As a voter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I get a chance each year to hear the pros and cons debated about each of the eligible players the day before the Super Bowl. There are 39 electors on the Hall of Fame committee, writers and broadcasters representing the 32 NFL cities, the Pro Football Writers of America and some at-large voters as well.
The debate is usually spirited, with some biases at work that still have me shaking my heard.
This year the fifteen finalists don’t include any “contributors” to the game and that seems strange. Neither Art Modell, George Young nor Ralph Wilson made it to the final ballot. All three have been there before. Which makes me belive that there might have been a coordinated effort among some of the voters to not bring any of the contributors to the committee this year.
There’s been a long standing debate regarding whether the contributors should fight for the limited number of spots available for the Hall with the players and coaches involved in the game. The total number of electees in any one year can only be six, and if you throw a contributor or two in there, all of the sudden, the players are getting squeezed out.
I agree that the contributors should have their own separate category, but the Hall’s Board of Directors doesn’t see it that way and therefore, they’ll continue to be on the general ballott. With only six eligible spots, this year is going to be tough. It’ll be an elimination ballott in my mind instead of a who’s deserving vote.
When the Seniors committee brings a player to the final 15, I think it’s amazing that somebody would vote one of those down. Two members of the Seniors committee meet with the Hall’s administration and two members of the Hall in August to go through the thousands of players who’s careers ended more than 25 years ago. They’re looking for the guys who “slipped through the cracks.”
In my 11 years on the committee, only two senior candidates, Jerry Kramer and Bob Hayes didn’t get elected. If a guy is grabbed out of that morass of players and makes it through the voting process to the final up or down, who among the committee members thinks they’re just smarter than everybody else and votes no? Not me, I can assure you.
Kramer was subjected to the “I’m not putting anymore Packers in” syndrome. Hayes’ chance was mortally wounded when a prominent writer.