This past week you may have heard Jason Whitlock went nuclear on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process. In this own unique way he called out many of the Hall of Fame selectors (all 44 of them, which isn't many in my opinion). I like Whitlock and respect his writing. He tends to spray a lot of gun fire in the direction of his targets and sometimes he misses and sometimes he hits. He came after Peter King specifically, and by name. I think he sort of hit on this issue. Needless to say in the link I just put up, Peter King disagrees and gets all defensive about it. Peter doesn't mind calling out people in his MMQB every week, but once you call him out, he will usually respond.
I got a tweet the other day from a reader who asked me to defend taking part in a "corrupt'' process. Jason Whitlock, writing for FOXSports.com, called me the "speaker of the house" in a "textbook, good-ol'-boys network'' and said the selection committee violates "nearly everything that we as journalists stand for.''
While I don't know the inner-workings of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process, I think that very fact is why Whitlock says it violates what journalists stand for. We know nothing about the process except for when guys like Peter King have the balls to tell who they voted for. There are 44 voters. That's just not a lot. I don't think it should be a clusterfuck of voters like the Baseball Hall of Fame has, but more than 44 voters would be appropriate. The Pro Basketball Hall of Fame has a ton of secrecy as well, so it is not exclusive to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The NFL is the most popular sport in the United States, so the players who get voted into the Hall of Fame and how this happens, is of increasing interest to people.
We're considered to be idiots for putting in Chris Hanburger, totally out of touch for enshrining an old geezer, Ed Sabol, who never played the game, and shouldn't be voting for football immortality because so many of us have never played the game. And so on.
What we are reading here is a little sensitivity from Peter King. He's sensitive to being criticized about this. As Jason Whitlock correctly pointed out, if you can't handle the criticism, perhaps you shouldn't have a vote. Considering the amount of power those who vote for the Hall of Fame have I am surprised there hasn't been more harsh criticism before this.
I have no opinion on Chris Hanburger really. Pro Football Reference says his 14 year career was like Ricky Jackson and Junior Seau's, so that can't be terrible. As anyone who has read MMQB every week knows, Ed Sabol has been championed by Peter King on a nearly weekly basis, due to his contributions to the NFL through NFL Films. It is a great story but I have to admit when there are quality candidates among the players still waiting induction, is it a good idea to vote Sabol in now? I feel like it was done now so he could be inducted before he died. Ed Sabol is a great example of a contributor to the game of football, but also a guy who probably shouldn't be voted in before deserving NFL players.
As far as Russ Grimm goes, I just don't think he deserved induction and Whitlock's accusation that his future NFL head coaching prospects played a part in his induction is worthy of being examined. Are there ulterior motives for voting him in the Hall of Fame or does the selection group feel the need to induct a member of the Redskins 80's and 90's offensive line into the Hall? Or did they genuinely feel he deserved induction based on his own merits? If this is the case, then it brings up questions about why other eligible offensive linemen didn't get in this year as well.
The best way to address the criticism is to go through the issues, one by one, that have come up in the nine days since we sat in a Dallas meeting room for seven hours and 28 minutes, picking the seven-man class of 2011.
I think that is part of the problem. There is a veil of secrecy that goes over the proceedings. It is like they are electing a pope. They go into a room and don't leave until they have elected members of the Hall of Fame. Then all of a sudden a guy like Floyd Little is in, but other (more) deserving players are not. I don't think the writers necessarily enjoy the secrecy of the proceedings, but I don't see why votes can't be made public.
We're asked to keep the subject and intensity of the discussions out of the press when we leave the room. I'm often asked why. I'll give you a totally fictitious example.
Jason Whitlock called Peter King "the speaker of the house" when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Naturally, Peter does nothing to disprove this thinking by spending most of his MMQB explaining the Hall of Fame process and essentially becoming the Hall of Fame voter who takes it upon himself to explain the process...which would essentially make him the "speaker" for the voting process.
Let's say the Dallas representative, Rick Gosselin, is asked to give his case, pro or con, for Larry Allen when the longtime Cowboys guard comes up for a vote in 2013. And let's say Gosselin presents the case for Allen well, but lets it be known he doesn't think he's as strong an offensive-line candidate as, say, Dermontti Dawson or Willie Roaf.
It's not fair for Gosselin to walk into Cowboys offices, having to cover the team (which he does occasionally, but not as a beat man) and team officials not cooperating with him fully because he's not pro-Allen.
So it is not fair the Gosselin gets the honor of voting for the Hall of Fame and then has to stand by his vote publicly? How is this not fair? If you get the honor of choosing Hall of Fame inductees then you should also be able to be mature or thick-skinned enough to handle criticism. I would hope a team wouldn't freeze out a writer because he didn't vote for one of their ex-players. This is partly what Whitlock meant by a "good ol' boys network." The secrecy of the voting process allows the voters to not be required to stand behind their vote for some fear of retribution.
The fact an NFL team wouldn't be mature enough to handle a voter not voting for one of those players isn't a reason to not make the votes public? Why should the close-mindedness and ignorance of others serve as a reason to not make your opinion public? This sounds like an excuse to me.
That's just an example, but the Hall feels, and I agree, that if our discussions are quoted or characterized outside the room other than in saying that so-and-so gave a great presentation for a particular candidate, the honesty of the discussion in the room could be compromised.
No one wants a verbatim transcript of what was said. A simple press release saying "X voter voted for the following players." If that person cares to explain publicly then that is fine. It would be nice to have some more transparency.
Many of my peers disagree with me on this, but I think if we're not willing to put our name to our vote, then we shouldn't be on the committee.
To be fair to Peter King, which I will do just this once, he has always be open with his vote. I agree with him 100%. If you want the honor of voting, you should put your name behind your vote.
It happened when Len Shapiro, formerly of the Washington Post, asked me to reconsider Art Monk, which I did because he made a good point -- all the good points about leadership and on-field example-setting I made about Harry Carson with the Giants, Art Monk did with the Redskins.
"Hey Peter, you know that bullshit reasoning you use to get Harry Carson in the Hall of Fame? You can use the same bullshit reasoning to get my guy in!"
Who said this isn't "a good ol' boys system" and Peter isn't the speaker of the house for this system? Peter was just asked to reconsider his feelings on a player, and presumably Peter isn't the only person who needed to reconsider his opinion on Monk. So Shapiro knew if he caused Peter King to reconsider then others would possibly reconsider as well and Monk would get in? That's a possibility right? This would make Peter a pretty influential guy if my speculation that Shapiro wanted to convince Peter so he would help convince the others is correct.
And, yes, I have biases, if that's what you call strong feelings about people being candidates or not. We all do. I covered the Giants for four years when they had the best run defense in football, and I pushed Harry Carson hard, and he finally got in five years ago.
This is another part of the process I hate. I hate a unit (like the Redskins offensive line in the 80's and early 90's) was a great unit, so obviously one of the members of that unit has to be in the Hall of Fame. The Giants had the best run defense in football for four years when Peter covered them, so Peter assumes one of the members of this defense is one of the greatest players at his position of all-time. It is possible for a unit to be great for a period of time and not have a Hall of Fame player on that unit.
I am not opposed to the committee being expanded. Not at all. But at some point, if you want the process to be somewhat the same as it is now -- discussion and/or arguments about the candidates -- I don't know how much bigger the pool can be. I'd love to see, say, a few more nationally respected people in the room, like widely read Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Because giving a person specifically selected by Peter King would go a long way to dispel the idea it is a good ol' boys network. I know this is just a recommendation from Peter, but the truth is that he does seem to have some power in "the room" where inductees are selected.
If we start eliminating selectors because some haven't been around the game for 20 years, I think we're setting a bad precedent, because then the franchise won't get the same attention for its candidates than the veteran selectors can give. You just have to let some green selectors grow into the job
So it is better to have a selector who is more in touch with the game 20 years ago because newer selectors won't give the franchise as much attention? Can't newer selectors who are around the game use their knowledge to look back at candidates who played 20 years ago and decide if they deserve selection or not?
It should be hard to get into the Hall. I think seven enshrinees in one year is plenty. I've asked people over the years to take the 15-man ballot and tell me which 10 don't belong in the Hall. Very, very rarely can people honestly pick 10
I am not sure how many people are concerned about the volume of the enshrinees or are concerned it is too hard to get in the Hall of Fame. The problem lies in WHO is getting voted into the Hall of Fame. Willie Roaf and Dermontti Dawson get left out for Russ Grimm because Grimm played on a more heralded offensive line. That's the only reason I could see.
Whitlock said in his column that he would cry if Roaf, a tackle he covered for several years as a columnist in Kansas City, didn't get elected this year. I've found that to be a common trait over the years: Local columnists get passionate about local guys.
Much like Peter's passion for Harry Carson being in the Hall of Fame because Carson played for the Giants when Peter covered them. Much like the passion Peter showed in getting Ed Sabol into the Hall of Fame? So it is fine to have passion about getting a player/contributor into the Hall of Fame as long as you are among those who vote for Hall of Fame inductees.
Is it more of a travesty that Roaf wasn't a first-ballot Hall of Famer, or that a man with 1,101 catches (Carter) has now missed four times? Or that Dawson -- who was first-team All-Pro more than any other center (six times) in the last 50 years, and double the times Roaf was first-team All-Pro -- can't get in? Pick your travesty. I suspect if Whitlock had worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette instead of the Kansas City Star, he'd be decrying the Dawson snub, not Roaf's.
I don't think Peter is helping his position much by naming three qualified Hall of Fame candidates who were "snubbed" in favor of more controversial guys like Hanburger, Sabol or Grimm. So Peter is basically saying the voting process is hard and the line should be drawn somewhere. I agree, but "contributors" should come after players in my mind, and that didn't happen this year.
The only thing that angered me about Whitlock's column is when he followed his skewering of the Hall selection committee because it has three black voters (a fourth, Michael Wilbon, left the panel when he began covering the NBA a few years ago) in the next sentence by saying two white men -- me and Gosselin -- lead an "old-school, good-ol'-boys network'' in the selection room. If he finds me racist, I wish he'd just call me racist.
It is good to see Peter King doesn't take things personally. This is a guy who is famous for calling out people in the NFL, random people on the street, corporations, and certain hotels/coffee chains/trains/buses/cars in his column. He gets criticized for being a leader who protects the current Hall of Fame process (which is exactly what he is doing in this week's MMQB) and then he begins to take this personally. I guess it is human nature to do this, but I think he is making a couple leaps in logic in saying Whitlock called him a racist.
Now, as for my power in the room, I hope I'm looked at respectfully, and I try to make good arguments. But if I was so powerful, wouldn't I have gotten Paul Tagliabue in once in three tries? Couldn't I have swayed the room on Cris Carter? In fact, both men have gone in reverse since I began to vehemently support them. Tagliabue didn't even make the final 15 this year, and Carter didn't make the cut from 15 to 10 this year.
I am not sure if giving two examples from this year where a person he wanted in is evidence Peter doesn't have too much power is persuading me. Peter is the biggest name on the selector list and regardless of whether he likes it or not, the fact he works for NBC and Sports Illustrated probably does give him some more sway.
I know other Hall of Fame voters have chimed in with their opinion of the voting process and how nothing should change, but the one that really matters is Peter King. Whether he likes it or not, he is the unofficial spokesman for the Hall of Fame because he is a national figure and has a larger forum than most other Hall of Fame voters. I wouldn't go as far as Jason Whitlock to say the whole process is broken, but there are improvements that can be made.
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News published his annual special-teams rankings Sunday. Among anything the print media does, Gosselin's kicking-game rankings are the most respected by coaches and front office people in the league. Gosselin takes 22 special-teams categories and ranks all 32 teams in the league from 1 to 32 -- 1 for the best team, 32 for the lowest-ranked.
This is the same Rick Gosselin who may be "frozen out" by the Cowboys for not supporting Larry Allen's candidacy for the Hall of Fame in Peter's hypothetical example. Am I supposed to believe a person like Gosselin, who has respected special teams rankings published annually, is going to get a cold shoulder from a franchise based on who he voted into the Hall of Fame? I am not sure I believe this.
If Gosselin can support his special teams rankings, which are used often in determining which teams have good or bad special teams coaches, accurately and effectively why couldn't he support his Hall of Fame votes with the same accuracy and effectiveness? I don't think the talks in the discussion room are going to be compromised by voters publicly letting everyone know they voted for and I really don't think teams will be petty enough to give a writer the cold shoulder. If a writer is really afraid of this happening, don't vote for the Hall of Fame or have thicker skin, it is not like anyone forces the selectors to be a part of the elite 44 people.
7. I think now that ESPN has backed my Twitter poll of 1,200 fans last week -- who said by a resounding 82-percent vote that they favor a 16-game season, not 18 games -- I hope we stop hearing the league and commissioner say fans want an 18-game regular-season.
I haven't met a single person who wants this to happen. Roger Goodell is full of shit and frankly it pisses me off that he blames the fans for wanting an 18 game schedule. The fans don't want four preseason games, but this doesn't mean we want two more regular season games. I would be happy with two preseason games and sixteen regular season games. It is the owners, who Goodell represents, that have a huge problem with this happening. They don't want to lose revenue for a missed home game. I love how the owners pick and choose when they pay attention to what the fans "want."
9. I think the most interesting thing I heard about the labor situation in the last week or so has nothing to do with the actual negotiations themselves, but rather with something Peyton Manning supposedly said to NFLPA union boss DeMaurice Smith during the weekend of the Super Bowl: "Wish I'd been a union rep.''
Imagine alternate rep Tom Brady and NFLPA board member Drew Brees being joined at a big union meeting someday by Colts player rep Peyton Manning. Now that'd be something to see, the three most famous passers in the game facing off against the football establishment.Don't. Care. This doesn't make anything involving labor negotiations more exciting to me.
All I want to see if football starting in September 2011. I don't care if Carrot Top is a part of the negotiations. If the owners really care about what the fans want, work out a deal so the NFL can start on time this year.
c. Name five better cities in the world than San Francisco. You can't.
I just did.
e. Michael Kay, you're married! Congratulations!
Sam Jones, you got divorced! That's terrible!
Britney Appleweed, you had a baby! Hope your vagina doesn't hurt too much!
Charles Eaglesmith, you finally cured your Irritable Bowel Syndrome! Great news! Looks like your not shit-out-of-luck anymore.
Charlene Collins, you're out of the closet! Have you told your parents yet?
h. Beernerdness: Tried Cristal, a pilsner from Peru, at a Peruvian restaurant in the Pacific Heights section of San Francisco the other night. Very nice. Smooth, with a nice bite. A little like Peroni. "Beer from the Andes,'' the label said. Don't believe I've ever consumed anything from the Andes before. A nice experience.
Bengoodfella Beernerdness: The greatest beer in the history of the world (overstatement), Red Oak, is finally for sale in certain grocery stores rather than just on-tap in restaurants. If anyone has a chance to try it (I am not even sure how far north/east/west/south it is sold), do so. It is delicious.
k. I got the top pick in my Rotisserie League draft the other day. The dreaded top pick. I hate it. It's a 12-team league, with a serpentine draft, so if you pick first, you don't pick again until 24 and 25. I'd much rather have the eighth pick, though I hope there is some value choosing first. But with the best 36 players off the board (we all protect three players from last year's team), I'm going to be in dire need of baseball knowledge.
Pick Derek Jeter first. He is, after all, the greatest player of Peter King's generation.
l. Hey! My new best buddy, John Legend, won three Grammys last night! Way to go, John.
John Legend, you won three Grammys! Congratulations!
Then in his Tuesday mailbag, Peter talked more about his Hall of Fame selections and he talked about other NFL stuff as well. More importantly, we get 10 MORE things that Peter thinks he thinks. What great news!
3. I think it's not over for Carson Palmer in Cincinnati. Jay Gruden's going to convince him he can be great in Gruden's West Coast offense,
I think it would be better if everyone else was convinced Palmer could be great in any offense. He's 32 years old and regressing. So I wonder how the Bengals can make Palmer better? Peter has an idea involving this!
I believe Marvin Lewis will do Palmer a favor and make sure neither Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens will be on the roster opening day -- whenever that is.
Because the best way to make Carson Palmer successful is to take away his two best wide receivers. He would have flourished this year if he did not have those pesky two wide receivers that combined for 139 receptions and 1,814 yards this past season. That is 38.3% of Palmer's completions and 45.7% of his yards. I am not saying the Bengals shouldn't get rid of these two players, but I don't know if their absence from the team makes Palmer a better quarterback in a new offense.
6. I think if I were doing an over-under for when a deal gets done, I'd set it at Sept. 13. And I personally would bet the over.
I have a terrible feeling the upcoming 2011 season is only going to consist of 12 games at a maximum. Free agents can't even choose teams until after agreement has been reached between the owners and the union, so even after an agreement is reached the season can't start immediately.
AN IDEA ABOUT THE NUMBER OF REGULAR-SEASON GAMES: "My wisdom of Solomon: split the baby solution to the 18-game impasse: Go to a 17-game season with one more bye week. The league gets two more weeks of televised football. The players get another bye to help alleviate the health concerns of the extra game. The extra game on each team's schedule is a neutral site -- London, Mexico City, Los Angeles, etc. -- where the league can grow the fan base. All 32 teams split the revenue of all the neutral site games. Two or three preseason games. Can you pass that along to Roger and DeMaurice?''
-- Michael Turner, Sunnyvale, Calif.
I had an idea as well and this is probably a terrible idea, but I am thinking outside the box, mostly because thinking inside the box doesn't seem to be working right now. How about the NFL goes to an 18 game schedule thereby giving the owners the schedule they want, but players can only appear in a maximum of 16 games per year? That way, the owners get their revenue and the players don't have to appear in any more games than normal. It seems like a dumb idea because at some point a marquee player won't appear in two games a year, but if the union is really intent on keeping the schedule at 16 games and the owners want 18 games then the fans haven't really lost anything, while the owners get extra revenue and the players don't run the risk of injury in two more games.
The problem is how many fans will show up to watch Peyton Manning or another marquee star not play? I think this is an interesting idea because rosters could be expanded, if necessary, and in regard to the scheduling problem nearly everyone wins. Another problem is what to do with punters and kickers because there usually isn't a backup on the roster for those players. I haven't worked that problem out yet, but I am just eyeballing it right now. I think it is a potentially stupid idea on my part, but is also an idea that would give each side what they want in terms of having an 18 game schedule.
I don't like this guy's idea of neutral site games. It doesn't give revenue to the owners, so they probably won't go for it either.
THAT'S THE WORLD WE LIVE IN. "Peter, the downside -- in my opinion -- to the never-ending methods of easier communication is that all of the sourpusses who don't get what they want on every issue can now be heard from in a myriad of ways. The shameful, pathetic postings, messages and rants about your role in the HOF voting process is a painful reminder of the close-mindedness that is rampant in the world today. There are likely millions of us who believe that you and your fellow voters are doing a fantastic job and wouldn't trade places for anything.''
-- Lee Simmons, Erie, Pa.
Let me get this straight. So the problem with progress is that more people get their point of view heard and are able to hold those who vote for awards accountable for their vote? It is pathetic and shameful to question how a process works when you don't disagree with that process? It is close-minded to ask questions and get more points of view out there on an issue? Kim Jong-il is that you pretending to be "Lee Simmons" from Erie, Pennsylvania?
How the fuck is expressing your point of view shameful? How is questioning and suggesting changes to an extremely secretive process close-minded? Seeing how Lee wrote this question shows me he just doesn't get it the new world of communication and doesn't care to. No one is whining because they don't get their way. There are people, like Jason Whitlock, questioning the Hall of Fame election process because we don't know who votes for which players and why. These 44 guys go into a room and come out with certain players being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I don't think someone artfully getting a point across is pathetic. I think not questioning whether the process can be improved is closed-minded in fact.
No one says you have to agree with anyone wants the Hall of Fame induction process tweaked, but to argue against a forum to even bring up the idea is ridiculous.
PK: Thanks. I don't know what to do about that except answer the charges as honestly as I can. The genie's out of the bottle. We're not going back to a lower form of communication, Lee.
God forbid the 44 electors have to be publicly held accountable for the vote they give as to who the best players in the most popular sport in the United States are. I just think if the Pro Football Hall of Fame wants to charge admission to get in the building they should at least let us see who voted for which players to appear on the shrines the public pays to look at.
No one should be rude or belligerent to Peter King about this, but I think the Hall of Fame election process could be changed slightly for the better. I don't think intelligent people who argue this should not have their voice be able to be heard.
Even in his comments from Monday, Peter King indicated he would be open to some changes so I don't see why a few changes aren't pursued.