The Hall Of Fame is a special honor. Every NFL player relishes the chance to be considered one of the greats to play the game, and the Hall Of Fame puts you at the pinnacle of the sport. There has been much debate on whether to consider “off the field” actions as a criteria for getting into the hall. There are specific rules put in place by the committee that gives them a gauge on how to vote. So why the debate ? Why do off the field actions matter ? They don’t, and never should.
The rules specifically state, “The only criteria for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame are a nominee’s achievements and contributions as a player, coach, or contributor in professional football in the United States of America.” Although the statement “contributions as a player” is open and subjective, it does not pertain to moral standards. It is clear it’s in regards to the game itself. That’s why I think there is no debate. It’s like trying to turn crystal light into Kool Aid. Not gonna happen. Plus Kool Aid is better anyway.
If the law changes and moral standards are considered as part of the process, then it allows players who were average or mediocre to be elected. Does the character of a player represent the NFL in some way ? Absolutely ! I agree with that. That shouldn’t make him a Hall of Fame candidate. This is another example of how the governing bodies of our country are trying to turn all sports into the ultimate YMCA league. Celebrating mediocrity. Everyone plays, so no matter how good or how bad, everyone achieves greatness and are the same. Horsepucky !! There is a huge difference between greatness and just being good. What’s done on the field has nothing to do with how someone chooses to live his life. Given my inside presence of the game and first hand experience, most of the players elected to the hall might not be in right now.
Commissioner Goodell handles the character side of the NFL. That’s where it should stay. Professional football is a game of imperfect human beings with individuality. That is in part what makes the game so great. That is what allows some players to be great and some average. There will always be a player with some kind of an issue. Some are more public than others. If those players perform at a high level for a sustained number of years, does his character matter ? No. From the owner all the way down to the water boy, the only thing is expected is to perform on the field and win. Period. That is what fans want as well. Even though owners want “high character” guys on their respective teams, that’s not the main focus. So when owners come out and use that as a PR tool to fans to have them come out, it’s a semi smoke screen.
Another issue that factors in is that instead of being judged on concrete numbers and play, everything will be subjective. I love peanut butter Twix. The other person may love snickers. The snickers may be put together better, hold it’s shape and not melt as easily, but my melted Twix is really damn good. That’s my personal opinion. So I prefer the messy sloppy Twix. And that’s how the debate begins. The selection process is hard enough as it is already. Throwing personal opinions into the mix makes it that much harder. Which is why the way they select players should stay how it is. This isn’t a popularity contest, who cares if the player is a nice upstanding guy all the time. If the player clearly performs at a higher level than others, that is all that matters. It’s not fair if a guy gets elected in on borderline numbers and charity work.
Hopefully the committee will stand firm on the way they judge the hall. The format is one of a few things that has some validity to it because there are actual numbers and stats to back up the elected players. We as a people need and want to see greatness. Those that are lucky enough to have the opportunity, can have something to strive for individually as well as collectively winning a Super Bowl. The nature of sports is to be competitive and achieve greatness. Not striving for mediocrity. What kind of message does it send if the Hall Of Fame, associated with one of the greatest professional sports in the world is filled with average players with so so stats ? It makes it just that, so so.