TAMPA, Fla.--Richard Dent's disappointment today at missing the Pro Football Hall of Fame might linger for a little while.
But the Super Bowl XX MVP could be in good shape moving forward. It's a good sign that Dent made the cut from 15 to 10 for the second consecutive year. It was the fifth time in six years that he was among the final 15.
Two pass rushers have been selected in the last two classes--Bruce Smith and Derrick Thomas this year and Andre Tippett and Fred Dean in 2008. What bolsters Dent's chances are the fact that there are not any more elite pass rushers coming on to the ballot in the coming seasons. Without more competition at defensive end, Dent could be aided. Of course, he needs to get one of the five modern-era slots and Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith will be slam dunks at this time next year. Some of the first-year eligible players in 2011 are also impressive.
Dent isn't alone as a pass rusher, however. Three other defensive end/linebackers were on the semifinal list of 25 and have impressive credentials:
Richard Dent: Super Bowl XX MVP finished career with 137 1/2 sacks and had 10 or more for five straight years from 1984 to 1988.
Chris Doleman: An eight-time Pro Bowler, he had 151 sacks and eight interceptions and was a member of the 1990's All-Decade Team.
Kevin Greene: Five-time Pro Bowler was on a division championship team with four different clubs and finished with 160 sacks.
Charles Haley: Member of 10 division championship teams and five Super Bowl winners. The five-time Pro Bowler had 100 1/2 sacks.
The next time a top defensive end will come on the ballot is 2013 when Michael Strahan will be eligible. Here are some players who will be considered in the coming years:
2010: Gary Anderson, Tim Brown, Eddie George, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith
2011: Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Willie Roaf, Deion Sanders, Jimmy Smith
2012: Tiki Barber, Curtis Martin
2013: Steve McNair, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, Michael Strahan