|Marshall Faulk's 19,154 yards from scrimmage is only bested by NFL elite Hall of Fame players Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton|
Faulk is one of only three players(Marcus Allen and Tiki Barber) to amass 10,000 rushing yards and 5,000 receiving yards in a career. He's the only one to have 12,000 and 6,000. Faulk had 5 games with 250+ yards from scrimmage and 14 games with 200+ yards from scrimmage, both NFL records. He's the only player in NFL history to record 70+ rushing touchdowns and 30+ receiving touchdowns in a career.
He is one of only four players in league history to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Offensive Player of the Year(3 times) and NFL MVP. The others are Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders, and Marcus Allen, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame already. Add all of that to a Super Bowl Championship in 1999 with the Rams and the case for Faulk to be a first ballot inductee is impossible to refute.
|Deion Sanders' multi-sport ability inspired this 1992 Upper Deck brand sports card when he played for both the Braves and Falcons in Atlanta|
|Covering Shannon Sharpe was an impossible task because he was too fast for linebackers and had too much size for defensive backs|
|Richard Dent has the sixth most sacks in NFL history and had quite possibly the greatest defensive postseason in NFL history in 1985 where he recorded 6 sacks and 3 forced fumbles on his way to Super Bowl XX MVP honors|
For six years before this year, Richard Dent waited to get the call to hear that he was receiving pro football's highest individual honor and for each of those six years, Dent was disappointed. In 2011, Dent is disappointed no more. It's again confusing to me how it took Dent as many years as it did to get the nod from the hall selection committee. His resume would state a more strong case for the hall than someone who would have to wait til his seventh year of eligibility to be selected.
Dent, who played 12 of his 15 seasons with the Chicago Bears, is that franchises all-time leader in sacks and is still sixth overall in career sacks with a gaudy 137.5. He was so dominant at the line of scrimmage in his best years, Dent recorded an NFL record 34.5 sacks in just two seasons in '84 and '85. He was part of an '85 Bears defense that won Super Bowl XX and is widely considered the greatest defense to have ever played together for an NFL team. He was the MVP of that Super Bowl becoming one of only two defensive ends to ever be awarded that honor(Harvey Martin SB XII - 1978) by recording two sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass knock-down in a 46-10 landslide over the New England Patriots. He would later add another Super Bowl victory to his resume with the San Francisco 49ers in a season he spent mostly injured.
It's hard to appreciate the difference an elite pass rusher can make on a team as much of what they do doesn't involve recording a lot of statistics to show for their efforts. It's usually the statistics of the players on the opposing offense that prove a defensive lineman's worth. Despite that reality, Dent still gave the Hall of Fame numbers to work with in an illustrious career as one of the greatest defensive lineman to wear an NFL uniform.
Other Hall of Fame selections that made the class of 2011 as senior candidates were Chris Hanburger and Les Richter. Hanburger played his entire 14 year career as a linebacker with the Washington Redskins from 1962 through 1978. He became famously known as "The Hangman" for his clothesline style of tackling that the NFL would later outlaw in a rule inspired by his play. He was named to nine consecutive Pro-Bowl teams in that time.