If you’re like most NFL fans I’ve heard from in the last few weeks, you probably think Michael Strahan deserves to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tomorrow. And same with Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter and, depending on your preferences, a few more players and maybe a coach and an owner.
But they can’t all get into the Hall of Fame.
We won’t find out until Saturday afternoon who will be included in the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013, but we can already say with absolute certainty that the selection committee’s decision will be controversial, that some fans will be angry, some feelings will be hurt, and few people will endorse all the selections. That’s because the Hall of Fame’s rules mandate that 10 of the 15 modern-era finalists have to be excluded: A maximum of five modern-era candidates can make it.
So if you want to say who you’d include, you first have to name 10 of these 15 men whom you would exclude: Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, Michael Strahan, Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Andre Reed, Will Shields, Charles Haley, Kevin Greene, Aeneas Williams, Bill Parcells, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and Art Modell.
Personally, if I could only choose five of those men to make it into the Hall of Fame, I’d probably go with Strahan, Allen, Ogden, Shields and Parcells. That means I’d exclude Sapp, Bettis, Brown, Carter, Reed, Haley, Greene, Williams, DeBartolo and Modell.
That does not mean I don’t think any of those 10 deserve to make it. It simply means that under the Hall of Fame’s rules, which mandate that at least 10 of the 15 finalists are kept out every year, those are the 10 finalists I’d keep out. (The two senior nominees, Curley Culp and Dave Robinson, are considered separately.)
I think there are problems with the Hall of Fame selection process: I’d like to see more transparency and a more diverse array of voices in the discussion than we currently get with the 46-member selection committee meeting behind closed doors every year on the day before the Super Bowl. But I don’t blame the selection committee for the controversy that’s sure to break out on Saturday evening. That controversy is a guaranteed result of a simple fact: Only five men can be chosen from a list of finalists that includes more than five worthy Hall of Famers.