Hall of Fame decides not to seek attendance commitment

Getty Images

The Hall of Fame has no T.O. rule. At least not this year.

Per multiple sources, the Hall of Fame’s board of trustees did not impose any type of attendance requirement on the men who became the 15 modern-era finalists for potential enshrinement. Thus, in theory, any, some, or all of them can choose to not show up for any, some, or all of the Hall of Fame weekend activities in August, if they secure enshrinement.

The idea emerged on the Friday of the 2018 Hall of Fame weekend, sparked by the decision of Terrell Owens to not show up for the event — and to hold his own separate acceptance speech in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the site of his college career. The Hall of Famers-only luncheon resulted in a decision to instruct the Hall of Fame’s board of trustees to impose the requirement that, before the candidate gets in, the candidate has to show up.

As envisioned, the 25 semifinalists would have been asked to sign the agreement, before the field was whittled to 15. That never happened.

And that’s the right outcome. The Hall of Fame’s bylaws staunchly mandate that only performances and contributions be considered when it comes to whether or not a candidate wins a spot in Canton. Whether or not the person would show up for the ceremony becomes the ultimate litmus test unrelated to whether or not someone deserves a spot.

The T.O. situation was a rare occurrence. Instead of changing the rules to prevent another disgruntled Hall of Famer from acting on his feelings, the Hall of Fame should realize that Owens had a point — both as it relates to his multiple snubs and as it relates to the over-the-top, nonsensical, and at times mean-spirited arguments that voters were making to justify his unjustifiable omission.

Snubs are inevitable. Defending snubs by trying to make the candidate look bad is avoidable. If the Hall of Fame can find away to not do the latter, the chances of the Hall of Fame being snubbed by one or more members of an incoming class will plummet.