Friday, February 25, 2022

A Few Thoughts on The Hall of Fame

 By Nick Webster 

1.  So frequently we have debates on who should go in, who’s left out, who should be first-ballot; but we rarely reverse the exercise. Suppose you’re a ‘small Hall’ guy, who would you take out that you don’t think belongs. Or even if you’re not a ‘small Hall’ guy, if forced to, who would you remove that would do the least harm to the Hall?  

A few approaches can apply, who do you come up with?

    a.  Remove one player per position

    b.  Remove one player per team

    c.  Remove one player per HOF class

    d.  Remove the bottom X number of players - we’ll go with 10

2.  So much talk among real Hall fans is about the Senior Pool. Should it be the recently overlooked, should it be ‘super Seniors’ e.g.: two-way players, etc. A thought, what if every year the Senior pool rotated through decades, or clusters of decades. It’s always been problematic to compare Jim Benton to Drew Pearson, but what if in year one we were selecting from a pool of players from the ’30s, year-two the 40s, year-three the 50s, and so on. 

Jim Benton

This would make player comparisons easier, you could have different panels of experts with relatively more insight on the era and it would ensure, over time, broad generational representation.  What one player would you select from each decade?

3.  Some nerdiness. Should the bar for the Hall of Fame be lower or higher? Thinking about it mathematically, the Hall is supposed to represent the best of the best. 

What if players are normally distributed on a bell curve the average player (say an alright starter) is right in the middle, a terrible player (the next guy you cut when you can find a replacement - say Falcons QB Kim McQuilken - look him up if you don’t know him) is on the left tail, and a Hall of Famer should be on the right tail. 

 If you buy the general assumption that, like most everything in the world, players are distributed in a ‘normal distribution’ on the bell curve then any lowering of the bar lets in more players than a raising of the bar removes. If you move the line between the orange and blue sections a notch left (lowering the bar) you let in more players than if you move it the same distance to the right. In such a way lowering the bar only inspires more debate about other worthy players than raising the bar.

    a.  A simple concrete example. Suppose you set the RB bar based on Career Yards-per-game and started with requiring a 1000-yard season with a 12-game schedule, you’d let in everyone over 83.3 yards-per-game, or 8 currently retired RBs. But if you raised that five yards-per-game to 88.3 you’d only have four currently retired RBs whereas lowering it to 78.3 yards-per-game nets you 16 retired RBs.

    b.   I for one, am not for lowering the bar— 

4.  Finally, we occasionally hear people emphasize that it is the Pro Football Hall of Fame not the NFL Hall of Fame in various contexts. But, not having been in the room, who are players who crossed the Hall of Fame threshold based on Professional performance not in the NFL or its predecessors (AFL, AAFC—yes I’m counting it)?  Jim Thorpe seems a fairly obvious selection; but scratch your head to think of who is in based on NFL plus CFL performance, NFL plus USFL performance, NFL plus WFL performance.  

Arnie Weinmeister

Possibly Arnie Weinmeister, though we believe his selection was based on his short-but-spectacular AAFC and NFL play. For both the USFL and WFL there’s a fairly good argument that the level of play was notably lower and the leagues were short-lived, so it’s difficult for accrued performance to meaningfully impact your view of a player; so apparently, no love for Herschel Walker.


  1. Just removing the bottom 10 off the top of my head: Marv Levy Griese Stabler Floyd Little Charlie Sanders Ray Guy Cliff Branch (way too many 70"s Raiders for winning just one ring) Jimbo Covert Aikman Lynn Swann.
    Speaking of those 70"s Raiders according to HoF voters it's the greatest offense in NFL history because 7 of 11 starters are now in the hall which I believe is more than any other team

  2. Though different people want a small Hall, I believe at least 50 seniors are deserving, though I would also take out players based upon subjective opinion.

    Its interesting that Billy Shaw made the HOF without ever playing in the NFL, being an AFL star but was he really deserving over Ed Budde, Bob Talamini or Walt Sweeney ?

    Without his CFL career, I really dont believe Warren Moon makes this HOF. A great passer and athlete but smart and lucky as well. Goes to a good team in Canada, learns the ropes as a pro quarterback and backups a guy that wins the championship. Shares the job, then takes over without the team missing a beat. Once he goes to the NFL though, struggles for awhile before finally winning games.

    Then there is Dick LeBeau. A great career but was never All-Pro, with three PBs to his credit. We all know his coaching career helped get him elected, so why him and not other players like Rymkus or Reeves ?

    Here is my team of players that could be taken out of the HOF, despite great careers.

    QB -- Kurt Warner or Warren Moon
    RB -- Floyd Little, Tony Canadeo
    Charlie Trippi
    WR -- Wayne Millner, Art Monk, Harold Carmichael
    TE -- Shannon Sharpe, Charlie Sanders
    OT -- Jim Covert, Jackie Slater, Rayfield Wright
    OG -- Billy Shaw, Russ Grimm, Mike Munchak(too many Oilers)
    OC -- not sure about

    DE -- Ed Sprinkle, Dan Hampton, Lee Roy Selmon, Elvin Bethea
    DT -- Buck Buchanon, Art Donovan, Cortez Kennedy
    LB -- Harry Carson, Sam Mills, Chris Hanburger
    S -- Ken Easley, Cliff Harris
    CB -- Dick Lebeau, Roger Wehrli
    K -- Jan Stenerud

    Alot of great players but were they all "the best of the best"?
    I couldnt comment on older players because I dont know enough about them but did the Packers deserve both Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung in the HOF ? Its subjective because winning, plays a huge role in these players making it but based on just regular seasons, a player like Terrell Davis, Lynn Swann or Doak Walker doesnt make it.

    Not to jump on Oiler players but there are too many in the HOF for a team that never won enough. Its very close on alot of these choices.

    1. I agree with most of those, except for Shannon Sharpe. Eight Pro Bowls and four first team All-Pros. He should be in. Also, I think that Bob Griese should be taken out instead of Warren Moon. Griese rode those Dolphins teams. He made eight Pro Bowls, but some of them were undeserving (1967, 70, and 73 come to mind).

      You could also do this for coaches. Bill Cowher in the HOF? Why? The guy lost several home playoff games. Tony Dungy didn't deserve to make it, either.

    2. Shannon was great but his brother was more deserving. He blocked some but was really just a huge receiver like Winslow, Gonzalez, or Boldin.
      I feel for a combination tight end, his numbers would be great but just for being a receiver, his numbers are more in the middle of the pack.

      I thought about adding Stabler, Namath, and Griese to this list but couldn't because they were winners I admired, though Namath had many bad games without the supporting cast to bail him out. Many people believe theyre enough QBs in the HOF but the future modern choices will be intriguing.