Tim Brown caught balls over the middle in an era when wide receivers didn't go over the middle. Brown played WR before the NFL outlawed playing defense. There were no "hit a defenseless receiver penalties" in his era. They also didn't call pass interference every time a defender farted in his general direction. Even through that, Brown finished in the top 5 or top 10 in every meaningful statistic for a WR....mostly with shitty QB's throwing him the ball. Jay Schroeder? Vince Evans? Rich Gannon? Its a joke he's not in the HOF. Why is it his fault that Peyton Manning was on the Colts?
....and don't even get me started on Bettis. Maybe these writers should spend a year taking 300 carries straight up the middle to appreciate what Bettis has done.
Don't forget those other legendary passers that Brown was saddled with:
Steve Beuerlein (sorry Steve)
Billy Jo Hobert
You could make an argument that he was the 2nd greatest receiver in NFL history based on who was throwing to him and his production. Chris Carter would've lost God again with that list.
Brown is currently 5th all-time in career punt returning yards. No one else in the top ten is ranked statistically in the top ten in any other meaningful statistic. Brown is the only player in NFL history to be ranked in the top ten in every meaningful statistic for his position in addition to a position reserved for specialists.
For comparison....Deon Sanders, who was elected to the HoF partially for his punt return skills (and partially for his mouth), currently sits 28th all time in punt return yardage. ...and old Neon Deon never met a tackle he didn't avoid.
, return yards, and yards per return average. He also broke Gayle Sayers 23 year old rookie yardage record that year. Shortly thereafter, TB blew out his knee and had to fight back to accomplish what he did, with the assistance of a host of bad QBs and an otherwise weak supporting cast.
"Brown retired with 14,934 receiving yards, the second-highest total in NFL history, 1,094 receptions (3rd), and 100 touchdown catches (3rd-Tied). Brown also gained 190 rushing yards, 3,320 punt-return yards, 3 fumble-return yards, and 1,235 yards returning kickoffs. This gave him a total of 19,682 combined net yards, ranking him #5 among the NFL's all-time leaders at the time of his retirement. He also scored 105 total touchdowns (100 receiving, 1 rushing, 3 punt returns, 1 kickoff return)."
"He also led the NFL in punt returns in 1994, and receptions in 1997. He was voted to the Pro Bowl nine times, in 1988 and 1991 as a kick returner, and in 1993-97, 1999 and 2001 as a receiver. On December 9, 2001, Brown returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown in a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs, making him the oldest player in NFL history to score a touchdown on a punt return. In 2002 he passed Gene Upshaw to become the Raiders' all-time leader in games played with 224. He also set Raiders franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, and punt return yards."
100th receiving TD. It was pretty awesome.
as to the number of pass plays called, on a league-wide basis, from the relevant eras?
I could be completely wrong, but my guess is that a lot fewer passes were thrown throughout the league when Brown played than when Marvin Harrison played.
That's not to say, of course, that Harrison isn't Hall-worthy, or that Brown is more worthy than Harrison. I also realize that the careers of Brown and Harrison overlapped to a degree. But we're seemingly still in the midst of a remarkable transformation of offensive football in the NFL, at least in terms of the percentage breakdown between runs and passes, not to mention the number of plays in a game, due to no-huddle and hurry-up offenses.
If people are going throw out raw numbers like number of passes caught as if that's an apples-to-apples comparison between players of different eras, then we may as well not have the conversation.
For better or worse, catching 100 passes in a season or 1,000 passes in a career -- while both outstanding accomplishes -- aren't nearly as rare as they used to be.
of general amounts of passes thrown in the league. Brown retired after the 2004 season and Harrison retired after the 2008 season. Harrison only has 6 more catches than Brown, but with fewer receiving yards. Harrison does have more touchdowns, but Brown has almost 5,000 more all-purpse yards to add in from his punt returns.
Brown was a premier receiver from 1993-2002. He started to taper off in 2003 and only had 4 starts after the passing game opened up in 2004. Harrison had 67 starts during and after the 2004 season.
Harrisons stats didn't improve in those years, but its possible that they would have declined without the rule changes.
Add the 4500 return yards and the difference in quarterbacks between the two, and it is an easy choice to put Brown in before Harrison.
And then there are Harrison's off-field exploits
and I'm not going to look it up right now.
But I'll bet Brown's first four seasons in the league ('88-'91) saw a considerably lower number of passes thrown, league-wide, than did Harrison's last four ('05-'08).
Maybe not, though.