It is no secret that we are spoiled by “once in a generation” players each and every Sunday. There are more elite quarterbacks than there have ever been. Wide receivers have evolved into game-breaking bonafide superstars, and we may witness not one, but two players break the NFL single-season receiving yard record. The level of talent has become almost ridiculous, and at times causes us to ignore borderline Hall of Famers. Not the Tom Bradys or Aaron Rodgers of the world. The players who have been underrated their entire careers, despite record-breaking numbers. I am talking about Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson made headlines Sunday, scoring his 9th ever kick-return touchdown. The 103-yard score helped Atlanta edge the dismal Chicago Bears, but more significantly, it helped Patterson break a years-long tie. Cordarrelle Patterson now boasts the most kick-return touchdowns in NFL history, surpassing Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington. With his record-breaking performance this past week, the question begs to be asked: Is Cordarrelle Patterson a Hall of Famer?
Your gut reaction may be to laugh in my face. Or perhaps you believe I’ve insulted the institution of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and wish to cause me bodily harm. Whatever your gripe may be, allow me to plead Patterson’s case.
First and foremost, Patterson owns the all-time record for kick-return touchdowns. It bears repeating. He is alone atop the kickoff mountain top, above icons such as Devin Hester, Percy Harvin, and even Gale Sayers. Being the best at something should warrant admission into Canton, plain and simple. There has been nobody in the history of the NFL who was better at returning kickoffs, over the course of an entire career, than Cordarrelle Patterson.
For many football purists, the return specialist is an undignified position. And to allow one such player into the Hall of Fame would mean opening the floodgates. Football’s hallowed halls would be filled by players not talented enough to succeed on either offense or defense. That’s a bad take. I say let them in. Long snappers, gunners, punters, you name it. Special teams have been undervalued for far too long. Players like Steve Tasker, and Devin Hester deserve to have their names enshrined, and so does Patterson.
According to Pro-Football-Reference, Cordarelle Patterson has a HOF Monitor score of 44.33. The average for a HOF wide receiver is 104. Do you see an issue with this metric? Patterson is ranked as a receiver. While yes he has been known to line up as a receiver, Patterson is a swiss army knife. He’s spent his career dicing up defenses from any position, especially as a kick returner. To rank him as a receiver is simply foolish.
Even if you’re not on board for a special teams wing in the Hall, Patterson has the accolades to back up his claim. In his 10-year career, Patterson has earned 6 All-Pro selections, and 4 Pro Bowl selections, and he is a one-time Super Bowl Champion. Not to mention Patterson won the 2021 most improved player of the year, for his breakout performance as the Atlanta Falcons’ lead rusher. But above everything else, even if those accolades mean diddly to you, there is still one that stands above the rest.
Cordarrelle Patterson was selected to the Hall of Fame’s 2010s all-decade team. He is immortalized as one of the best players of the past decade. If he were to be recognized as a stellar player from the 2010s, and still ignored for induction to the Hall of Fame, it would be a travesty.
At 31 years old, Cordarrelle Patterson has continued to evolve. He has become a formidable running back after years of playing a “gadget” role for teams. His 1st team All-Pro selections come in 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2020. He has been dominant throughout his career. The longevity of his career, coupled with his late running back Renaissance, is the cherry on top of what is already a Hall of Fame resume.
Regardless of whether or not the Hall of Fame gets their act together and honors Cordarrelle Patterson along with countless other special teams players, one thing is for certain; Patterson will forever be etched in NFL history. His record-breaking 9th kick return touchdown ball is heading to Canton as we speak. At the very least, a piece of Cordarelle Patterson’s career will be forever immortalized. But it would be nice to see him donning a gold jacket after retirement.