In past years, any complaints regarding the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process usually evaporated the next day, once the Super Bowl kicked off.
This year, the complaints have legs. And now some of the persons to whom the complaints relate are helping to lace up the running shoes.
In past years, the 44 media members who solely and exclusively determine the contours of each class of Hall of Famers kept their heads low and their mouths closed in the face of criticism that they know will quickly subside and disappear, arriving again 52 weeks later as a temporary blip on the radar screen. This year, Jason Whitlock of FOXSports.com opted not to move on (or move out), and he took aim at the process in a scathing column posted earlier this week.
Whitlock also joined us on ProFootballTalk Live to discuss his views on the subject.
Now, some members of the selection committee are fighting back, aggressively. Len Pasquarelli dismissed Whitlock as an “idiot” on Thursday, and Bob Gretz takes aim at Whitlock today with an item that attacks him extensively, while barely addressing Whitlock’s core concerns.
Our reaction? Whitlock’s criticisms have chafed one or more rear ends, possibly because his efforts threaten to disrupt the star chamber that has been charged with the duty of determining in shadows and codes of silence who gets in, and who doesn’t.
That said, Pasquarelli and Gretz seem to realize that the process should display a greater degree of transparency. But they’re too busy circling the wagons and/or firing arrows at Whitlock to address in meaningful fashion the various problems with the process and meaningful ways for fixing them.
My own homework assignment for the weekend, which I may or may not choose to accept, is to articulate the things that I believe can be done to improve the process. The reaction to Whitlock’s effort to shine a light on a system that has been cloaked in secrecy for far too long has convinced me that the time has come to try to make the process better, even if it means incurring the wrath of one or more of the 44 persons who probably don’t want to see their influence diluted, their power undermined, or their clique disrupted by meaningful change to the procedures for picking new Hall of Famers.