Item: Sitting at seven enshrines in Canton, tied for fifth behind only Southern California (11), Notre Dame (10), Ohio State (9), Michigan/Pittsburgh (8), and even at seven with Alabama, will Orange football move up a notch by witnessing former Syracuse (1992-95) and Indianapolis Colts (1996-2008) star wide receiver Marvin Harrison receiving enough votes in his second year as one of the 15 finalists when the results are announced on January 31?
It became understandable a year ago when Marvin Harrison didn’t join the legendary quintet of Raymond Berry, Lance Alworth, Paul Warfield, Steve Largent and Jerry Rice as the only wide receivers that made it to Canton in their first year of eligibility. After all, the wide receiver spot has been crowded for the Hall’s 44 voters to consider over nearly the last decade with 2014 enshrinement to Andre Reed after an eight year wait, the year before Cris Carter was finally inducted after waiting seven annual voting cycles, and Tim Brown has been a finalist for six years including this year, all near or at top of the various career receiving categories.
This time around, expect Harrison (with deference to Tim Brown) to get the call the day before Super Bowl XLIV in Glendale, Ariz. honoring the player who teamed up with Peyton Manning for video game-like numbers between 1998-2008 forming the top quarterback-wide receiver duo statistically in four of the five major categories in NFL history, combining for 953 catches covering 12,756 yards and 112 touchdowns, including Harrison’s mind-boggling, record 143 catch season of 2002.
Harrison’s selection would give Syracuse an eighth member (Jim Brown, Jim Ringo, Larry Csonka, John Mackey, Al Davis, Art Monk and Floyd Little) in Canton, tying it with Michigan and longtime eastern rival Pitt for the fourth spot all time, and could a ninth be waiting in the wings?
One of the other finalists on the ballot this year is a first-timer, kicker Morten Andersen, who retired in 2007 as the NFL’s all time scoring leader with 2,544 points. Andersen’s rightful inclusion as a finalist based on his career achievements holding 13 NFL records as a kicking specialist hopefully continues the trend of getting more deserving modern era kickers, and punters for that matter, into the Hall, following punter Ray Guy’s election last year, and joining Jan Stenerud (elected in his first year of eligibility) as the only exclusive kicking specialists (Hall of Famers Lou Groza and George Blanda were known for kicking but regularly played other every down positions) enshrined in Canton.
It also brings to mind if one time Syracuse standout kicker Gary Anderson will follow Harrison one day soon as the school’s next member of the Hall. As his career closely mirrored that of his namesake (but a different end spelling of their common surname with Gary’s an “o” instead of Morten’s “e”), Anderson, after a standout career (1978-1981) that covered Archbold Stadium, a season with no home stadium, then the Dome’s first two seasons, kicked professionally for 23 seasons (second only to Andersen and Blanda for longevity) for five teams, and retired as the all time scoring leader (2,434) in 2004, a record Andersen broke as he played for three additional seasons until 2007. In 1998, Anderson became the first kicker to make every extra point and field goal in the regular season, until a fateful playoff field goal miss in the fourth quarter in an overtime loss to Atlanta in the NFC Championship game.
It was often speculated during their elite kicking careers that the two players with the same last name, but different spelling, would one day go into the Hall of Fame in the same year, but it seems doubtful two kickers would go into the same class with so many great modern era players on the ballot annually, and voting rules minutia to observe.
Even so, with Anderson, Dwight Freeney and Donovan McNabb figuring to appear on future ballots, Syracuse might be moving even higher on the list of the Top 5 schools producing as many eventual Pro Football Hall of Famers.