This wasn’t the news we were hoping for.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced their process going forward for Coaches, Contributors and Seniors Finalists for the next four years (2021-24), and if you are a worthy Senior Candidate, the road to Canton seems a lot narrower.
Prior to the 2020 selection process, Coaches and Contributors were in the same category as modern players. This system did not guarantee that at least one Coach and/or Contributor would be chosen in a given year. For the 100thAnniversary Class, the Coaches and Contributors were pooled with the Senior Candidates, and ten Seniors, two Coaches, and three Contributors were chosen. In the next four years, there will be one new member in each of those categories.
For the worthy Coaches, this makes it a little easier. We would have made (and lost) a significant wager that under the 2020 system, both Don Coryell and Tom Flores, both previous finalists, were going to get in. Flores, who is 88, was even told by Hall of Fame Commissioner, that he was a “shoe-in”. Clearly, he wasn’t, as we Baker use his mammoth hands to knock on the unnecessary doors on the sets of NBC and FOX’s NFL coverage to award gold jackets to both Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson. While the resumes of both Cowher and Johnson are strong, many (including us) felt it was pandering to the television by Baker.
Moving forward, it is assumed that Flores and Coryell will be the next two in, and now that don’t have to compete against modern era players, there won’t be an omission of a Coach.
But stranger things can happen in Canton.
The real heartbreak is for the Seniors. The hope of many was that after they inducted ten for the Centennial Class, they would open up the doors for more in the future, with at the number of Senior Inductees at least being in the plural. The silver lining is that before 2020, there was no guarantee that they committee would induct any, so at least there will be one slot for this group. This news has to be devastating for the likes of Drew Pearson and Randy Gradishar, both of whom were Senior Finalists last year, who just saw their chances diminish.
Gradishar and Pearson are just two of a glut of players in the Senior pool with Hall of Fame worthy resumes. There are over 50 former All-Decade players who are not in, and this news is devastating not only for those worthy gridiron greats but for all of their passionate fans who want to honor their legacy.
In other significant Hall of Fame news, Bill Polian and Lisa Salters will be on the 48-person Hall of Fame Committee, replacing Ira Miller and Vito Stellino, who are exiting. Polian is a six-time NFL Executive of the Year, and is a Pro Football Hall of Famer; inducted in 2015. Salters has worked for ESPN since 2000, covering basketball and football. She becomes the first African-American woman to be a part of the Committee.