NFL Hall of Fame Voting Hindsight Is 20/200

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IJune 28, 2010

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 06:  (L-R) members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and Floyd Little pose for a group photo during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 Press Conference held at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 6, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

I don’t know about the rest of the NFL fans out there but I have been feeling a little bit less than excited about the NFL’s Hall of Fame selection process for the past few years. Granted, I don’t think that that has been a player that should not be in the Hall of Fame (except for perhaps Michael Irvin) but lately it seems like voters responsible for putting these players in the Hall of Fame are lacking hindsight.

It seems as if they favor those players that are newly eligible for the Hall of Fame over those who have been waiting for the call for quite some time. Granted, all of these guys are great players and they deserve to be in the Hall but what about those guys who have waited a long time to get in there? 

Why keep selecting players newly eligible for the Hall of Fame? Why not take a look back farther at some of the guys who have been eligible for a while and deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

Guys like former Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent and Denver Broncos/Baltimore Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, but (especially in Dent’s case) they continue to get passed over time and again in favor of guys that have just become eligible, and so their wait for entry into the Hall of Fame drags on.

Why is it so popular for guys just becoming eligible to get in the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility? It’s because the guys who vote for the players going into the Hall of Fame have short memories. When they see that guys like Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith (in their first year of eligibility) come up for the Hall they vote them in right away. They forget about other guys who have been waiting to get in the Hall for years, they worry about those first year guys.

One of the reasons that they could be doing this could be because they want to be known as “the guy (or guys)” that voted these well deserving players into the Hall of Fame. Perhaps their memories are too short and they don’t remember the contributions of players that played in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Perhaps they are stuck in the 90s and early 2000s and cannot get past what some of those players have done and end up forgetting about what older players have achieved.

I don’t know if there are others out there that feel the same as I do. I know that some of the Hall of Fame voters themselves have written stories about guys that deserve to be in the Hall of Fame and aren’t in there, but they don’t make passionate pleas for many of the guys that have been shut out of the process for several years. It seems like it is way too easy to vote (and bring in) guys that are in their first year of eligibility. There can’t be much of a debate between the voters since those accomplishments are still fresh in their memories.

I feel that the Hall of Fame voters need to start taking a look being those players that are newly eligible and dig deeper into NFL history to see which players from past decades were good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. Let’s start getting some of these guys in there because they may not be around much longer to enjoy their trip to the Hall.

Let’s make hindsight 20/20 instead of 20/200 and look beyond those who are newly eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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