Selection Process FAQ

Does the Hall of Fame Nominate individuals?

The Hall of Fame receives nominations but does not make them. Any person, including the 50 elite members of the Selection Committee, may nominate any eligible players, coaches or contributors.

What Happens After Someone is Nominated as a Modern-Era Player?

A nomination is NOT a vote for election. The Hall of Fame’s selection process includes multiple steps in which the nominees are scrutinized. The Hall facilitates the procedure of three successive reviews of increasing scrutiny with the Selection Committee. The first is a vote to reduce the long list of Modern-Era Player Nominees (typically around 120) to 25 Semifinalists, followed by a later vote to reduce to 15 Finalists. At the annual meeting shortly before the Super Bowl, the Finalists are scrutinized even further by the Selectors, who after a thorough discussion of each Finalist, reduce the list from 15 to 10, then 10 to 5. At that point, the five remaining Finalists are voted on for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on a yes-or-no basis. A minimum positive vote of 80% is necessary for election.

Who Selects New Hall of Fame Members?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame's Selection Committee is charged with the vital task of continuing to ensure that new enshrinees are the finest the game has produced. [Pro Football Hall of Fame's Selection Process/List of Selection Committee members]

The Committee consists of one media representative from each pro football city — with two from New York and two from Los Angeles, as those cities each have two teams in the National Football League. There can be up to 17 at-large Selectors, who are active members of the media or persons intricately involved in professional football, and one representative of the Pro Football Writers of America. All appointments are open-ended and approved annually by a majority vote of the Hall of Fame's Board of Trustees. 

The Selection Committee meets annually shortly before the Super Bowl to elect new members of the Hall of Fame. There is no set number of new enshrinees, but the Committee’s current ground rules do stipulate that between four and nine new members will be selected each year.  Every candidate is thoroughly reviewed and must receive approval from at least 80% of the full Committee to be elected.

How Are New Enshrinees Selected?

Any fan may nominate any Player, Coach or Contributor who has been connected with pro football simply by writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame at 2121 George Halas Drive NW, Canton, OH 44702. The only restriction is that a player and coach must have been retired at least five years before he (or she) can be considered. There is no mandatory retirement period for a contributor before he (or she) may be considered.  Every nomination of an eligible candidate received will be processed and forwarded to the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee.

Each year, the Selection Committee will be polled three times before the final list of Modern-Era Player Nominees is determined. That Initial Preliminary List of nominations is compiled and sent to the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee by March 1. The list is provided so the Selectors can study the nominees and request the addition of any other candidates who might have been overlooked. Included on this list are first-time eligible candidates who have strong enough credentials to give them even a remote chance of eventual Hall of Fame election. Also included are all other eligible candidates nominated by any person. Additionally, those Modern-Era Player Nominees from the previous year’s final preliminary list who received at least four votes in the balloting to determine the Modern-Era Player Finalists automatically are included on this preliminary list.

The Second Preliminary List is sent to the Selectors during the month of July and includes all the nominees named on the initial list plus any additional nominations received from any source since the first list was compiled.

The Third Preliminary List of eligible candidates is sent to the Selection Committee during the month of September for the purpose of the selection of the Modern-Era Player Semifinalists for election. From the Third Preliminary List, the Selection Committee is asked to vote for 25 Modern-Era Player Nominees who become Semifinalists for election.

The Final Preliminary List of 25 Modern-Era Player Nominees plus all ties (if any) for the 25th position shall be distributed to the Selection Committee during the month of November for the purpose of the selection of 15 Modern-Era Player Finalists. The 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th Finalists are the recommended candidates of the Coach/Contributor and Seniors committees.

In advance of the Hall of Fame selection meeting, the Selectors are provided detailed biographies on each of the 19 Finalists. At the annual meeting, each Finalist is thoroughly discussed by the committee before a series of reduction votes are taken. First, the Coach/Contributor and Seniors Finalists are discussed and voted on for election. They must receive the same 80% affirmative vote as the Modern-Era Player Finalists. Next, there is a vote that reduces the Modern-Era Player Finalists list from 15 to 10. Following that, a vote is taken to reduce the list from 10 to 5 names. The five remaining Modern-Era Player Finalists for Hall of Fame election are voted on individually (yes or no) for membership.

In order to be elected, a Finalist must receive a minimum of 80% of the vote. All ballots are collected and counted by an accounting firm. No vote totals are announced – only the winners of the various reduction ballots are revealed to the Selectors and the Hall’s representatives.

How are Coach/Contributor and Seniors Candidates Chosen?

To assure that older players, whose active careers have been completed at least 25 years, as well as coaches, who have not coached in at least five years, and those individuals who contributed to the game in ways other than playing and coaching, will be considered along with the Modern-Era Player candidates, a Coach/Contributor Committee and a Seniors Committee have been established. Each of these committees is made up of 12 members of the overall Selection Committee.

Like the full Committee, the members of the Coach/Contributor Committee and the Seniors Committee are provided a preliminary list of eligible nominees. The list, which is compiled and mailed to the Selectors, includes carry-over nominations from the previous year, first-time eligible candidates and nominations from any outside source.

By way of a mail ballot, the Coach/Contributor Committee members are polled once before the final lists of nominees are determined. The committee will follow the same protocol to reduce its list of nominees. A list of 25 Semifinalists will be released in early July, then following a reduction vote, a list of 12 will be announced by late July. In late August, the Coach/Contributor Committee will hold its annual meeting to put forward one name for consideration as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Seniors Committee follows the same procedures and timeline as the Coach/Contributor Committee, but it may recommend up to 3 candidates for election to the Hall each year.

In advance of both meetings for Coach/Contributor and Seniors, each Selector is provided with detailed biographical information on the candidates.

Coach/Contributor Committee members and Seniors Committee members are assisted during their annual meetings by one or two consultants, chosen by the Hall’s President, who were contemporaries of the majority of the nominees. The consultant(s) offer only their opinions and are not entitled to vote. After each candidate is discussed thoroughly, the consultants are excused from the meeting. Additional discussion is conducted followed by a series of reduction votes that results in the naming of a Coach/Contributor Finalist and up to three (3) Seniors Finalists.

Although the Coach/Contributor and Seniors nominees will be presented to the full Selection Committee as Finalists, their election to the Hall of Fame is not automatic until the full committee meets and votes. The Coach/Contributor and Seniors must receive the same minimum 80% of the vote as a Modern-Era Player Finalists to be elected.

Is a New Hall of Fame Member Enshrined as a Member of a Team?

Obviously, teams take great pride in the accomplishments of individuals who have been a part of their organization. Often, individual teams and even the Hall of Fame will list enshrinees according to the team or teams on which they spent a significant period of time. An enshrinee, however, is not asked to “declare,” nor does the Hall of Fame “choose” a team under which a new member is enshrined. When elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, an individual is recognized for accomplishments as a Player, Coach or Contributor.