When I learned that Michael Irvin made the NFL Hall of Fame my first thought was that this was due to popularity; ESPN is a mighty fine marketing machine. I decided to dig into the numbers a little bit to see if I could make a legitimate argument to support my case.
The Hall of Fame bio/press release states
Irvin, the Dallas Cowboys’ first round pick in 1988, caught 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns during his 12-season career. He was named to five Pro Bowls and is a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
Fair enough. Did Irvin get in on the merit of being one of the top receivers of the 90s? Maybe, but I keep hearing that Andre Reed and Art Monk deserve to be in the Hall. Why Irvine, and not Reed and Monk?
Some interesting numbers come to light if you look at the Top 20 receivers (courtesy of the Hall of Fame; current as of 2005). Andre Reed and Art Monk not only have more receptions than Irvine, they also have more yards and more TDs. Hmmm.
After poking around a little, I do think that Irvin is a Hall of Fame receiver, but the only reason Irvine goes in the Hall in front of Reed or Monk has to be marketing. Or maybe popularity contest.