A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday on Profootballhof.com.
This time of year is like a national (even global) holiday season for football fans. The countdown is on for Sunday night’s kickoff of Super Bowl XLVI between the New England Patriots and New York Giants. For us at the Hall of Fame, our kickoff is Saturday night at 5:30 p.m. ET.
That’s when you can tune into NFL Network to see The Road to Canton: Pro Football Hall of Fame: Class of 2012 presented by Allstate. The show is hosted by Fran Charles who will be joined on the set by a pair of Hall of Fame QBs, Dan Fouts and Warren Moon. The moment we are all waiting for is when a representative from the accounting firm Deloitte will hand the envelope to Hall of Fame President/Executive Director Steve Perry. And, moments later the football world finds out who from our list of 17 finalists has earned a permanent place in Canton.
Computer generated image of stage for Saturday’s show.
People continually are surprised when they learn that no one knows the class before Perry opens the envelope. That’s one of the great aspects of our selection process. The results are tallied by Deloitte accountants and we don’t ever find out the final vote totals.
If you work close to the process, it seems rather simple. Yet, most fans think the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s process is confusing. It really isn’t unless, of course, you’re a selector. Our 44-member Selection Committee has their work cut out for them. Our bylaws only permit a maximum of five of the 15 modern-era candidates to be elected. The class size can be as large as six of seven only if one or both of the senior candidates are elected.
To make it easy for you, here is a simple explanation of how the process works on Saturday.
1. The committee meets behind closed doors with security on the outside. The selectors, who represent some of the most knowledgeable individuals in the football industry, speak openly and candidly. What is said in the room stays in the room.
2. The two seniors, in this case Jack Butler and Dick Stanfel, are discussed in great detail. Then ballots are distributed and each selector can vote for none, one, or both. Deloitte employees come in and gather the ballots and go to a private room to count the results. Butler and Stanfel need 80 percent of the vote to be elected. The outcome won’t be known until Perry heads to the podium some eight hours later.
3. Next, the group begins the long deliberation on the 15 modern-era candidates. The committee then has to vote for 10 of the 15 modern-era candidates. Again, Deloitte employees come in and gather the ballots and calculate the top 10 vote getters.
4. The Selection Committee resumes the meeting by focusing solely on the remaining 10 candidates. After more deliberation, the selectors must vote for five of the 10 remaining nominees. Deloitte tallies the votes and presents the remaining five finalists.
5. At that point, the Selection Committee members vote either “yes” or “no.” In order for any of those five individuals to be elected, they must garner 80 percent of the room’s support.
This year’s meeting will be intriguing. The buzz around the media center in Indianapolis all week is that for the first time in several years, there is no “slam dunk” (not sure why we don’t use a football analogy) among the group. A few other observations I can make is the top debate seems to be on the three wide receivers. There seems to be little doubt that Tim Brown, Cris Carter, and Andre Reed are deserving of a place in Canton. Will this be their year? Will one make it? What about two or even all three? If one considers that then you also have to address the idea that there are three offensive linemen among the modern-era finalists up for consideration. There are also three pass rushers. Will the committee focus on a position? Do they simply take the five best regardless of position? If that’s the case, how do you determine who the five best are as there is no debate all 15 finalists are worthy candidates.
All I can say is that it is going to be a long, long day for our dedicated Selection Committee.
Once their work ends, ours begins in full swing. We’ll get busy getting any of the new class who is Indy over the show. We also get busy dialing numbers to get those not on hand to join by phone. On Sunday, in a relatively new tradition, the new class of enshrinees will be flown into Indianapolis and be on hand for the pre-game coin toss for the Super Bowl. They’ll stay an extra day and meet with some of our staff who briefs them on what life will be like for the next six months.
The road from Indianapolis to Canton will be fast and furious as hundreds upon hundreds of community volunteers in Canton help us put on one of sport’s greatest celebrations, the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival. It all revolves around the Enshrinement ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 4. But, before we can worry about that, we need to find out who gets elected.
Tune in Saturday!