While Bryant Young is only recently retired, it's never too early to discuss his Hall of Fame candidacy. Players have to wait five years after retirement before they're eligible to be on the ballot. earlier today, Maiocco pointed out the guys who won't be back in 2009 and it is quite an impressive list: BY, Brett Favre, Michael Strahan, Warren Sapp, Steve McNair and probably Jonathan Ogden and of course Larry Allen. Favre, Strahan, Allen and Ogden are likely locks. I like McNair but am not sold on him as a Hall of Fame QB. Sapp made quite an impact, but I personally think he is a borderline candidate. That leaves us with Bryant Young.
Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way: We all love Bryant Young. He was as classy a player as there has ever been and I don't know of anybody who doesn't like him. If I could have it my way he'd be a Hall of Famer and that's that. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. It's not the Hall of Nice Guys, but rather the Hall of Fame. I definitely think being a nice guy ,might bump him over for voters who are on the fence. However, it takes a little more than that to get to that point. So has Bryant Young done enough to merit induction?
If you went strictly by the statistics he'd be borderline because he didn't accumulate the gaudy stats you see from many Hall of Fame players. The problem with that sort of analysis is that BY's impact went beyond just high sack totals. For defensive linemen, the sack is probably the most relevant among the counting stats. For defensive tackles, the positional demands are going to lead to lower sack totals. Young was always a pass rush threat, but just as importantly, he was a great run stopper. Furthermore, other teams realized how good he was and that led to many double teams. 1997 is a perfect example of this. 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 quietly went about his business and outside of the Bay Area, not much was said about that. That's great for team chemistry, but for a player trying to make a name for yourself, not so much. Of course, we know this was not an issue for BY and we all appreciate that. Unfortunately it might hurt his Hall candidacy. A writer from Jacksonville might look at him and think he was a good guy and a solid player, but not enough of an impact player.
Along those same lines is the team's for which he played. Young was on some quality teams early in his career, but he was on some god-awful teams in the last few years. It would be interesting to see whether that is held against him. On the flip-side, you could argue that should be a point in his favor as he was still quite productive even though teams knew he was the only real weapon along the line.
I was going to try and compare Young with current Hall of Fame defensive linemen, but that is not as simple as it would first appear. The NFL did not start keeping track of sacks until 1982 and so there are a lot of guys not listed on the career list. Additionally, Bryant Young was a big time run stopper who was not always the team was looking to for the sack, so it wouldn't even be fair to compare sack numbers. Warren Sapp will be eligible the same year and he finished with 96.5 sacks, 7 ahead of Young in one less season. However, Sapp was considered a pass rusher first, so it was his job to get those sacks. I think it's fairly reasonable to argue that if Sapp gets in, then Young should as well.
I did a little research and came across the rules for selection into the NFL Hall of Fame. After coming up with preliminary lists, there is a vote reducing the total to 25 Modern Era semifinalists. There is then a vote by the selection committee lowering that number to 15 Modern Era nominees. There is then a vote to reduce the 15 nominees to 10, followed by a vote reducing that number to 5. The 5 remaining individuals are then voted on individually. Each of the five will enter the Hall of Fame if they receive at least 80% of the vote.
I can honestly say I really don't know if BY gets in. I'm a believer in you either are a Hall of Famer or you are not. In all sports, voters talk about how they decided that while the first five times they voted, a certain player was not a Hall of Famer, they finally decided he was deserving. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it's just not the way I think. So I've thrown up a poll asking whether you think Young will make it in. It's not asking if you think he SHOULD get in. Simply whether it will happen or not.