Larry Fitzgerald is getting the ball rolling on Anquan Boldin’s Hall of Fame candidacy.
“I believe so,” Fitzgerald, a long-time teammate of Boldin’s, told ESPN.com. “Every place he’s gone, I feel like he’s been the best receiver on that team. He’s led by example off the field. He’s done it the right way.”
He added: “I wish we could’ve been able to play a little longer but to be able to see him go off and win a championship. … The dude has had an unbelievable Hall of Fame career.”
Here’s where we bog down an interesting conversation with numbers. Boldin is 14th all-time in receiving yards (13,779) ahead of Hall of Famers like Andre Reed, Steve Largent, Art Monk and Charlie Joiner. Boldin is ninth in receptions, ahead of Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Randy Moss, Reed, Monk, Torry Holt, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates and Michael Irvin. Boldin is 23rd in touchdowns, ahead of Charley Taylor, Fred Biletnikoff, James Lofton, Bob Hayes, Raymond Berry, Monk, Irvin, Joiner and John Stallworth among others.
Boldin, who announced his retirement last week, has also been recognized as the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year.
With the committee’s ability to consider Boldin’s impact both on the field and in the locker room, this seems like a slam dunk. Boldin played huge roles on playoff-caliber teams, including an indispensable role in Baltimore’s Super Bowl victory over the 49ers in XLVII (six catches, 104 yards and a touchdown).
Boldin was never the flashy, generation-defining receiver that forced defenses to scramble their coverages and shuffle personnel, but he was always difficult to defend and always sure-handed. Fitzgerald is right: There’s no telling what the two of them could have accomplished together if Boldin remained in Arizona but both should eventually come together again in Canton.