The Hall of Fame has generated a perfunctory, and expected, explanation for the decision to not give Ken Stabler’s family a gold jacket and a ring. To get the jacket and the ring, the enshrinee must be still alive.
“[E]very living Hall of Fame member receives a Hall of Fame Gold Jacket and a Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence to wear as symbols of his personal Hall of Fame achievement,” the Hall of Fame said in a statement provided to Deadspin. “The Hall of Fame has never presented either of these two personal items posthumously. The Hall of Fame does present to the family of a posthumously elected Hall of Famer, the Gold Hall of Fame Crest that is featured on the Hall of Fame Gold Jacket. This is done during Enshrinement Week at the Hall of Fame Gold Jacket Dinner when the other Class members are presented their Gold Jackets.”
While the statement explains why Stabler’s family didn’t get a jacket and a ring, it’s not an acceptable explanation. All members should get a gold jacket and a ring.
And please don’t give me the “we don’t want family members to fight over the items” excuse. The estate laws resolve those issues, and those same estate laws will apply to the gold jacket and ring actually issued to a living Hall of Famer and not repossessed when he passes.
It’s surprising the policy previously hasn’t come under scrutiny, and Stabler’s family deserves credit for shining a light on the ill-advised loophole. If “Football is Family” is anything other than an overpriced marketing slogan (oh wait, it is), the family of every member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame should be able to treat the gold jacket and ring as football family heirlooms.
So make it happen, Roger Goodell; you’re on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees. So are Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Bears owner George McCaskey, Steelers owner Dan Rooney, Washington owner Daniel Snyder, and 49ers owner Denise DeBartolo York.
Maybe each of them should be asked the simple and direct question of why they don’t insist that all member of the Hall of Fame receive the jacket and ring, regardless of whether they are alive when inducted.
With Stabler’s Raiders playing in prime time on Sunday night, here’s hoping this issue quickly builds steam until the policy is permanently changed.