an article of mine how Justin Smith clears lanes for other defenders to rush the quarterback; Young was also among the best at this.

This quote from a 2008 article written by David Fucillo of Niners Nation sums up the often undervalued impact of Young:

'Dana Stubblefield finished with 15 sacks, was defensive player of the year and walked away with a huge contract from the Redskins.  I still contend Bryant Young should have received commission on that deal because he was a primary reason Stubblefield had so many clear shots at the quarterback'.

Young played on both some great 49ers teams and some terrible ones, but his production rarely faltered.

Via ESPN, I can tell you that Young played 208 games, had 89.5 sacks, 605 tackles and 11 forced fumbles.

But statistics aren't always the biggest indicator of how great a player was, and I hope people realize that Young made everyone around him better.

I said I wouldn't make any comparisons, but I will now.

Warren Sapp is also a defensive tackle and is considered more likely to be a Hall of Fame player than Young.

Sapp had 96.5 sacks and was mainly used as a pass-rushing threat, so it would upset me if inflated statistics mean more than overall performance.

I understand that statistics stand the test of time, whereas players like Young may suffer because fans often have very short-term memories when considering what a player contributed to the team without the stats sheet.

So, although a player like Sapp did average one more sack per year, it's important to remember just how good a run-stopper Young was too. He was one of the more balanced defensive tackles in the league.

There might not be any doubt about Young's Hall of Fame credentials if he hadn't suffered a horrible leg injury back in 1998.

One of the best defensive lineman in the NFL after only five years in the league, many people consider that injury to have interfered with his greatness.

I'm not sure about that because he became an All-Pro player the very next season, but maybe it did slow him down.

Either way, If you look at his next few years in the league, he showed amazing recovery ability and posted some of the best stats of his career.

I think that becoming even better after a career-threatening injury merits huge credit in itself.

The one thing that may go against Young is the fact that he had to endure the change to the 3-4 in the last few years of his career.

Young adjusted fine, but it did prevent him from making as many big plays and could have caused people to forget how good he was and how he created highlight plays for others around him all the time.

Just because he isn't talked about with quite as much fanfare as other players doesn't mean he isn't as deserving.

This is a loyal guy who overcame one of the most severe leg breaks in NFL history to become an All-Pro once again and force the third highest amounts of safeties in the league (37).

I understand the fierce competition and that Young might not make the first ballot, but do you think it is possible he ends up in Canton one day?


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