Deion Sanders was right.
There needs to be a Hall of Fame within the Hall of Fame.
Every year, up to eight new members join the supposed immortals in Canton. It feels more like the filling of a quota than the bestowing of the highest possible honor in the sport.
The Hall of Fame is a museum in a city of 70,000 residents. One weekend every summer, to become the center of the NFL’s universe.
That universe will be smaller if the number of new Hall of Famers was limited.
The goal is to get as many people as possible to come to town for that weekend. That’s why they almost always induct the highest number of available candidates. It’s why they choose the teams for the game based in part on the membership in the incoming class. The hotels are full, the money is flowing, and all is right with the world.
And that’s fine. But the ongoing influx of Hall of Famers makes more conspicuous the fact that there’s no mechanism for separating the very best of the very best.
Deion would be one of them. Freshly retired (for now) Tom Brady would be one of them. Basically, anyone for whom there is no debate as to whether they should be in the Hall of Fame becomes a candidate for a Hall within the Hall.
Sanders has suggested that a starting lineup be constructed of all-time greats. But true greatness transcends position. We all know the all-time greats, the ones who stand above the other all-time greats.
Brady. Peyton. Deion. Jim Brown. Jerry Rice. Reggie White. Alan Page. Lawrence Taylor. Ronnie Lott. Bill Belichick. George Halas. To name a few.
While there would be spirited debate regarding whether to create a Hall within the Hall, there should be no debate about who gets in. If there’s any legitimate disagreement, the answer is no.
These are the no-brainers. The choices that no one can dispute with a straight face. The ones who have become, and remained, household names.
If we acknowledge that the Hall of Fame is, at its core, a business, it would be good business to decide, for example, that an inaugural 10-person Hall of Fame Hall of Famers will be named one per year for the next decade. After that, they’ll be added when it’s clear that they need to be added.