Hall of Fame Day in South Florida


10:08 a.m.

Slightly more than an hour ago, I walked out of the meeting room where the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee is holding its annual election meeting to pick the Class of 2010. The doors were closed and a security officer was posted on duty to assure that no one (that includes me) enters the area.

Down the hallway are a group of accountants from Deloitte & Touche who will patiently wait to tally the votes from today’s meeting. First, the 44-member selection committee will debate the merits of our two senior candidates, Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little. After the in-depth discussion, our selectors will vote. The accountants will enter the room and collect the ballots and return to their meeting room to tally the results. LeBeau and Little must receive 80% of the vote to be elected to the Hall of Fame. The results will be sealed and we won’t know until later today at our press conference whether the long-time Detroit Lions cornerback and former Denver Broncos running back will join pro football’s most elite fraternity.

From there, the group of selectors will turn their attention to the 15 modern-era finalists. I can’t imagine much time will be spent talking about Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith but there are 13 other greats that will get plenty of debate. Since it appears that Rice and Smith are obvious choices, that leaves just three more spots available as bylaws stipulate no more than five modern-era nominees can be elected per year.  After what traditionally is a lengthy period, the selectors will trim that 15 down to 10. Then, we let them have a break! When they return to the room, discussion heats up as they now tasked with further reducing the list from 10 to five. From that point, the final five must get 80% of the selectors’ votes to earn election.

As I’ve said many times this week, it’s really not a case of “if” on any of these finalists rather more of a “when.”

I’ve made my way down to the main floor of the Super Bowl Media Center in the Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. It’s a ghost town as media (other than our selectors) and NFL personnel are catching up on some much needed sleep or turning their focus to Sun Life Stadium and tomorrow’s game between the Colts and Saints. A once-bustling area called Radio Row is now being dismantled as I tap away and there are only four other individuals in a large media workroom that has been filled with hundreds of media members over the past week.

This is really the Hall of Fame’s day here in Ft. Lauderdale. Later this afternoon, the media will return to the Convention Center in large numbers for our Class of 2010 announcement. For the first time ever, the “envelope” will be opened during a special show on NFL Network that airs at 5:00 p.m. ET this afternoon. Be sure to watch and find out who will join the 253 immortals already enshrined in Canton.

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