Lem Barney makes consolation call to Reed

Lem Barney called Sunday afternoon to talk about Andre Reed's inability to break into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Barney has been one of Reed's biggest supporters for enshrinement in Canton.

Reed was the only wide receiver to make the cut from 15 to 10 finalists Saturday, but the Buffalo Bills star wasn't among the five players put to a final vote.

"I try to keep him encouraged," Barney told me. "I'm going to call Dre as soon as I get off the phone with you to tell him not to give up hope."

Barney was a member of the 1992 induction class after a brilliant career as a cornerback and kick returner for the Detroit Lions. He served a similar pick-me-up role for teammate Charlie Sanders, who finally made it in 2007 as a senior nominee.

There are multiple reasons for Reed to remain optimistic. He has been a finalist five times. Pro Football Hall of Fame researcher Saleem Choudhry calculated 83 percent of all finalists have eventually been inducted. But subtract the 10 candidates from this year's ballot (many of whom will get in) and the success rate improves to 94 percent.

"When you get on that finals list, it's like going to church," Barney said. "You have no idea who might shout."

Also in Reed's favor is that for the second year in a row he went farther in the process than receivers Tim Brown and Cris Carter. That suggests Reed will be the next receiver to get inducted.

Barney compared Reed to Paul Warfield, Charley Taylor and Bobby Mitchell as a complete receiver.

"These guys were not only speed guys, but they ran precise routes and they were disciplined in their training," Barney said. "I thought Dre was a wonderful receiver, not only with the ball, but he was a tremendous blocker.

"Dre certainly has the numbers, the years, the service."