Torry Holt was snubbed again by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, falling short of passage into Canton in his fourth year as a finalist on the modern-era ballot. As one of the elite wide receivers of his era, and as one of the leading men for the prolific offense generated by the “Greatest Show” St. Louis Rams, Holt easily meets the standards for induction.
“Big Game” has earned the gold jacket.
Here are just a few of many reasons:
1) Holt was voted onto the 2000s All-Decade team along with Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison and Terrell Owens. They’ve all been inducted. Holt hasn’t. He remains excluded despite having the most catches (868) and receiving yards (12,594) in the 2000s – the most by a receiver in any decade in NFL history. Jerry Rice didn’t do that. Torry Holt did that.
2) Holt rolled up 1,000-plus receiving yards in eight straight seasons from 2000-2007, all with the Rams. The team’s quarterbacks over the eight seasons included Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, Trent Green, Jamie Martin, Gus Frerotte, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brock Berlin, Chris Chandler and Scott Coivington. It didn’t matter who was throwing the football; Torry would pull in the pass and make big plays.
3) Holt still holds the record for most yards receiving (10,675) during the first eight seasons of an NFL career.
4) Holt was the youngest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 and 11,000 career receiving yards. His eight straight seasons of at least 1,100 receiving yards are second to Jerry Rice’s nine.
5) T. Holt was chosen for the Pro Bowl in seven of his 10 seasons with the Rams and twice earned All-Pro honors.
6) Torry caught 20 passes for 242 yards for the 1999 Rams in their three postseason wins. In the 23-16 triumph over Tennessee in Super Bowl 34, Holt had seven receptions for 109 yards including a 9-yard touchdown grab that gave St. Louis a 16-0 lead in the third quarter.
7) When Holt retired after the 2009 season, he’d averaged 77.4 yards receiving per game during his career. That was the fifth-highest average in NFL history.
8) At the conclusion of his 10 seasons with the Rams, Holt ranked No. 2 in NFL history with an average of 80.1 receiving yards per game, was 10th in all-time in receptions, and 14th in receiving yards.
9) As Howard Balzer has pointed out, Holt had 329 catches that gained at least 16 yards – or 36 percent of his total career receptions. Only three NFL wide receivers have topped Holt in explosive-play volume over the last 31 seasons.
10) Holt had been the only player in NFL history to have at least 1,300 receiving yards in six straight seasons until Julio Jones matched that in 2019. Holt’s amazing consistency was probably his greatest attribute.
“There are guys who are consistently really, really good and you knew every year what you were going to get,” Warner said. “That was Torry. He played as high a level as anyone year in and year out. Without dropping off, playing at that particular level, even with all the unbelievable talent around him, that to me is what speaks volumes.”
— There are 15 Hall of Fame finalists on the modern-era ballot each year but only a maximum of five can make it. The ballot changes from year to year, and players that get voted in on their first time on the ballot make it more difficult for players that already were finalists. This year offensive tackle Joe Thomas and cornerback Darelle Revis were chosen on their first time through. And with all due respect to Holt and the other 13 finalists, Revis and Thomas were the top two players on the 2023 ballot.
— Hall of Fame voters have gotten themselves in another logjam with wide receivers. Historically the panel has made the mistake of turning the debate into a receiver vs. receiver decision. That’s ludicrous and unfair to the receivers; the mission is to choose the five best modern-era players for induction each year, and a player’s position shouldn’t matter.
— In my many years as a voter, I went through this in a protracted Lynn Swann vs. John Stallworth debate, and it happened again in a three-way “race” between Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Tim Brown. All of the wide receivers eventually were selected for the Hall, but the process was flawed.
— Here we go again. I no longer serve on the committee, but another logjam is clogging up the eligible wide receivers. Holt, in effect, is competing with fellow wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson for votes. Holt has the best overall set of statistics among the three, but all are deserving.
— I’m not trying to minimize Holt’s waiting time, but this is nothing new, and it isn’t a crime, and there’s no need to get in touch with Amnesty International. I try hard to maintain perspective.
— I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t suspect “Rams Fatigue” as a factor with some voters who think the St. Louis Rams already have enough players and coaches in Canton: Kurt Warner, Orlando Pace, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Aeneas Williams and Dick Vermeil. Williams spent most of his career with Arizona but his time with the Rams strengthened his case.
— With Bruce already voted in, I’m sure some selectors are questioning why it’s necessary to have two STL Rams wide receivers in Canton.
— Another factor is the proliferation of high-voltage stats for wide receivers during an era of explosive offense and a profound emphasis on the passing game. The numbers for catches, receiving yards and air touchdowns are overwhelming, and the stats have lower value.
This is kind of a mess.
Anyway, here’s a partial history of notable waiting times for Hall of Fame wide receivers:
Lynn Swann made it on his 14th time as a finalist.
Andre Reed, Art Monk and John Stallworth each made it in their eighth time as a finalist. At retirement, Monk had more catches than any player in league history.
Six-year wait: Cris Carter, Tim Brown.
Five-year wait: Fred Biletnikoff and Charlie Joiner. And Joiner had retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards.
I wrote this last year and will say it again: Torry Holt’s time is coming. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to wait so long for the call that puts him in Canton.
A note before I go: I’m thrilled that the late coach Don Coryell was selected for the Hall of Fame this time around. I pushed for this for many years. Coming soon, I’ll be writing about Coryell’s brilliant offensive mind and his underrated work as the head coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Chargers.
Thanks for reading …
Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app.
Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz