Former Raiders DB George Atkinson recently proclaimed on the NFL Network that
Swann was one of several from the Steelers dynasty to make the Hall. His performances in big games won him votes. Like Gale Sayers, Swann made the Hall more for explosiveness than his career statistics. Winning all those Super Bowls certainly helped. Swann only played nine seasons, the least of the 23
Like Swann, Branch played in an offense full of weapons. Dave Casper. Biletnikoff. Pete Banachek. Anthony Davis. Darrell Lamonica, George Blanda, and Ken Stabler. This is one reason his pedestrian 47.5 yards per game total ranks next-to-last among the HOFers. Branch was the deep threat, as his career 17.3 yards per reception indicates (7th all-time). He lasted twelve seasons, about average for the HOF WRs (but ranked 8th in games played).
Likewise, Branch’s career receiving totals rank in the middle of the
…9th in yards per season
…13th in yards
…14th in receptions, touchdowns, and receptions per year
While always a dangerous deep threat, the quiet Branch was often overshadowed by the media, compared to Stabler, Otis Sistrunk, Ted Hendricks, and John Madden. This is what keeps him out of the Hall. There are probably many other receivers with similar fates. You shouldn't have to do a statistical analysis to determine if a player makes the hall of fame. A hall of famer should stand out by such a wide margin that it's obvious. Sorry, George.
Why then, did other comparable receivers make it to
Rice: the Wayne Gretzky of WRrs: most catches, yards, and TDs.
Monk: second in receptions, fourth in yards
Largent: second in TDs, third in receptions and yards.
Lofton: second in yards, fourth in receptions
Irvin: 2nd in receptions/season & yards/season (& game)
Joiner: 5th in yards. Played 18 seasons
Charley Taylor: playing in the 60’s, he still ranks 7th among HOFers
Maynard: fourth in TDs and yards per reception
Ray Berry: revolutionized the receiver position
Biletnikoff: the Raymond Berry of the 70’s
Alworth: piled up stats in 11 years, yards/catch (3rd), yards/game (2nd)
Stallworth: the other Steeler had stats comparable to Branch
Bobby Mitchell: great stats for the 60’s
McDonald: stats were equal or better than Mitchell’s
Don Hutson: 99 TDs still 3rd among HOFers. Yards/game = 4th
Warfield: another Swann/Sayers…1st in yards/catch. TDs = 5th
Tom Fears: set the single season record
Hirsch: explosive, and great 50’s stats (18.2 yards/catch)
Lavelli: played on the great Browns teams in the 40s & 50s
Pihos: played for the Eagles in the 40s and 50s
Bob Hayes: the first speed demon, his 20.0 yards/catch ranks 2nd
Swann: ranks last in catches