Reggie White and Troy Aikman on Hall of Fame Ballot

Reggie White, Troy Aikman, and Warren Moon lead a stellar group of first timers on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.

Reggie White, Aikman among Hall candidates (AP)

Reggie White, a two-time NFL defensive player of the year who died last year at 43, heads a list of players, coaches and contributors eligible for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. White is eligible for the first time along with quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Warren Moon. Other first-year eligible players include running back Thurman Thomas, wide receiver Andre Reed and offensive lineman Dermontti Dawson.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and longtime owners Art Modell and Ralph Wilson are on the preliminary list that includes five former head coaches and 11 contributors.

A member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team, White was named to the Pro Bowl a record 13 straight times from 1986-98. He earned top defensive player honors in 1987 and 1998. He retired in 2000 as the career sacks leader with 198, a mark later passed by Bruce Smith. White, who played with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina, died on Dec. 26 in Cornelius, N.C.

From a preliminary list, Hall of Fame selectors will choose 25 candidates who will advance as semifinalists. That list will be trimmed to 13 candidates, who will join veterans committee nominees John Madden and Rayfield Wright as finalists.

Most of those named are legit candidates.

Reggie White and Troy Aikman are slam dunks. White was arguably the best defensive lineman ever and Aikman was a great quarterback who led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins.

Warren Moon is a tougher call but, to me, is also an obvious choice. His NFL statistics are superb, although he never led a team to a Super Bowl. He did win four Grey Cups in the Canadian Football League before heading south to Houston, though. And it is called the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not the NFL Hall of Fame. He has the added distinction of being the first truly great black quarterback. Doug Williams is in the Hall but was frankly merely a very good passer who won a Super Bowl. Moon was a superstar.

Thurman Thomas was the best all-around running back in the league for a number of years and went to four Super Bowls, as did Andre Reed, with the Buffalo Bills. While they lost all four of those games, getting there was an impressive achievement. Still, I don’t think I’d vote for either of them.

Their owner, Ralph Wilson, may get in at some point, although it’s never been very clear to me what the criteria is for executives. Art Modell probably deserves enshrinement. Given the bitterness over his move of the Browns to Baltimore (as the Ravens), it likely won’t happen.

Tagliabue, of course, will be elected and deservedly so. Whether it’ll happen on the first ballot is the only question.

Most Dallas Cowboys fans over the age of 45 rave about Rayfield Wright and think his exclusions from the Hall one of the great injustices of all time. I never saw him play but he was a cornerstone of a team that went to five Super Bowls, winning two, and several NFL/NFC championship games.

Madden will eventually get in the Hall one way or the other. He was a great coach but for too short a time. If the Veterans Committee doesn’t put him in as a coach, though, he’ll eventually get in as an announcer or a general “contributions to the game” category.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Mark says:

    Art Modell probably deserves enshrinement. Given the bitterness over his move of the Browns to Baltimore (as the Ravens), it likely won’t happen.

    Oh you cannot even begin to describe the bitterness.

  2. Brandon says:

    Don’t even get me started on the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    I mean, when Wright and Bob Hayes aren’t in it, you know there’s an obvious anti-Cowboy bias.