Fans of the Seattle Seahawks are saddened by the release Friday of three time All Pro cornerback Richard Sherman from the team. Many fans were quick to not only suggest the team retire his number, but to declare him a Hall of Famer, and a first ballot Hall of Famer at that.
But how does he stack up against the other cornerbacks that are in the Hall of Fame?
The first thing to consider is that it is far more difficult for defensive players to make the Hall of Fame than it is for offensive players. Of the 225 players from the modern era to have been enshrined in Canton, only 90 (40%) of those players come from the defensive side of the ball. That alone means it is an uphill battle for defensive players. But that’s not all the bad news for defensive backs.
Of the 90 modern era defensive players that are in Canton, there are 24 defensive backs, which is less than 27%. In contrast defensive backs typically represent over 36% of the defensive players on the field on any given play, meaning they appear to be underrepresented even relative just to other defensive players. In short, of all position groups outside of kicking specialists, it appears as though defensive backs are the least likely to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Moving specifically to the cornerbacks in the Hall of Fame, here’s a list of many of members of the Hall of Fame who played cornerback in the NFL, along with many of their career metrics. It’s not hard to see that Sherman comes up far short of these players, and many of these are considered the greatest to ever play the position.
It doesn’t take long to realize Sherman doesn’t measure up to these players in terms of what was accomplished during their careers, coming up well short of the others for the most part.
Thus, if Sherman retired right now I have zero problem asserting that he is likely not even really considered for the Hall of Fame. There are multiple other cornerbacks who I would consider more deserving of the Hall of Fame than Sherman, including names such as Ty Law and Troy Vincent.
This is not to say that Sherman absolutely will not make it into the Hall. If he continues to play for several more seasons and continues to pad his stats totals, it would obviously bolster his Hall of Fame credentials. Taking a look at the defensive backs that are in Canton, there is not a single one of them that played in the NFL for less than a decade, so Sherman likely needs at least three more seasons in the league to begin to have a legitimate argument for inclusion.
So, as much as the Seahawks will miss Sherman, and as much as fans will dream of the day he is enshrined in the Hall, at this point Sherman’s career is not Hall of Fame worthy.