All 11 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists who were voted down on Saturday have their supporters, but with hundreds of ESPN employees here in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl, it’s been hard to go anywhere without hearing from one of Cris Carter’s colleagues pressing the case that Carter got robbed.
That’s been true in private conversations but even more so on ESPN’s broadcasts. The ESPN Super Bowl pregame show opened with a discussion of the Hall of Fame class of 2012, and Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and Mike Ditka made their cases that Carter belongs in Canton. Jackson seemed particularly upset that Carter had been voted down and suggested that the vote on Carter is evidence for a need to reform the system of selecting Hall of Famers.
After a long career as one of the NFL’s top receivers, Carter has a good case to make the Hall of Fame, but when the case is being presented by people who sit on an ESPN studio set with Carter, it’s easy to wonder whether that case is motivated more by a desire to do a favor for a friend than a desire to offer an objective analysis of which Hall of Fame candidates are deserving.
It’s also important to note that under the Hall of Fame’s rules, a maximum of five modern-era candidates can be enshrined each year. This year the full allotment of five modern-era candidates were voted in, so if you’re going to say Carter should have been chosen, you also need to pick one of those five modern-era candidates (Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf) who should have been denied.
A full-court press from ESPN could actually be counterproductive for Carter, as some of the members of the 44-person selection committee may resent feeling pressure to vote for Carter. And it’s only going to get harder for Carter next year, as the 2013 ballot appears more crowded than this year’s ballot was. And every year going forward Carter’s numbers will look less impressive compared to the numbers produced by today’s receivers. No matter how much his colleagues might like him, Carter is going to have a tough time getting a bust in Canton.