The criteria that defines who is worthy of being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame will always be a heated debate.
Several players have gone through the nomination process finding themselves as a finalist year after year only to be met with disappointment.
Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Carl Eller was a finalist 13 times before getting elected.
Sometimes the voters flat out drop the ball. In 1989 only four players (Terry Bradshaw, Mel Blount, Art Shell, and Willie Wood) were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Eventually however, all 15 finalists that year would be enshrined.
Actions like this have unnecessarily forced players to wait longer and longer for their special honor.
The following is not a subjective evaluation of a players’ worthiness for the Hall.
Instead, here is a rundown of the remaining NFL greats who have been finalists more than any other, but have yet to see their bust in Canton.
6. L.C. Greenwood DE/LB
Greenwood has been a finalist 6 times beginning in 1991.
A member of the infamous Steel Curtain defense for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Greenwood won four Super Bowls during his career.
A six-time pro bowler, he was also first-team All-Pro in 1974 and 1975.
Greenwood was originally drafted in the 10th round in 1969 and became a full time starter in 1971.
The biggest problem Greenwood has getting into the Hall of Fame, are perhaps his former teammates who have already been inducted.
Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Mike Webster, and head coach Chuck Knoll have all preceded Greenwood in Canton. How many players on the same team can you put in?
Coincidentally, Greenwood was born in Canton, Mississippi.
5. Andre Reed WR
Reed has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame 6 times as well, every year since 2007.
A seven-time pro bowler, Reed benefitted from having a Hall of Fame quarterback (Jim Kelly) throwing to him and a Hall of Fame Wide Receiver playing opposite side (James Lofton).
With 951 career receptions, many considered Reed a lock for the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately he is in crowded company with perhaps more worthy candidates waiting their turn as well.
The biggest criticism of Reed is despite playing for fifteen years, he only surpassed the 1,000 yard mark 4 times.
4. Charlie Conerly QB
Conerly quarterbacked the New York Giants from 1948-1961 leading them to a championship in 1956. He was a Hall of Fame finalist 7 times beginning in 1971.
Well respected amongst his teammates and around the league, he lacked the big arm of a Johnny Unitas but excelled as a consistent game manager instead.
A two-time pro bowler, Conerly’s good looks and notoriety afforded him work in the off season as the Marlboro man.
Perhaps the biggest factor that has kept Conerly’s bust out of Canton is his 50.1% career completion percentage.
3. Ray Guy P
If you thought the Jacksonville Jaguars were crazy drafting a punter in the third round then imagine taking a punter with the 23rd overall pick.
That’s what the Oakland Raiders did with Ray Guy in the first round of 1973.
Guy did not disappoint, making the pro bowl 7 times and first-team All-Pro 3 times. He is considered the best punter of his generation.
Guy has been a Hall of Fame finalist 7 times. Not a single punter however has ever been elected into the Hall of Fame. A bad precedent and a travesty.
2. Bob Kuechenberg G
Kuechenberg has been a Hall of Fame finalist 8 times, every year from 2002-2009.
A six-time pro bowler, Kuechenberg landed with Miami after being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons.
Kuechenberg was a stalwart along an offensive line that supported the bruising running game of Larry Csonka and finesse and speed of Mercury Morris.
He helped the Dolphins win back to back Super Bowls in 1972 and 1973.
Kuechenberg is hindered in his quest for Canton once again by teammates who have preceded him. Larry Little and Jim Langer played alongside him and are already enshrined.
Would three members of the same offensive line be too much?
Apparently some of the voters say yes.
1. Jerry Kramer G
Jerry Kramer has the distinction of being a Hall of Fame finalist 10 times, more times than any other not yet enshrined in Canton.
A five-time First-Team All-Pro, Kramer pulled double duty in 1962 and 1963 as the Green Bay Packers place kicker.
Kramer was an instrumental piece in Vince Lombardi's famous “Packer Sweep” that helped Green Bay win five NFL Championships including two Super Bowls during his tenure.
In one of NFL history’s most iconic play’s, Kramer cleared the way for quarterback Bart Starr for the go-ahead touchdown in the infamous Ice Bowl against the Dallas Cowboys.
Like Greenwood and Kuechenberg, Kramer suffers from having many of his predecessors having been already enshrined.
Guard is also a position that the Hall of Fame voters are typically not enamored with. Only eight have ever been inducted.