Twice before, the Hall of Fame selectors have decided to reject former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. His next rejection could likewise trigger the rejection of 14 others.
The specific rules of the so-called Centennial Class, which is unabashedly being framed as a vehicle for fixing past mistakes and oversights, create an all-or-nothing dynamic, presenting the entire group as a single unit, with everyone or no one getting in.
Suspicion instantly has emerged in some circles that someone specifically crafted the rules as a way to guarantee Tagliabue’s inclusion. To keep Tagliabue (or anyone else on the list of 10 seniors, three contributors, and two coaches) out, the voters would have to keep everyone out.
Thus, as a practical matter, the Centennial Class will be determined by the hand-picked group of 25 who set the parameters of the 15 candidates — unless at least 20 percent of the total group of selectors decide to reject the entire approach and vote the entire class down.
And maybe they should. The bar for inclusion in Canton already is too low. Why have an amnesty year that grants admission to 15 that couldn’t get in through the normal course of consideration, simply because next year marks the 100th anniversary of the NFL? It felt like a political power play when the concept was first floated, and that sense becomes even stronger given that the full class of voters will be robbed of the chance to consider the candidates one by one, as it should be.
So, yes, maybe at least 20 percent of the selectors should come together right now and advise the powers-that-be that, absent the chance to vote on each of the 15 individually, the vote on all 15 will be no.