The Pro Football Hall of Fame has decided, for the first time ever, to pool a group of candidates for next year’s class and have the selection committee vote either for all of them or none of them. This idea may torpedo the Hall of Fame’s plans to elect an expanded class to highlight the end of the NFL’s 100th season.
Instead of voting for each candidate individually on the day before the Super Bowl next year, the Hall of Fame selection committee will vote for five candidates as individuals and then vote for a 15-candidate group (which will include 10 players who retired at least 25 years ago, three contributors and two coaches) as a whole. Up or down on the 15 candidates. Either all of them get in or none of them do.
Some Hall of Fame voters don’t like that idea, and it only takes 10 “no” votes from the 48-member committee to vote the whole group down. Peter King wrote in today’s Football Morning in America that lumping the 15 candidates together will create some difficult decisions.
“I am not a fan of selecting the 15 in a bloc. It sets a precedent—a bad one, I believe—even though the Hall clearly intends this to be a one-time event. If you change the rules once, what’s to stop the Hall from changing them again?” King wrote. “Let’s say I believe 11 of the 15 nominees are solid and should be admitted, and let’s say I’m waffling on one, and let’s say I do not think three are Hall of Famers. Should I vote yes on the entire class as a bloc, knowing I will be voting yes on three or four who I believe do not belong? For me, that would be a very tough call. An unnecessary one, I believe. We should vote on the 15 one by one, the way the Hall has been admitting the legends of the game since 1963.”
Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is expected to be one of the 15 candidates, and his presence could hurt the other 14 candidates’ chances of making the Hall of Fame. Some voters are dead-set against inducting Tagliabue because they believe his response to research into players’ brain injuries was unacceptable. It’s possible that the entire 15-candidate group will be voted down solely because 10 voters simply will not vote for Tagliabue under any circumstances.
Other issues could arise. What if, say, a credible allegation arises that one of the 15 candidates gambled on football during his career? The selection committee could decide that it simply can’t allow that candidate into the Hall of Fame, and then the other 14 candidates would miss their chance.
The Hall of Fame erred in its decision to treat 15 candidates as one. Now the only question is whether it will correct that error before the next class is voted on, the day before the Super Bowl.