For Pete's Sake

By: Pete Fierle

Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.

Disappointment softened by the facts

Feb 09, 2012

A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday on

I start this week’s blog by stating, like I have done many times before, that the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selection process is one of the best, if not the best, among sports halls of fame. The main reason is that it’s nearly year-round and has several stages in the vetting process to get to the new class of enshrinees. The final step, of course, is the face-to-face meeting that our Selection Committee engages in on the day before the Super Bowl.

This is the time of year that the process is under heavy scrutiny. That’s mostly due to the fact that there are many unhappy fans and dissatisfied members of the media who are disappointed that “their” candidate didn’t get elected. Not surprisingly, our Selection Committee comes under attack. I can assure you, being much closer to the process than most, that our committee is comprised of some of the most dedicated individuals in the industry. In addition, our selectors represent a tremendous amount of knowledge gained from years and years of covering the NFL. The amount of preparation that is put into selecting a new class of Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees would probably surprise many of you. Our selectors study each candidate thoroughly. It is also very common for most of them to solicit evaluations and opinions from a wide cross-section of the football world ranging from personnel people, scouts, other players, coaches and so on.

Now on to the real topic of this week’s blog. No one can argue that the six-man Class of 2012 – Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin, and Willie Roaf – are not deserving of the honor bestowed them last Saturday. I offer my congratulations to a great new class of enshrinees. Furthermore, no one can argue that the great players, coach, and owner who did not make the cut, do not deserve it either. All 17 finalists for this year’s class have left their mark on the NFL. Unfortunately, this is the tough part of the process as we see finalists not elected.

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts was one of the hosts of our Announcement Show on NFL Network from the Super Bowl Media Center in Indianapolis. He made a very poignant remark about those who did not make the cutdown.

© Ben Liebenberg/NFL

“Do not get disappointed. Do not give up,” is the advice he gave to Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Bill Parcells, Andre Reed, Will Shields, Dick Stanfel, and Aeneas Williams.

Fouts is right. The fact is that once someone “gets in the room” (i.e. – becomes a finalist and therefore is openly and thoroughly discussed and evaluated during the annual meeting), the odds of making the Hall of Fame are heavily in their favor.

Here are the hard, cold facts. Since 1970, when the Hall of Fame selection process began cutting down to a group of finalists, there are been a total of 258 players, coaches, and contributors who have been finalists. The vast majority, 214, ultimately were elected to the Hall of Fame.

That means 83% of all finalists eventually are enshrined into the Hall. There’s even better news for most of this year’s finalists who didn’t make it. The percentage jumps to 89% for those who are finalists more than once.

So, yes, there’s much disappointment for many after last Saturday’s vote but the truth is that it really becomes an issue of “when” not “if.”