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Hall of Fame debate still lingers

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 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.

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17 Responses to “Hall of Fame debate still lingers”
  1. Wisconsin77 says: Feb 20, 2011 4:33 PM

    Whitlock hits the nail on the head once again.

  2. hedleykow says: Feb 20, 2011 4:42 PM

    As for the importance of bias, it is safe to say that Michael Vick’s future chances of going to the Hall would diminish by 1/44 at any time Mark Buehrle was on the voting committee.

    Mark loves his dog.

  3. universalcynic says: Feb 20, 2011 4:49 PM

    I can’t think of a story line that interests the avg. to above avg. NFL fan less than this one. It absurd.

    You, Whitlock, King, and the other two or three people who are so concerned have gotten on ton of mileage out of this boring lukewarm button issue.

  4. gonzoloungelizard says: Feb 20, 2011 5:05 PM

    Tim Brown for HOF 2012!

  5. jfluke65 says: Feb 20, 2011 5:06 PM

    Does anyone but the players really care about the Hall? I mean, we all have favorite players, many of whom will never get in. But that doesn’t change how much we enjoy watching them or the game.

  6. youboettcha says: Feb 20, 2011 5:10 PM

    Does the Hall of Fame debate still linger only because you keep writing about it?

  7. ravensfan4life52 says: Feb 20, 2011 5:18 PM

    I can’t respect Whitlock when he keeps going after Peter King. Peter King is a great journalist. Whitlock needs to stop being a hater and focus on doing his job. I don’t think expanding the committee will help anything, it will just make the process longer. I think the best way to do it is to have two inductions. one for players and coaches, and one for gms and journalists who contributed off the field. and adding maybe 1 or 2 more slots wouldn’t be terrible either. i say they do that for a while and then go back to how it is now. I think that would be a great temporary fix to get everyone who deserves to be in, in the hall. like ARt Modell. there’s no reason Art shouldn’t be in the hall.

  8. bucks12965 says: Feb 20, 2011 5:37 PM

    Tony Latone needs to be in the Hall of Fame!

    & Peter King is an idiot…..anyone who voted against Art Monk for years should have no say in who gets in the Hall.

  9. gregbeau says: Feb 20, 2011 6:09 PM

    I think I’m a pretty normal NFL fan. I never heard of Willie Roaf until this year.

    I read the Whitlock column, and the King column that precipitated it. King’s column was, I thought, a fair and well-balanced description of how the process works and why. Whitlock manages to invoke the race card skilfully, without ever actually calling King and the other HOF voters racist. I have lost any respect I may have had for him when he attacks Peter King.

  10. VonClausewitz says: Feb 20, 2011 6:40 PM

    He sure got Peter King right. As much as King is an apologist for anyone in power, his MO is ironically transparent. Whitlock hit a home run with this column.

  11. raiderapologist says: Feb 20, 2011 7:51 PM

    Ask Balzer why Warren Moon is in, and Jerry Kramer isn’t.

  12. bigdogg34 says: Feb 20, 2011 9:50 PM

    the HOF is a complete popularity contest that is entirely based on how much the media likes the person. ex: Chris Carter who is #2 in just about every receiving stat is not in the hall.

  13. patriotkrew says: Feb 20, 2011 10:16 PM

    I get the feeling that Jason is cashing in some of the equity he has built up over the years over this HoF issue. He is too good for the name calling and comes across at times like ” Vinny from the Bronx” calling into the sports talk station at times.

    He has some real good ideas and should focus on the end game and not the mud wrestling.

  14. chapnastier says: Feb 20, 2011 10:27 PM

    No other meida outlet is talking about this. There is no problem with the current process and it should stay the same. Simple as that.

  15. ruffbufffire says: Feb 20, 2011 11:26 PM

    Dre Reed gets in before Carter and Brown. They couldnt carry Reeds jock strap!!!!

  16. lovechildofajsmith says: Feb 21, 2011 1:26 AM

    I’m a HUGE football fan and honestly couldn’t care less about the Hall of Fame or who votes on it. Seriously, who gives a crap. I watch the games, play fantasy football, agonize over my Bolts choking away their season year after year….but NEVER have I given a crap about who gets inducted/screwed, the induction ceremony, etc. That’s for the media to romanticize to justify them getting paid for writing articles on the NFL. I’m a big fan of Whitlock’s writing, wit, and ability to call things like he sees them…..but honestly, football fans could give two $**** about the HOF.

  17. tdbragg says: Feb 21, 2011 6:06 AM

    When you have players such as Jerry Kramer of the Packers and L.C. Greenwood of the Steelers still after all these years , sitting on the outside looking in , its a TRAVESTY ! These were players that were the best at what they did . Look at any of the old Packer highlight films from the sixties . Who’s leading Paul Horning and Jim Taylor around the corner ? Jerry Kramer . Ask Fran Tarkenton of the Vikings what it was like running for his life all day long in Super Bowl IX ? L.C. Greenwood was unblockable batting passes , chasing Tarkenton and sacking him . Bottom line , its unfair and a major injustice to these men .

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