Hall of Fame Opens Doors to Four in 2014
The hallowed doors of the Arena Football League Hall of Fame have opened their doors once again for the 2014 class. Four new members have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Andre Bowden, Damian Harrell, Kyle Moore-Brown, and Omarr Smith are the four newest members of AFL immortality.
Andre Bowden played for the Tampa Bay Storm for basically his whole career. His only other stop was in 2002 with the Carolina Cobras. Bowden's numbers are incredibly impressive when you look at this in context historically. He is fourth in league history in career rushes with 446, and he is ninth in rushing yards with 1,247. Bowden's 92 rushing touchdowns ties him with Dan Alexander for third in league history. The Fayetteville State product was First Team All-Arena in 1993, 1999, and 2001, and he was named to the All-Ironman Team in 2000.
Damian Harrell is probably most known for his consecutive games streak with a touchdown, a 78-game streak which was well-publicized when the AFL was at its heyday during the NBC and ESPN days. He led the Colorado Crush to the ArenaBowl title in 2005, a year in which he had 41 TD receptions. However, to put this in comparison, that was only the fourth best season in Harrell's career in terms of touchdown production. His best season came in 2006 when he amassed 152 catches, 1,920 yards, and 61 TDs, one of the best years a wide receiver has ever had in this league. Harrell finished his illustrious career with 1,136 receptions, 15,134 yards, and 358 touchdowns, all of which are the best in league history.
To put his records into perspective, the nearest active player to Harrell's records (Chris Jackson notwithstanding) is TT Toliver, who has 978 catches, 12,728 yards, and 243 touchdowns. Toliver would need to play at least three more seasons before coming even close to any of those marks that Harrell set. Harrell was named No. 10 on the list of the 25 Greatest Players in league history, and he was on the All-Arena team five times. Harrell was also the Offensive Player of the Year both in 2005 and 2006.
Harrell's team, Kyle Moore-Brown was one of the stalwart linemen in this league. His career spanned from 1995 through 2008, and he won championships with both the Albany Firebirds (1999) and the Crush (2005). Head Coach Mike Dailey, a Hall of Famer in his own right, once used Moore-Brown as his offensive specialist back in the Ironman days of the AFL, a truly innovative use of the position. The center from Kansas never put up good defensive numbers because he was an o-lineman by trade, and his cohorts will tell you that there wasn't a tougher man in the middle to go up against than Moore-Brown. Known as "Big Dog," Moore-Brown was named to the All-Ironman Team three times in his career and was All-Arena both in 2007 and 2008.
Omarr Smith has as many championships as anyone has in the history of the Arena Football League. He is the only player in the history of the league to win three straight ArenaBowl titles (2002 and 2004 with the San Jose SaberCats and 2003 with the Tampa Bay Storm), and he also won the championship in 2007 with the SaberCats. Though his coaching isn't considered a part of his Hall of Fame induction, Smith also has titles in each of the last two seasons with the Arizona Rattlers. Smith is also currently coaching with the SaberCats as an assistant.
On the field, Smith didn't really pick up all that many accolades, as he was named to the First Team All-Arena team just once (2004) and the Second Team All-Arena team once (2003). Smith's 35 career picks leaves him tied for 21st all-time. However, as a defensive back, Smith was always one of the most feared in the league, and his stats aren't all that gaudy due to the fact that he was often thrown away from when he was with the SaberCats. You can't take away all those rings for sure, and it speaks volumes that he already has six rings on his fingers.
This Hall of Fame class is tied for the smallest in AFL history. Five were inducted last year, and seven were put into the Hall in 2012. The other class with just four members was the second AFL Hall of Fame class in 1999. That year, Jay Gruden, Durwood Roquemore, Jon Roehlik, and Gary Vitto were inducted. This is also the first Hall of Fame class that didn't include a coach or a contributor.
John Gregory, Jay Gruden, Andy Kelly, Bo Kelly, and Steve Papin were all denied their entry into the Hall of Fame. Gruden is already in the Hall as a player but was up for induction as a coach. Chris Jackson was also a Hall of Fame finalist, but his eligibility was revoked when he came back to play for the Rattlers on Sunday in the National Conference Championship Game.