Howard Balzer talks about possible changes to Hall of Fame process


On Monday’s ProFootballTalk Live, veteran NFL journalist Howard Balzer joined the show to discuss the Hall of Fame selection process.  Balzer, who currently writes for and The Sports Xchange, serves as one of the 44 voters.

He favors changes such as transparency in the voting, and he talked about the procedures for changing the bylaws and otherwise improving the selection process.

One key question relates to the standard for determining what a Hall of Famer is.  Apparently, there is no standard.

Maybe there should be.  And maybe it should be a know-it-when-you-see-it-style test that would allow admission only to those about whom there is no debate, such as Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice in 2010.

Of course, that would require the current Hall of Fame to be emptied out and restocked based on only the truly best of the best to be inducted.  It also would allow the folks who run the Hall of Fame to move the busts into a much, much smaller room.

The more practical approach would be to come up with some sort of clear standard based on the men currently enshrined that the voters would apply to anyone who is being considered for the honor in the future.  The fact that no clear standards currently exist probably means that no clear standards can be created when comparing players from different eras and positions.

Still, at a minimum, there should be a sentence or a paragraph as to what a Hall of Famer is.  And in the annual debate, the voters would be guided by that language as to every candidate.

The discussion also included Balzer’s views on whether “contributors” should be competing with players for a spot in the Hall of Fame.  Many think a separate category should be created for those who made the game better without wearing a helmet or pads.

The best news is that, more than two weeks after this year’s class was determined, discussion continues regarding possible improvements for the selection process.  Hopefully, the discussion will translate not only to short-term change but also to a long-term commitment to constantly looking for ways to make the process better, even if doing so threatens to dilute or undermine the influence that each of the 44 voters currently possesses.

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9 responses to “Howard Balzer talks about possible changes to Hall of Fame process

  1. I think the lack of standards is the huge elephant in the room. Many of the people in the HOF, as well as some of the chronic fails (like the vastly over-rated Ray Guy), are there because of media hype and not over-all quality.

    Take Jerome Bettis. Not much of a back. But durable and functioned. Only four of this 13 seasons was he over 4.0 yards a carry. Yet he’s got a TON of yards because the Steelers were happy to rely on his mediocre running style in their inept offense.

    Sort of a more durable Kevin Mack… One who was allowed to continue on well past his difference making days in his career of over-all mediocrity.

    And yet some people will defending that career of mediocrity (quite passionately) while forgetting Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell and many other backs did the same, but at true HOF level. Where they made a true difference and were true game-changers, despite the horrid situation in which they frequently found themselves.

    Just like the Ray Guy fans defend him. Despite the fact he was of the three best of the MEDIOCRE punters of the 1970s. And that if you compare him to the large body of punting, he’s not even top-50.

    Yet, here we are, year-after-year hearing about the #73 (tied) career punter. Like he was ‘special’ or something. Heck, he wasn’t even the best punter in the Bay Area. That was Tommy Davis who averaged 44.3 yards a punt for his career. Two yards better than the massively over-hyped Guy.

    I think, honestly, the HOF committee needs to have a geek/historian committee that pre-selects about 100 candidates for the voters to decide. Let them cut out the mediocre, but long-lived, players who amassed a lot of mediocre stats but didn’t excel.

  2. What standard can you get – especially based on the current members? Let’s see, you’ve got a couple of womanizers, people associated with drugs, a murderer, a couple of wife beaters, a gambler, who shouldn’t have gotten into the HOF in the first place, an owner or two who thought nothing about cheating their players out of money (One, even told his player that he was getting a bonus and the fine print said that it was a loan). Yeah, those standards are the highest that we can ever hope to hold these players to, right….

  3. I am assuming this talk of changing the criteria for HOF enshrinement goes hand-in-hand with Goodell’s vison for an unwanted 18 game season. Goodell should leave things the way they are instead of stroking his massively undeserved ego by changing the game we love.

    damnvarmint says:
    Why not settle it with a hot dog eating contest? Jamarcus Russell in 2020 baby!

    LOL! Good one!

  4. Why not create some sort of “Elite” or “Icon” level of HOF membership, which wouldn’t remove any current HOF’ers, but could elevate certain members to a class all to their own, and create a new tier of membership for future elections?

    All businesses have exclusive levels of memberships nowadays, and it seems like it could work here too.

  5. 303bengalguy says:


    HOF is already a class of their own. Why have one and then make certain guys MORE HOF than others? They’re ALREADY more HOF than others so why add another layer.

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