It’s been a long time since Bills fans have been able to watch our beloved team play in a coveted playoff game, but it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when our team wasn’t only a perpetual playoff contender, but also an annual Super Bowl team. These years were both the happiest and saddest years of football for many Bills fans. These were the years when we were able to watch future Hall of Fame players like Thurman Thomas, Jim Kelly, and Bruce Smith. Hopefully in the near future we can add another name to that list.
Andre Reed was a weapon like few others throughout his career. He recorded 951 receptions for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl in seven consecutive seasons, and won the AFC championship in four consecutive seasons. He was one of those guys who quarterbacks dreamed of throwing to, and cornerbacks dreaded having to cover. Reed has been a finalist for seven years running, and been snubbed each year by the selection committee. Bills fans all watch closely each year at selection time hoping to see his name on the list of new inductees, but thus far have been disappointed. The real question is: does he deserve it, or are we just a biased fan base that is angry because our guy is getting rejected?
The only way we can gauge whether or not he is a legitimate Hall of Fame-caliber player is by comparison to other receivers. We all know that the game has changed a lot since his days, so we want to narrow the comparison to other receivers who played around the same time as Reed in order to get an accurate understanding of how good Reed really was compared to his peers.
For the sake of time I chose to look at four wide receivers who played with Reed: Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Art Monk, and Cris Carter. I chose these four because Rice, Irvin and Monk are already in the hall, and Carter has been a finalist may of the same years that Reed has.
Jerry Rice was drafted with the 16th overall pick in the 1985 draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Throughout his career he astonished onlookers with the ability to take any ball that touched his gloves to the house. He still leads the league for career receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), and touchdowns (197). He is a 13-time Pro Bowler, three time Super Bowl champion, and one time Super Bowl MVP. No one compares with Rice, he was in a league of his own. Rice was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 as a deserving first ballot Hall of Famer.
Michael Irvin was drafted in 1988 with the 11th overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys. He played with the Cowboys his entire career until he retired in 1999. In his 11 years in the league he caught 750 balls for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns. Irvin is a five time Pro Bowler, and a three time Super Bowl champion. Irvin was clearly a great receiver, playing on a phenomenal team at the time. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Art Monk was drafted in 1980 with the 18th overall pick of the draft by the Washington Redskins. Monk was a three time Pro Bowler, and a three time Super Bowl champion. He retired in 1995 ending his career with 940 receptions, 12,721 yards, and 68 touchdowns. Art was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008, and received a standing ovation that lasted over 4 minutes. According to NFL Films, that is the longest ovation for an inductee ever.
Cris Carter was drafted in the fourth round of the 1987 supplemental draft by the Eagles. He played with the Eagles a few years before going to the Minnesota Vikings in 1990. It is here that his dominance began. Carter was selected to the Pro Bowl in 8 consecutive seasons, from 1993 to 2000. Carter is still 4th in both receptions and receiving touchdowns with 1,101 and 130, respectively. He also is 9th in receiving yardage with 13,899 yards. Carter is not in the Hall of Fame, he has been voted down 6 times after being named a finalist. Carter said in an interview last year that he thinks the modern day wide receiver isn’t appreciated by the Hall of Fame committee, and he may have a point as only place kickers and tight ends have less players at their position in the Hall.
Conclusion By Numbers
The fact is Andre Reed deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Reed’s career stats are better than two of the three Hall of Fame wide receivers from his time period. Both Reed and Carter’s exclusion from the Hall is a scarlet letter on the selection committee and should be fixed in this coming class. The only mark on the record of these two is the lack of Super Bowl victories. If either of them had won even one Super Bowl they would have been inducted years ago.