By Tim Graham
CANTON, Ohio -- There has been a general belief legendary Buffalo Bills receiver Andre Reed eventually will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
That sentiment might not come with a lifetime guarantee.
Hall of Famers wonder if players such as Reed and Tim Brown will need to enter the Hall of Fame within the next few years to have their best shot.
Receivers with prolific stats from the contemporary game will be voted on soon.
"Once these guys become available, like Marvin Harrison and all these guys with these big numbers, with the way the game has gone and throwing the football, it's going to be tougher," Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon said on an NFL Network roundtable in Canton.
"Their numbers are going to start now to diminish, and it's going to make it tougher for them to get in. So I'm hoping in the next year or two Tim and Andre get in here."
Harrison will be eligible for next year's class and deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's third in career receptions with 1,102 and scored 128 touchdowns.
Terrell Owens, with his 1,078 catches and 153 touchdowns, will come up for vote in two years (for induction in 2016) if he doesn't play again.
Randy Moss, with his 982 receptions and 156 touchdowns, would be considered in 2017 (for induction in 2018) if he doesn't return to the field.
Isaac Bruce and Hines Ward are retired receivers with more catches than Reed. Reggie Wayne has more catches, too, but he's still playing.
"So many guys have similar numbers, and how do you differentiate these guys?" Moon said. "That's going to be the tough thing for those voters to look at."
Hall of Fame running back, also on the roundtable along with Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin, agreed the stats are getting skewed.
"It's starting to distort what guys did before," Faulk said. "You're looking at it and you're saying, 'Man, look at his numbers now, and look at what he did.' It's not even fair.
"If you think about what the game was in the late '80s, early '90s, I mean, to have a quarterback drop back and throw the ball 50 times? What?"
Irvin interjected: "You're losing that game."
"Now," Faulk said, "if you don't throw it 50, you probably don't have a chance to win."
There's still optimism among Hall of Famers that Reed will join them someday.
"Andre Reed? We might mention other receivers," Faulk said. "He was it, when Jim Kelly was throwing the ball in the clutch."
James Lofton, who played on three of the Bills' four Super Bowl teams, stressed common sense should prevail over raw stats.
"It gets different, but you look at a guy's impact on the game," Lofton told me. "Without Andre Reed, do the Buffalo Bills go to four consecutive Super Bowls? Do they play in all those playoff appearances consecutively without him? No, they don't."
taggedAndre Reed | James Lofton | Jim Kelly