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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.
A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday.
Well, I made it to the "frozen tundra" of Dallas, Texas.
The forecast indicates that the cold and ice will give way to more seasonable weather. But, it's not only the weather that will heat up over the next couple of days in North Texas. The year-long Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process comes to a head this Saturday. That's when our 44-member Selection Committee meets early that morning to debate the merits of each of the finalists. From this group, they will elect no fewer than four and no more than seven (a class of six or seven can only happen if one or both of the senior nominees, Chris Hanburger and Les Richter, are voted in).
For more on how our selection process works, here it is from the mouth of the man who facilitates the process.
The debate about who should get in is increasingly becoming the focus of the chatter around the NFL's Super Bowl media headquarters at the Sheraton in downtown Dallas. There's a maximum of five modern-era finalists who can be elected. The buzz is that two of those spots are locks … you can guess who.
It's always most interesting to me each year when I spend the Super Bowl week at the media headquarters. I get a feeling about which finalists are gaining support among the media. With that stated, it really doesn't help me to offer any more insight as to who will comprise the Class of 2011. People often ask me who I think will get elected (remember the Hall of Fame has no vote itself!). My answer is quite simply that I don't know. I can guess but that's about the best I can offer. I don't think I've nailed a class prediction perfectly yet and I've been at the Hall of Fame for more than 20 years.
This now brings me to my point of this blog. I say it often and this is definitely the time of the year to repeat it over and over. I believe, without any doubt, that our selection process is the most thorough of any sports hall of fame.
First, the cut-downs from such a lengthy list of preliminary nominees prove that the level of scrutiny is intense. The first trimming comes at Thanksgiving when our selectors reduce the list of more than 100 candidates (it was 114 this year) to 25 semifinalists (or 26 as was the case this year due to a tie). Then, the New Year kicked off with the reduction to 15 finalists in early January. They joined two senior nominees who were determined (from a long list of players who finished their careers more than 25 years ago) by a sub-committee last August.
Now, here's a shout out to our selectors. They are incredibly dedicated individuals who treat their role on our selection committee as a great honor. Their passion and respect for the process is ever so evident. Despite the long, long hours of covering every aspect of Super Bowl week, these 44 members of the media will spend this Saturday determining who will earn election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's a responsibility that quite seriously can be life changing for the person who is bestowed pro football's highest honor. What does it mean to someone? See this reaction from last year's announcement.
Another bit of information I share often and is especially appropriate to close this blog is this. Since the National Football League was founded in downtown Canton, Ohio on Sept. 17, 1920, there have been more than 21,000 men who've played in the league. Hundreds of others have coached. Countless others have contributed to the game in roles outside of playing or coaching. From that massive number, there are only 260 who've been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame of which 229 were players.
On Saturday, we will all learn together just how much room and for whom we need to make it for in the Hall of Fame Gallery in Canton.
Until then, I'll just continue to observe the debate heating up down in Texas. Oh, and I surely won't mind if the same thing happens to the temperatures around town.