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Tampa Bay's most likely future Hall of Famers

1. Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay Bucs

Even the voters know who Brooks is by now. He was the finest player on the finest defense of his generation. He made 11 Pro Bowls and nine All-Pro teams and won a defensive player of the year award. He's not only a Hall of Famer, he's a first-ballot guy.

Hall of Fame chances: 96 percent.

2. Warren Sapp, Tampa Bay Bucs

The only knock on Sapp is that he spent a lot of time in a bad mood. Granted. On the other hand, this isn't Miss Manners Hall of Etiquette. The best way to define Sapp is that when a potentially great defensive lineman is drafted across the league, Sapp is the usual comparison. What does that tell you? He won a defensive player of the year award, too.

Hall of Fame chances: 92 percent.

3. Marty St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

For St. Louis, this was the season that should have put him over the top. Once again, he led his team deep into the playoffs, and once again, he was a finalist for the Hart Trophy (which he won in 2004). Voting against St. Louis is like voting against fun. And overachievement.

Hall of Fame chances: 90 percent.

4. Tony Dungy, Tampa Bay Bucs

There have been coaches who have won more games, and certainly those who have won more Super Bowls. There haven't been many who have turned around a bigger mess than Dungy did in the mid to late '90s with the Bucs. The voters are also likely to remember that Dungy was among the NFL's most admired men. Expect heavy discussion on this one.

Hall of Fame chances: 83 percent.

5. John Lynch, Tampa Bay Bucs

Yes, I would vote him higher, too. But it always has been difficult for safeties to get into the Hall of Fame. Had Lynch won one more Super Bowl, he would be an easy choice. As it is, I think he'll get in eventually, but it might take some arguing.

Hall of Fame chances: 78 percent.

6. Dave Andreychuk, Tampa Bay Lightning

Andreychuk's wait might end next week when the NHL announces its inductees. No one scored more power-play goals, and his 640 overall kind of makes you wonder why he isn't in already. The seasons he spent as the Lightning's clubhouse leader (and the enduring photo of him lifting the Cup) should end all arguments. Still, some seem unconvinced.

Hall of Fame chances: 73 percent.

7. Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Bucs

No other player has 40 interceptions and 25 sacks in his career. The thing is, that isn't the kind of statistic that means enough to the voters. Still, it's hard to suggest there have been many (any?) cornerbacks who have made a bigger impact over the last dozen seasons. This may be the loudest argument of all.

Hall of Fame chances: 50 percent.

8. Johnny Damon, Tampa Bay Rays

Just last week, Damon was answering questions about the Hall of Fame. After all, Damon has become the 11th player in history to collect 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 home runs and 2,500 hits. All 10 of the others are in the Hall of Fame. Still, it's a quirky stat. Damon needs to get closer to 3,000 hits or he might be left on the porch.

Hall of Fame chances: 40 percent.

9. Doug Williams, Tampa Bay Bucs

If fame is the criteria, who has more of it than Williams? He won one of football's most significant games while with the Redskins, but his career numbers don't knock you over.

Hall of Fame chances: 29 percent.

10. Fred McGriff, Tampa Bay Rays

I've said this before, but McGriff may be the biggest victim of baseball's steroid years. If others weren't fattening their stats with the juice, then McGriff's numbers would look a lot more impressive. No one has ever accused McGriff of artificial muscle, and he still hit 493 homers. Still, he has been eligible for two years, and sadly, he hasn't cracked 22 percent of the vote.

Hall of Fame chances: 22 percent.

11. Simeon Rice, Tampa Bay Bucs

Rice says he belongs, and to be honest, his stats agree wholeheartedly. Rice had 122 sacks, No. 12 on the official all-time list. Still, it's hard to like Rice's chances. Too many people remember him as a one-trick pony, as a pass rusher who didn't pay enough attention to the run. It's a shame. It would have been a doozy of an induction speech.

Hall of Fame chances: 17 percent.

12. Mike Alstott, Tampa Bay Bucs

The suggestion the Hall of Fame might close its doors on Alstott is bound to infuriate some of his fans, and there are hordes of them. In Tampa Bay, Alstott was beloved for his effort, for his attitude, for his versatility. But those things don't get a running back into the Hall of Fame. Yardage stats do, and Alstott never had a 1,000-yard season. Terrell Davis had four of them (and three of 1,500 yards or more), and he isn't in. Still, when Alstott makes the team's Ring of Honor, you can remember him as Tampa Bay's secret.

Hall of Fame chances: 14 percent.

E ven now, the engravers are busy. There are trophies to personalize, and there are busts to polish. Soon, sports will enter the greatness business again, and the various Halls of Fame will make room for a little more greatness. Here in Tampa Bay, immortality's waiting room, we bide our time. Soon, there will be calls from the Hall. When it comes to Tampa Bay, there has never been a lot of acknowledged fame from the various Halls. Lee Roy Selmon fits just nicely in Canton, and Wade Boggs finished a career here on the way to Cooperstown. Who knows? If Phil Esposito weren't a Hall of Famer, he might not have been able to father the Lightning. But, no, it isn't as if the Halls have Tampa Bay sub-divisions. Over the next few years, that may change. There will be more Hall of Fame discussions over more Tampa Bay athletes than at any point in history. It's going to be interesting (and infuriating) to see how these athletes play to the nation's voters. So why wait for the debate? Tampa Bay's most likelies:

Tampa Bay's most likely future Hall of Famers 06/22/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 23, 2011 1:29am]
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