Polamalu, Reed, and Ronnie Lott are the 3 safeties that come to mind first. 43, first ballot.
Ben's around 20th all time, statistically, though the 2 rings bump him up some. Still, he needs more mojo to make it; not in my mind, but others'. IMHO, he's right on the ineffable border.
Ward is the greatest dichotomy. IMO, hugely deserves to be in on the basis of stats (good) and intangibles (great). Hines Ward broke Keith Rivers's fucking jaw. Hines Ward changed the rules a la Mel Blount. Hines Ward was part of Jerome Bettis's stats and every Steelers RB who ever vampired yardage offa his receiving totals. Hines jumped up laughing every time. Hines had his fucking ACL chewed by rabid dogs when he was 12, or sumpin. Any event, you have a pickup game of the NFL's best in their prime, and after Jerry and Randy are taken, I'm thinking Hines not far after. Others may have better stats, but would you take any of the guys 4-20
over Hines in pickup? Srsly?
Agree with all of this. many of Ward's prime years came pre-Ben. Troy seemed to revolutionize his position as well. Many teams have tried to duplicate but I'd argue I haven't seen another SS like him.
I also think the stats won't tell the whole story with voters. Check out Aikman's stats compared to his peers. Three rings though.
I could be completely wrong but I think Troy is a first ballot. I actually think Ward gets in sooner than alot will think based on his impact at the position and the fact that he played a fuck-ton of meaningful games (although we'd have like to seen 2 more super bowl appearances). Two rings, one SB MVP, etc.
Ben will have the toughest time, due to the media hating his guts. I mean Brees, Manning, or whoever has that game in XLIII, and they are MVP and talked about forever. Who knows it wouldn't surprise me if he was snubbed. Doesn't mean he hasn't been one of the best damn quarterbacks in the league the last 10 years.