The Hall of Fame doesn’t anticipate discussing ways to improve their selection process any more than normal this year.
That’s too bad, because there has been a lot of great discussion (on this blog and elsewhere) on some steps that could help open up the process. We are in a profession largely based on evaluating the performance of others, yet too often bristle at the suggestion that we can and should do better.
More than anything, we think that providing a greater cross-section of voices beyond just sportswriters in the Hall of Fame voting process could help provide a more well-rounded look at the sport.
NBC’s Rodney Harrison joined PFT Live and discussed one uncomfortable reason why more voices could help things: Writers have biases. More specifically, writers often have biases towards players that are nicer to writers.
NFL players that act like jerks tend to get viewed more harshly than guys that are professional with the media. This plays out in daily coverage of teams and could be a factor in Hall of Fame voting.
I’ve raised this point with some actual writers (I don’t consider myself one). The response is usually something like: “It’s only natural.” Or “How can a player’s behavior towards us not affect things?”
I have so much respect for those whose cover players on a day-to-day basis, but this seems to be a bit of a blind spot in the industry. We should judge a player on their performance. We should judge coaches and evaluators on results, not if they are nice guys.
This sort of bias is probably not a massive problem in Hall of Fame voting, but it’s another reason why more voices in the process can only help.