In previewing with Steve Duemig of WDAE earlier today some of my thoughts for improving the annual Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, I explained that my goal would be to raise the points delicately and diplomatically.
But then I realized that I never do things that way. So why try now?
The ceremony in its current form stinks, and it needs to change.
Case in point — when I returned to the hotel room Saturday night after attending the ceremony, my wife asked why NBC doesn’t televise it.
My response: “Did you watch it? Then there’s your answer.”
Before I go any farther, let me be clear. I don’t fault the folks who run the Hall of Fame for choosing to exhibit respect and deference to the newest members of the club. The Hall of Fame exists to celebrate these folks; it would be impossible for the Hall of Fame to dictate in conjunction with their entry terms and conditions regarding the content and duration of their acceptance speeches.
And I don’t advocate impinging upon the moment in the sun of a person who is commencing football immortality. Instead, the goal should be to help make it even better.
The Hall of Fame entrance speech represents, for most enshrinees, the last official act of their pro football careers. Shouldn’t they want to give speeches that are truly memorable, speeches that entertain and/or move and/or inspire the audience?
Sure they should, and surely they do. But most of them are apparently left to their own devices when it comes to preparing the speech.
Politicians, who talk for a living, don’t write their own speeches. So why should people who played football for a living be expected to write a speech without help? (In the event any of the new members who gave speeches on Saturday night actually had help, someone owes each of them a huge apology. And perhaps a refund.)
Think of it this way. Writers determine who’ll get into the Hall of Fame. Some of those same writers likely would be thrilled to have a chance to help craft the speeches.
Still, to make something like that happen, the league will need to intervene, and to take over the entire operation.
It’s not as if the league hasn’t tried. We’re told that the NFL Films-style introductory videos were aimed at cutting down on the duration of the remarks given by the persons introducing the new members. But, as we hear it, the folks who run the Hall of Fame didn’t have the heart to break the news to the new members and the folks introducing them.
In the case of Hall of Fame speeches, memorable moments are rare, which is why the periodic speaker who nails it (e.g., Michael Irvin in 2007) is never forgotten.
Ideally, every speaker should fall into this category. Though that goal might be unattainable, the outcome would be something much better than what we witnessed on Saturday night.
Again, I’m not knocking the event. I’m just trying to get it to reflect the same degree of excellence exhibited by the persons whose careers have qualified them from the award they are receiving.