Older AFCE

Older AFCE

Will a Super Bowl Win Push These Aging Stars into the Hall of Fame?

Will a Super Bowl Win Push These Aging Stars into the Hall of Fame?
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Brad Gagnon of CBS Sports recently ranked 30 players over 30 years old who have yet to win a championship. Would earning a ring solidify their chances? Do some of these players already have a solid enough resumé to be enshrined without having a Super Bowl victory on it?

You can see the entire list here. The AFC North has two players in the top ten of Gagnon’s list: Joe Thomas and Steve Smith.

The greatest individual accomplishment in pro football is linked heavily to the greatest team accomplishment the sport has to offer. You want to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Canton? It’ll help if you have a Super Bowl victory on your résumé.

Of the 170 Super Bowl-era players who have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 87 of them have won Super Bowls. Soon, Super Bowl winners Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kurt Warner, Brett Favre and Ray Lewis, among others, will join them.

And eventually, active champs like Peyton and Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Darrelle Revis, Charles Woodson, Terrell Suggs, Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne, Adam Vinatieri, Vince Wilfork and Troy Polamalu will/should get in.

But what about those who are getting up there in age and haven’t won a ring? It’s too early to assess relatively young guys like J.J. Watt, Calvin Johnson, Andrew Luck, Von Miller,Ndamukong Suh, Dez Bryant, Jimmy Graham, Justin Houston, Matt Ryan, LeSean McCoyand Jamaal Charles (all of whom are in their 20s), but here’s a breakdown of the Hall of Fame chances for 30 non-champions over the age of 30:

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Hall of Fame odds: Shoo-in He’s a three-time first-team All-Pro with the second-highest single-season rushing yards total in NFL history and is one of 29 backs with over 10,000 yards.

Championship odds: Slim

This could change if Peterson gets traded, which remains a possibility, but the Vikings — who have won 12 games the last two years — are still in rebuilding mode.

2. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

Hall of Fame odds: Shoo-in Despite playing for bad teams more often than not, he ranks 12th all time with 89 touchdown catches and he should easily retire as part of the exclusive 1,000-catch club. He’s also been to more Pro Bowls (eight) than any active receiver.

Championship odds: Toss-up

If Carson Palmer can stay healthy, the Cardinals are good enough to make a run. We’re talking about one of the best teams in football from the first half of the 2014 season. Plus, Fitzgeralnd is only 31 and could be a trade candidate.

Larry Fitzgerald looks like a lock for Canton, with or without a ring. (USATSI)

3. Andre Johnson, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Hall of Fame odds: Very strong

He’s been an All-Pro twice, which is once more than Fitzgerald, and is also a seven-time Pro Bowler. Plus, he’s 180 yards and a touchdown away from ranking in the top 10 all time in catches, yards and touchdowns.

Championship odds: Toss-up

He’s 33 and appears to be fading fast, but the Colts should be contenders the next few years.

4. Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers

Hall of Fame odds: Very strong

He’s an eight-time Pro Bowler and a three-time first-team All-Pro who ranks in the top five among all-time tight ends when it comes to catches, yards and touchdowns.

Championship odds: Slim

He’s 34 and the Chargers haven’t had a double-digit-win season since 2009.

5. Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland Browns

Hall of Fame odds: Very strong

He’s a five-time first-team All-Pro. Only one other active offensive lineman has received that honor more than twice. And he only just turned 30. Only 12 players have been named first-team All-Pros more than that this early in their careers, and all of them are in the Hall of Fame.

Championship odds: Strong

Might not happen in Cleveland, but you’d have to imagine he’ll get a shot somewhere in the next five to 10 years.

6. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys

Hall of Fame odds: Strong

He leads all active tight ends in catches and yards, but has only 57 touchdowns. His numbers compare well with current HOF tight ends, but there’s only eight of them. And with guys like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham coming on, Witten could at least have a long wait ahead of him.

Championship odds: Toss-up

The Cowboys have the ability to make a run but the defense is still weak and their quarterback is getting old.

7. DeMarcus Ware, DE, Denver Broncos

Hall of Fame odds: Strong

He’s an eight-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro with two seasons with 19 or more sacks under his belt. After a bounce-back campaign in Denver, the 32-year-old might have enough gas left in the tank to make a run into the top 10 on the all-time sack list.

Championship odds: Toss-up

He’s got at least couple years left and the Broncos are a perennial Super Bowl contender.

8. Jared Allen, DE, Chicago Bears

Hall of Fame odds: Strong

He’s a four-time first-team All-Pro with a 22-sack season and the ninth-highest career sack total in NFL history. Plus, he’s only 32 and should add to that last total.

Championship odds: Slim

His sack totals have dropped three years in a row and Chicago isn’t a major contender.

9. Steve Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Hall of Fame odds: Strong

Two first-team All-Pro nods and he ranks in the top 20 all time in terms of receptions and yards. A big 2015 campaign could make him just the sixth receiver ever to record nine 1,000-yard seasons. Oh, and he’s also had four 100-yard playoff performances.

Championship odds: Slim

Time’s running out for the 35-year-old, but Baltimore’s not a bad spot to be.

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