What do the words Hall of Fame mean to you? Do you think of the very best of the best players? Do you think of greatness, hard work, dedication, and endurance? I used to.
Unfortunately, the Hall of Fame has morphed into a popularity contest governed by politics, grudges, and a need to simply operate under perception rather than look at the greatness of a player.
The fact that a receiver as great as Terrell Owens is not in the Hall of Fame, is proof positive that this process is a sham.
Terrell Owens is second all-time in yardage, eighth in receptions, and one of only fourteen players in NFL history to catch 1,000 passes. He was a tireless worker, did not take plays off, was never afraid to go over the middle, and was as dependable of a receiver as nearly anyone in history.
The Hall of Fame process, in a nutshell, goes something like this. Each team’s representative sports writer gathers in a room. A player is nominated for discussion, the representative makes the case for the player like a lawyer advocating for a defendant, drops a few names to make the case stronger, and then they vote when each player’s case is made.
It’s crazy that a player like Terrell Owens has to have a case made for him, but it’s quite telling when after hearing of all his on-field accomplishments, he gets passed by for Jerry Jones and Morten Andersen.
Now I admit that off the field and in the locker room, Owens was not a model citizen. The Hall of Fame should not have anything to do with those things, but solely on his play on the field and accomplishments.
How does this get fixed? Allow for Hall of Fame coaches and players to have a say, like the Heisman Trophy voting. Who better to decide than men that coached and played against him? Sportswriters can facilitate the process and have a vote, but a player’s Hall of Fame fate should rest primarily on Hall of Fame players and coaches.
I guarantee that a player like Ken Stabler would get into the Hall of Fame BEFORE he passes in a system like this and the amount of politics should be drastically minimized with two more groups providing a voice.