Centennial Class could be Paul Tagliabue’s ticket to Canton

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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.

35 responses to “Centennial Class could be Paul Tagliabue’s ticket to Canton

  1. No way on Tagliabue. He botched the move of the Browns, among a zillion other things. A weak leader.

    But it’s an absolute no on Art Modell. My biggest fear is that he would get in this way.

  2. Why the Hall of Fame thinks this is a good idea is beyond me.

    It’s like Harvard admitting three times its class size and then pretending it’s some big achievement to get into Harvard.

  3. A lot of guys that played on bad teams don’t get enough credit. Look at Stanley Morgan’s numbers and remember it was a running game then. Also Gino Cappelletti. The all time leading scorer in the AFL. His record will never be broken.

  4. 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.
    That sounds great but I imagine they will hand-pick the selectors to ensure that does not happen. They might as well just say “These are the 15 guys we think got screwed over” and be done with it. The 15 that make the list, the selectors and the vote will be carefully choreographed.

  5. The all or none vote-in clause seems contrary to the fundamentals of the HOF. Doubtful they will keep out those viewed as deserving just to deny the runt of the litter.

  6. The most insulting and unprofessional thing I have ever heard from a commissioner of any sport was when Tagliabue told the citizens of Baltimore to, “spend their money on a museum” instead of trying to get an NFL franchise. He was in the back pocket of Jack Kent Cooke his entire tenure and far from deserves a spot in the HOF. He was horrible.

  7. I still don’t understand that with the expanded 100-year HoF class and the recently-added Contributor category, why the HoF hasn’t inducted the guy who saw more plays from scrimmage than anyone else in the history of the NFL, including more plays from scrimmage in the Super Bowl, having been in 4 Super Bowls. I am of course talking about the greatest referee of all time–Jerry Markbreit. The guy is a legend. The “third team” deserves to have its greatest player in the HoF.

  8. Zack Thomas! What about Joe Robbie, when nfl added Vikings he took a small market in Miami (at the time), then brought on Shula and went to 5 Super Bowls in 16 years, then built a stadium with his own money. When he died the family had to sell team, the Miami Dolphins have never been the same.

  9. Why on earth are they not voting individually? That might be the dumbest HoF related thing I’ve ever heard.

  10. How Tags is not already in the HOF is beyond me. Love him or hate him, he helped transform the league into the behemoth it is today.

  11. Under his watch: The Raiders moved. The Rams moved. The Oilers moved. The Browns moved. and he gave Jacksonville a NFL expansion team. He does NOT belong in the hall of Fame.

  12. Commissioners don’t move franchises, the owners vote and agree on what locale gets them the most money. I’m not sure what low bar is set for the Pro Football HOF, but if you want it to be restrictive to a fault, there’d be 20 guys in it. It doesn’t just celebrate stats, it’s a repository of the history of professional football and Tagliabue helped steer the league into what it is now, THE sport of America.

  13. These arguments are ludicrous. LOL What is Tag’s/Goodell’s job? Player safety, right? Uh, no. Player interests, right? Again no. Make money for the Owners … um, I mean, Caretakers of the teams. Both did that BIG time. The NFL IS the greatest Pro Sports Organization, bar none! And both men have had a HUGE hand in making sure it stays so. These things turn into politically correct popularity contests and the whole HOF Franchise is a borderline joke because of it. Bowlen should have been in a while ago, and I hate the Broncos. Hester should go in. Janikowski as well. AND, (brace yourself) Kraft should be the minute he is eligible. And I’m also no fan of the Pats. Forget about stats and records; they’re fluid based on # of games currently played, trends in strategy, etc. Most important; does the induction pass the eye test? Did the inductee either change the game/position, stand out amongst his peers or contribute to the advancement of the League? No, scrap that; rather, will EVERYONE who has ever played/watched/ wrote about or talked about the NFL agree he deserves it? There. Now we can just stop making busts.

  14. Tagliabue certainly doesn’t deserve to be in the HoF. Is the league trying to make it some standard award to past commissioners? Does anyone think Goodell deserves to be in?

    The whole idea is a joke and if they have to reject the entire slate, they should do so.

  15. Tagliabue oversaw a great change in the NFL. When players like Randy White
    filed the NFL version of the Curt Flood case, Tagliabue was left with little room.
    He and Gene Upshaw along with owners like Dan Rooney, made labor peace.
    Tagliabue is an honorable man who did not make decisions without weighing
    all of the facts. Many owners and Goodell criticized him for the 2006 CBA.
    Goodwill campaigned for the commissioners Job , promising to overturn the
    2006 deal, despite the fact that Tagliabue had been a supporter of Goodell.
    Taking the NFL through the tumultuous labor years, guiding the league
    through expansion and new stadium deals as well as conducting himself with
    honor with the players, deserves the Hall of Fame.

  16. So the Hall denies T.O. because he wasn’t a team player but had the stats to get in.

    Now the Hall is trying to slide in people who don’t deserve it.
    Typical political BS of our time.

    I’m not surprised.

  17. Jack Kemp – As a player he won 4 Division Championships and 2 AFL Championships.
    The AFL had more Black Players then the NFL, but was still thought to be ” Inferior “.
    Jack Kemp was instrumental in forming the AFL players union. Back then the League Champions played the All Stars in the All Star game. In 1965, the game was to be played in New Orleans. Black players were not allowed in the same hotels as white players and were not allowed in the clubs in the French Quarter. The Black players were going to boycott the game. The owners talked about bringing in more white players to replace the boycotting players. Jack Kemp got the white players to join the boycott and the game was moved to Houston. The AFL and NFL were separate leagues, but after seeing the white players join the boycott as a result of Kemp’s leadership, the NFL players elected Kemp to be their President as well. This helped bring about the NFL-AFL merger.

  18. How about Super Dean Spanos for great owner!!!!! getting the chargers closer to what he things are his fans.

  19. When I heard about this – Tagliabue was exactly who I was thinking about, and maybe a couple of others. You don’t raise this – a workaround – without having a specific purpose and people in mind.

  20. If not for Paul Tagliabue, the Saints would be in San Antonio. He should be in already.

  21. Oh come on. It’s not a “power play.” They’re trying to clear out a huge backlog of worthy individuals who get left out due to each year’s first-ballot Hall of Famers.

    As far as setting the bar low, they did that when they let Namath in.

  22. Cliff, Plunk, Flores. If one of these guys don’t get in next year, shame on the HOF voters.

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