After having to wait for several years, former Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last August and there’s a chance another Jaguars alumni gets enshrined next year.
The HOF recently announced their list of 28 semifinalists and former running back Fred Taylor made the cut. This is the fourth time he’s a semifinalist and he and Ricky Watters were the only running backs who appeared on the illustrious list.
Watters was a fine running back himself, amassing 2,622 yards for 10,643 yards with 78 touchdowns and five Pro Bowl appearances. However, he rubbed several analysts the wrong way for his “For who? For what remarks?” following a game in which he opted not to reach for a pass in order to avoid getting hit. Moreover, he’s been a HOF finalist fewer times (three) than Taylor.
Adam Rank of NFL Media ranked all 28 HOF semifinalists and placed Taylor at No. 25, two spots higher than Watters. Nevertheless, he’d rather see Eddie George or Chris Johnson make the cut.
"Taylor was a stud running back with seven 1,100-yard rushing seasons and over 11,500 rush yards for his career. And I always have to answer to my colleague (and Fred’s former teammate) Maurice Jones-Drew for having Taylor so low on this list. Personally, I prefer Chris Johnson or Eddie George — neither of whom made the semifinalist cut this year."
Keep in mind that Rank isn’t a HOF voter and his ranking was more of a personal preference than an objective analysis. But it’s noteworthy that he had Taylor ranked higher than Watter. If voters agree with his assessment, Taylor will have a better shot at getting in. The HOF will next reduce the list to 15 Modern-Era finalists and will announce the Class of 2023 before Super Bowl 57. Here’s a message the Jags posted on social media congratulating Taylor for being named a finalist.
Will former Jaguars RB Fred Taylor be enshrined in the HOF in 2023?
Even if you take Watters out of the equation, the HOF list of semifinalists is stacked with game-changers and Taylor might have a hard time getting in. Luminaries such as outside linebacker Demarcus Ware, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., cornerback Darrell Revis, offensive tackle Joe Thomas, and linebacker Patrick Willis all played their respective positions at the highest possible level and have a strong case to get enshrined. Behind them, there are other players that are equally deserving to get inducted.
Simply, who do you omit to let Taylor in? There’s no doubt his resume stacks favorably to any of his contemporaries, having tallied 2,534 yards for 11,695 yards with 66 touchdowns and one Pro Bowl selection during his 13-year career. But even though he was highly productive during his stint with the Jaguars, running backs such LaDanian Tomilson, Priest Holmes, and Shaun Alexander were more dominant during his heydays, which could in turn hurt his candidacy.
Does Taylor deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Most definitely but he has an uphill battle. Maybe this is the year he makes it but it wouldn’t be shocking if he doesn’t.