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Expansion, not turnover, is the key to improving HOF selection process

2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony Getty Images

At some point over the past week or so, I’ve created the impression that I favor “term limits” for the Hall of Fame voters.

I don’t.

I favor expansion of the process and diversity of the voting pool, with former players and coaches and Hall of Famers having a say.  If the voting is going to remain in the hands of only 44 people, I favor a higher level of scrutiny as to who gets a ticket to enter, and to continue to remain in, the meeting room.

Some (including newly-minted Hall of Famer Willie Roaf) have argued in favor of term limits.  I simply favor finding the best group of people to determine who enters the Hall of Fame, along with keeping them in place for as long as they continue to be among the best group of people to determine who enters the Hall of Fame.

I mention this because Peter King’s latest item regarding the criticism of the Hall of Fame selection process quotes an email to him from another voter, who contends that I am “banging the drum for turnover and a fresh crop of selectors every few years.”  I never have said that, and I don’t think that a “fresh crop” every few years would improve the process.

The voter who emailed Peter also writes that “[s]everal of us are questioning whether we want to continue on the committee,” and that “[t]he pressure and responsibility at times is overwhelming.”  Peter says that he’s also considering stepping aside from an assignment that “has gone from an honor to equal parts burden and honor.”

This is the part where collegiality and political correctness would compel me to do the predictable thing, and to plead publicly with Peter to not resign.  But I’m not going to do that, even though the committee as constituted would be far worse off without him.

Every year, a narrow window opens for offering criticism of the current Hall of Fame selection process.  If the folks who run the Hall of Fame can keep their heads low for a week or two in early February, everything dies down and anyone inclined to clamor for change moves on to the Scouting Combine and free agency.  It therefore will require something significant to get the attention of those who have the authority to implement improvements to the process.

If Peter and others believe that what was once an honor is now too much of a burden due to increased scrutiny and pressure, then the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees must find a way to address the situation by, for example, expanding the panel and in turn diluting the power, and the ensuing pressure, that each member of the selection committee possesses.  If the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees chooses to continue to do nothing, then Peter and others who no longer enjoy serving should resign.  If that’s what it takes to get the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees to take meaningful steps to improve the process, then in the long run it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

The voter who emailed Peter also writes that “there are fewer of us who can commit to attending the meeting each year.”  Setting aside the fact that virtually the entire working NFL media descends on the Super Bowl host city for the full week preceding the championship game and the fact that the selection meeting occurs in the host city the day before the Super Bowl, the simplest answer to that specific problem is this:  Scuttle the selection meeting.

If/when the pool of voters grows, it will be even harder to convene the meeting.  So just get rid of it.  The baseball writers don’t have a meeting, and they still manage to put people into Cooperstown every year.

In a world that has changed dramatically over the last two decades, the Hall of Fame’s selection process has become outdated, in several ways.  With millions more people paying attention to the NFL and thus to its Hall of Fame, far more than 44 should hold the keys to Canton.  With largely forgotten players who weren’t able to secure enshrinement when competing against their peers automatically claiming up to two spots per year that could go to more deserving candidates who played the game in its far more popular and significant modern era, the Senior Selection Committee should be regarded as having served its purpose, and it should be retired.  And with numerous means of instantaneous communication now available, a Highlander-style gathering of the voters, whether the number is 44 or 4400, is inefficient and unnecessary.

It would be unfortunate if Peter and multiple other competent voters resign in the face of increased pressure exacerbated by the failure of the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees to even acknowledge the annual calls for change.  Still, if a mass walkout by the voters doesn’t get the Board of Trustees’ attention, then nothing will.

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23 Responses to “Expansion, not turnover, is the key to improving HOF selection process”
  1. ttommytom says: Feb 14, 2012 4:15 PM

    What he said…

  2. vikingdoode says: Feb 14, 2012 4:21 PM

    Mick Tingelhoff

  3. badnewzkennels says: Feb 14, 2012 4:23 PM

    I don’t see Peter King as a particularly strong committee member. He isn’t particularly careful or thorough in looking into players. Adam Vinatieri, for instance, is a guy that King has many times called a sure Hall of Famer. I will grant that Vinatieri won the one Super Bowl with a 48-yard field goal (in a dome). But he’s also missed field goals of 31, 36 and 36 yards in Super Bowls. Certainly not a Hall of Famer, but King keeps banging the drum for him.

  4. larryravor says: Feb 14, 2012 4:29 PM

    It does need to expand. I also do not understand the election process. It is beyond me that Art Modell can continually get skipped.

  5. sasattack says: Feb 14, 2012 4:46 PM

    Peter King bangs the drum for Steve Tasker. A great special teams player, but a WR who wasn’t even good enough to be a starting WR in the HOF??? King is doing a disservice to those who truly belong. Tasker over Chris Carter? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

  6. schrakney says: Feb 14, 2012 4:47 PM

    I would also like to add a suggestion to the HOF subject, I think you should also include a couple of more 2×4’s to the HOF building. Simply put you should be electing more players each year because when the HOF first started there was a comparatively small number of teams (players) than we have today. Therefore there should be an actual increase to the number of inductees every year. Compare the number of players in the 1940’s eligible for the HOF to the number of players now and simply use common sense about what number to increase to each year.
    Just a fan

  7. rascalmanny says: Feb 14, 2012 4:53 PM

    There needs to be a change of some kind.

  8. tmkelley1 says: Feb 14, 2012 4:55 PM

    I agree. Expand the membership, and expand the number of entrants. As a ‘Skins fan, I still don’t get why Joe Jacoby and Dave Butz aren’t in the HOF.

    That, and too many people are too hung up on stats, like badnewzkennels above. It has to do with the overall impact and performance over a career at any position, not that someone dropped a pass in a particular game.

  9. yevrag3535 says: Feb 14, 2012 4:55 PM

    Dump all hall of fames. People reall don’t care much anymore. The selection process is so bias. If you played in GB, Pittsburgh or a New Your team you have a leg up on the others. You hav to be all world if you are from Arizona you better be Larry Fitzgerald.

  10. enutpenfry says: Feb 14, 2012 5:49 PM

    “yevrag3535 says:
    Feb 14, 2012 4:55 PM
    Dump all hall of fames. People reall don’t care much anymore. The selection process is so bias. If you played in GB, Pittsburgh or a New Your team you have a leg up on the others. You hav to be all world if you are from Arizona you better be Larry Fitzgerald.”

    Your claim is without merit. The Vikings, Raiders, 49ers, Redskins, and Cowboys all have more HOF selections in the past 10 years than the teams you listed.

  11. melikefootball says: Feb 14, 2012 6:04 PM

    Keep this up and being in the HOF will be like elected to Pro Bowl. If the fans like you and have a name no matter how you played you will be in.

  12. andreasx1 says: Feb 14, 2012 6:57 PM

    Agreed that senior selection committee is antiquated. Elect those that are worthy and if there is huge crop of modern players that are worthy then so be it. This is a gladiator sport where many good men die young after they retire and the hall of fame serves as a Pantheon to their greatness. When one thinks of these men one thinks of frozen tundra of green bay and Mike Facenda’s voice. The process as it stands leaves a bitter taste that needs to be refreshed.

  13. krashie21 says: Feb 14, 2012 8:41 PM

    Awwww…..poor Peter King.

    He’s been exposed for the fraud that he is and now he’s pouting about it.

    And today, he dedicates half of his column to whining about how unfair he’s being treated.

    Boo-hoo.

    He’s going to leave the committee because he’s been criticized? Shows what kind of ‘man’ he is and says all you need to know about him. I guess he’s taking his ball and going home……

    Well Peter, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    Besides, this way you can devote more time to fawning over the Pats and their owner, the thread count at the San Diego Marriott and the quality of the coffee at the Green Bay Starbucks.

    This is a guy who has shamelessly plugged players on his ‘favourite’ teams (Packers, Pats, Steelers and Giants) while ruthlessly campaigning against and ignoring players on teams that he has ugly vendettas against (see: Raiders and Cowboys) in spite of the fact that some of these teams have players that are LONG overdue for inception (Stabler, Branch, Pearson, Haley, Cliff Harris, etc.).

    The sooner that Peter King, his ugly biases and his influence on other members leaves this process, it will instantly get a well deserved boost in credibility.

    Good riddance…..and maybe someone get poor Peter a tissue.

  14. bordner says: Feb 14, 2012 8:57 PM

    I get your point, but it’s John Facenda.

  15. blackqbwhiterb says: Feb 14, 2012 10:27 PM

    Part of the problem you have is that you cannot put a tangible specific criteria on paper that players must meet in order to qualify. It’s subjective. In the same way, you can’t specifically state why the people currently doing the selecting are doing a bad job, you simply feel they are…so in your opinion, the process must be changed. Betcha if they chose all the ones YOU thought they should, you’d be fine with the selection process as it is….

  16. malgorthewarrior says: Feb 14, 2012 10:29 PM

    Awww, he’s worried he upset King.

    Agree with others, King is not a great hall of fame voter. He does know a lot about coffee, the red sox, and the trials and tribulations of being an affluent white man who is paid to travel the country covering sports.

    And frankly, in his own article he admits that he uses completely arbitrary and subjective criteria, instead of stats, to analyze a player.

  17. Rockets GM says: Feb 15, 2012 4:41 AM

    Whoever “votes” for the Hall of Fame misses the intent completely. It is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of statistics… The biggest, most unforgivable SNUB is Oakland Raider Punter Ray Guy. In my honest opinion, the undenialable “greatest player” at each position should be in the Hall of Fame. Period. Anyone who says it would be a disgrace to the likes of Dick Butkus (or insert other old school player) NEVER PLAYED FOOTBALL. If punting was so easy, then Dick Butkus would have punted and the Bears would have saved a roster spot. There are other snubs, but to me, this is the biggest. It’s a position on the team, so whoever was the greatest ever at it deserves HOF recognition. Ray Guy was the coffin corner master and he helped those 70’s and early 80’s Raider teams control field position.

  18. drednot says: Feb 15, 2012 6:25 AM

    I still don’t understand why they don’t INCREASE the number of players/coaches who get voted in?

  19. canesgiants says: Feb 15, 2012 9:32 AM

    Dump all hall of fames. People reall don’t care much anymore. The selection process is so bias. If you played in GB, Pittsburgh or a New Your team you have a leg up on the others. You hav to be all world if you are from Arizona you better be Larry Fitzgerald.
    —————————————————-

    looks like we have our winner for small market loser. if anything there is a hatred towards the big markets–the fact that there was even doubt that LT(the real LT) wouldnt make the hall shows u the hatred towards the big markets. the hall has nothing todo with perosnality or anything else. its all about how u played or coached the game

  20. larryravor says: Feb 15, 2012 10:15 AM

    It is not hatred of the big markets, but a realization the Pitt, GB and NY receive favorable treatment.

  21. lastdukestreetking says: Feb 15, 2012 11:31 AM

    The problem is that the number of inductees every year is fixed. Some years may have very few. Some years may have many. A player either is or is not HOF worthy. Until those realitiies are acknowledged, the HOF process will remain a joke.

  22. krashie21 says: Feb 15, 2012 1:30 PM

    My last two attemped posts (both were complimentary to a fellow post-er) were deleted……..

    But during the Michael Vick situation, King wanted Vick dealt with one step below lynching.

    When Belichick was caught cheating and compromising the integrity of the game, KING WROTE an apology letter FOR HIM.

    That says everything you need to know about Peter King’s character and his personal biases.

  23. sandyf79705 says: Feb 15, 2012 2:35 PM

    I have enjoyed professional football for some 50+ years and I have been twice to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I do wish I could go more times. But the selection committee as it stands now, is in fact not very good.

    The rules they go by are vastly out of date. The bias selection are even more so that ever. Getting rid of the senior committee is NOT a good thing. The numbers of selections do not match the game as it is now.

    The Senior Committee does a very good job of putting players up for election that in most cases were left out unjustly so. There are still quite a few players that should be in the Hall that are not from the modern era.

    The committee should be expanded probably by as many as 50 additonal voters or a combination of the many aspects of football including the fans. This year probably more so than others left out at least six or seven individuals that should have also been enshrined this year. Why is the maximum seven when the rules do not indicate a number and in fact have no limits. If you want a conspiracy theory, that is probably the best.

    The selection should be limited but limited by area not by some number somebody decided because of who knows why. Elect up to 8 modern era players each year, up to 3 from the senior’s committee slections and up to 2 from contributors be it coaches, GMs, owners or whoever.

    The Hall of Fame is special but it is special because of the fans, it is special because of the players from the past that took the NFL to the modern day to what the future holds, and it is special because of what a player does for a team or in their career that continues to build that enjoyment for so many. For this fan Ray Guy is just as important as Steve Tasker as Chris Carter as Jerry Rice as Emmitt Smith as Joe Montana for without them it just wouldn’t be as special.

    The Hall of Fame for football has a chance to show what the sport is about past, present and future unlike the baseball Hall of Fame who tend to want to make their more akin to a country club that only that country club has a say of who is in no matter who you are or what you contributed to the well being of the sport. For to many are left out in baseball, lets pray that football sees a different light.

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