Warren Sapp this past weekend became the sixth player from Miami to be elected to the NFL Hall of Fame, a no-brainer selection in his first year of eligibility.
Two more no-brainer Miami selections won Super Bowl rings with the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday -- linebacker Ray Lewis, playing in his final game, and safety Ed Reed, who seemed to indicate after the win over San Francisco he would stick around for one more season. Both should be first-ballot Hall of Famers when they become eligible. Lewis would be first up in 2017.
Interestingly enough, Miami is in the middle of quite a trend. Though the Hurricanes have been known as "Quarterback U," their recent defensive players are the ones who have put forth Hall of Fame careers. Running back Edgerrin James would be up for election in 2016 but there are no guarantees he would get in on the first ballot. Even if he does, the defensive trend would continue.
Consider that defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy was enshrined in 2012. Sapp follows this year. Lewis and Reed would be next among defensive players. Miami could end up with four straight defensive players in the Hall; four of five if James gets in before Lewis and Reed.
That, in turn, raises yet another interesting question. Of these four defensive players, who had the best NFL career? Hard to really lose an argument here, considering the achievements of all four. My argument would begin with Sapp, revolutionary because of the way he thrived in the Tampa 2 defense -- a defense that became the envy of the NFL. A defense that earned copycat status, and other teams desperate to draft a talent at tackle who could be as disruptive as Sapp.
Of course, you need the right players to make a scheme successful, and there would be nobody as good as Sapp in the Tampa 2. Sapp ended his career with a whopping 96.5 sacks. Most defensive ends have a hard enough time getting that many. A total that high is practically unheard of for an interior defensive lineman. Kennedy, also a defensive tackle, had 58 sacks in 11 seasons.
None of this is to take away from the accomplishments of the others. Reed has been dynamic at safety. In fact, he would be my next choice because of his ability to change the complexion of a game in a snap. Lewis has been an unbelievable leader and stalwart linebacker. Kennedy was remarkably consistent and terrific against the run.
Now what say you? Time for you guys to weigh in. Drop a note to my mailbag with your choice and I will publish the best answers in a separate post. Let the debate begin!