Commissioner believes off-field conduct should be considered in Hall of Fame voting

NFL_goodell.jpgAs we’ve mentioned a time or two over the past couple of weeks, we’re in the process of preparing a PFT/NBC season preview magazine.  Since our business model rarely has involved getting you to actually pay money for stuff, we realize that we need to motivate you to do something that you rarely have had to do when it comes to visiting this site.

Since we can’t ply you with drinks like they do in casinos, we’ll instead be teasing a little of the content from time to time over the next few weeks. 

Here’s one that we’ll have a hard time topping.

On Monday of this week, I spent a full 30 minutes interviewing Commissioner Roger Goodell in his personal office at NFL headquarters in New York.  (And with all due respect to Brian Baumgartner a/k/a Kevin Malone of The Office, the visit to the Commish’s fortress of solitude was an even bigger highlight of a day that turned out to be full of them.)

We talked about a wide range of issues, all of which will appear in the magazine.  But here’s one that we’ll share with you now, in the hopes that you’ll choose to read the rest of them by buying the magazine (we’re trying to come up with an effective subliminal message on that point so we won’t have to continue to type that phrase).   

The Pro Football Hall of Fame bases enshrinement on only one factor:  on-field achievements and contributions to the game.  The Commissioner disagrees with that approach.

“I do believe that it’s more than just how you conduct yourself on the field,” Goodell said.  “I believe very firmly that it’s how you conduct yourself on and off the field as a member of the National Football League.  That’s part of your contribution to the game.”

Pete Fierle, the Manager of Digital Media and Communications at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, quoted to me via phone on Wednesday the applicable portion of the bylaws:  “The only criteria for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame are a nominee’s achievements and contributions as a player, coach, or contributor in professional football in the United States of America.”  As a result, whether and to what extent a player, coach, or contributor has conducted himself (or, in theory, herself) in an illegal or otherwise unbecoming manner off the field currently has no bearing on whether the player, coach, or contributor will have a bronze bust in Canton.

“These are decisions the Hall of Fame is going to have to make, not me,” Goodell said.  “But if you ask me a specific question, ‘Is it just their contributions on the field and their statistics?’  I don’t think that’s the case.  I think it’s about what you contribute to the game of football.”

Since I’m posing as a journalist on this one (for a change), I’ll leave my own opinion out of it.  (That said, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out what my opinion would be.)  For the magazine, we plan to harvest the opinions of every person who holds a Hall of Fame vote.
  
For now, Peter King of SI.com and NBC has shared his views on the subject.  “I think it’s a very slippery slope to judge character along with football,” King said via e-mail.  “I think it’s certainly a bad idea to remove someone from the Hall for something he does after his career.  You’ll never convince me O.J. Simpson is not a Hall of Famer, for instance.  As for judging players who screw up off the field during their careers, what’s a serious offense and what’s not?  I see no reason to change the rules.”

The Commissioner feels differently, and he was willing to say so.  We’ll have more on this in the PFT/NBC season preview magazine, which we hope you’ll now feel compelled to buy.

68 responses to “Commissioner believes off-field conduct should be considered in Hall of Fame voting

  1. A good subliminal message so you don’t have to “rag” on the point incessantly.

  2. WOW…this freakin guy is FULL of himself!! He is now trying to play judge to grown men??
    Its about how well they PLAYED! And what is considered a ‘serious’ offense and what is not? And what is the statute of limitations? Can you take someone out of the HOF 30 yrs after they have been enshrined? What if things come out after that person is dead?
    Its just too much…let their play do the talking! I mean, are you going to look back at those RACIST & PREDJUDICED owners/players back in the 50s & 60s and make determinations on them too??
    Its the FOOTBALL HOF not the GOOD GUY HOF!

  3. Well. If they make that a rule and start taking away inductees. There will be a riot..
    I agree with Peter King – you shouldn’t mix those things together.
    It’s not the: Good Guy Off the Field Hall of Fame – it’s about Pro Football..

  4. You apparently don’t following the evolutionary path for spawning a magazine. A magazine is a factual journalism product. There is very little about PFT that approaches either factual content or journalism.

  5. Well gosh Commissioner Do-Good, still no comment on the Dwayne Bowe “importing” claim? Surely that’s the kind of thing the NFL won’t tolerate anymore…. right?
    Where are you Commissioner?

  6. They all get bronze busts, but only the guys who stayed out of trouble get the pigeon shit cleaned off theirs. That’s what I’d do.

  7. I don’t think that things a player does AFTER getting out of footbal should be a factor, but things he does WHILE being active in the NFL SHOULD be.
    If you are convicted of drug use while active – no hall for you.
    If you are convicted of a felony while active – no hall for you.
    If you are convicted of spousal abuse while active – no hall for you.
    If you have been convicted and or sentenced for anything while being an active member in the NFL – no hall for you.
    What a player/coach/assistant (whatever other job can be put in the hall) does BEFORE and AFTER being employeed by the NFL SHOULD NOT be a contributing factor in selection into the hall.

  8. goodell noe the nfl have any control over the hof. it is a separate entity.
    i don’t think that their “character” should be part of it. how can you go and kick some one out that has already been elected? lame.

  9. Why are some people opposed to living a decent life off the field?!?!? There behavior off the field should absolutely be considered. Not saying the player has to be a saint etc. but if he has drug, rape, abuse. drunk driving arrests then that should be considered when voting.

  10. I guess he can take himself out of the running (future) for his involvement in the destruction of the Patriocheaters tapes.

  11. Hey Mike, refer to the mag as something you just drew up “off the top of my head”. That will fix it in people’s minds. Like Hitler’s moustache.

  12. Last I checked it was the “Professional Football Hall of Fame”, not the “Professional Football and Good Guy at Life Hall of Fame”.

  13. this doesnt make any sense,this whole point is now moote,with the way he rule the nfl with an iron fist,from now on the two catergories are instanly meshed anyways,it seems like a guy like pacman jones might have had a hall of fame career back in the 70s and might have made the hall of fame,his actions now a days cost him what 3 season?,or so,but i think what i am trying to say is most guys would disagree[like king],it doesnt matter cause with the suspensions handed down from goodell these guys with character flaws are taking themselves out of contention for the most partor am i thinking about this wrong,guys like big ben,if he gets in trouble again,could miss an entire season or liftime ban,and in turn would take himself out of hall of fame running,right!?!?

  14. Does the commish submit to random drug tests too? So few people now days practice what they preach, and the more they preach, the less they seem to practice.

  15. Interesting. According to that bi-law, techinically only games played in the USA count towards HOF consideration.

  16. Belichick’s a cheater and shouldn’t be in the HOF. Big Ben was just having some fun so he should be in the HOF. Case closed.

  17. I guess that this cuts both ways then. If someone opens soup kitchens and opens summer camps for kids, does he deserve more credit towards getting into the HOF? Just because things are reported doesn’t mean they are true, good or bad. And we know that bad news leads long before the good news gets any air play.

  18. who in the hell does this goober think he is?
    what a crock!
    hey goodell why don’t you go screw yourself…you obviously have way too much time on your hands!
    Nothing should keep a player out of the hall except for what happens on the field…end of story.
    This dude is way too full of himself and needs to be stopped ASAP….I hope someone has the balls to stand up to this imbecile!

  19. I usually find myself agreeing with Peter King about 95% of the time, but not on this issue. Thugs and murders, that get off, should not be in the Hall of Fame!

  20. Dictator GODell is like a bad rash with this stuff.
    What you did off the field shouldn’t matter for evaluating your on-field performance. Hello, Pete Rose?

  21. Ken believes commissioner should shut the F up
    Hey Rog, news flash, no one’s going to stop watching football whether the players are delinquents or altar boys. Please stop this incessant pandering. No one cares about your opinion. Just do your damn job and negotiate a new CBA.
    Thanks

  22. If you are convicted of drug use while active – no hall for you.
    If you are convicted of a felony while active – no hall for you.
    If you are convicted of spousal abuse while active – no hall for you.
    If you have been convicted and or sentenced for anything while being an active member in the NFL – no hall for you.
    —————————————————-
    That will cut out like 75% of all future Hall of Famers.
    Just kidding, seriously though I have to go with Peter King as well. It is the hall of fame not the hall of good people.

  23. ItalianArmyGuy:
    Took you long enough to make your s.o.s. comments. You truly are a useless p.o.s.

  24. I think ONLY players should be in the hall of fame and forget the owners and broadcasters and all that nonsense.

  25. Peter King is an idiot with no self control when it comes to food. He also has a weird, not-commonly found on men, skunk striped hair-do. Why should we care what he thinks about football players? He doesn’t even have enough sense to color his hair one natural color or even shave it all off. All he knows is that Brett Favre is the greatest thing ever and he loves the way Brett looks in wrangler jeans.

  26. Well if were going to keep people out of the hall of fame based on their off-the-field situations… then I guess we should start adding people to the HOF who are model citizens but get a waiver for On-the-field ability. /boggle

  27. govikings27 says:
    May 20, 2010 11:21 AM
    Who the F is Jesus? This is PFT not FTT (fairy tale talk)
    Clueless…

  28. Goodell think personal conduct is important? Who knew? Actually, I think off field stuff is already included for today’s athletes.
    “The only criteria for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame are a nominee’s achievements and contributions as a player, coach, or contributor in professional football in the United States of America.”
    Off-field incidents are negative contributions to professional football. Those might not be contributions as a player, but they can be considered negative achievement as a contributor. They tarnish the league image, and the image of the game. Also, under the current rules, a player who is suspended under the personal conduct policy loses chances to add to his career totals and tarnishes his legacy.
    As for removing player for conduct after they are inducted, I don’t see that as appropriate. Lawrence Taylor and O.J. Simpson were two of the best ever to play the game, and they earned their spots in the Hall. Unless their actions after the fact had something to do with football, it shouldn’t affect their Hall of Fame status. They aren’t football players any more. They are no longer employed by the league, and their actions do not reflect on the game the same way an active player’s actions do. I would make an exception for a case where it came out that a player was cheating during his career, or had done something that would have gotten him suspended, arrested, or otherwise unable to play if he had been caught at the time.

  29. If I buy a copy of the magazine, will 673 pieces of index card-sized ads selling a subscription fall out?

  30. Well, seeing as how there’s such a consensus, I have to disagree with everybody. Kick OJ’s ass out of the Hall, help me figure out what to think of LT, decide the rest on a case by case basis.
    We’re all adults here, which means we can have actual subjective opinions instead of hard and fast rules. Do you really think people will stop watching the game if OJ’s outta the Hall. Nah, they’ll just piss and moan on PFT.
    Oh, and be glad I’m not the Commissioner, because I’d automatically put anyone in the Hall who does NOT have Jesus in his heart, even Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell.

  31. “Its the FOOTBALL HOF not the GOOD GUY HOF!”
    spoken perfectly!!!!
    GOD-ell is a real jack ass on this one!!!
    How about working on the union deal and not worry about this foolishness, A hole!!!!!

  32. ItalianArnyGuy says: May 20, 2010 11:19 AM
    Belichick’s a cheater and shouldn’t be in the HOF. Big Ben was just having some fun so he should be in the HOF. Case closed.
    ================
    Dumb-a$$ clone. WTF does “arny” mean anyways – are you an Arnold Palmer fan? Isn’t he getting a bit old?
    Belichick will go into the hall – the last chance at stopping him just died in the Federal Appeals Court
    Ben likely won’t go into the Hall, because his career will probably not be long enough. Steelers will find some reason to stick him on IR this season, and then cut or trade him for cheap after the season – I doubt that they really want to trot him out to be abused by the fans. When he retires in a few years, he will only get credit for the SB win over Arizona – his poor showing in the Seattle SB will make HOF voters see him as only a one-time major contributor to a SB victory. He’ll be like Mark Rypien and Trent Dilfer – one SB victory is not enough to get you into Canton

  33. Patsfansince73– I agree with you on the while playing issue. I get sick of the old ‘it’s not their job to be role models’ bs because as a citizen/human living on this earth it’s their job as much as any regular Joe to be a somewhat decent person. If they can’t manage to do that, they don’t deserve the accolades.

  34. The owners need to rein God-ell in as of yesterday.
    If they allow him to continue unabated he is going to ruin the game.

  35. One lucky subscriber to the magazine will be given Florio’s toupee for a day. You can stomp on it, hang it from the ornament on your car, run it repeatedly through the spin cycle, throw it for your dog, torment the cat with it, let the kids take it to school for show and tell……
    So sign up early, and sign up often.

  36. It’s the PRO FOOTBALL HOF and not the SAINTS of Football HOF. Personally, I believe that writers do take this into account and while they won’t say it out loud, they have used it for THEIR votes to keep a guy from being a first ballot as a way of punishing them for their off the field problems.
    You HAVE to put that aside because if you can’t then you start letting other feelings creep in and soon you’re letting the fan in you keep out a guy who played for your mortal enemy or one who didn’t grant you that one interview that you thought would win you that Pulitzer.
    I also think that the Commish should stop and think about how many people that do act badly off the field while they’re playing actually get to the point where they’re HOF worthy.
    He also has to take into consideration that today’s players are under a microscope that guys back even in the ’80s weren’t under. Lance Rentzel saw his career spiral after he was accussed, for the second time, of exposing himself to a child and yet, he still managed to stay around the league for 3 more years. Today, he may not have even survived the first incident. This should be a cautionary tale for guys like Big Ben and maybe, it’s just his little way of jabbing at him and his kind so that they understand that there may be even more consequences for their actions, even if it isn’t in the form of suspensions.

  37. If bad behavior should keep them out, then would good behavior be considered for enshrining as well?
    I’m thinking of Pat Tillman, whose contributions to society transcended his contributions to the game. You know that argument would be coming if the rule ever changed.
    It is a slippery slope.

  38. It is the hall of fame–not the hall of playing ability. However, if they do this, they need a set of criteria that is universally applied.

  39. Last time I checked, there were no stats taken into consideration for how much money an inductee contributed to charities or, on the flip side, how many fines or suspensions said inductee had.

  40. actually i dont disagree with roger much on this.
    but… he is selective. if he disagrees with yer political viewpoint he wont let u buy a team or part thereof.

  41. The best Goodell will ever get will be an asterisk next to those Hall inductees who had off the field problems. What will an asterisk look like on a bronze bust…about the same as it will look next to Belichick’s 3 SB wins for cheating…^O^

  42. 1. It’s not the NFL Hall of Fame, it’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Warren Moon’s CFL stats count, remember.
    2. At the end of the day, the HoF is a private entity and they can set the rules they want for induction.

  43. Patsfansince73 says:
    things he does WHILE being active in the NFL SHOULD be
    **********************
    Here’s the problem with that: being convicted and being guilty are two things. What I mean by that is that there are a lot of guys that have been guilty of spousal abuse but NOT convicted or even made to have their day in court.
    Back in the ’50s, ’60s and even the ’70s, players got away with a lot of stuff that would have been front page material today. There wasn’t some guy with a cellphone taking video of a drunk owner trashing a former coach like Jerry Jones had done to him recently. A guy like Rodney King got beaten in the privacy of the streets without having someone with a cheap camera providing evidence for the defense. Today, if you do a pick like Seinfeld, it will be on TMZ so fast and there will be mulitiple angles from the different witnesses.
    People think that playrer or even other people are so much more evil today than they were when they were younger but that’s not true. Today, you’ve got people who are willing to come forward to report abuse, rape and other crimes when it used to be kept in the shadows and there was a thick veil of shame piled on to keep it there.

  44. @ItalianArmyGuy
    WTF are you smoking? Putting Ben on IR? You can say what you want about SB XL, but they would have never been there had it not been for Ben. His play was outstanding in the playoffs that year. I’m sick of the Steeler fans that think they can just plug any guy in at QB and still win. How many Superbowls did the Steelers win the years between Terry and Ben? Be careful what you wish for.

  45. Sounds like the NFL should just start the NFL Hall of Fame… instead of the unafilliated ProFootballTalk HOF

  46. The Hall of Fame should be an honor that involves character. Not only do I think people like Big Ben should never get in, I think people like OJ Simpson should be kicked out. I don’t care how good he was, he sheds a very negative light on the NFL and his bust should not be in the hall. Period.

  47. The guys with the rap sheets have their busts in the back row facing the corner of the room.

  48. I agree with Mama Tried….It’s the NFL Hall of Fame, not the Good Guy Hall of Fame. Of course, MLB has the Good Guy Hall of Fame…how else can you explain the absence of the sports’ All-Time hit leader?

  49. # Catamount says: May 20, 2010 1:15 PM
    The Hall of Fame should be an honor that involves character. Not only do I think people like Big Ben should never get in, I think people like OJ Simpson should be kicked out. I don’t care how good he was, he sheds a very negative light on the NFL and his bust should not be in the hall. Period.
    ——————————————————————-
    Well, I guess we know what Roger Goodell’s PFT screen name is now… Let’s see if we can figure out Carson Palmer’s…

  50. Great… Won’t be long now before we hear Defukio Smith and the NFLPA whining about this…

  51. it the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not Living Life Away from Football Hall of Fame. off the field incidents should have nothing to do with HOF inductions. if they can play well enough to get into the HOF, then nothing should stop them from getting in.

  52. Once More With Feeling!
    The Hall of Fame is a PRIVATE organization, neither run nor administered by the NFL.
    Do you remember your vacant lot pickup games as a kid? He who owned the ball made the rules!
    It’s their HOF – – they make the rules.
    All else is beside the point. If the HOF folk want to admit Cheerleaders, they can do it. If they want to admit referees and linemen, they can do it. They can make, enforce or disregard their own rules as it pleases them to do.
    End of rant.

  53. I think that usually you will find that players that have multiple off-field incidents rarely end up being considered HOF material because they don’t have the on the field focus they need to achieve that level. Now guys that are found cheating with the drugs should become outcasts just like they are in MLB when it comes to the HOF voting.

  54. For a guy that regularly complains about John Gruden pulling punches, I find it laughable that you leave your two cents out of this article (why start now?) because you’re posing as a journalist “on this one” (again, why start now?). Even though you agree with him, you are clearly trying to stay out of the commissioner’s way on this, pulling punches in an effort not to possibly inadvertently put your foot in your mouth and upset the commissioner, and spoil your chances at future face time with him. Hypocrite.

  55. A FULL 30 minutes? His PERSONAL office?
    Wow, you’re pretty special…most people get the partial 30 minutes in the generic office.

  56. For once, Peter King and I are on the same page. And again, Roger Goodell has overstepped. (BTW, Commissioner, how is it coming with the proposed expansion team in Afghanistan? I’m sure the Taliban will be merciful to the cheerleaders.)
    Yeah, Mike, you’ve made your position clear. But you cannot insert a morals clause into the Hall of Fame induction criteria without making it retroactive. And I would VEHEMENTLY oppose any attempt to remove O.J. Simpson from the Hall of Fame. You can’t pretend the first man to break 2,000 yards–in a 12-game season–did not exist. His legal troubles came YEARS after his football accomplishments. One had NOTHING to do with the other. If LT is convicted of a felony, are you going to pretend the man responsible for changing the modern pass rush never existed? Where do you draw the line? Is every player who struggles with addiction barred from the Hall? Every man who gets caught with a prostitute? All the KC players? After all, the Mann Act is still on the books.
    I’m not condoning their behavior. But the Commissioner should put his energy toward INTERVENTION–like the new program aimed at helping retiring players transition to the business world. Given the inherent entitlement issues of multi-million-dollar athletes, violent nature of the sport, and ready availability of groupies, mandatory counseling might be a good idea.
    As for your concerns about taking Mike Jr. to the Hall, try telling your child the TRUTH. Talented people screw up. Sometimes sports talent doesn’t equal good character. My heroes are people I know, not athletes, but even they have feet of clay. No one is perfect, Florio. Maybe you and Roger Goodell should try developing a more realistic view of the world instead of trying to pretend the world is Sesame Street.

  57. Goddell is right! Forget the thugs and losers. I wish they would vote one person out every five years or so based on off the field behavior. OJ FIRST! Followed by Irvin. Both their asses shouldn’t be in the HOF. It should be enough to keep Bellicheat and Rapelisberger out as well. This idea is brilliant.

  58. ItalianArmyGuy says:
    May 20, 2010 11:46 AM
    ItalianArnyGuy says: May 20, 2010 11:19 AM
    Belichick’s a cheater and shouldn’t be in the HOF. Big Ben was just having some fun so he should be in the HOF. Case closed.
    ================
    Dumb-a$$ clone. WTF does “arny” mean anyways – are you an Arnold Palmer fan? Isn’t he getting a bit old?
    Belichick will go into the hall – the last chance at stopping him just died in the Federal Appeals Court
    Ben likely won’t go into the Hall, because his career will probably not be long enough. Steelers will find some reason to stick him on IR this season, and then cut or trade him for cheap after the season – I doubt that they really want to trot him out to be abused by the fans. When he retires in a few years, he will only get credit for the SB win over Arizona – his poor showing in the Seattle SB will make HOF voters see him as only a one-time major contributor to a SB victory. He’ll be like Mark Rypien and Trent Dilfer – one SB victory is not enough to get you into Canton
    —————————-
    Well, my moral friend – you can keep hoping.
    Meanwhile the rest of us will be looking forward to Game #5 and our continued march onto SB#7.
    BTW – 2 Superbowls…is 2 Superbowls…I didn’t realise there was and asterisk in the records books put there by malcontents like you…
    …but KEEP HATIN’, little man.

  59. Hey Patsfansince73 or whatever ….What about your cheating lump a shit coach and alot of his complicet players? (Brady)???

  60. Hey italianarmyguy!!!!..OJ simpsons case was settled in court too….That does’nt mean squat to me ….He still killed his wife….and Belicheat still cheated!!

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