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Tag:Hall of Fame
Posted on: August 6, 2011 12:54 am
Edited on: August 6, 2011 12:59 am
 

Is Hall of Fame voting process a bug or feature?



Posted by Ryan Wilson

This is like trying to identify the ugliest Victoria Secret's Angel, but in the spirit of fairness (and on behalf of ugly people everywhere) we feel compelled to mention that of the four modern players to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday -- Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders and Shannon Sharpe -- Sharpe is probably the least attractive lingerie model of the bunch, metaphorically speaking.

That's not to say he shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame one day -- he should -- just that it's all relative, in both senses of the word. First, you can make a case, without much effort, that Cris Carter or Curtis Martin would have been just as deserving had they been selected instead of Sharpe. And even Sharpe, speaking the day before his induction, admitted that his brother should've ended up in Canton before he did.

“Sterling was supposed to be in the Hall first,” Sharpe said. “I was supposed to introduce him for his speech, for his introduction and then take his bronze bust into the Hall. But now we’re going in together. I’m taking him in with me. … I’ve always wanted to be like him,” said Shannon.

Part of the issue is the fickle, sometimes secretive nature of the voting process. And barring a sudden change in course away from old-school writers debating the merits of each candidate based on things like "grit" and "gut feelings" in favor of a room filled with eggheads, mountains of data and complex algorithms accounting for variables most of us would've never even considered, it's going to be a messy affair.

If you're willing to accept the premise that it's an imperfect system but one that, in general, eventually gets it right, it makes the whole undertaking much less stressful and slightly more reasonable. (At least for the onlooker. We can't imagine what the nominees must go through, leaving the fate of their professional legacy in the hands of faceless voters.)

As for Sharpe's credentials, they're impeccable. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, four times a unanimous first-team All Pro, he started for two different Super Bowl-winning organizations, and he retired as the NFL's career leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns by a tight end (records later broken by Tony Gonzalez).

So what's the problem?

It's less a problem than a nuanced distinction that gives us pause, even if momentarily. (Not to mention our previous concerns that there were very little differences among the candidacies of Sharpe, Carter and Martin.) In February, after the 2011 Hall of Fame candidates had been announced but before the finalists had been named, ProFootballReference.com wrote about Sharpe's Hall of Fame chances.

They (like us) thought he deserved to be in Canton, but made an intriguing point: Sharpe was a tight end, but at 6-2, 225 -- and given how he was utilized (and that he wasn't considered much of a blocker) -- he was closer to a wide receiver. PFR.com contrasts Sharpe with a player critics of the HOF voting system would point to whenever they wanted to make their point in just two words: "Art Monk."

The details:

PFR lists Sharpe at 6'2, 225 and Monk at 6'3 and 210. While Sharpe looks a lot bigger, and their careers overlapped, some significant changes occurred in the NFL while these guys were playing. In Monk's breakout season, 1984, the average TE was 6'3 or 6'4 and 236 pounds. Ten years later, the average TE was 6'4 and 254 pounds. So Monk was about 25 pounds lighter than the average TE; Sharpe was a little shorter and about 30 pounds lighter than the typical tight end. In Monk's five 1,000 yard seasons, he averaged 13.8 yards per reception; the league average for yards per reception (YPR) for WRs was 15.2 in those seasons. In Sharpe's four big-yardage years he averaged 13.0 YPR while the average WR averaged 13.7 YPR. Both were dependable, reliable possession receivers and had significantly better hands than the typical tight end. Both were much better blockers than your average WR but worse blockers than the average tight end.

If Sharpe is considered as a WR, he's in trouble. He ranked in the top ten just once in receiving yards, a tenth place finish in 1993. Like Monk, he has three Super Bowl rings, but that won't be enough if people compare him to Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.

But -- and this distinction can't be overstated -- the PFR.com post makes one final, important point: "We shouldn't just think of these guys as tight ends or wide receivers, but as football players. And unlike in baseball, your contribution to your team can't be measured by what designation they put next to your name on the team roster."

It's that consideration that makes it easier for us to reconcile Sharpe's 2011 enshrinement over other just-as-deserving candidates. Football is the ultimate team sport, and contributions irrespective of position should carry more weight than anything else. It's just that sometimes, voters reach those conclusions separately from those of us on the outside looking in. Monk is the most obvious example. He had to wait eight years to get his due, but it finally came in 2008. 

Three years later, and with nowhere near the controversy, it's Sharpe's turn and he's earned it. Sure, we could just as easily be talking about Carter or Martin here, but history suggests they'll eventually end up in Canton, too. This weekend, Shannon is the Laetitia Casta to Deion, Marshall and Richard's Marissa Miller, Gisele Bundchen and Heidi Klum. There are worse fates.

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Posted on: July 12, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 10:15 am
 

Lockout could put Hall of Fame game in jeopardy

Posted by Ryan Wilson

There isn't currently a 2011 NFL season, but July has been a busy month nonetheless. Most of it has been speculation driven -- the lockout will end on this date, free agency will start on that date -- but there's also legitimate hope that a new collective bargaining agreement will be ratified by July 21, no games will be missed, and there will be actual football this fall.

But it's not all rainbows and unicorns. We wrote earlier that the Cowboys might have to cancel their training camp in San Antonio because it's barely a week after the rumored July 21 CBA ratification date.

And while the regular season schedule is safe, as well as the final four weeks of the preseason (and the $800 million in revenues that go with it), the August 7 Hall of Fame game, typically the NFL's first preseason game played during Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio, could be in jeopardy.

"We have not identified a date by which we have to have an agreement to save the Hall of Fame Game," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Chicago Tribune. "Time is admittedly running short, however."

The Tribune notes that the July 21 ratification date would make it virtually impossible for the two teams playing in the Hall of Fame game, the Bears and Rams, to report to camp on July 22 and begin practicing on July 23.

There are also the "Transition Rules" to consider which, according to an ESPN report, spell out an actual timeline for roster transactions under the July 21 deal scenario, including the start of the new league year during which free agents would become eligible for the open market on July 28.

"This would create a wild period in which business would be done around the clock as teams settle rosters and go to camp at the same time," the Tribune's Brad Biggs and Vaughn McClure report. "Considering the Bears have only 54 players on their roster right now, a figure that includes draft picks, how quickly can Jerry Angelo and Cliff Stein find and sign 36 players?"

With all the deadlines in the 17 days between July 21 and August 7, it's hard to imagine that either team will be ready to play in Canton. The logistics are just too unwieldy.

Earlier this month, Hall of Fame president Steve Perry told ESPN that, depending on when the lockout ended, the Hall of Fame game could be postponed or played on another date.

"That's not our desire," he said. "It would not have the same impact as having it on Hall of Fame Weekend."

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: July 5, 2011 11:06 am
 

Hall of Fame Game still scheduled for Aug. 7

Posted by Ryan Wilson

After taking the weekend off to celebrate our country's independence, the lawyers for the owners and players resumed talks today, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith aren't expected to be present for the negotiations until Thursday, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

The hope is that a new collective bargaining agreement can be reached by mid-July; if the lockout lasts beyond that, preseason games could be cancelled and owners and players could stand to lose up to $800 million.

While we wouldn't say optimism is high, there are signs that the two sides will resolve their differences and the 2011 season will begin on time.

Over the weekend, it was announced that the Cowboys set a July 29 training camp date at the Alamodome in San Antonio. And Tuesday, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reports that the Pro Football Hall of Fame game between the Bears and Rams is still scheduled for August 7. The game is part of the Hall of Fame induction weekend in Canton, Ohio, and is the first game of the NFL preseason.

"We're making all plans to have the game on time. We've heard from both parties -- the owners and the players -- and they've expressed their desire to have the game. So, that's our plan," hall president Steve Perry told ESPN.

"Ticket sales are lagging behind where they were compared to this time last year," Perry acknowledged. "That's understandable. There is some uncertainty out there. But we're planning to have the game. Nobody has told us otherwise. In fact, both sides have told us they want to play the game."

Traditionally, the game is a sellout, but Perry said that only half the tickets for the 22,000-seat Fawcett Stadium have been sold. Just like the regular season, if the game isn't sold out it would be blacked out in Canton and the surrounding areas.

Both the Bears and the Rams have told Perry they plan to play in the game, but because of the lockout neither team knows exactly when they will be able to start training camp. If a new CBA isn't reached in the next 10 days or so and preseason games are ultimately delayed or cancelled, Perry told ESPN that the Hall of Fame game could be postponed or played on another date.

"That's not our desire," he said. "It would not have the same impact as having it on Hall of Fame Weekend."

The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, however, are unaffected by the lockout and will go on as planned.

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Posted on: January 9, 2011 12:46 pm
 

NFL Hall of Fame 2011 class finalists announced

Posted by Will Brinson

Marshall Faulk, Jerome Bettis and Curtis Martin -- three of the great running backs in NFL history -- were all listed as part of the 17 finalists for the NFL Hall of Fame's 2011 class.

The Hall of Fame announced the list Sunday, via NFL.com, and it includes 15 modern-era players, two senior nominees and five first-timers on the list.

Bettis, Faulk, Martin, Deion Sanders and Willie Roaf were listed as first-time finalists on the Hall of Fame ballot for 2011. It seems unlikely that all three running backs will make it, and Faulk and/or Bettis seem likely to land a spot moreso than Martin, mainly because of team success and off-field behavior.

Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Andre Reed and Shannon Sharpe made the ballot as nominees who had been listed before.

Chris Hanburger and Les Richter were listed as the senior nominees on the Hall's ballot.

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Posted on: December 2, 2010 9:30 am
 

Cris Carter is the key to many WRs' HOF chances

Posted by Andy Benoit

The list of 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2011 class was recently announced. The most important name on that list? Cris Carter. C. Carter (US Presswire)

Wide receiver has become one of the toughest positions for voters to gauge. The NFL has evolved so markedly into a passing league that the receiving statistics from one era to another are almost impossible to evaluate. The same problem applies to quarterbacks, but quarterbacks are much easier to figure because a.) They’re tied more directly to their team’s success; b.) They touch the ball every play and c.) They stay on your television screen after the ball is snapped. A wide receiver, on the other hand, might make important contributions like lifting a coverage, disguising a route or providing backside run-blocking support, but that action often takes place off screen.

The voters’ decision will be overwhelmingly based on numbers. That’s what makes Carter, the longtime Vikings receiver, the key that potentially unlocks the Canton door for a host of wideouts. Carter is third all-time in receptions (1,101), eighth all-time in receiving yards (13,899) and fourth all-time in touchdowns (130). Overall, he was essentially the second best wide receiver of the 1990s. If he doesn’t get in, what hope is there for other prolific wideouts like Tim Brown, Andre Reed or Irving Fryar, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce or Marvin Harrison? All have similar numbers. (Holt, Bruce and Harrison each have a ring, but receivers aren’t judged by titles the way quarterbacks, running backs and, obviously, head coaches are.)

Carter was passed over by Hall of Fame voters last year, but that could have simply been the Jerry Rice effect. This year could be Carter’s best shot at getting in. Of the 25 other semifinalists, only Deion Sanders and likely Marshall Faulk are surefire Yes’.

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Posted on: August 10, 2010 11:30 am
 

LeBeau happy to be back at Steelers practice

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Here’s a nice little interview with Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau after he returned to practice following his Hall of Fame induction on Sunday.

LeBeau has a very good reputation in the NFL as being a great dude, and that was pretty evident when the Steelers organization left training camp to travel to Canton to watch the induction ceremony. 

After practice Monday, he talked to the media, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review .

My favorite question and answer? This one.

Q: Who did you leave in charge while you were gone and how did they do?

A: “John Mitchell is the assistant head coach but each coach kind of shared their duties equally. I figured it would take three of them to do my job.”

Nice.

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Posted on: August 8, 2010 7:52 pm
 

Emmitt apologizes for forgetting UF in speech

Posted by Will Brinson

Emmitt Smith gave a profoundly impressive speech when he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame on Saturday night.

One little problem: he forgot to mention the University of Florida in his speech. Conspiracy theories started cropping up as to why the Gator would have insulted his alma mater by not mentioning them in his lengthy address to football fans everywhere.

Smith, to his credit, attempted to clear up the issue on Twitter Sunday evening.
I sincerely sincerely apologize for not mentioning u last night in my hof speech Gator Nation

I jus got caught up in everything plz charge it to my mind not my heart!!

once a GATOR always a GATOR I loved everything the U of florida gave me
Emmitt's willingness to apologize makes it seem a lot less awkward that he forgot to mention his college.

There was a lot of talk, though, about Smith memorizing his speech. And if that's the case, and he did so properly, it's kind of hard to accidentally leave out something as important as the college he attended.

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Posted on: August 7, 2010 10:22 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2010 11:37 pm
 

Emmitt Smith cries while thanking Daryl Johnston

Posted by Will Brinson

Whether or not you think Emmitt Smith is the greatest running back of all-time (I don't; I'm not alone) , he was one of the all-time greatest backs to ever grace the gridiron, and he's a lock-job Hall of Famer. That probably explains why they saved his speech for last (well, that and the distinct possibility that he could offer up an amazing gaffe).

Emmitt moved through a list of people he wanted to thank -- Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Jimmy Johnson, Norv Turner, Jerry Jones and many more from earlier in his career -- and finally called out "Daryl Johnston, where are you?"

At this point, the crowd (which featured a LOT of Dallas Cowboy fans) went bonkers, screaming "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE!!" as Johnston stood up from his seat in the crowd.

"Darryl, you mean the world to me," Emmitt began, before thanking him first for his blocking and then, as the all-time leading rusher began to become clearly emotional, for treating Smith "like a brother."

"Without you," Emmitt said, wiping away tears from his face. "I know today would not have been possible. I love you, Daryl, from the bottom of my heart."

It was a pretty touching moment in what was an exceptional speech, even for the most cynical of Emmitt haters.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com