How does one of the most dominant pass rushers of his era not get the slightest sniff of football immortality? That is the question surrounding former Buccaneers defensive end Simeon Rice.
It’s sad, really. I mean, you have one of the most feared, dominant, productive players at their position and they get absolutely no consideration to be included with men that they stood toe-to-toe with every single Sunday. That is exactly what former Buccaneers and Cardinals star Simeon Rice is left to deal with. A man who was one of the key elements in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl victory. A man who helped fellow teammates, and Hall of Famers, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks get over the hump. A man who is ranked fifteenth all time in sacks.
Still…not the slightest interest from voters. No one pounding the table for him. No writers standing in front of their peers saying “Come on…it’s absolutely crazy not to get this guy in the Hall. He deserves it every bit as much as these other players.”
Quite simply, that’s the truth. He does deserve it. Yet, only two people ever seem to go to bat for Rice. Warren Sapp did in his very public feud with Michael Strahan when he declared Rice the better player. Sapp told the Tampa Tribune,
"“Simeon was a better rusher than Michael Strahan every day of the week and twice on Sunday.Rice didn’t rush the worst lineman. You know the right tackle is the worst of the five. Strahan played right end his first four years. When they were putting the label on him as a bust, they put B-U-S. Let’s transition him to the other side and see if he can play in his fourth year. They put him at right end and he couldn’t do it, so they moved him to the weak guy. One-on-one with the Jon Runyans for eight quarters every year. Sim won’t ever have his name brought up for the Hall of Fame and that’s a shame. He’s one of the best pass rushers I’ve ever encountered in my life.”"
As for the other person screaming for Rice to get in? Well, that is simply left up to Simeon himself. He says it best in the video below.
Rice appears to have been on a personal mission to get what he feels he deserves;
However, this goes beyond opinions. Rice obviously has a biased opinion because it’s about him. Sapp has a biased opinion because that was his teammate, his brother. Let’s look at strictly facts.
Rice played in 174 games in his twelve-year career, accumulating 475 tackles, 122 sacks, 28 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, and five interceptions. He was the second fastest player to reach 100 sacks, behind only Reggie White, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Rice became eligible for the Hall in 2013 and has never gotten anywhere close to induction.
There’s no Hall of Fame without me in it. I didn’t have nobody falling down to help me get sacks. I didn’t have that. I had to earn everything I got.
Other players in the top-20 all time in sacks not in the Hall?Jason Taylor
, with 139.5 sacks, becomes eligible in 2017.Jared Allen
, 136 sacks, eligible in 2021.Julius Peppers
, 136 sacks, still active.DeMarcus Ware
, 134.5 sacks, still active.John Abraham
, 133.5 sacks, eligible in 2020.Leslie O’Neal
played fourteen years and retired in 199 with 132.5 sacks, has not been inducted. And finally,Clyde Simmons
. Simmons played fifteen years, retired in 2000 with 121.5 sacks and is not in the Hall.
As Rice pointed out in one of the tweets above, he ranks third all-time in sacks per season. Only two players ahead of him on the all-time list had more sacks in fewer seasons, Demarcus Ware and Derrick Thomas. Since Strahan seems to be a common target among Rice supporters, we’ll look at Strahan’s numbers: in his fifteen year career, Strahan had fewer than six sacks six different times and had only six double-digit sack seasons. Rice, in his twelve seasons, had fewer than six sacks three times, twice in the final two years of his career when hampered by a shoulder injury that never healed. Rice had eight seasons with double-digit sacks, three times getting fifteen or more.
Rice has created a life after football, becoming involved in the movie industry. He wrote, directed, and produced a short film named “When I Was King” in 2011, then wrote, directed, and produced a full feature film titled “Unsullied” in 2014. However, finding his post-NFL career calling doesn’t make up for what has happened to him. I reached out to Rice regarding this ongoing saga, but have not received a response yet.
Simeon Rice, love him or hate him, was one of the best defensive ends in the NFL in his era. His name will be forever etched in all time rankings and record books. You can’t deny that, and the Hall of Fame committee needs to stop denying him of what he deserves.