Repeatedly voted down, Paul Tagliabue gets a new Hall of Fame chance

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Six months after Paul Tagliabue retired as commissioner of the NFL, he was a nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2007. The Hall of Fame selection committee voted him down.

In 2008 and 2009, Tagliabue was a finalist again. And again, the selection committee that meets every year on the day before the Super Bowl voted Tagliabue down.

In 2017, there was a renewed effort to get Tagliabue in the Hall of Fame, this time under the new “contributors” category. The selection committee again voted him down — making him the only person not selected among the eight nominees since the Hall of Fame adopted a special “contributors” category of Hall of Famers.

Now, as the Hall of Fame prepares for its larger Class of 2020 in commemoration of the NFL’s 100th season, Tagliabue is once again a nominee. And this time, Tagliabue will get to circumvent the selection committee that has voted him down repeatedly.

The Hall of Fame has introduced new rules, just for this year, so that a “blue-ribbon panel” of selectors will choose 15 Hall of Famers from the 38 finalists, including Tagliabue, who were announced today. The selection committee that has repeatedly voted Tagliabue down won’t get to vote on Tagliabue this time around.

It’s hard not to think that this represents favoritism toward Tagliabue on the part of the Hall of Fame. Everyone is well aware that some members of the Hall of Fame selection committee believe Tagliabue doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame because he didn’t do enough to address concussions and CTE. Reasonable people can disagree about whether Tagliabue’s accomplishments as commissioner are worthy of a bust in Canton, or whether he failed to act to reduce brain injuries and doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame as a result. But that question should be debated by the selection committee, the same way the pros and cons of every nominee have always been debated by the selection committee.

Tagliabue’s case has been debated by the selection committee, on four different occasions and with Tagliabue getting nominated under two different processes (first as a regular nominee, then as a “contributor” nominee), and all four times, Tagliabue was voted down. The fifth time may be the charm for Tagliabue, but it will come with suspicions that the powers that be at the Hall of Fame rammed him through, violating the longstanding Hall of Fame selection protocols in the process.

14 responses to “Repeatedly voted down, Paul Tagliabue gets a new Hall of Fame chance

  1. It would be unfortunate if he was put into the Hall of Fame simply because he was once the commissioner.

    Who would be next Goodell? Uh… I think I’m going to be sick.

  2. Tags oversaw the metamorphosis of a sport that was fighting with baseball and basketball for dominance and turned it into the the number one sport in the country by a mile. Of course he should get in.

  3. If Tagliabue gets into the HOF then he’ll be the most undeserving person to be enshrined since Jerry Jones (who bribed his way in).

  4. I know Speedie was a great player for the Browns but he played five seasons in the AAFC and two in the NFL scoring just 33 TDs…

    Isbell for the Pack played five seasons, was the QB for what three of them ?

    Shanahan, Shaughnessy and Knox missed out amongst coaches.

  5. He, along with Jack Kent Cook, kept Baltimore from getting an expansion team, thus, allowing Modell to move and Cleveland gets a new team! The true sports fans in Balt, say “nevermore “ to the “Sun King’s” election to the HOF!

  6. He conspired with Modell to screw the most loyal fans in the league then orchestrated the revenge campaign again those same fans for having the audacity to sue the mighty NFL.
    I hope Tag and Modell roast for a long time.

  7. In my opinion, (I’m a Bengals fan so maybe, MAYBE, a tad biased but!),
    one of the biggest oversights as far as NOT being in the Hall of Fame
    is Bengals CB, Ken Riley, (1969-1983). 15 seasons, 9 of which were played
    when the NFL only played 14 games per season and the guy is tied for 5th,
    FIFTH!! All time on the interceptions list at 65 interceptions!! Tied
    with Charles Woodson and Charles Woodson played in 47 more games than Ken
    Riley did!! Riley also played in an era when a QB that passed for more
    than 3,000 yards in a season was considered a top QB!! There’s 17 or 18 QB’s
    this year that are already passed 3,000 yards with 2 games still to go!!

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