The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is thankful the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a joke. Anything to distract from the sonically atrocious induction process is to be applauded. If Laura Nyro is in while Motörhead isn’t, there’s nothing rock and roll about it. Establishment critics get their snotty way, and isn’t that what rebellion is all about?
Neither the rock nor the football versions belong in the Hall of Fame Hall of Fame. It’s a testament to the politeness of fans that the buildings hosting both flawed entities haven’t been plundered. Instead of debating who has the most absurd membership and omissions, the infamous football version could stop flopping like a draft bust. No Mike Pereira segment could explain why, say, someone who was pretty good like Jason Taylor gets to speak in Canton before any number of qualified wide receivers.
While Super Bowl weekend is too crammed, at least the additional content offers an alternate topic. The silly Hall of Fame initiation is something for starving fans to discuss after the championship left us hungry. Anything that can distract from Atlanta handing Tom Brady another dang trophy is helpful, even if it involves focusing on how awful the league is at honoring its greats. We’ll learn what a catch is before discovering why they made Andre Reed wait so long.
This year’s disappointments didn’t surprise, at least. Take a short-term Bill who will have to be patient for awhile longer even though it isn’t exactly his strong suit. It’s tough for someone to say who thinks of antics first, but Terrell Owens obviously had a Hall of Fame career.
Remember the museum’s guardians are only supposed to take play into account. Dividing a locker room is a tenuous reason to keep someone out even if he was better at that than receiving. Those unhappy with his production in Buffalo can still concede he belongs. There just may not be a convoy to Canton for his speech. Maybe they’re trying to find attendees first.
There are so many questions for voters, and none about how fun the debate is. What changes between a player’s sixth and seventh year where he’s suddenly worthy of induction? Of all the greats who got jerked around, Harry Carson’s exhaustion with waiting added a personal spin to the baffling selection outcomes.
Good men are pushed to fury by the capricious process. While he’s also deservedly enshrined now, Floyd Little’s direction to his wife of what they could kiss beginning with “If I’m dead and they elect me…” sums up the frustration of many excluded players.
Anyone who’s earned it deserves the right to say “I am a Hall of Famer” as soon as possible. Even if they eventually make it, numerous former stars lose years of enjoyment by pointlessly being forced to wait. Meanwhile, someone like Terrell Davis who had three fantastic seasons along with one good one didn’t have many years to fret. Is there a one Terrell per year limit? It’s not roulette, as the spinning wheel’s results over time are predictable.
Discussion about who should be in now diverts attention from how few candidates the Bills presently have on the horizon. Wondering which present players might warrant consideration sadly doesn’t take that long.
It’s too easy to get carried away with projections about how awesome a player with eight starts will be in 15 years, so it’s best to limit hopes to those already close. LeSean McCoy is a couple more outstanding seasons away from having to think of who will induct him. After that, Kyle Williams may remain unappreciated after retiring as punishment for being on a team without as many driven players.
Penalizing players for lack of wins in the ultimate team game is just one of many wonderful parts of this Dadaist nightmare. The Hall should actually reward those who excel despite the poor records of their respective clubs. But Dick Butkus represents the old school in more ways than one.
The idea that there’d be a few more Bills in from the ’90s if they won a single Super Bowl is insulting to individuals who thrived. Many did far more than serve as faceless contributors to perpetual runners-up. With two kickers and a punter in before him, Steve Tasker’s continued omission is a crime against football and proof journalists don’t understand special teams, among other things.
Other Bills from the timeframe deserve more attention, too. Cornelius Bennett was a juggernaut whose presence coincided with the defense’s formidability, while Darryl Talley provided its heartbeat. And the late Kent Hull called out blocking assignments for the sport’s most exciting offense before facing defensive tackles on his own. None presently even gets a proper rejection.
What could improve the process while ticking off the media? A Hall of Fame member council could either advise selectors or be granted electoral votes themselves. Many former players and coaches are worthy candidates to judge same. Someone like Marv Levy would be perfect, especially since Buffalo declined the chance to hire him again.
Alternately, football journalists who’ve somehow achieved longevity can continue to read chicken entrails at Black Mass and announce who’s in. When they occasionally get it right, it’s seemingly by chance. Like so much with pro football, we care despite those in charge and not because of them.