Former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin was one of 173 modern-era players nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month. Next month, he’ll find out if he made the cut for a second straight year to be one of 25 semifinalists, this time for the Class of 2024.
But Boldin, whose 14-year NFL career included three seasons and a Super Bowl title in Baltimore, insists he doesn’t think about whether he’ll one day have a bust in Canton, Ohio.
“My dad always taught me if you have to tell somebody how good you were, you probably weren’t very good,” he told The Baltimore Sun last week at the Courtyard by Marriott Baltimore Downtown/McHenry Row hotel, where he was on hand to promote Marriott’s Ultimate Baltimore Ravens Fan Room. “For me, I don’t try to state a case. I let my play speak for itself.”
While that play and his toughness were enough to earn three Pro Bowl selections and a championship, whether his career was Hall of Fame worthy will be the subject of debate among the selection committee.
Boldin’s 13,779 career receiving yards rank 14th all-time and are more than Hall of Famers Andre Reed, Steve Largent, Art Monk and Charlie Joiner. His 1,076 catches are ninth in league history.
He was also the fastest player to reach 400 receptions (67 games), 500 receptions (80 games) and 600 receptions (98 games). He set the NFL rookie record with 101 catches and was the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2003.
Yet there are other factors that will likely keep him out, at least for now.
Only three times did Boldin — who spent his first seven seasons in the league with the Arizona Cardinals and also had stints with the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions — finish in the top 10 in catches and receiving yards in an NFL season. He never led the league in either category, nor was he an All-Pro. Boldin also wasn’t dominant for any length of time, topping 100 catches in two of his first three years but recording fewer than 70 receptions six times.
Still, it’s unlikely the Ravens would have won the Super Bowl during the 2012 season without him.
While Boldin had 65 catches for a team-high 921 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season, his biggest impact came in the playoffs. In four postseason games, he had 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns, two of which came against the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game. In the Super Bowl win over the 49ers, he led the Ravens with six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.
That 34-31 victory is also why Boldin looks back on his brief time in Baltimore so fondly.
“I look at it as mission accomplished,” he said. “I was brought here to help bring a Super Bowl to the city and was able to do that.
“Although I was only here three years, it felt a lot longer than that because I connected with the community right away, the fan base was great, the organization was second to none. I still keep in touch, not with just players but with people in the facility.”
As for this year’s team, now 5-2 after a blowout victory over the Lions, Boldin thinks they’re still finding their way.
“I don’t think they’ve played their best football yet, especially offensively,” he said. “They’re still trying to find that identity. That happens. You get a new offensive coordinator in, sometimes it takes him a little time to fill out the pieces that he has.
“Switching over to a new coordinator, him trying to make his presence felt here, figuring out the weapons that he has and how to use them, who’s best at what positions and what they can do best, that’s still a process right now. They have the weapons. They’ll figure it out.”
Whether Boldin has enough to make it to the Hall of Fame, time will tell.
“It would mean a lot,” Boldin said of the possibility of being enshrined. “You’re talking about being one of the best to ever do it. If you get that call there’s probably no greater call.
“But it doesn’t cross my mind, not until somebody brings it up. I reached every goal I wanted to in football. For me, the ultimate goal was winning the Super Bowl. If I’m inducted, that’s icing on the cake.”