While the five modern candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame will not be voted upon—and thus will not be known—until the day before the Super Bowl, the NFL and the Hall in celebration of the league’s 100th anniversary created a Centennial Slate for the 2020 class, consisting of 15 members divided between senior candidates, coaches, and contributors.
These 15 members were voted upon by a Blue Ribbon Panel yesterday, consisting of the likes of Bill Belichick, Bill Polian, John Madden, Ozzie Newsome, and others. They reportedly convened for most of the day yesterday in Canton, Ohio, and whittled down the 38 finalists to the 15 that will be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.
These 15 names will be revealed next week. And the Pittsburgh Steelers could, in theory, have representation in almost all categories. Donnie Shell is one of 20 player finalists, who will ultimately be whittled down to 10. Of the three coaches who will get in, Bill Cowher is a finalist.
For an organization that is such a stickler for the rules, to the point where they were forced by public pressure to allow Junior Seau’s daughter to speak on his father’s behalf, in a hallway, rather than on the stage, during his enshrinement, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is certainly making plenty of exceptions for this project.
For one thing, the Centennial Slate, and the Blue Ribbon Panel that voted them in, is a pure fictional creation for this 100th anniversary celebration that had not previously existed. For another, they have also foregone the standard conventions of non-modern candidates, who would ordinarily be selected as finalists and then receive an up-or-down vote, with no set number of those who will get in each year.
Reportedly, though, they wanted to have a 20-member class to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the NFL, which began in 1920. And it is, of course, 2020, so, you know, nice, round numbers. But none of this is anything that I care about, quite frankly. As long as deserving members go into the Hall of Fame, I don’t really care how they run their show.
Personally, I like the odds of Shell getting in this year. Could you just imagine the 20-member class of 2020 including five Steelers? Troy Polamalu and Alan Faneca are among the modern finalists, of which there are currently 15, to be whittled down to five in February. Either way, it feels a guarantee we will be celebrating the enshrinement of at least somebody from the organization, and likely multiple.