Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Hall of 44 Horribly Biased (and Increasingly Irrelevant) Sportswriters

The Pro Football Hall of Fame conducted it's annual farce last weekend, otherwise known as the "Selection Meeting." A closed door affair, where 44 un-elected, un-accountable - and in some cases, un-employed former writers, got to chose which former NFL players are worthy of access to the pearly gates of Canton, Ohio.

The results, were predictably, less than satisfying to many.

Among the perceived "snubs", coach Bill Parcells and defense end Charles Haley were left out this year. Perhaps they will get in next year. Or maybe never. The logic of why a guy is not worthy one year, but then worthy the next year, or perhaps 7 years or more later, remains one of the great mysteries of the process.

I won't get into the merits or critiques of this year's inducted class - that's a robust discussion you can have with your buddies over a beer - but rather let me once again highlight the sheer stupidity of the PROCESS involved.

To begin with, allowing just 44 voices to determine a man's life work in the game is absurdly small. Let's bump that up to 100 as a start, and keep an open mind to adding even more if needed.

Secondly, take a look at how un-inspiring this list of writers really is. I mean, how many of these people have you heard of?

Many of these writers, have lost their full time newspaper job years ago. I don't want to name names, because this is not a personal attack on them (or their relative football acumen). But I know the guys in that room, who are NOT currently practicing full-time NFL writers. They should no longer be on the panel.

Also, you will see a small handful of TV broadcasters on this list. I don't object to that, per se. However, I maintain that it's absurd to not include some long time sports radio talk show hosts on the committee. I would not volunteer myself, because I understand my own biases. But sports talk radio hosts are, in my opinion, especially suited to HOF arguments, because we HAVE THEM ALL THE TIME in the course of our regular work.

It'll be a cold day in hell, before they let in an unwashed "sports talk radio host" into this little enclave. Better to have a former beat writer, from a 50,000 circulation paper that is now just a website, to help decide if Bill Parcells deserves a bronze bust in Canton.

My buddy, and now (wait for it....) FELLOW SPORTS RADIO colleague Thom Loverro - himself a former major market newspaper columnists (although he still does fine work for a smaller, free paper here in Washington, the D.C. Examiner) tried to ZING me by saying "how about sports radio hosts who ACTUALLY GO INTO THE LOCKEROOM AND TALK TO PLAYERS AND COACHES."

Oooh. Burn. Not really.

Thom actually makes a great point in my favor on this one. By NOT going into the lockeroom as frequently (or ever) as writers, we are not subject to the negative bias of many writers who have felt the sting of rejection from certain players.

We don't hold grudges, because we have no grudges to hold.

So what if Parcells was a liar, a bully and a tyrant to the scribes who covered him? The guy built NFL teams from the ground up, proved innovative in big games, and bequeathed a tree of assistants that is legendary. So what if Charles Haley was a borderline sociopath and mostly un-cooperative to the press? The guy has 5 rings and terrorized offenses. I'd love to see/hear/read the 44 electors "rationale" for why Chris Doleman belongs ahead of him.

If you are on the committee, you should be required to divulge your votes on each nominee, and not just "up" or "down." I would require each selector to write a concise 1 paragraph explanation of their vote. At least lets see their "logic" and let it stand on it's own. If you can't take the hate mail, hate tweets, or general "heat" of a strong opinion, then get out of the room. It's that simple.

Finally, there should be a price for being on this committee. As it currently stands, the committee meets conveniently during Super Bowl week, where there is essentially zero cost to the members. Take a few hours out of your week, haggle over inductees, turn in your votes, go have a steak dinner on your employers' per diem.

Nice work, if you can get it.

I would hold this annual meeting outside of the Super Bowl week, and I would require members to pay for their own travel and accommodations. If it matters that much for you to be on this committee, then you should put some money behind it.

See how quickly the room clears out once you do that.


  1. Accountability would serve everyone better--the HOF candidates, the fans, the NFL. Everyone except maybe the committee members.

    Publishing the ballots would have been transparent and open in, say, 1980 or 1990. You have a dedicated NFL Network sitting around with film crews, producers, editors, interviewers. Ask each committee member about each candidate, and roll tape.

    Hey, screw tranparency. Don't publish the full list of who made it and who didn't. Don't publish the ballots. Do a one hour special on each candidate, clips from NFL films, talking head footage from the committee members. At the end of the special, reveal if they are going to be an NFL Hall of Famer. Maybe then publish the ballots--for that player. This is a revenue stream.

    This might require the NFL wrest control of the Hall of Fame from whoever runs it now. So go ahead and do it.

  2. I'd like to know why Jerry Kramer isn't in the HOF.

    Get the guy in before he dies for crying out loud!

  3. From Even they say he's the #1 player of the top 10 not in the HOF.