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Torry Holt Hall of Fame snub emphasizes how hard it is for receivers to get into Canton

It may feel personal, but he’s not alone

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Torry Holt is an exceptional player of any era, but he was especially dominant during his 11 NFL seasons from 1999-2009. Over those 11 years, Holt’s 13,382 receiving yards ranks first, ahead of second place Randy Moss and third place Terrell Owens over the same number of seasons. The biggest advantage for Moss was not only the publicity that he got throughout his career, but also the touchdowns: 131 to 74.

Apart from that, both Holt and Moss averaged exactly 77.4 yards per game in that span, while Owens averaged 79 yards per game and scored 118 touchdowns.

A fourth name, Marvin Harrison, stands out with 107 touchdowns and 82.9 yards per game from 1999 to 2008, make him the final part of a quartet who dominated the position for that 11-season span. Moss, Owens, and Harrison are in the Hall of Fame. On Thursday night, Holt found out that once again he will not be joining them and former teammate Isaac Bruce as members of Canton.

It may feel like a snub and surely no fan in their right mind will reject the admission when Torry Holt is finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. He led the NFL in receiving yards in 2000 and 2003 and posted eight straight seasons over 1,100 yards, back before that number was as achievable as it is today. Holt’s six seasons with 1,300 yards is tied with Moss and Julio Jones for the second-most ever, behind only Jerry Rice with seven.

Harrison is the only player who even has five.

So what gives? Why isn’t Holt already in the Hall of Fame? It’s not personal. Despite how special Torry Holt was with the Rams, there are quite a few other fan bases taking it personally that one of their franchise’s all-time receivers isn’t in the Hall of Fame yet either.

All-Time Yard Leaders

Holt’s 13,382 receiving yards ranks 17th all-time. That’s really great.

But eighth all-time is Carolina’s Steve Smith with 14,731 yards and he’s not in the Hall of Fame yet, seven years after retirement. Reggie Wayne is 10th all-time with 14,345 yards, not in the Hall of Fame now nine yards after retirement. Houston’s Andre Johnson retired in 2016 with 14,185 yards, good for 11th all-time, he’s not in Canton.

Anquan Boldin stands at 13,779 yards. Former Ram Henry Ellard has 13,777 career yards and has been waiting much longer than any of them.

It’s a real question of how long Julio Jones will have to wait and he’s been as dominant as any offensive weapon over the past decade. Jones has 13,629 yards but only 63 touchdowns and he’s faded into obscurity a little bit by playing poorly or getting injured over the past three seasons. Calvin Johnson’s candidacy was never in doubt, but he surely helped how people will remember him by retiring while he was still one of the NFL’s best players.

Perception matters.

Also, Holt doesn’t have that many more yards than some receivers who most don’t consider to be Hall of Fame type players: Brandon Marshall had 12,351 yards, Derrick Mason had 12,071 yards, while Muhsin Muhammad, Rod Smith, and Keenan McCardell needed only one more great season to get near 12,500.

A.J. Green just retired with 10,514 yards. If DeAndre Hopkins fades out at this point, he will finish with 11,298 yards. Chad Johnson had 11,059 yards.

It’s really hard to get to 13,000 yards, as Holt did, and that’s why his place in the Hall of Fame seems inevitable. But there are three players over 14,000 asking the same question about when they’ll get in.

All-Time Reception Leaders

Holt’s 920 catches ranks 22nd all-time, 17 more than Wes Welker and Julio. Eight less than Antonio Brown, a player not likely to ever get into the Hall in part because of perception.

But consider that some players over 1,000 receptions include Boldin, Wayne, Andre, Steve Smith, and Hines Ward, who has exactly 1,000 and is not in Canton. Marshall had 970 and Derrick Mason had 943.

Side note: Marshall Faulk had more career catches (767) than Michael Irvin, James Lofton, Charlie Joiner, and Calvin Johnson.

All-Time Touchdown Reception Leaders

As noted, Holt’s career touchdown total isn’t as flashy as his yards and receptions, but he still ranks 40th all-time. Not getting to 100 is surely hurting his case.

Larry Fitzgerald will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but he’s second all-time in yards and sixth in touchdowns with 121. Antonio Gates had 116. Davante Adams is already at 87, tied with Andre Reed for 15th all-time.

But Ward had 85, Mark Clayton, Andre Rison, and Irving Fryar had 84, Antonio Brown and Marshall had 83, Boldin and Wayne had 82, Steve Smith and Art Powell had 82, Joey Galloway had 77. None are in the Hall of Fame. Mike Evans is an active player with 81 touchdowns and he’s posted at least 1,000 yards in all nine of his career seasons, a remarkable accomplishment.

But is Evans going to have a hard time getting into the Hall of Fame?

If these other cases are any indication, the answer is yes. It’s not because they aren’t worthy. It just means that Canton’s barrier for entry seems to be different than the average fan. It’s really difficult.