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10 least deserving players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Home » Flashbacks » Worst NFL Hall of Famers: 10 Players Who Don’t Deserve to be in Canton

While the Pro Football Hall of Fame brings together the best of the best, some players have to fall into the category of the worst NFL Hall of Famers.

One could also make the argument that there are some undeserving NFL Hall of Famers. Yet, somehow, plenty of players have snuck into Canton anyway, which got us thinking about some of the worst NFL Hall of Famers in league history.

Worst NFL Hall of Famers

In fairness, even for the worst players in Canton, there are good reasons to be them in the Hall of Fame. But just because there is a good argument for their inclusion in the Hall of Fame, doesn’t mean they belong there.

To be honest, we were a little surprised when we finalized our list of the worst NFL Hall of Famers, but we stand by our choices whether you agree or not.

Jan Stenerud

When he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, Jan Stenerud made history as the first exclusive placekicker to get to Canton. In many ways, he revolutionized the position and made teams take the job of placekicker seriously and look for someone with serious skills at kicking the football.


That being said, the bar for getting to the Hall of Fame should be a little higher for kickers. After all, there is only one per team and kickers tend to have longer careers than most other positions.

That means it takes more to stand out as the best of the best, especially when we’re talking about the all-time best kickers who belong in the Hall of Fame. For his career, Stenerud made less than 67% of his field goals and 96.5% of PATs back when it was close to the uprights and almost automatic. Those aren’t exactly Hall of Fame-worthy numbers.

Bob Griese

Bob Griese gets recognized as the quarterback who led the Dolphins to two Super Bowl wins, including the year that Miami had a perfect record.

But those Miami teams would have been good with just about anybody at quarterback.

Griese rarely played at a level that most would associate with a Hall of Famer. He made six Pro Bowls, which is good but not necessarily on par with the best to ever play. Among quarterbacks, Griese is surely one of the worst NFL Hall of Famers, as he gets too much credit for being on a good team while he only threw 20 more touchdowns than interceptions in his career and only threw more than 20 touchdown passes twice in 14 seasons.

Jackie Smith

During the peak of his career, Jackie Smith was surely one of the best tight ends in the NFL.


He went to five straight Pro Bowls from 1966 to 1970. He also deserves some credit for playing 15 seasons in the league as a tight end.

But five Pro Bowls in 15 seasons doesn’t sound that special. We won’t deny that Smith had some good seasons, but he didn’t go to the Pro Bowl or make a serious impact over the last eight years of his career. If he were put side by side with some of today’s tight ends, there’s no way Smith would be given an invitation to Canton.

Troy Aikman

The fact that Troy Aikman won three Super Bowls, winning MVP in one of those games, with the Cowboys was a driving force in getting him into the Hall of Fame.

Most assume that he was one of the all-time great quarterbacks because he won multiple Super Bowls. But he also had Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and others helping out.

While he went to the Pro Bowl six times, all of those came during the Cowboys’ heyday in the early 90s when they were the preeminent franchise in the league. Aikman never won MVP or led the league in any major statistical category.

In fairness, he was an above-average quarterback and better than what we might call a game manager. But that doesn’t mean he should be in the Hall of Fame.

Lynn Swann

Lynn Swann was undoubtedly popular, especially in the city of Pittsburgh, but the Hall of Fame shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Like so many of the worst NFL Hall of Famers, winning is what got Swann to Canton rather than being elite at his position.

Outside of his four Super Bowl rings, Swann was a Pro Bowler only three times and only a First-Team All-Pro selection once.

The guy only played nine seasons and scored more than five touchdowns in just four of those seasons. He might be a legendary personality but he’s not a legendary player. The voters got this one wrong in a big way.

Joe Namath

His guarantee of a victory before Super Bowl III made Joe Namath a legend when the Jets backed up his words. But since that’s all anybody remembers about Namath, it was enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.

It’s not like he was even good in Super Bowl III, as the Jets won mostly on the back of their defense.

Outside of the 1972 season when he led the league in passing and touchdowns and went to the Pro Bowl for the first and only time, Namath had a rather ordinary career.

Read more: Least deserving MLB Hall of Famers

Andre Tippett

To be fair, calling Andre Tippett one of the worst NFL Hall of Famers is a little harsh.

For a few years, he was one of the best pass-rushers in the game and was largely overshadowed by Lawrence Taylor during that time. He did get to 100 sacks in his career, making him New England’s franchise leader in sacks.

But the longevity just isn’t there for Tippett. He had five good seasons but didn’t necessarily maintain a high level of play long enough to compare with some of the other legendary pass-rushers in Canton.

Bob Hayes

Bob Hayes is undoubtedly one of the fastest players in NFL history.

He and Jim Thorpe are the only people in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who also own an Olympic Gold Medal, which is some exclusive company.

His posthumous induction into the Hall of Fame was filled with controversy, in part because of his drug use. However, it’s fair to question his Hall of Fame resume.

Hayes was surely a dangerous figure in the eyes of opposing defenses. But that’s not the same as consistently producing the way other Hall of Famers did throughout their careers. He went to three Pro Bowls and led the league in receiving touchdowns twice. However, Hayes also faded late in his career, which should have kept him out of Canton.

John Riggins

Longevity and toughness got John Riggins to Canton, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be included among the worst NFL Hall of Famers of all time.

To his credit, Riggins was a Super Bowl MVP and set the single-season record with 24 rushing touchdowns at age 34.

With the records he set, he should be forever immortalized. But Riggins also went to just one Pro Bowl and averaged less than four yards per carry in his career. In that sense, he doesn’t hold a candle to some of the other running backs in Canton.

Paul Hornung

Paul Hornung is both one of the least deserving Heisman winners (everyone knows Jim Brown should have won it in 1956) and one of the worst NFL Hall of Famers ever.

He’s another player who got a lot of credit for being on good teams and winning four Super Bowls with the Packers. Of course, he won MVP in 1961 and had a few outstanding seasons. But Hornung padded his numbers and his case for Canton by also serving as a placekicker before there were specialists for that job.

It’s not that he wasn’t good, it’s just that Hornung doesn’t necessarily compare favorably with the greatest players in the Hall of Fame.

39 thoughts on “10 least deserving players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame”

  1. Riggins had that hard to measure intangible, it factor. Just ask Joe Gibbs. When it mattered most, Riggins could put the team on his back and make a difference. He was very fast, tough and no nonsense, no celebrations. He was bored most of the time and when the spotlight was the brightest, he excelled. There aren’t many running backs who did that year in and year out. HOF material, for sure.

    1. Michael Gibbons

      You don’t get into the HOF because you only show up when you want to. He was paid tons of money to put out bored or not.

  2. Enitnepraz Nayrb

    I really dig how you compare old school players to the current game, like it wasn’t a completely different sport back then. Keep crapping out these half baked listicals though.

      1. Agreed. By zarpentine’s standards. Marino, Kelly and Tarkington shouldn’t be there either. They were all on very good teams but didn’t win a superbowl.

  3. Lonnie Joe Crites

    Not to mention hornung was a part of a terroristict orginazion who murdered judges, smuggled cocaine, stole army equipment and had their own militia with Andrew Thornton back in the day in Kentucky.

  4. Namath changed the game. When he signed with the AFL, he was probably the greatest qb prospect to come out of college since Sammy Baugh, and the two leagues merged because of it. The first qb to throw for 4000 yds in a season.

  5. I would have to disagree about Jackie Smith. Tight ends in those days were more blockers that receivers. Consequently, most tight ends today couldn’t throw a block to save their life. Shannon Sharpe is a perfect example. He lined up as a wide receiver most of the time.

  6. Namath is not deserving of the Hall of Fame. There is evidence Superbowl 3 was fixed, by Shula’s poor coaching. Bubba Smith said so in an interview with Chris Myers. The point of the fix was to show the AFL was good enough to merge with the NFL. Bubba Smith said Shula threatened to bench him if he went after Namath.

    1. Not to mention the man that the Super Bowl trophy is named after referred to him as the greatest athlete he ever coached!

  7. You’re out of your mind about Bob Hayes. He fundamentally changed the league forever. I doubt history was your strong suit in school.

    1. 7607 total yards you say. Let’s not forget 2,008 of those yards came in one year. A feat only accomplished by 3 others when he did it. Led the league in rushing and was the rushing touchdown leader twice in a row. Most valuable player award,1 Super Bowl MVP to go along with the 2 rings. You’re right players whose careers were cut short shouldn’t be in Canton.

  8. Lynn Swann scored the game winning TD for the Steelers in SuperBowl X. He was MVP of that game. Pittsburgh threw about 10 passes a game switching from Bradshaw to Gilliam to Hanratty and finally back to Bradshaw. Franco Harris and Ricky Bleir were their offense. Swann was a target vs the Raiders and they intentionally tried to take him out of the game.
    Riggins definitely deserves to be in the HOF too. Aikman absolutely deserves to be in. Your judgement is questionable because your not taking anything but stats into consideration. Poor measuring stick.

  9. Autocheck Reports

    You left out Harry Carson. Product of playing next to Lawrence Taylor. A good player. Not a Hall of Famer.

  10. We’re you a Giant fan during the mid 70s? Harry Carson was the Quintessential middle linebacker. He was an Allstar prior to Lawyer Taylor being drafted in the 80s. He was on very bad Giants team. I saw him play. Put respect on his name.

  11. Bootney Farnsworth

    Namath is absolutely the worst NFL hall of famer.
    173 touchdowns vs. 220 interceptions
    Led the league in interceptions 4 times.
    Threw for more interceptions than touchdowns 11 out of 13 seasons.
    Had a losing record as a starting quarterback.
    Completed 50 percent of his passes.
    I know it was a different era. But look at his contemporaries numbers.

  12. I started watching football in 1975, I seen a lot of QB’s, from Fouts, Stauback, Marino, Montana, Vick, Zorn, McNabb. I don’t think and I’ll give him the most decorated, but 22 years you should have rings and records, and to have played 20 seasons in the greatest NFL system of all times, and I hate to say it, the greatest coach of all times, Bill Belichek! But Tom Brady is not the Greatest QB to ever play! He developed into one of the greatest but he ranks as far as best of all time around 10! Not looking at Super Bowls or records,because as I said he played in the greatest system of the NFL of all times, and because he wasn’t that gun slinger of super athletic it protected him, because all he had to do was check down to a slow receiver or tight end. The game has evolved and if you can’t move now! You will get killed, you have 3 seconds to release the ball, QB’s pockets collapse in 3 sec., he didn’t change the game! I give him his props, he won some last minute games and some Super Bowls! But the GOAT he will never be!

    1. Really, Tony- Brady only won because of the “system” he was in? And, “if you can’t move now you’ll get killed”…? Talking sports out your a$$hole, dude. Your argument goes completely to shit considering the fact that Brady took the Bucs to the Bowl 2yrs ago and absolutely humiliated the “Golden Boy” Mahomes on his way to another Super Bowl victory. No Boston, no Belichick, no “system”. So sit down and shut up with “he’s barely a top 10 QB”. Moron.

  13. Do they just let any retard write articles now? This fuckin moron has no clue. This is disrespectful and sounds like that one loser you knew in your hometown that still talks about if he didn’t get hurt he woulda went pro! Get a life dipshit!

  14. The fact that you’re comparing players of yesterday based on numbers alone shows you really don’t understand context. The game was different then.

  15. The hands down winner of least deserving hof has to be Namath. He guaranteed a win in the Super Bowl! Wow. Every player in the game has made that same claim. More interceptions than TDs. He’s not even in the top 100 QBs.

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