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Many more wide receiver debates coming to the Hall of Fame

Tim Brown  looks on

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 14: Wide receiver Tim Brown #81 of the Oakland Raiders watches the action from the sidelines during the NFL preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at 3Com Park on August 14, 2003 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers defeated the Raiders 14-10. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Jed Jacobsohn

Last year, when Cris Carter was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his sixth year as a finalist, it seemed to break up a bit of a logjam at the wide receiver position. This year, another wide receiver who had been waiting for years, Andre Reed, was selected in his eighth year as a finalist.

But the Hall of Fame debates at the wide receiver position have just begun.

Two finalists who were voted down this year, Tim Brown and Marvin Harrison, will remain on the ballot. Harrison is highly likely to get in at some point, but Brown is going to be a tough case: Although Brown retired with 14,934 receiving yards, putting him behind only Jerry Rice on the all-time list at the time he retired, he has now been surpassed by four more players on the career receiving yards list, and each year his stats may look less impressive in comparison.

Next year receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt become eligible. Bruce is fourth all-time with 15,208 receiving yards, while Holt is 12th with 13,382. They both have strong cases, particularly Bruce, but if Harrison couldn’t get in during his first year of eligibility, Bruce and Holt may not either.

In 2016 Terrell Owens becomes eligible. Owens is second only to Rice with 15,934 receiving yards and third all-time with 153 receiving touchdowns. In 2017 Hines Ward becomes eligible. Ward’s receiving numbers aren’t as good as the other receivers mentioned here, but Ward was the best blocking receiver of his generation, and he has a Super Bowl MVP award to his credit. In 2018 Randy Moss becomes eligible. Moss is second only to Rice with 156 receiving touchdowns and third all-time with 15,292 receiving yards.

Of the players who will become eligible in the years ahead, Moss seems the most likely to be selected in his first year of eligibility. Harrison will probably be selected at some point, and there will be interesting debates around Bruce, Holt, Owens and Ward. Brown, despite a very good career, may have a tough time getting in. Every year, he has more competition at the wide receiver position.