Two weeks and one day after the next class of Pro Football Hall of Famers was unveiled via the vote of the 44 people who determine who does, and doesn’t, gain membership, questions regarding the current selection process continue.
Earlier this week, Jason Whitlock of FOXSports.com devoted another column to a topic that won’t resonate with many fans, especially with the NFL season over and plenty of other things going on in the sports world.
We don’t agree with as much of Whitlock’s latest column as we did with his prior one. For example, his assault on Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC creates the impression that King wants the current process to remain in place, unchanged. The reality, however, is that King fully favors transparency, one of the things for which Whitlock rightly is clamoring.
Also, we don’t think holding a vote on the Hall of Fame carries with it any real power or profit, as Whitlock suggests. Otherwise, the unemployed, underemployed, and/or semiretired members of the panel wouldn’t be unemployed, underemployed, and/or semiretired. Most average fans don’t know (and don’t care) about the composition of the panel; folks who hand out jobs in the media are interested in things more directly related to the creation of revenue.
That said, we agree with Whitlock’s assessment that journalists are no more immune to biases than former players or coaches or Hall of Famers or anyone else who could be added to the process in order to dilute the impact of any one vote. Hall of Fame voter Dan Pompei seems to agree, too.
“[A]dding men who were a part of the game means introducing more bias to the room,” Pompei recently wrote. “But bias already is there. Bias exists wherever human beings exist. The selection process never can completely get away from that. But it can control it. Part of the intended benefit of having journalists vote is we are supposed to be capable of being more subjective than people who haven’t been trained to control biases. If the board of selectors doubles in size, individual biases won’t matter anywhere near as much.”
Pompei supports expanding the panel. “I can’t disagree with these men when they write that 44 selectors are too few,” Pompei wrote. “As it stands, all you need are nine votes to kill a candidate. That makes each of us probably a little more powerful in the process than we should be.”
As members of the selection committee and external voices continue to call for transparency and increased size of the panel, we can only hope that the rest of the committee and, more importantly, the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees are listening to men like Pompei, King, and Whitlock.
Hopefully, they’ll be listening to PFT Live on Monday, when Hall of Fame voter Howard Balzer joins me to continue the discussion.