With Deion Sanders heading into the Hall of Fame—and I know many of you don't agree that he's necessarily going in with a proud Falcon legacy on his back—it seems like a good time to look at current Falcons who may someday be in the Hall of Fame. Let's start with Roddy White.
White's an interesting case for any number of reasons. One, he's a late bloomer, the kind of guy who can have a hard time stacking enough catches and touchdowns to make a strong Hall of Fame case. Two, he's a wide receiver, and that position is chronically overlooked unless you're an automatic Hall of Famer on the level of a Jerry Rice or a Cris Carter. Third, he's had one of the most productive four year stretches imaginable, and we have no idea how long he can keep it up.
Here's an interesting test case. Art Monk was a great receiver for a long time, but he never had a single year as good as Roddy's was in 2010. What Monk did was play for a very long time and put up very consistent numbers, allowing him to finish with some nice numbers.
After the jump, let's hit those numbers right in the face.
So first off, Monk played 16 seasons. Both of these guys were 23 during their first NFL season, so you might think that Roddy would have to play as long as Monk to put up similar numbers. But as mentioned before, he's on pace to reach Monk's career numbers in a much shorter time. Let's stack 'em up:
Art Monk: 940 receptions, 12,721 yards, 13.5 yards per catch, 68 touchdowns
Roddy White: 430 receptions, 6,078 yards, 14.1 yards per catch, 37 touchdowns
As you can see, Roddy's almost halfway to Monk's career catches and receptions in six seasons, which includes his mediocre rookie and sophomore campaigns. He's more than halfway there, touchdown-wise, and it seems like a good bet that if he stays healthy and stays in this offense, he'll be catching a lot more of those from Matt Ryan in the years ahead. If he were to play until 35, Roddy might meet or exceed all of Monk's numbers.
The question is, would that be good enough to get him into the Hall of Fame? His fortunes may depend on what the Falcons can do. Hines Ward, a very good receiver for a long time, could punch a Hall ticket if the Steelers win a third Super Bowl in the next couple of seasons, and he'll have numbers slightly better than Monk's across the board. It can't hurt Roddy's case that people think of him as a dominant receiver now, but that won't mean jack to the bizarrely narrow-minded voters of the HoF if the Falcons don't win at least one Super Bowl while he's around. After all, a lone wide receiver can clearly will his team to victory, damnit.
To make it simple, let's say this. If Roddy White can play six or seven more seasons and post 70+ catches per season and 5-10 touchdowns, he's going to be a borderline Hall of Famer, and might just get in. If the Falcons win a Super Bowl or two while he's still in his prime, it's only going to increase his chances. Either way, I think he's got a very legitimate shot.
What say you?