Bucs and the next HOF class

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has put out its list of 126 nominees from the modern era eligible for the Class of 2014. It contains four first-time-eligible candidates with ties to the glory days of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Linebacker Derrick Brooks and running back Warrick Dunn are nominees. So are coaches Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy.

I think Brooks is the only slam dunk among this group. There’s no question in my mind that Brooks is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Along with Warren Sapp, he was the anchor of a dominant defense. You can argue over whether Brooks or Sapp was more important to the Tampa Bay defense, but I think they were equally important.

Dunn was a very nice player, but I don’t think his numbers are quite Hall of Fame material.

I think Dungy will get in, but maybe not in his first year. He won a lot of games and produced a nice coaching tree. But the knock on Dungy will be that he won only one Super Bowl despite having a dominant defense in Tampa Bay and quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.

Gruden did win a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay. But I think voters will be hesitant to put him into the Hall of Fame immediately. Call it the Bill Parcells Syndrome, but there are a lot of people that think Gruden might return to coaching at some point.

The list of nominees will be reduced to 25 in November and final voting will take place in February.