As many of you know, I grew up in the 90’s. And as a child of the 90’s we often look back at our childhoods and remember Super Nintendo, Tamagotchi’s, and Pokemon. But some of us remember a time when playing outside was the cool thing to do, and nothing was better than playing football in the street pretending to be your favorite football player. Of course, most of our favorite players are forever enshrined in Canton, Ohio now, but there were still those whose favorite player was great, just not Hall of Fame great, and to honor those who won’t be honored with a plaque, we write this article about the best players who will never make the Hall of Fame, 1990’s edition.
The 6’7” 324lb tackle was a great college football player for the first half of the 90’s, becoming a 3-time All American on his way to a Hall of Fame college career. Unfortunately Boselli’s professional career didn’t last much longer than his college years making it nearly impossible for the big man to make it to Canton. But that does not mean his years playing in the NFL weren’t Hall of Fame caliber.
Boselli made 5 Pro Bowls and was a 3-time All-Pro, as well as the Jaguars 1st player inducted into their ring of honor known as “The Pride of the Jaguars”. Boselli was so good that he was voted to the NFL’s 1990’s All-Decade Team despite being drafted in ’95 and therefore playing only half of the decade. And even with his career lasting just 7 years and playing in just 90 games due to injury, the tackle was able to make as many All Pro teams and play in as many Pro Bowls as fellow 90’s All-Decade player Kevin Greene, who did make it into the Hall of Fame this year. Unfortunately with just 7 years of playing in the league, Boselli’s chances of joining Greene, unlike his playing days, are anything but great.
If I was to describe somebody as a multi-year Pro Bowl offensive player who made a few All-Pro teams and even won the NFL MVP on his way to winning the Super Bowl in the late 90’s, most people would guess Kurt Warner. But actually, I am talking about somebody who was named to more All-Pro teams, won more Super Bowls, and twice won the offensive player of the year award, something Warner was never able to do. I’d be talking about Terrell Davis.
And just like Boselli, Davis was able to accomplish a lot on the field in a matter of a few years before injuries abruptly ended a historic career. Of course many people know TD as John Elway’s running back in the glory days of Bronco Football, but the former MVP was much more than a second fiddle. On his way to winning an MVP and 2 Super Bowls, Davis was one of just 7 backs to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season, and did so after nearly hitting that mark the year before as well. Now TD led the league in TD’s in 97 & 98, not surprisingly the two years that his Broncos won the Super Bowl, as Davis was the true leader of the run-first offense.
But even having one of the 6 greatest seasons of all-time, winning an MVP, leading the league in touchdowns on multiple occasions, winning 2 Super Bowls, and having more All-Pro seasons than Hall of Fame running backs like Jerome Bettis and Marcus Allen, the fact that Davis only played in 16 games in his final 3 years before early retirement is reason enough that we will never see Terrell Davis in Canton.
In the early 90’s the AFC was dominated by the Buffalo Bills and a quartet of Hall of Fame players. But the Bills were much more than Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and Bruce Smith. In fact they were also anchored by another Hall of Fame caliber player on defense by the name of Cornelius Bennett.
The outside linebacker definitely has a case for Canton, with 5 Pro Bowls and being named to 3 All-Pro teams, while being a part of 5 different conference winning teams (4 with the Bills, 1 with the Falcons). Heck, he even won the conference defensive player of the year award twice, truly showing how great he was. But unfortunately his statistics don’t quite place him among the all-time greats. And ranking 78th all-time in career sacks doesn’t bode well for anybody trying to get into the Hall of Fame, especially a player who has been on the losing side of more Super Bowls than any other player in history. And maybe winning even 1 of those 5 trips to the big game could have changed the perception of a player who dominated his competition for so many years.
When people look at Novacek’s career, I hope they see it the way I do. The season before the All-Pro tight end showed up Dallas went 1-15. The 6 seasons following, when Novacek was lining up for the Cowboys, they averaged more than 11 wins per season, won 3 Super Bowls, and became the dynasty of the decade. He retires and the Cowboys haven’t been to a Super Bowl since.
Of course, there is more to the story than that, but there is little doubt that Jay Novacek is the piece that often gets left out when talking about the Cowboys of the 90’s. Everybody knows the “Triplets”, but it was the 5-time Pro Bowl tight end that played a major role on the team. Without him they are hardly the 90’s’ best franchise.
Of course just 6 seasons, 5 Pro Bowls, and 2 All-Pro teams later, and the Cowboy tight end retired because of a degenerative disc in his spine. And if it weren’t for that bad back of his, we could very well be talking about a Hall of Fame player who helped his team to more than just the 3 Super Bowl wins Novacek was a part of.
Darren Woodson has won 3 Super Bowls, been elected to 5 Pro Bowls, is a 3-time First-Team All-Pro safety who has more tackles than any player in the storied history of the Dallas Cowboys. And although Woodson was often considered the best player on a damn good defense, he falls into the category of just missing the Hall of Fame.
Woodson was a heck of a player. There is no doubt about that. But in a day and age where greatness is only great if it can be measured, Woodson just doesn’t have the statistics a Hall of Fame player is expected to have. Woodson only recorded 11 sacks in his 12 seasons, and although sacks might not be a statistic commonly attributed to DB’s like Woodson, interceptions are. And there are over 250 players who recorded more than the mere 23 picks the former safety nabbed. Those numbers along with overall lack of pizazz in Woodson’s game is why the former Cowboy superstar will never be in the Hall of Fame, despite being one of the best players of the 1990’s.