The League

Josh Zerkle
National Blogger

Josh Zerkle

Editor of the sports gossip and humor site With Leather

Fans Don't Deserve Vote

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Those seven being enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio--four defensive players, an offensive lineman a wide receiver and an owner--were selected in secret by a panel of local and national media. It's a group of people that somehow reaches a consensus annually on who deserves football immortality and who does not. Members of the Board of Selectors are the key players in a process that irks a lot of people.

In a perfect world, each selector on the Board will have seen the play of each of the 17 finalists in person, scrutinized most of them on film, made comparative valuations regarding each player's comparative value to his era and, in essence, the game. And then the group would reach a consensus on which players deserve immortality. That doesn't always happen.

Every person on the 44-member Board has bias, whether it's personal, geographical, or sensationalistic. Bias is alleviated to a point, as that board includes a media representative from each city, but some bias can't be helped. If a guy played for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s, a traditionally losing team in the 1980s, or sent a case of wine to one of the selectors, there's no system in place to counteract that. Such seems to be the birthright of pro football's secret society.

Before the days of DirecTV's Sunday Ticket launched in 1994, not even these pigskin pundits had a chance of watching every team every week. But even now, certain players are ignored. Kickers are punters have been part of the game for decades, but you won't find either position well represented in the Hall. And even Art Monk, one of the game's most prolific receivers of all-time, had to wait 13 years for his close-up in Canton.

Should fans be involved in the process? Fans are, by their very nature, biased. They typically watch fewer games than sportswriters to begin with--and don't often follow any team other than their favorite. Plus, they paint their faces. I don't trust the judgment of anyone that thinks face paint is a good idea. You're not going to war with the Navajo, you're watching a football game. And for Pete Rozelle's sake, put a shirt on.

When fans were asked to select the greatest Baltimore Ravens player in that team's history last summer, what happened? Did they select future Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis, the Super Bowl MVP that captained their defense--and their team--for the balance of their existence in Maryland? They did not.

Did they take Jonathon Ogden, the 11-time Pro Bowler and one of the greatest left tackles of his day, whose unquantifiable leadership and dominance on the offensive line? They did not.

They picked Matt Stover. They picked a kicker over two of the greatest players of their day. And while such a poll may not sample the voting prowess of fans at large, it certainly shows that the process in Canton could be worse.

By Josh Zerkle  |  August 8, 2009; 11:14 AM ET  | Category:  Baltimore Ravens , Fans , NFL , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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You know, if the hall selection process ever becomes perfect, it will also become sterile and boring. I prefer the never-ending arguments.

Posted by: eangevine | August 8, 2009 9:31 PM

having fans vote on HoF is like having customers vote for the employee of the month.

Besides, with experts, you have something much more impartial. Fans will vote based on their team loyalties/hates, and good players may never get in because their team's fan base is too small. The Steelers would get 5 players a year (not that anything's wrong with that)!

Would you leave it up to Bears fans to get Brett Favre into the hall of fame?

Posted by: j762 | August 9, 2009 9:08 PM

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