Football / Sports

Marvin Harrison misses the cut for Hall of Fame

NEW YORK -- Despite impressive career numbers and an NFL record for catches in one season, Philadelphia native Marvin Harrison fell short of being selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility on Saturday.

Wide receiver Andre Reed was the lone receiver chosen. The Allentown native got in on his ninth try. Reed was selected along with defensive end Michael Strahan, linebacker Derrick Brooks, tackle Walter Jones, defensive back Aeneas Williams, and senior committee nominees defensive end Claude Humphrey and punter Ray Guy.

"Yes, I waited," Reed said. "But my dad always told me patience is a virtue and good things come to those who wait."

The seven members of the 2014 class will be inducted in Canton, Ohio, in August.

Humphrey played the bulk of his career for the Atlanta Falcons but finished with the Eagles from 1979 to '81 and recorded 141/2 sacks in 1980, when the team reached the Super Bowl.

"I never really gave up hope," said Humphrey, 69. "I always figured there was a place for me here."

Harrison made the first cut as the 46-member selection committee narrowed a modern-era list of 15 to 10 during almost nine hours of deliberation. But the former Colt became the latest receiver nominated to wait another year seemingly because of the logjam at the position as the league tilts toward the pass.

Attempts to reach Harrison on Saturday night were unsuccessful, but he spoke to The Inquirer last week. He was asked then if he expected to get into the Hall.

"No, I don't expect anything," Harrison said. "Some things you can't control. That's one of them. You throw me a pass 10 times, I expect to catch all 10 'cause I can control that. Something that's out of my control, I don't expect anything."

Many expect Harrison, 41, who was born and raised in Philadelphia and excelled in football and basketball at Roman Catholic High School, to eventually get in. But more receivers are expected to join the field in the coming years.

Tim Brown was also not elected. The Oakland Raiders wide receiver was trimmed from the initial list of 15 along with Tony Dungy, who coached Harrison in Indianapolis and also coached the Buccaneers; Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety John Lynch; New Orleans Saints kicker Morten Andersen; and former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr.

Dallas Cowboys and 49ers defensive end/linebacker Charles Haley, Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, journeyman linebacker Kevin Greene, Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields, and Harrison survived first cuts but didn't have enough backing to earn induction this year.

Reed, 50, was Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly's favorite target with the Bills. He played 16 seasons (1985-2000), all but one in Buffalo. He is the most prolific receiver in team history and finished his career with 951 catches for 13,198 yards and 87 touchdown grabs.

Reed and Kelly connected for 663 passes, the most in NFL history until Colts teammates Harrison and Peyton Manning eclipsed them in 2004. Manning will start for the Denver Broncos in Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks.

Many thought Strahan would get in last year -- his first on the ballot. But the NFL's single-season record holder in sacks (221/2) had to wait no longer. The former New York Giants end notched 1411/2 sacks over his 15-year career.

Brooks never missed a game in 14 seasons for the Buccaneers. A 2000s all-decade selection, he ended his career with 25 interceptions, 24 forced fumbles, and 131/2 sacks. He was named NFL defensive player of the year in 2002.

Jones dominated pass rushers in 12 seasons for the Seahawks. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound left tackle allowed just 23 sacks and was called for only nine holding penalties in 180 games. He helped pave the way for running back Shaun Alexander's franchise-record 1,880 yards rushing and then-NFL mark of 28 touchdowns in 2005.

Humphrey was named first team all-pro five times, earned six Pro Bowl nods during his career, and has been credited with 122 career sacks. He played 11 seasons in Atlanta before moving to the Eagles for his final three.

Guy becomes the second full-time specialist, joining kicker Jan Stenerud, and the first punter to make the Hall. He played his entire career for the Oakland-Los Angeles Raiders and was selected to six straight Pro Bowls.

Harrison was trying to become the third Philadelphia-born player to be elected to the Hall after Packers and Cowboys cornerback Herb Adderley and Browns running back Leroy Kelly. Bert Bell, the former Eagles owner and league administrator, is in the Hall and also from Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania has the most Hall members, with 30 after Reed's selection.

Harrison, who still resides in Philadelphia, was drafted by the Colts in the first round in 1996. Teaming up with Manning for most of his career, he set franchise records in all receiving categories.

"I will always been indebted to what he did for me," Manning said last week.

Harrison ranks third in NFL history in receptions (1,102), seventh in receiving yards (14,580), and fifth in touchdown catches (128). He set the NFL single-season record for receptions with 143 in 2002.

Harrison, who shunned the spotlight as a player, was put under the microscope not long after his retirement when a gun registered to him was used to shoot Dwight Dixon outside a North Philadelphia bar that Harrison also owned in April 2008. He has not been charged with any crime.

Dixon died in July 2009 when he was shot several times while in his car outside a building two blocks away from Harrison's bar.

Harrison said he would not comment on Dixon's shooting and death at the start of his interview with The Inquirer last week. The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said it was still investigating Dixon's death.

The Hall of Fame selection committee, made up mostly of members of the Pro Football Writers Association, selects its inductees using "football-only criteria." No more than five from 15 modern-era finalists can be selected each year, and nominees need 80 percent approval to get in.

Mike Sielski and Zach Berman contributed to this article.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

Visit The Philadelphia Inquirer at www.philly.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


blog comments powered by Disqus