In a roundabout sort of way, every football player born in Michigan wants to end his career in Ohio. No, that doesn't mean they want to play for the Cleveland Browns or Cincinnati Bengals, it means they want to have their careers forever enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame based in Canton.

But, this is a feat not easily attained. According to Pro Football Reference data, Michigan has given the NFL the 10th-most players in league history with 793 Michigan-born players having played at least one regular season snap. They've played in 41,301 games as of the 2023 season, ninth-most in NFL history, and are responsible for 2,361 touchdowns, 11th-most among all states.

Despite all of that, only six Michigan-born players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, two of whom are inducted as coaches. Pro Football Reference recognizes five as players, which would be tied for 14th most with seven other states. By that metric, 17 states have more Hall of Famers than Michigan.

Future Michigan-born Hall of Famers?

Today, 62 Michigan-born players are active in the NFL, and not many appear to be headed for Hall of Fame careers. Brandon Graham with the Philadelphia Eagles has the best chance, and even with as great of a career the former Wolverine has had, he's still a long shot. Detroit Lion Aidan Hutchinson and New York Jet Sauce Gardner are off to excellent starts, but we're a long way from their retirement speeches.

There are a few Michigan-born players who have since retired patiently waiting to see if one day they'll get in.

Arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history, Detroit-born Antonio Gates was not named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a first-ballot selection earlier this year. Gates holds most major records at the position and his exclusion from the hall in 2024 is seen as a snub. He'll get in soon enough.

Joe Staley, an offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers from Rockford, should get in one day. He was one of the three best left tackles in the NFL through the 2010s and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's All-2010s Team.

Meanwhile, wide receivers Derrick Mason and Jimmy Smith will have to wait through the log jam at their position and hope they aren't forgotten. Smith is the more likely of the two. Andre Rison is in the same boat, though his chances continue to diminish with more and more first-ballot wide receivers stalling players from past eras. Despite Rison's accomplishments, his career doesn't stack up to Mason's on Pro Football Reference's Hall of Fame Monitor.

Pepper Johnson, who played one season with the Detroit Lions, has a shot of one day getting in, but there are players at inside linebacker with better resumes who have waited longer and have yet to be enshrined.

Finally, there's Ed Buddle, who passed away in December at 83 years old. Buddle played 14 seasons, starting 161 games at offensive guard for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1963 to 1976. He was named to seven Pro Bowls and was twice named First-Team All-Pro. According to Pro Football Reference's Hall of Fame Monitor, only six offensive guards who are eligible for the Hall of Fame had better careers and none have waited longer. Though it's unfortunate that Buddle would be a posthumous induction, he should be enshrined one day.

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Who's Already in From Michigan?

So Michigan won't be climbing the charts for Hall of Fame members, but there are still six from the Mitten State who have already earned their spot in the Hallowed Halls. They are listed below.

These Pro Football Hall of Famers Were Born in Michigan

Check out the careers of the six Pro Football Hall of Famers born in Michigan.

Gallery Credit: Jacob Harrison

The 53 Greatest Michigan-Born Players in NFL History

Super Bowl champions, record holders and Hall of Famers. Michigan has given the NFL some elite talent.

Gallery Credit: Jacob Harrison

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