Humphrey's Hall of Fame bid comes up short

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- Claude Humphrey has been on the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot for 23 years and I thought this might be the year he broke through.

Humphrey, who spent most of his career playing with the Falcons, had the powerful endorsement of the Senior Committee and I thought that might put him over the top. It didn't happen.

Humphrey wasn't one of the six new members elected Saturday. I'm not old enough to really remember Humphrey as a player, although I did collect (and still have) trading cards from near the end of his career. I do know playing on some mediocre Atlanta teams didn't help Humphrey's profile.

It's also pretty apparent Humphrey's chances were hurt by the competition this year. Defensive end Bruce Smith got in on his first year on the ballot. Can't argue with that one at all. Smith set the record with 200 career sacks. The late Derrick Thomas, who technically was a linebacker whose main job was to rush the passer, also was selected. I've thought that one was long overdue.

But I think Thomas' selection shows Humphrey is at least very close to being a Hall of Famer. Thomas finished his 11-year career with 126.5 sacks. Humphrey had 122 sacks in 14 seasons. Humphrey's numbers might not be Hall of Fame numbers today, but they're at least in the ballpark.