Pat Bowlen’s passing may force HOF to change its ring/jacket policy

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s clumsy policy regarding the posthumous presentation of gold rings and jackets is about to get even clumsier.

As explained by Mike Klis of 9News.com, the recent passing of 2019 enshrinee Pat Bowlen will force the Hall of Fame either to apply its policy as written, or to create an exception.

Pro Football Hall of Fame spokesman Pete Fierle acknowledged that the museum faces an unprecedented dilemma.

This is the first time that a Hall of Famer has passed away between election and enshrinement,” Fierle told Klis. “The policy for posthumous enshrinees is being reviewed to clarify the intent and purpose of decisions made in the past.”

The Hall of Fame has gotten it very wrong in the past, stubbornly refusing to give rings and jackets to the families of Hall of Famers like Junior Seau and Ken Stabler. And the reason given for denying the ring and jacket to Seau, Stabler, and other posthumously enshrined Hall of Famers applies equally to Bowlen, since he passed before he was given the ring and the jacket.

“While the iconic bronzed busts are created to memorialize every member of the Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame Ring and Gold Jacket are items presented to living Hall of Fame members to be worn exclusively by them as evidence and pride of their having been elected to sport’s most elite fraternity,” the Hall of Fame said in a 2016 statement, when the issue of deceased Hall of Famers being denied a ring and a jacket first arose. “At no time in its 53-year history has the Hall of Fame presented either of these personal adornments posthumously or retroactively to a family member of a deceased Hall of Famer.”

To the extent that the Hall of Fame is considering making an exception for Bowlen because he passed between his election and induction, that exception would in the face of the reasoning articulated in 2016. So here’s the best solution: Give the ring and the jacket to the family of Pat Bowlen. And to the family of Junior Seau. And to the family of Ken Stabler. And to the family of every other Hall of Famer who dies before election or induction.

The Hall of Fame badly blew it in 2016. Pat Bowlen’s passing gives the Hall of Fame an opportunity to get it right. Here’s hoping that the Hall of Fame, under the guidance of the NFL, will do the right thing, as to Bowlen, Seau, Stabler, and all others who secure the game’s highest honor without witnessing it.

49 responses to “Pat Bowlen’s passing may force HOF to change its ring/jacket policy

  1. on this one i am with the league. only those who have earned entrance can wear that stuff. you don’t want to do this? elect people in their due time. simple equation.

  2. They had better make amends for the others. If I was this guys family, I would say no thanks until you take care of other families you stiffed.

    And, I’d make it public.

  3. The NFL HOF is a joke. From the voting process to the voters having personal grudges with players to their ridiculous rule states above. They need to change the WHOLE process.

  4. In my opinion, the family getting rings and jackets becomes a slippery slope. Family members could begin sueing each other for ownership rights. Which of the Bowlen children get his ring and jacket? What about future enshrinees? What if a future enshrinee has multiple wives? Will ex-wives and family members launch lawsuit after lawsuit and involve the HOF and NFL? To me it’s just a Pandora’s box.

  5. So if you think about this logically, what happens to the jacket and ring when a HOF’r passes? Does the family then have to give it back? Of course not, so why can’t they have it now?
    So the policy is solely based on the ability to adorn them? Bowlen was never going to wear it and if he did, unfortunately, he wouldn’t remember. I don’t say that lightly, my mother died the same way. So I know how hard it is. Gut wrenching.

    Make the exception this year and announce the Retro for next year. There will be a buzz, some serious goodwill, bridges rebuilt and maybe some history learned by today’s fans and players. Less rules are always better.

    Life certainly ain’t fair but sometimes it’s pretty cool to make an attempt at it, especially when it’s so obvious and easy to do. Do what we all know is right.

  6. The way the Hall treated Stabler and Seau was disgusting…For an owner it will be totally different. I respect Bowlen, but this HOF should have never been about owners. The players and coaches should always be the primary focus. The owners, past and present, get enough attention.

  7. Why do people make life more complicated that it needs to be. Give the families jackets and rings.

  8. No. The most sacred honor in sport is only given to the individual who gave the effort and sacrifice to achieve it.

  9. Maybe I am harsh but if the purpose of the jacket is for the HOF to wear the jacket while alive why is this an issue? The enshrinement is about the bronze bust and more importantly the legacy of your name being attached to election into the Hall.

  10. Little out there but if HOF should ask Bowlen’s family if they think he would have liked to be buried wearing his Gold jacket. Otherwise it wouldn’t really make sense to tailor one for him

  11. The HOF isn’t relevant anyway. Still, give the familys of those players the jackets and the rings.Is the HOF short of cash so they can’t afford to?

  12. If the NFL can’t get the rules of their own game right, what makes you think they’ll be able to get the rules of their HOF right?

  13. Do family members of players who die have to return rings and jackets ? So potentially people other then HOFs can wear these items. My guess would be most family members would keep the rings and jackets with other mementos from their family members career. Maybe donate them to an alma mater, have them in a family trophy room etc. What’s the issue ? Give the jackets and rings to Seau, Stabler and Bowlen. ( I would add a stipulation to Bowlin’s that Johnny could never wear them )

  14. Bowlen’s family should get the jacket and ring.

    So should the family of everyone else the HoF denied both. And even if they don’t want to hand out the Jacket, then at the very least the HoF Ring should be presented to the family.

  15. “The Hall of Fame badly blew it in 2016. Pat Bowlen’s passing gives the Hall of Fame an opportunity to get it right. Here’s hoping that the Hall of Fame, under the guidance of the NFL, will do the right thing, as to Bowlen, Seau, Stabler, and all others who secure the game’s highest honor without witnessing it.”

    Maybe this is the set of circumstances fate gives as a “do over” – and get it right this time.

  16. He’s an Owner. Member of the Fraternity.
    Of course they’ll deviate from past practices now.

  17. Put the gold jacket in the display with the bust, nobody else is supposed to wear it anyway. Give the family the ring with a proviso that the HOF has the right of first refusal if the family ever wants to sell it. Do that for all inductees that were inducted posthumously and never received them in their lifetime. Those who have no direct descendants, just put the ring in the display also. It’s easy. Stop being cheap and foolish.

  18. Just remember. The Medal of Honor specifically is protected by law in its display to the point that even in movies it’s rare to see it on a character unless that character actually was awarded it in real life.

    It’s awarded posthumously.

    The NFL would like you to believe that the HOF jacket and ring are more sacrosanct than the Medal of Honor.

  19. amurdora says:
    June 17, 2019 at 7:29 am
    Just remember. The Medal of Honor specifically is protected by law in its display to the point that even in movies it’s rare to see it on a character unless that character actually was awarded it in real life.

    It’s awarded posthumously.

    The NFL would like you to believe that the HOF jacket and ring are more sacrosanct than the Medal of Honor.
    ————————————-
    The Medal of Honor is not awarded only posthumously, plenty of people have received it during their lifetime. Do a little research. Other than that I agree 100%.

  20. amurdora says:
    June 17, 2019 at 7:29 am
    Just remember. The Medal of Honor specifically is protected by law in its display to the point that even in movies it’s rare to see it on a character unless that character actually was awarded it in real life.

    It’s awarded posthumously.

    The NFL would like you to believe that the HOF jacket and ring are more sacrosanct than the Medal of Honor.
    ————————–
    Please excuse my previous comment to this comment. Perhaps you could have said “It’s ALSO awarded posthumously.”

  21. To the few comments above about the Medal of Honor. There is a difference between that & playing a game in which we all love, & the willingness to sacrifice yourself & either survive or perish for your brothers. & I played the game until I was 30 so I get a little bit of that love for the game. That said give the jacket & ring to the families & let them decide where it goes. Even if it is simply sent so the sea with the ashes or to to the grave. If you have earned it you have earned it. Honestly I have a medical foster home for disabled Veterans & a crisply folded flag & medals above my fireplace so I understand that as well.

  22. Perhaps the family could receive the items and give a speech in the inductees honor and then display the coat and ring with the bust.

  23. Awarding the jacket and ring posthumously might not be that simple. Who gets them? In many cases that will be straightforward, but what about cases in which the guy has multiple next of kin of the same degree (no widow, but multiple kids for example), or cases where his will leaves his personal possessions to someone other than his next of kin?

    Maybe the NFL is being cheap, but maybe they just don’t want to get into potentially contentious issues with the families. A decent compromise might be to say that if the guy leaves a spouse, the spouse gets the jacket and ring or just the ring, but in other circumstances the League will give a big fancy framed certificate or plaque to up to X number of claimants who apply within 60 days after the announcement and can show a legitimate claim to be a first-tier heir of the deceased NFLer.

  24. Just my 2 pennies, but the electors screwed up when they passed over Bowlen in favor of Jerry Jones… Of course, I also think the owners should be have to follow the same rules as the players and not be considered until they have been “retired” for 5 years…

    Why not issue the coat and ring to the team to be displayed at Mile High where all the fans can see it? Do the same with Seau, Stabler, and the others to the teams they entered the Hall under.

  25. switchwitch59 says:
    June 17, 2019 at 8:01 am
    ————————–
    Please excuse my previous comment to this comment. Perhaps you could have said “It’s ALSO awarded posthumously.”

    ————

    I figured it was implied but I can see how it takes the assumption I know it can be given out during lifetimes as well to be clear.

    Also I should add the HOF isn’t just bestowed during lifetimes, you can be dead and get it, it’s just that the Medal of Honor is physically given to the living relatives of deceased awardees as well as the awardee’s names being entered in the Medal of Honor rolls.

  26. Give it the family under the condition they be placed in a showcase in the Denver stadium as an exhibit but can’t be worn by the family members

  27. Jacket and ring are just stuff. Immortalization is the bust and career record actually in the HOF. Whether given posthumously to the family of given to a living person being enshrined, all that stuff ends up in the same place – out of control of the HOF. Ends up on e-bay, some families keep them on their Wall of Fame, some go to schools, and some enshrines even sell their stuff but in the end there is no difference. HOF has no control over any of it once given and that should be the same whether given to the living or the deceased.

  28. If Bowlen hadn’t just died, he probably wouldn’t have been able to go to the ceremony anyway because of his health. Would he have received the items then?

  29. It’s nuts how self-important these tools are. So full of themselves it stopped being about the actual enshrinees a long time ago.

  30. Why all of the faux outrage over this now, because it’s an owner? If I were a player and they changed the rule for Bowlen instead of for Stabler or Seau, I’d be beyond pissed. I think the families of these folks all should get a ring and jacket, but to make it a big stink now because it’s an owner is ridiculous.

  31. They should adopt the same policy that The Masters has with their Green Jackets. The jackets are not allowed to leave the premises and can only be worn when the inductee’s are on site. The rings are a different story. Let the deceased inductee’s family have the ring.

  32. I say the NFL should err on the side of grace and appreciation. Otherwise, the NFL appears to lack character and compassion. Those surviving family members suffered and made huge sacrifices too by missing holiday traditions and time with children in the name of the NFL.

  33. If the policy is to give the jacket and ring to living members it makes no difference when they died. It may be unique in the sense that PB died between election and enshrinement but being dead is the key component here.
    Personally, I would give out these items posthumously as well as to the living. Keepsakes may be unimportant to some, me included, but to some they are treasured. If a jacket and a ring provides comfort to a grieving family great! The current policy has the potential to be hurtful and add to the misery of a grieving family for completely avoidable reasons.

  34. The ONLY reason I ever had any desire to go to the Hall of Fame in Canton was for Kenny Stabler (who should have been enshrined while alive)

    That’s right – THE ONLY REASON.

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