In early February, Torry Holt was denied entry to the Hall of Fame for the seventh time. I know that plenty of greats were also denied Hall of Fame status for a few years before the Selection Committee finally voted them in, but Holt has waited long enough. We’re closing in on a decade now. I think there are few elements standing in Holt’s way, and I’m here to show why his greatness should easily overcome these obstacles in allowing Holt to finally, and rightfully, end up in the Hall of Fame.
Support Needed for Holt
First off, I haven’t seen enough people banging the table for him to get in. Here’s a guy who played the majority of his career in St.Louis. Well, there’s no football team there anymore. He’s been lost in the shuffle a little bit. What Holt needs is someone who relentlessly argues for his right to end up in the Hall. That’s where I come in. Consider this my promise to you, my fellow Holt Fans: I won’t rest until Holt is a Hall of Famer. I’ll be making the argument for his Hall of Fame inclusion in the paragraphs that follow. If need be, though, I’ll make my “Holt for the Hall” argument face to face with any naysayers. I”ll take this to Twitter, and message boards; I’ll even take this to Facebook if need be!
Tough Competition at His Position
The next issue is the stiff competition to make the Hall as a Wide Receiver. Let’s face it, there’s very few positions in all of sports that are as cool as being a star wide receiver. Are you a superb athlete? Let’s try you at receiver. You can run exceptionally fast? Let’s try you at receiver. Unreal hands? Receiver. Incredible jumping ability? Receiver. So you have all these phenomenal receivers that end up at the NFL level. And then you have 32 teams playing 16 games a year. Of course you’re going to end up with a bunch of WRs putting up big-time numbers every year. So when their careers come to an end and the best of the bunch put forth their Hall of Fame resumes, inevitably some of these guys are going to be put on the back burner.
I think just about everyone would agree that Holt is a Hall of Famer. But this year, he was competing with Calvin Johnson. Before that it was his old buddy Isaac Bruce. And before that, guys like Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All undoubtedly belong in the Hall, making it that much harder for Holt as they hog the committee’s attention in regards to what WR should be elected. Speaking of the committee, let’s have a quick discussion on how they go about their business.
Here’s what drives me nuts about the Hall of Fame Selection Committee. It’s not just the NFL, either, I see the same issue in baseball and hockey. It’s the narrative that “this guy is a Hall of Famer, but not a first ballot Hall of Famer.” Or, “I think he should get in, but not quite yet.” I fully understand that you can’t allow an unlimited number of new Hall of Famers every year, so in that sense, it’s inevitable that making it on your first try is going to be difficult. It’s just tough for me to wrap my head around the fact that some committee members will vote no to a player one year, and yes to that same player the next. I still remember watching NFL Countdown when Cris Carter found out that he had been rejected from the Hall for the sixth straight year. It was a what are we doing here type of moment for me. Clear cut Hall of Famer, but not yet? C’mon man. You already make these guys wait five years after they retire. Then they’re forced to wait another however many years, even though some of those voting no actually think that those players deserve to get in? Doesn’t make sense.
The Pass-Happy NFL since Holt’s Retirement
Now onto one last issue: the five year wait for Holt. His last season was in 2009. Think about what became of the NFL after he retired- passing yardage skyrocketed. Here’s a chart that perfectly illustrates how the league went pass-crazy:
Holt retired as the 10th leading WR in yards, and 13th in receptions. Flash forward to the current day where he now sits 16th in yards and 21st in receptions. He’s only going to continue to slip further down these charts in the upcoming years with the league seemingly passing the ball more and more each year. The five year waiting period makes it inevitable that you’ll fall down the all-time rankings before you’re finally eligible for the Hall of Fame. For Holt, though, those five years coincided with the league throwing the ball more than ever, allowing receivers to pile up yardage and move up the all-time lists a whole lot faster than in prior decades. That’s why it’s so important to look at Holt in the era he participated in, where he was undoubtedly one of the best receivers in the game, year after year after year.
Diving into the Numbers
What stands out about Holt was his consistency. He went for 1,100+ receiving yards in eight straight seasons. Owens didn’t do that, neither did Moss or Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald. A few guys who will try to steal some Hall of Fame love from him in upcoming years, Steve Smith and Reggie Wayne, never did that, either. To do that for eight straight seasons is ridiculous. Not one off year or tough-luck injury prone season in that stretch. And sure, he spent the start of his career on an unreal offense, but the second half of his career was with a sorry Rams team, plus one final season on a mediocre Jaguars team. I was debating what stat was more impressive: 1,100 in eight straight or 1,300 in six straight, so here’s me mentioning them both just so you know that he wasn’t just really good for eight straight years, he was unreal for six of those years.
He also led the league in receiving yards twice, receptions once, and made seven Pro Bowls. I know, I know, Pro Bowls aren’t the be-all-end-all, but his seven Pro Bowls fall right in line with the other greats of his era, as Harrison made it to eight while Moss and Owens made six.
Here’s a look at where he ranked, year by year, in yardage, during his 8 year prime:
|2002||7th (45 yards from 2nd)|
That’s eight straight seasons where he was no worse than 10th best in the league in receiving yards. I really need to emphasize eight years. That’s the length of time it takes to get through high school and university! In today’s era, a guy like Julio Jones is consistently at or near the top in receiving yards. Even he’s only been in the top 10 for six seasons.
Top Tier 2000s Receiver
I’ve mentioned the names Moss, Owens, and Harrison a few times. Those were the other top WRs in the 2000s. Holt was undoubtedly part of that group, though, and by no means an outsider. Don’t believe me? When it came time to name the 2000s All Decade team, the four WRs were, wouldn’t you know it, Moss, Owens, Harrison, and Holt. Here’s how they ranked in receiving yards during that decade:
1st- Holt: 12,594 yards
2nd- Moss: 11,739
3rd- Owens: 11,644
4th- Harrison: 10,439
There was no better yardage receiver during that decade than Holt. And you’re talking about a heckuva group. Here are a few other great receivers during that time:
Hines Ward: 10,063
Reggie Wayne: 9,393
Isaac Bruce: 9,380
I know that the other big three WRs mentioned above have Holt beat in TDs. So I have no problem with them ending up in the Hall a little quicker. It’s not as though Holt was unable to find the endzone, though. He scored 10+ TDs three times, and 6+ TDs five other times. When he retired, he sat 20th all-time in Receiving TDs. It’s been a while, though, and as you know, passing became all the rage so now he sits in 38th.
Summing It All Up
So there you have it, folks. Here’s a guy who was one of the best four receivers of the 2000s. The best yardage receivers of any of those guys during that decade. The other three are in, and yet Holt continues to wait. A guy that went for 1,100+ yards eight straight seasons and retired with the 10th most receiving yards all-time. He’s won a Super Bowl, going for over 100 yards with a TD in that game. Even while playing with Isaac Bruce for most of his years in St.Louis, it was Holt who led the Rams in receiving yards for 9 of his 10 seasons. Bruce earned his spot in the Hall. So did Orlando Pace, Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk. It’s time for Holt to join his Greatest Show on Turf teammates in the Hall of Fame, where he belongs.