Who are the best players not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
The following chart contains the top 20 players not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, any other players on the “All-Snub Team” based on the top non-Hall players at each position, and any senior candidates that would fill spots on the All-Snub Team currently filled by modern-era players to form the All-Senior Candidate team. Note that this is based on Pro Football Reference’s Hall of Fame Monitor metric only, so it does not necessarily reflect my opinion about who the best or most deserving players are, and even to the extent that it does, it doesn’t necessarily mean these players should be in the Hall of Fame, especially the players closer to the bottom, nor does it mean I would object to any player not on this list being inducted. It also means the list does not include any players who played the bulk of their career before 1950, as the Hall of Fame Monitor doesn’t include such players.
Note also that players who were modern-era finalists in the most recent cycle are generally not considered snubs unless they are new finalists in their last five years of eligibility. Most players who became finalists before their last five years of eligibility, all but a handful who got there before their last eight, and to my knowledge, every player since 2002 who got there before their last ten, eventually made the Hall of Fame. Since 2002, Bob Kuechenberg is the only player who was a finalist for at least the last four years of his eligibility who did not get inducted before his eligibility ran out, and since the introduction of the two-tier cutdown of finalists in 2005, the only player to make the cut to the final 10 before his last three years of eligibility not to be inducted. This explains why I’m rolling this out right after the announcement of the finalists rather than waiting to see who gets inducted.
The All-Snub teams consist of one QB, one RB, two WR, one TE, one flex player (RB/WR/TE), two OT, two G, and one C on offense; and two DE, one DT, three LB, one flex player (DT or LB), and four defensive backs (generally two CB and two S) on defense. Special teams players are not included because there are so few of them in the Hall and they aren’t looked at fondly by the Hall of Fame Monitor. Players on the main list whose position is in bold are on the All-Snub Team, while those in italics are not on the All-Snub Team but are on the All-Senior Candidate team. Years of eligibility are relative to the 2024 cycle, with numbers in bold either already senior candidates or entering their last year of eligibility. In the 2023 column, senior candidates may include an indication of whether they reached at least the semifinalist stage of the senior candidate selection process this year.
Because you wouldn’t expect this to change much year to year, I considered putting this on a separate page and only updating it when it changes, but I might only do that if and when it doesn’t change from year to year. There’s enough room for change that it’s entirely possible that at least one spot will change every year; Jahri Evans and James Harrison join the All-Snub Team this year as a result of failing to make the finalists in their first year of eligibility, while Henry Ellard failed to make the finalists in his last year and now qualifies for the All-Senior Candidate team. (Harrison’s inclusion causes the All-Snub Team to move to a 3-4 defense, with the caveat that it consists of three outside linebackers and only one inside linebacker. If you prefer, replace Pat Swilling with NaVorro Bowman.) Next year is Nate Newton’s last year of eligibility, with him unlikely to make the Hall as he wasn’t even a preliminary nominee until this year, which means he’s likely to join the All-Senior Candidate team and bump John Niland out of the second guard spot, so the list is likely to change next year as well, before even getting into any first-year eligible players that fail to make the finalists, or conversely, any semifinalists who make the leap into the finalists. Going forward, I might publish updated All-Snub Teams alongside the announcement of the finalists unless any All-Snub or All-Senior-Candidate team members are finalists.