NEW YORK — Andre Reed and his Buffalo Bills supporters hope his long wait for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame ends today.
Reed, the Bills’ all-time greatest receiver, is among 15 modern-era finalists for induction for an eighth straight year. A maximum of five of the 15 finalists can be elected. The selection meeting in which the 46 voters pick this year’s Hall of Fame Class will be held today.
The results will be announced at about 7 p.m., and the inductees will appear on the NFL Honors Show, televised at 8 p.m. on Ch. 29 from Radio City Music Hall.
The 15 modern finalists are whittled to a group of 10 then five before a vote is taken, up or down, on the last five. Reed has made the cut to 10 four years in a row.
Reed has handled the disappointment of coming so close but missing the cut with class.
“I’m humbled just to be in position,” he said Friday.
“Deacon Jones, rest in peace, always told me when you get there I guarantee you’ll cry,” Reed said, referring to the late, great pass rusher and how it would feel to be inducted. “I’ll think about my dad, who’s up there too, and all the games he was at and how he supported me, and all the people who watched me since I was 8 years old. You try to put that all in one emotion.”
Reed’s wait has been complicated by a logjam of receivers and Bills among the final 15. It’s often hard to get two players from the same position or two players from the same team inducted in the same draft class.
In 2007, Dallas receiver Michael Irvin, a three-time Super Bowl champ, and Bills running back Thurman Thomas were inducted. In 2008, Washington receiver Art Monk was inducted in his eighth year as a finalist. In 2009, Bills great Bruce Smith and Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr. were inducted. In 2010, all-time receiving leader Jerry Rice got in. From 2010 to 2013, Reed was caught in a logjam with receivers Cris Carter and Tim Brown. Carter was elected last year.
There are three receivers among the finalists again this year – Reed, Brown and Marvin Harrison.
The five men who made the final 10 last year but didn’t get elected all are back in the final 15. They are Reed, pass rushers Charles Haley and Michael Strahan, running back Jerome Bettis and cornerback Aeneas Williams.
The Hall of Fame does not release the results of the voting, so it’s unknown where Reed ranked among the final 10 last year.
Reed ranked third all-time in receptions at the time of his retirement in 2001. Now he’s 11th. Teams pass a lot more in today’s NFL than the Bills did in their Super Bowl era. Bettis, a four-time finalist, ranks sixth in rushing yards. Strahan, a second-time finalist, ranks fifth in sacks. Haley, a five-time finalist, has five Super Bowl rings. Williams was a top cornerback.
Some first-time eligible candidates usually get inducted. This year they include Harrison, tackle Walter Jones, linebacker Derrick Brooks, coach Tony Dungy, safety John Lynch and kicker Morten Andersen. Harrison, Jones and Brooks each were first-team all-decade picks for the 2000s.
Can Reed be near the top of the returning candidates from last year and stay ahead of enough of the first-time candidates to get into the top five? That will determine whether he gets elected.
The other returning candidates are: guard Will Shields, owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. and linebacker Kevin Greene.
There are two senior candidates, players whose careers ended more than 25 years ago. They are punter Ray Guy and defensive end Claude Humphrey. The vote on them has no impact on whether any of the modern candidates get in.