Being inducted into your sport’s Hall-of-Fame is one of the greatest honours an athlete can receive. Yet, when your name gets passed over, it has to be one of the most helpless feelings imaginable, at least in sports where you have to retire to become eligible. (I would guess; unfortunately, I don’t have the first-hand experience.)
When you think of the top-five players in any sport, they are all in the Hall-of-Fame. However, there are a number of athletes who were certainly elite during their playing careers, and amassed the appropriate credentials to receive the honour, but had their names passed over.
This injustice pervades the sporting landscape. From football to baseball to basketball and beyond, a boatload of worthy Hall of Famers from myriad sports have been snubbed by the voters. (Tennis is one sport that doesn’t suffer from said problem; the International Tennis Hall of Fame inducts so many people that even the honorees are surprised to get in!)
I don’t have the power to put these players on their proper pedestals, but I can give them a modicum of recognition.
A couple notes before we set out: you won’t find any golfers on this list now that the age requirement has been upped from 40 to 50. You won’t find any soccer players, either, because the sport lacks an authoritative International Hall-of-Fame. (How un-American.)
Now that I’ve covered the players you won’t find here, let’s get to the ones you will and set the odds of them one day joining their hallowed halls.
Anderson Silva, UFC
Odds of getting in: 1/100
Currently, the biggest UFC snub is a toss-up between Silva and Georges St. Pierre. The sport is relatively new, and the HOF has only been around since 2003, so both men will undoubtedly receive the recognition they deserve, eventually. But with the addition of the “modern wing” to the hall, fighters (like Silva) who debuted after the year 2000 can be honored even before they retire.
The UFC says that it’s “preferable” for fighters to be retired, but as long as they’re over 35, they’re eligible for induction. The Spider (41) is the greatest that MMA has ever seen, but he’s no longer the man he used to be. For all intents and purposes, the Silva we once knew is retired. If the promotion is ever going to induct an active fighter, it should be him.
“The Spider” was unbeatable for a six-year span, which saw him win 17-straight contests, including ten defenses of his middleweight title. The latter stages of his career haven’t been kind to the Brazilian; he hasn’t recorded a win in any of his last five fights. That’s seen his record “slump” to 33-8-1. But those struggles don’t diminish what he did earlier in his career.
Silva is still the owner of myriad UFC records, including most consecutive wins, most title defenses, most knockdowns, most finishes, and longest title reign; he’s also second in knockouts and second in total title bout wins. Simply put, he’s the GOAT.
Silva headlines the list of fighters who will eventually receive their rightful spot in the HOF that does not actually have a physical location. (Come on, Dana!)
Mark Recchi, Hockey
Odds of getting in: 1/25
I don’t think I’m the only one who was shocked to see Eric Lindros inducted into the Hockey HOF before his former teammate Mark Recchi. I’m not suggesting that Lindros was undeserving, but he was the brightly burning candle that quickly flamed out. Recchi’s success was a long, slow burn.
Recchi won three Stanley Cups, was a seven-time All-Star and sits 12th on the NHL’s points list (20th in goals, 15th in assists). Outside of Jaromir Jagr, who is still active and thus ineligible, every player ahead of Recchi on the points list has been inducted into the HOF.
The good news for Recchi is that he has only been eligible since 2014, so he hasn’t been looked over too many times. There’s no way he doesn’t get in.
Terrell Davis, Football
Odds of getting in: 1/10
Although his career was rather short-lived (seven years), what Davis accomplished in that time is more than enough to be enshrined in the Pro Football HOF.
Davis is one of just seven players to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season; the two-time Super Bowl champ also has an NFL MVP award and a Super Bowl MVP award in his trophy case. As good as he was during the regular season, “TD” was at his best when it mattered the most. His 142.5 yards-per-game average in the postseason is the highest in league history.
A devastating knee injury ended his career prematurely, but not before he could solidify himself as one of the greatest backs to ever play the game. Davis has now been a two-time finalist for the Hall-of-Fame and won’t be waiting much longer.
Kurt Warner, Football
Odds of getting in: 1/9
In 1998, Kurt Warner cemented himself as a great story, clawing his from grocery bagger to NFL quarterback. By 2002, Warner was recognized as one of the best quarterbacks in the game; when he finally retired following the 2009 season, the Arena Football Hall-of-Famer had compiled a résumé worthy of a place in Canton.
Warner is a Super Bowl Champion, a Super Bowl MVP, a two-time NFL MVP, and a two-time First-Team All-Pro. The pivot for the “greatest show on turf” holds the record for most passing yards in a Super Bowl (414), and is the only quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards in three Super Bowls. He is also one of just three quarterbacks to ever take two different franchises to the Super Bowl.
It is only fitting that Warner gets passed over a few times in Hall-of-Fame voting, as he was always counted out during his 12-year career; but he will be rightfully voted in very soon – likely next year.
Chris Webber, Basketball
Odds of getting in: 1/4
Best known for his days with the Sacramento Kings, Webber is one of the best big-men to ever play. During his prime, Webber was not only extremely dangerous in the post but was also a solid defensive presence as well.
The most famous member of the Fab-Five went onto be named NBA Rookie of the Year, was a five-time All-Star, made the All-NBA First-Team once, and the Second-Team three times. Although Webber did not experience a whole lot of team success, he can not be blamed for that, as he certainly did his part. C-Webb finished his career averaging 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks, which is certainly HOF-worthy.
I don’t care what he accepted while at Michigan, his performance throughout his 17-year career was more than enough to put him in the HOF.
Red Byron, NASCAR
Odds of getting in: 1/3
Generally, NASCAR has been pretty good about honouring those who are deserving, which is why it’s puzzling to me that Byron has yet to be inducted into the sport’s HOF.
Byron’s career may not have been very long, and he may not have an overwhelming number of championships, but he is directly involved in way too much history. The Alabama native won the first ever sanctioned race in 1948, and would go onto win the first ever championship that same year.
An injury that Byron suffered in World War II caused him to drive with a special leg brace, and also contributed to his shortened career. In 1998, Byron was honoured as one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers and his enshrinement in the HOF is coming shortly.
Ernesto Marcel, Boxing
Odds of getting in: 3/4
Had Marcel not retired from boxing at the age of 26, he would have been in the HOF a long time ago. The featherweight racked up a 40-4-2 record, and successfully defended his title four-times before walking away after the final defence, retiring the champion.
In arguably his biggest bout against a young Roberto Duran, Marcel kept the match competitive until the referee stopped the fight in the 10th round awarding a TKO to Duran – a very controversial decision.
When you look at some of the records of others who have been honoured in boxing’s HOF, you have to think that Marcel will get in, as well.
Pete Rose, Baseball
Odds of getting in: 3/2
I’m not here to talk about what games he gambled on, or how much he’s selling his autograph for now. Pete Rose is the greatest contact hitter this game has ever seen. Despite his slimy personality, “Charlie Hustle” owns the title of hit king. (I have to admit, I side with him on Ichiro’s Japanese League hits not counting.)
Not only are Rose’s 4,256 hits an MLB-best, but during his prime, the Reds’ star hit over .300 in 14 of 15 seasons. I refuse to continue throwing stats out here because his hits alone are enough of an argument.
Whether the MLB will ever reinstate him remains unclear, but I think he’s suffered long enough.
(Feature Photo Credit: Dan4th Nicholas (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/])