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    • michael89156

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      Pro Football Hall of Fame: Top candidate for each NFC teamBy Elliot Harrison    NFL.comPublished:  Aug. 4, 2015 at 04:25 p.m.  hof_zpsggeyp8wc.pngWith the Class of 2015 being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this Saturday, we thought we'd turn our All-32 gaze toward Canton -- by listing each franchise's most deserving candidate for inclusion. Here is the criteria we used: a) It can be a player. b) It can be a potential Seniors Committee candidate. c) It can be a "contributor."One other caveat: The person must be eligible for election in 2016. Which, of course, means guys like Randy Moss and Ed Reed weren't considered. No LaDainian Tomlinson, either, though that honor will surely be bestowed on my NFL Media colleague come 2017.No matter what, each of these names represents the best of the best for that person's NFL club. So take a look below, and let me know if your team has a more deserving candidate for enshrinement. Arizona Cardinals: Kurt Warner, quarterbackWarner is not the only deserving Cardinal out there, especially considering this franchise is the NFL's oldest by far. The former NFL MVP (1999, 2001) is the most deserving, however, when also taking into account his years with the St. Louis Rams. Warner is, perhaps, a guy who both the team's current fans and those who cheered for the old St. Louis Cardinals can agree on. Warner's best days were in the Cardinals' former home city, while his 2008 and '09 campaigns in Arizona (when he racked up total of 8,336 passing yards and 56 passing touchdowns and posted a combined passer rating of 95.2 in addition to taking the team to Super Bowl XLIII) represent some of the best quarterback play the organization has seen.Atlanta Falcons: Mike Kenn, left tackle  Kenn is arguably the best Atlanta Falcon ever. He certainly belongs in the discussion with Claude Humphrey and Deion Sanders, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame but -- unlike Kenn -- spent time on other squads. Kenn competed for 17 years and started in every one of the 251 games he played in, all while wearing a Falcons uniform. He was a five-time Pro Bowler.Carolina Panthers: Kevin Greene, linebackerGreene is an interesting choice here, because he played with four different clubs during his 15-year career, spending two different stints in Carolina. While he played longest with the Los Angeles Rams -- during a productive eight-year ride that produced many sacks -- his three years with the Panthers cannot be ignored. Greene was a huge piece on the Carolina team that, in the second year of the franchise's existence, made it all the way to the 1996 NFC Championship Game. In total, Greene posted 41.5 sacks in his three Charlotte seasons and was twice named NFC linebacker of the year.Chicago Bears: Steve McMichael, defensive tackle"Mongo," as McMichael was affectionately known, was a complete defensive tackle. And much like many others on our top candidates list, he has been completely forgotten about, at least outside of Chicago. There he is loved for being an integral piece of the famed 1985 "46" defense. More importantly, McMichael was the rare interior player who could be a force against the run and pressure the quarterback. If he was facing single blocking, it usually meant he'd win, which is why he posted 95 sacks -- a huge number for a defensive tackle. Warren Sapp was a first-ballot Hall of Famer and had 96.5. Just saying.Dallas Cowboys: Chuck Howley, linebackerA number of former Cowboys deserve to be honored in Canton; Cliff Harris and Drew Pearson come to mind immediately. A case can also be made for Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Everson Walls and Darren Woodson. Yet, the most deserving is probably Howley. He might even be the most underrated player in the history of the NFL. A five-time first-team All-Pro, Howley was a big-game player who excelled in coverage and started at outside linebacker until he was 37 years old. He is the only member of a losing team to win the Super Bowl MVP award, for his play in the Cowboys' defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl V.Detroit Lions: Buddy Parker, coachThe Lions have had many more outstanding players than they're given credit for, especially in relatively recent times. Chris Spielman certainly was a Hall of Very Gooder, as was Al "Bubba" Baker. The most deserving Lion, however, might be Parker, who led the Lions to back-to-back NFL titles in 1952 and '53 while building the roster that won it all again in 1957. This just in: The franchise hasn't won a championship since.Green Bay: Brett Favre, quarterbackEvery Green Bay fan tweets about the candidacy of Jerry Kramer -- a finalist multiple times over -- for the Hall this time of year. But how do you avoid putting Favre here? You don't. The quarterback -- who retired in 2010 holding most of the NFL's major passing records, like completions (6,300), passing yards (71,838) and passing touchdowns (508, which has since been surpassed by Peyton Manning's 530) -- is best known for his consecutive starts streak (297 games). Still, the most impressive part of his résumé has to be the three straight NFL MVP awards he captured in the mid-1990s. From late 1994 through the end of 1997, Favre was at the top of his game, and he was probably the best player around. If you don't want to go with Favre or Kramer ... LeRoy Butler, anyone?Minnesota Vikings: Matt Blair, linebackerTalk to any longtime Vikings fan, and he/she will extoll the virtues of Matt Blair, an athlete who could seemingly block a kick as easily as he made a tackle. Over his 12-year career in Minnesota, Blair made six straight Pro Bowls at outside linebacker. He was a stalwart on one of the best teams of the 1970s. Even as the Vikes slowly declined in the early '80s, Blair thrived.New Orleans Saints: Sam Mills, linebackerYou'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who will say a bad word about Mills. He gave his heart and soul to pro football, first in the USFL with the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars, then in New Orleans from 1986 to 1994, then finally for three seasons in Carolina (1995-97). Everywhere Mills went, his teams won. The Stars captured back-to-back titles. In 1987, with Mills playing a huge part, the Saints made the playoffs for the first time in their 20 years of existence as a franchise. And he was an integral part of the Panthers squad that made the 1996 NFC title game. Mills made four Pro Bowls in New Orleans. Former Saints head coach Jim Mora called Mills "the best player I ever coached."New York Giants: George Young, general managerAmong Giants not in the Hall of Fame who could warrant a mention are Phil Simms, Carl Banks and Tiki Barber. Barber's four-year run from 2003 through 2006 represents one of the most productive periods, in terms of scrimmage yards, by any running back -- ever. Yet, the vote here goes to a contributor. Without Young, the likelihood of the Giants winning any of their four Super Bowls -- even the two that came long after his tenure with the team ended, in 1997 -- is nil, as succinctly put by Mike Vaccaro in this New York Post piece. Young won the NFL Executive of the Year award five times. Five times.Philadelphia Eagles: Bill Bergey, linebackerA wonderful player in a lost era, Bergey starred on some bad Eagles teams in the 1970s. Bergey was named first-team All-Pro twice and second-team All-Pro three times while playing in Philadelphia. He unofficially recorded 233 tackles in one season with the Eagles. And he wasn't merely productive in Philly; in his first pro season, in 1969, he was named an AFL All-Star as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.San Francisco 49ers: Terrell Owens, wide receiverThat's right, Owens will be eligible for the Hall of Fame this coming year -- and thus, he's eligible to make this list. Owens ranks second all-time in receiving yards (15,934) and third all-time in receiving touchdowns (153). His prime was spent in the Bay Area, from 1996 to 2003, though he didn't become an elite wide receiver until 2000. In case you were wondering, Owens beat out Tim McDonald as the most deserving 49er not in Canton.Seattle Seahawks: Kenny Easley, safetyHis career might have been short, but that doesn't mean it wasn't brilliant. There was not a better safety in pro football in the first half of the 1980s, including Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott (who played mostly corner until 1986). Easley was that rare player who was good out of the gate. A hard hitter, Easley was also a complete player, making five Pro Bowls in seven years before retiring due to injuries.St. Louis Rams: Orlando Pace, tacklePace gets the nod here over many qualified names. Old-time Rams fans might remember Ed Meador, a defensive back in the 1960s who picked off 46 passes -- taking five to the house -- in his 12-year career. Henry Ellard was, at one time, the NFL's all-time yardage leader. And how about Isaac Bruce, who has more than 1,000 catches and 15,000 receiving yards to his name? With Kurt Warner being mentioned for the Cardinals, his mammoth left tackle in St. Louis, a top-flight player equal to recent enshrines Walter Jones and Jonathan Ogden, deserves the Rams' slot. Pace made seven Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl.Tampa Bay Buccaneers: John Lynch, safetyLynch is simply the best Buccaneer not in the Hall of Fame. Lynch could join Class of 2014 member Derrick Brooks and Class of 2013 member Warren Sapp -- with whom he made up a triumvirate that fortified one of the best defenses of their era -- very soon. Lynch was the hardest-hitting safety in the league in the late 1990s and early 2000s -- and he also had incredible longevity over 15 years. Oh, and he was named to nine Pro Bowls.Washington Redskins: Jerry Smith, tight endWhen NFL Network's "A Football Life: Jerry Smith" came out last year, viewers around the country were probably saying, "Jerry who?" Smith was never a household name, but he was one of the top five players at his position of his era. His numbers (421 catches, 5,496 receiving yards, 60 receiving touchdowns) are better than those of contemporary -- and Hall of Famer -- Charlie Sanders (336 catches, 4,817 receiving yards and 31 receiving touchdowns). Smith's touchdown total was the most of any tight end in history until 2003, when Shannon Sharpe surpassed him.

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    • Anonymous

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      Lynch is the right selection for this article. He should be followed by Simeon Rice and Mike Alstott. I think all 3 have the resume to get in.

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    • Anonymous

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      Lynch is the right selection for this article. He should be followed by Simeon Rice and Mike Alstott. I think all 3 have the resume to get in.

      Simeon Rice has always gotten the "didn't play the run" label.  Who cares?  He had Derrick Brooks behind him so he just tee'd off on the QB, and he did it so well the rest of his game should hardly matter.

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    • Anonymous

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      Lynch is the right selection for this article. He should be followed by Simeon Rice and Mike Alstott. I think all 3 have the resume to get in.

      As much as I love Lynch, Rice and Alstott, none of them have the pedigree to be in the Hall of Fame. Rice would have the best argument. But how many safeties and fullbacks are in the HOF?Not many. Alstott is hurt because of the position he played and the fact he never achieved a 1,000 yd rushing season. Lynch was great, but his interception numbers aren't where they need to be.Rice has the sacks but he doesn't have the Pro Bowls and there's that pesky "he didn't play the run" nonsense.

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    • Anonymous

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      the next Buc in the HOF will be Ronder. Lynch is gonna have a long wait, right or wrong its hard for safeties to get in for some reason

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    • Anonymous

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      the next Buc in the HOF will be Ronder. Lynch is gonna have a long wait, right or wrong its hard for safeties to get in for some reason

      Agreed.  He's not eligible right now so he wasn't included for the list.

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    • Anonymous

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      Lynch is the right selection for this article. He should be followed by Simeon Rice and Mike Alstott. I think all 3 have the resume to get in.

      As much as I love Lynch, Rice and Alstott, none of them have the pedigree to be in the Hall of Fame. Rice would have the best argument. But how many safeties and fullbacks are in the HOF?Not many. Alstott is hurt because of the position he played and the fact he never achieved a 1,000 yd rushing season. Lynch was great, but his interception numbers aren't where they need to be.Rice has the sacks but he doesn't have the Pro Bowls and there's that pesky "he didn't play the run" nonsense.

      Agree. Love them all, but I don't think they get in.

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    • johnd

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      Kevin Greene is more worthy than  those 3.

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    • Anonymous

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      I can argue that for a very long time, Rice, Lynch and Alstott were among THE BEST in the league, this is not something I can argue for Ronde Barber. I think this really matters. You have to the best of the best in your era, if not all time, to make the hall.

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    • Anonymous

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      I think Barber gets unfairly dinged for the whole “system cornerback” thing.  I would argue that he was not only one of the best in the league while he was playing but one of the best of all-time *at what he was asked to do*.  No, he wasn’t a man-to-man shutdown cornerback.  He was a truly extraordinary zone corner though.  That had it’s own value.

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    • Anonymous

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      I think Barber gets unfairly dinged for the whole "system cornerback" thing.  I would argue that he was not only one of the best in the league while he was playing but one of the best of all-time *at what he was asked to do*.  No, he wasn't a man-to-man shutdown cornerback.  He was a truly extraordinary zone corner though.  That had it's own value.

      I am a huge Ronde fan, but throughout his career when I think to name the top corners by season his name is behind several others every year.

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    • Anonymous

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      I always thought you had to at least be the best player at your position for some time added with the longevity but if Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis can get in, then I guess Ronde should get in as well.I think Simeon Rice should be a HOF tho.

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    • Anonymous

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      I think Barber gets unfairly dinged for the whole "system cornerback" thing.  I would argue that he was not only one of the best in the league while he was playing but one of the best of all-time *at what he was asked to do*.  No, he wasn't a man-to-man shutdown cornerback.  He was a truly extraordinary zone corner though.  That had it's own value.

      I am a huge Ronde fan, but throughout his career when I think to name the top corners by season his name is behind several others every year.

      Only because the perception of "top corners" is so badly skewed towards man defenders.  Which I don't think is fair.Basically, while I'll fully agree that Barber couldn't have done what Champ Bailey did, I'm equally as skeptical that Bailey could have stepped into Barber's shoes and done what he did.

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