For one, there were a number of mistakes made when the various all-decade teams were selected. Better players were left off in favor of less deserving ones. Then there are great players whose best years were divided between two decades and thus missed out on making an all-decade team.
That’s fine when it comes to an All-Decade team. But it’s problematic when making an all-decade team is then used as a main argument to elect a player to the Hall of Fame. That’s especially true when it can be clearly demonstrated that the 1955-66 player is more deserving of the Hall of Fame than the 1950-59 player.
To illustrate the point, here are five players from the Senior category who did not make any of the all-decade teams and are not in the Hall of Fame: Chuck Howley, Verne Lewellen, Jimmy Patton, Duane Putnam, and Jim Ray Smith.
All five are better than many players who made an all-decade team. More importantly, all are better than many players who made an all-decade team AND are in the Hall of Fame. That’s true whether you’re comparing them to others who played the same position in roughly the same era, comparing them to others from their position from all eras, or comparing them to all Hall of Famers, period, from all eras and positions.
None of the five is a particularly sexy choice. Two are guards, one is a defensive back, one a linebacker and one a two-way back who played so long ago we barely have any statistics for him. Three – Howley, Patton and Smith – are examples of players whose great years were divided between two decades. In the case of Patton and Smith, it’s almost evenly so.
All five are very worthy of the Selection Committee’s close consideration. This is not to say any of the five should be fast-tracked to the Hall of Fame; not at all. Rather, it is a call for the selectors to seriously examine the credentials of these players.
Perhaps more importantly, this is a call for the Selection Committee to set aside or at least downgrade all-decade teams as a criteria for the Hall of Fame. If the Selection Committee does, then it’s my opinion they will deem all of these players more worthy of enshrinement than the vast majority of all-decade players not in the Hall of Fame.