Prime Time Sports Talk’s 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame Ballots
Nov 4, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers former safety Troy Polamalu is recognized for his induction into the Southern California Trojans hall of fame at halftime of an NCAA football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2020 NFL Hall of Fame finalists announced, the folks at Prime Time Sports Talk have all chipped in to fill out their very own ballots. The official Hall of Fame inductees will be announced in February before the 2019-20 Super Bowl.
Below is the list of finalists that can make the 2020 Hall of Fame class with only four to eight of them selected to the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The rules indicated that there is no set number of candidates to be inducted every year, but that those who are inducted must receive 80 percent approval from the selection committee.
Troy Polamalu, S
Edgerrin James, RB
Zach Thomas, LB
Bryant Young, DT
Richard Seymour, DE/DT
John Lynch, FS
Steve Atwater, S
LeRoy Butler, S
Reggie Wayne, WR
Torry Holt, WR
Isaac Bruce, WR
Sam Mills, LB
Tony Boselli, T
Alan Faneca, G
Steve Hutchinson, G
Aaron Hubert’s Ballot:
Troy Polamalu – If Polamalu wasn’t the best safety of his generation, you were likely taking Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins or John Lynch, all of whom are or will be in the Hall of Fame. Polamalu was electric, making plays all over the field and seemingly boasting his speed as the fastest person on the planet.
John Lynch – John Lynch was the first jersey I ever asked for and received for Christmas. Lynch came to Denver after winning a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers and helped anchor a strong defense for years. Lynch was known for dropping monster hits and punishing receivers for thinking they could cross the middle of his field. He’s in the Broncos’ Ring of Fame and is also the current general manager of the 49ers, who secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC. He’s still making an impact on the NFL even after retirement.
Steve Atwater – The Smiling Assassin was another Denver Bronco legend that was a finalist for the 2019 class, and it’s now his turn to get in. He won two Super Bowls with the Broncos and played 10 seasons as the Broncos’ starting safety. He was a hard-hitter, a hard-worker, a leader, and an impact player that changed the way teams played against the Denver Broncos.
Reggie Wayne – Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne is one of the all-time great connections in NFL history. He won a Super Bowl with the Colts and played his 13-year career with the Colts. In his 13 seasons, he accumulated six Pro Bowls, one All-Pro season, eight 1,000-yard seasons, four 100-reception seasons, two Super Bowl appearances, and 82 touchdowns.
Torry Holt – The Greatest Show on Turf wouldn’t have existed and paved the future for the modern-day NFL without Holt and Bruce. Torry Holt played only 11 seasons, 10 of which were for the St. Louis Rams, but in those 10 seasons, he had eight straight 1,000-yard showings, went to two Super Bowls, including one victory, was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a one-time All-Pro player. Holt and Bruce should join the Hall of Fame together as they played on the same team for so long.
Isaac Bruce – As the other half, Bruce was a key contributor to the Greatest Show on Turf teams that revolutionized the National Football League. Warner, Faulk, Bruce, and Holt were a complete spectacle that dominated the NFL setting records left and right. Bruce also played 16 seasons with four Pro Bowls (plus a couple snubs), won a Super Bowl, and had eight 1,000-yard seasons.
Ryan Potts’s Ballot:
Isaac Bruce – Fifth on the all-time receiving yards list, Bruce was an integral part of the Greatest Show on Turf. In a 16-year career with the Rams and 49ers, Bruce deserves inclusion with his 15,000 receiving yards.
Torry Holt – Similar to his teammate, Isaac Bruce, Holt was critical to the success of the Greatest Show on Turf Rams. Holt led the NFL in receiving twice, and he played eight consecutive seasons with at least 1,150 yards.
Edgerrin James – An All-Pro in Year 1, the man who is affectionately known as “Edge” rampaged for 12,000 rushing yards and a pair of rushing titles in his career. James has seven seasons of over 1,100 yards and four with more than 1,500.
Troy Polamalu – The four-time All-Pro strong safety is one of the easier inclusions. Polamalu played with his hair on fire for a decade, wreaking havoc for the Steelers and winning a pair of Super Bowls and securing 2010 Defensive Player of the Year.
Zach Thomas – A criminally undervalued middle linebacker, Thomas was a five-time selection to the All-Pro team, and he consistently was among the NFL’s leaders in tackles. Thomas doesn’t have the name recognition that Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher have outside of Miami, but he should join both of them in the Hall.
David Fernandez’s Ballot:
Zach Thomas – Thomas has been eligible since 2014, but this is his first year as a finalist. The undersized linebacker played 12 of his 13 years in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. Thomas was the heart and soul of one of the best defensive units of the late 90s and early 2000s. During his tenure, Miami’s defense ranked in the top 10 eight times and the top five five times. Thomas led the NFL in tackles in 2002 (156) and 2006 (165). He recorded over 150 tackles six times during his career. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and five-time First-Team All-Pro. He’s fifth all-time in total tackles (1,734). He registered 20.5 sacks, 17 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles and scored four touchdowns. His stats are comparable to first-ballot Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Reggie Wayne – Wayne should be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, no question. He played his entire 14-year career in Indianapolis after being drafted 30th overall out of the University of Miami in 2001. He played a franchise-most 211 games for the Colts and earned six Pro Bowl berths and a spot on the 2010 All-Pro First Team. His 1,070 receptions and 14,345 receiving yards are 10th-most all-time. His 82 receiving touchdowns are 23rd all-time. His 93 postseason catches are second-most all-time, and his 1,254 receiving yards are fourth-most. He was part of Indianapolis’s Super Bowl XLI victory and was an AFC Champion in 2009. His stats are comparable to his Hall of Fame teammate, Marvin Harrison.
Edgerrin James – Another former Colt and Hurricane, Edgerrin James was one of the most productive running backs of the 2000s. Drafted fourth overall in 1999, James went on to tally 12,246 rushing yards (13th-most all-time) over his 10-year career. His 15,610 yards from scrimmage are the 11th-most for running backs. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and is the all-time leader in rushing yards (9,226) and rushing touchdowns (64) for Indianapolis. His 1,709 rushing yards in 2000 are the most in a single season for the Colts. James has better stats than Hall of Fame running backs Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis, and Jim Brown.
Isaac Bruce – An integral part of the Greatest Show on Turf, Isaac Bruce is a Hall of. Fame finalist for the fourth time. A four-time Pro Bowler, Bruce led the NFL in receiving in 1996. Over his 16-year career, Bruce caught 1,024 passes (13th-most all-time) for 15,208 yards (fifth-most) and 91 touchdowns (12th-most). He was part of St Louis’ Super Bowl XXXIV win and was a 2001 NFC Champion. When he retired, Bruce was second all-time in receiving yards behind Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.
Sam Mills – The “Field Mouse” is a finalist for the first time after three appearances as a semifinalist. One of the most engaging and energetic linebackers of all-time, Mills played 12 years in the NFL after a successful stint in the USFL that led to two USFL Championships and a spot on the USFL All-Time Team. During his NFL career, Mills made five Pro Bowls and was on the All-Pro First Team in 1996. In 181 NFL games, Mills registered 1,265 tackles (12th-most all-time), 20.5 sacks and 11 interceptions. His pick-six in 1995 led to the first win in franchise history for the Carolina Panthers. Mills’s “keep pounding” speech as an assistant coach while battling cancer remains a Carolina rallying cry. Mills died in 2005.
John Devereaux’s Ballot:
Troy Polamalu – Polamalu was the leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense from the mid-2000s to the early 2010s. One of the most prolific safeties to ever play the game, Polamalu was more than just a great player statistically.
Edgerrin James – James was a part of the early 2000s Colts team that was chock full of talent. Teammates with Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison, James was their main source on the ground. James is 13th all-time in rushing yards with 12,346. Accumulating over 15,000 scrimmage yards and 80 touchdowns, James’s time with Colts led to being AP Offensive Player of the Year in 1999 and he was always atop the list for rushing yards per season.
Reggie Wayne – Wayne may have had Peyton Manning as his quarterback, but having four seasons with 100 receptions and eight seasons with 1,000 or more yards is deserving of this vote. Wayne shared Manning’s talent with another Hall of Famer receiver in Marvin Harrison. Wayne had to fight for targets throughout his career and received far fewer targets in the end zone that his counterpart received. However, Wayne was able to record 82 touchdowns, tied for 24th on the all-time list.
Isaac Bruce – Isaac Bruce was one of the best receivers in the NFL for a long time, providing eight 1,000 or more receiving yard seasons, accumulating 15,208 receiving yards in his 14-year career, which is currently the fifth-most in NFL history. Bruce is 12th on the all-time receiving touchdown list with 91 and was one of the leading pieces of the Greatest Show on Turf during the St. Louis Rams era in the late ’90s and early 2000s. The most impressive part about Bruce’s career was that he shared a lot of the targets with another Hall of Fame candidate in Torry Holt, which definitely hindered Bruce’s stats. If Bruce was alone without another Pro Bowl receiver, his stats would most likely reflect if not oversee Jerry Rice like numbers.
Alan Faneca – Alan Faneca was one of the best offensive linemen of the 2000s. Faneca helped lead the Steelers to Super Bowl XL with his pass-protecting excellence. During Faneca’s career, he protected legendary quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger (Steelers, 2003 to 2007) and Brett Favre (Jets, 2008). The most incredible stat that Faneca owns has to be the fact that he only allowed 29 penalties against him during his career. In 206 games, Faneca only faltered 29 times, which is impressive when the average game holds roughly 75 snaps.
Celeste Sabin’s Ballot:
Sam Mills – Mills leads my picks not only because of his decorated career as a professional football player, but also his personal inspiration that continues to be inspiring motivation to the Carolina Panthers nearly 15 years following his death. The Panthers’ team motto of “Keep Pounding” was coined by Mills prior to a matchup between Carolina and Dallas and those two words have stuck as the team’s motto. Mills played in five Pro Bowls and was a First-Team All-Pro and two-time Second-Team All-Pro. Mills also was honored by Carolina with his induction into their Hall of Honor and also to the Saints’ Hall of Fame. Mills continued to coach the Panthers following his stint with them until cancer took his life in April 2015.
Troy Polamalu – Polamalu was part of the Super Bowl-winning Steelers team twice in his tenure, has been selected for the Pro Bowl eight times, was an All-Pro six times and a First-Teamer four times. Polamalu was also awarded the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2010, was part of the All-Decade team and is also a member of Pittsburgh’s All-Time team.
Reggie Wayne – Wayne helped the Colts reach the playoffs every year except for two during his career with the team, making the Pro Bowl six times in a seven-year span. When Wayne retired, he was the league’s second all-time leading receiver in the postseason, ranks 10th all-time in NFL career receptions, and 10th in all-time NFL receiving yards.
LeRoy Butler – Butler was a monumental part of the Packers during his tenure, making four Pro Bowl appearances and being dubbed a four-time All-Pro in addition to starting as strong safety for Green Bay in three consecutive NFL Championship games. He recorded seven tackles and one sack during the Super Bowl XXXI victory over the New England Patriots. Butler was also part of the 1990s All-Decade team and has a spot in the Green Bay Packers’ Hall of Fame.
Zach Thomas – Thomas won AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1996 and was voted to seven Pro Bowls and the First-Team All-Pro list five times in his career along with two seasons on the Second-Team All-Pro roster. Thomas recorded 168 starts for Miami’s defense and holds the record for the most starts ever in Miami’s history. Thomas was a part of the All-Decade team in the 2000s and is also part of the Miami Dolphins’ Honor Roll.