Making a case for Steve Atwater in the NFL Hall of Fame
What does it take to get into the Hall of Fame? On the most basic level, it takes four things. Career awards, impressive stats, a high peak, and longevity.
Steve Atwater has been a semi-finalist for the Hall of Fame seven times and a finalist once, and it’s ridiculous that he hasn’t been inducted yet. Atwater has everything it takes to be in the Hall of Fame.
Let’s start with career awards. Atwater ended his career with eight Pro Bowl appearances, good for second in NFL history for a safety at the time of his retirement. He was a three-time All-Pro, making the first team selection in both 1991 and 1992. In ‘96, he got the nod as a second-teamer. At the end of the decade, he was one of the two safeties named to the NFL’s All-Decade team.
Now let’s look at his career longevity and peak. Atwater played for 11 years, and started out strong and stayed consistent. He ended his rookie campaign with 129 tackles, and second in voting for DROY. His sophomore season in 1990 saw an uptick in tackles, as he ended with 173 and was named to the first of his seven consecutive Pro Bowls. 1990 was also the year that Atwater produced his iconic TNF hit against Kansas City running back Christian Okoye.
Atwater started his career incredibly, and he ended just as well. In Super Bowl XXXII, he produced one of the greatest performances by a safety in a Super Bowl. Atwater racked up six solo tackles along with a sack, two passes defended and a forced fumble. His forced fumble and sack resulted in the Broncos gaining three points, and with the game tied at 24, he stalled a Green Bay drive, forcing a punt on 3rd and 8. Later, he delivered a hit that would end the game, finalizing the Denver victory. Atwater’s performance could have won him MVP, adding to his already impressive resume.
Atwater deserves to be in the Hall of Fame as one of the best safeties to ever play. His career produced both great peaks and great longevity. He has all the accolades that a Hall of Famer would need. He has the stats. There is no logical argument against his induction, and the wait for him to go in has been too long.