This should be an interesting conversation to have. At least I hope it will be, if people actually bother to read, because I imagine the opinions will be pretty divided. All throughout NFL history, over the course of thousands and thousands of players who have suited up, there are only a few hundred who hold the distinction of being Hall of Famers.
According to at least one Hall of Famer, that’s too many. That was the sentiment expressed by the great cornerback Deion Sanders, who told Dan Patrick yesterday that “every Tom, Dick, and Harry” is a Hall of Famer these days.
His remarks just so happen to come during the NFL’s centennial celebration, for which the Hall of Fame made a special exemption, commissioning a unique panel to vote in 15 new members to the group, consisting of 10 senior players, two coaches, and three contributors.
Among those included in the Centennial class were former Pittsburgh Steelers, head coach Bill Cowher and safety Donnie Shell, the latter of whom was a part of the classic 70s dynasty that produced nine other members of the Hall of Fame.
“What is a Hall of Famer now? Is it a guy who played a long time? It’s so skewed now. Once upon a time, a Hall of Famer was a player who changed the darn game, who made you want to reach in your pocket and pay your admission to see that guy play. That’s not a Hall of Famer anymore”, Sanders said. “They let everybody in this thing. It’s not exclusive anymore. And I don’t like it”.
While there’s no doubt that Sanders is one of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history, I would imagine that his opinion will not be immensely popular among his peers. It also plays on the question of trying to judge across eras of the game, where numbers in the 1940s that were dominant at the time would not look so today.
He said that he feels there should be no minimum number of Hall of Famers voted in every year. Truth be told, I’m not actually sure if there technically is a required minimum. What happens if they actually run out of candidates? Are they really going to start putting in the Very Good just to fill the quota that Sanders alludes to?
As far as the Hall of Fame is concerned, however, there is still a pipeline of talent deserving of being in the Hall of Fame that is just waiting to get in. the Centennial Slate idea they implemented for this class was part of an effort to try to alleviate some of the backlog.