Alstott in the Hall of Fame?

I have little to add to Mike Alstott's retirement beyond what has already been written. In his eleven years in Tampa Bay Mike has become THE fan favorite. The A-Train's legacy with Tampa Bay rivals every Buc but Lee Roy Selmon. But does Alstott deserve to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

The trickiest thing with Alstott is figuring out which position he played. Alstott carried the ball more than other fullbacks in the modern era. Six times Alstott made the Pro Bowl as a fullback even though he received ten or twelve carries a game. So is Alstott a fullback, a halfback or a hybrid?

If we compare Alstott to other halfbacks he does not stand a chance at getting into Canton. Let's do a quick comparison of Alstott with some other halfbacks in the HoF...

Mike Alstott 5088 3.7 58 2284 7.5 13
Franco Harris 12120 4.1 91 2287 7.4 9
John Riggins 11352 3.9 104 2090 8.4 12
Jerome Bettis 13662 3.9 91 1449 7.2 3

For comparisons purposes I tried to select halfbacks with a similar style to Alstott, i.e. power runners. I threw in Jerome Bettis as well, who is not in the HoF but is a lock to get in when he is eligible. The first thing that jumps out at you is how many more yards everyone else has compared to Alstott. John Riggins, who is probably the most similar back to Alstott, has more than twice as many rushing yards as the A-Train. To Alstott's credit he has compiled a considerable amount of receiving yards, more than most other power backs. Alstott's receiving skills have been the most underrated part of his game. But if you consider Alstott to be a halfback then there's no way you can vote him into the HoF.

Now let's compare Alstott to fullbacks in the HoF....

Mike Alstott 5088 3.7 58 2284 7.5 13
Larry Csonka 8081 4.3 64 820 7.7 4
John Henry Johnson 6803 4.3 48 1478 7.9 7
Jim Taylor 8597 4.4 83 1756 7.8 10

Even when you factor in receiving yards Alstott still falls short of what other fullbacks have accomplished. More importantly Alstott was never the devastating blocker that a guy like John Henry Johnson was. So even when compared to fullbacks Alstott does not have the stats OR blocking ability to get into the HoF.

Alstott is a throwback to an earlier era, an era before Bill Walsh made the west coast offense the style du jour. He's one of the few players from the present day game that would have been more comfortable playing fifty or sixty years ago. In fact, Buccaneer fans will remember the days when Mike Shula did his best to recreate a throwback offense, which was remarkable only in how predictable it was. "First Down: Alstott up the middle. Second Down: Alstott to the right. Third Down: Incomplete pass. Fourth Down: Punt."

In the end, I don't think you can make a rational argument for Alstott to get into the HoF. Sure he deserves to be in the still mythical Buccaneer Hall of Fame, and there's something to be said for a guy like Alstott who brought a lunch pail mentality to the field. But the A-Train has not accumulated the kind of stats necessary to get into the HoF.

On a side note, despite playing only five seasons together, Alstott will always be linked with Warrick Dunn. It's no coincidence that Alstott had the best years of his career while he played with Dunn. The highly acclaimed Thunder and Lightning combo comlimented each other perfectly. Dunn kept opponents guessing where he would go and what he would do. And when Dunn had defenders on their heels, Alstott ran guys over straight up the middle. During their five years together in Tampa the duo averaged 1561 rushing yards a season. If there was some way you could roll Dunn and Alstott into one player that player would be voted in the HoF.

But while Alstott may not get into the Pro HoF he has earned his way into the Fantasy HoF....


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