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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.
I write this from the Super Bowl Media Center in New Orleans. I’m here, not for the game but for our annual election of a new class on Saturday! You can watch the announcement live on NFL Network starting at 5:30 ET (4:30 local time) and then jump back to our site for all the details on the newest inductees.
A buzz is building here with conversation regarding who will comprise the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013.
Here are three things I know for sure about Saturday.
1. Our Selection Committee will lock themselves in a room for the better part of eight hours on Saturday to debate the merits of the 17 finalists. From that meeting will come the new class of enshrinees – no less than four and no more than seven.
2. Much focus by the media and fans will be placed immediately on the new class of football legends who will be permanently honored in Canton with a bronze bust. Their enshrinement on August 3 will be the marquee event of our Golden Anniversary Reunion which will attract upwards of 130 Hall of Famers to the Hall of Fame to honor the new class and celebrate our 50th Anniversary.
3. Almost as instant as the praise starts flowing for the new class will be the intense scrutiny about who didn’t make it!
We often say about those who aren’t elected each year that it’s not a case of “if” but “when.” In fact, numbers support that claim. The procedure of cutting down to finalists was added to our selection process in 1970. Since that time, a total of 83 percent of finalists have ultimately been elected to the Hall of Fame. That number jumps to 89 percent when an individual is a finalist more than once.
So, just how hard is it to elect a class of enshrinees? Our Selection Committee has a daunting task on Saturday. To a person, each member of that committee takes great pride in being a part of such an important panel. They clearly are honored to have the responsibility bestowed upon them and they treat the process with the utmost seriousness and diligence. That stated, they indeed have a very difficult task before them.
We wanted to put this in perspective. So we went to our longtime Researcher Saleem Choudhry, kind of. Actually we relied on his younger brother Aleem Choudhry who received his undergraduate degree from Stanford before earning his Master’s from the Harvard Business School and is now a partner at Crane Street Capital.
Saleem described our selection process to his brother. From there, Aleem went to work and determined all of the combinations and permutations that can result from a class numbering anywhere from four to seven members pulled from 17 finalists with the caveat that the class can only consist of six or seven individuals if one of both of the seniors are elected.
The answer to our riddle is that the class elected by the Selection Committee on Saturday will be one of a possible 18,942 different combinations that can come from this list of finalists.