The proximity to the induction of the 2013 class of Pro Football Hall of Famers has presented an ideal opportunity to better explain how the entire process works.
On Saturday, Aug. 3, seven former players, coaches and executives will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a formal ceremony at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio. This year's class includes guard Larry Allen, receiver Cris Carter, defensive tackle Curley Culp, tackle Jonathan Ogden, coach Bill Parcells, linebacker Dave Robinson and defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
Understanding how each member of the class went from nominee to Hall of Famer requires an education in how the selection process operates, from start to finish.
The long procedure begins with nomination, which is available for any player, coach or executive that is at least five years retired from the game. This can be accomplished through writing or e-mail to the Hall of Fame, in which all eligible and confirmed nominees are then put through three separate preliminary polls among the selected voters.
The goal is to reduce a lengthy list of nominations to just 25 candidates (for instance, the 2013 class started as a list of 127 qualified nominees).
The voting board has been carefully picked based on strict guidelines.
Overall, the Hall of Fame selection committee consists of 46 members—32 from each NFL geographical location (two from New York), one delegate from the Pro Football Writers Association and 13 designated representatives. A large majority of the voters are sports writers.
Once appointed, 45 of the 46 voters (with the exception of the PFWA appointment) keep their positions until death, resignation or retirement.
You can find a list of all 46 members at the official Hall of Fame site.
Over several months, the voters are tasked with cutting down the list of nominees until only 15 modern-era and two senior (at least 25 years removed from the game) candidates remain. This final preliminary list provides the ground work for the February vote, in which all 46 members carefully study and analyze the candidacies of each finalist.
The final selection meeting comes before the Super Bowl.
The committee first debates and votes on the two senior candidates. To be inducted, a senior candidate needs at least 80 percent of the vote.
From there, the list of 15 modern-era candidates is reduced to 10 and then five. Once at five, the committee votes on each of the remaining candidates. Like the senior admissions, modern-era candidates required an 80 percent vote for induction.
Those who receive the necessary votes are then announced as the next Hall of Fame class at a press conference shortly after the committee makes its decisions. Every year, the board must induct at least four candidates, while not exceeding seven.
The 2013 class includes the maximum seven new members.
While voted in during February, the actual induction of new members does not take place until August, or a day before the preseason begins (first exhibition game is known as the Hall of Fame game). The enshrinement ceremony is held at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the birthplace of football and home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame selection process is a long, grueling operation, designed to ensure that only the best of the best in pro football receive induction. Including the seven members that will be added Saturday, the Hall of Fame features only 280 inducted members.