The good news is Troy Polamalu is a first ballot Hall of Famer. But if other writers took the same presumptive attitude as Peter King, he might not have gotten in.
The selection committee doesn’t have an easy job. But they have a simple one. Vote for the five modern era candidates most worthy of being enshrined into Canton.
Somehow, King failed to do that.
In his weekly MMQB for Pro Football Talk, King disclosed his final ballot: Steve Atwater, Tony Boselli, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James and John Lynch.
He followed his ballot with an explanation for why #43 didn’t make the cut.
“6. I think an explanation for the lack of vote for Polamalu on the final five is necessary. I believe he was one of the top five candidates this year, and I believe in voting for the best five candidates. But because I felt certain Polamalu would make it regardless of my vote, I decided to vote for three players I felt were marginal after listening to the deliberations—Atwater, Boselli and Lynch. I don’t feel great about doing that, honestly. Our jobs are to vote for the best five, and I was totally on the fence about the fifth yea vote had I marked down Polamalu. It still bothers me a little bit. But I felt so strongly about the cases of Atwater, Boselli and Lynch, who were exceedingly close in my eyes, that I wanted to vote for them, knowing that a vote not for Polamalu was not going to keep him out. I’ve done this a couple of times before, and I absolutely do not want to make it a habit. It just felt like the right thing to do this year.”
That is as big a mess of a paragraph as you’re going to read. From anyone, let alone one of the longest tenured, biggest named national writers.
The only proper reaction is to quote the Principal from Billy Madison.
Mr. King, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Ok, let’s take this
insanity explanation piece by piece.
“I believe he was one of the top five candidates this year, and I believe in voting for the best five candidates.”
This is where King should’ve stopped. Troy one of the top five? Vote him in. Case closed.
“because I felt certain Polamalu would make it regardless of my vote, I decided to vote for three players I felt were marginal after listening to the deliberations—Atwater, Boselli and Lynch. I don’t feel great about doing that, honestly.”
That feeling, Peter? That feeling is your entire brain screaming out, what are you doing. If your justification is to abandon your responsibility as a voter, literally holding football history in your vote, and you recognize this isn’t a good idea, then maybe your idea of “let’s skip Troy because he’s going to get in anyway” sucks.
“Our jobs are to vote for the best five”
“It still bothers me a little bit”
Listen to your conscience, Peter.
There’s that pesky word again.
“I’ve done this a couple of times before”
“and I absolutely do not want to make it a habit.”
But you’ve done it times, plural, already. Sure sounds like a habit to me.
“It just felt like the right thing to do this year.”
It was not.
Let’s take King’s logic to its next step. Peyton Manning will appear on the ballot for the first time in 2021. He is a lock. Even bigger than Troy. He’s as much a no-brainer as anyone. If I had a vote, Manning is on my ballot.
But according to what King did, he should not vote for Manning. He’s a lock, everyone else will vote for him, so why not give that vote to someone else who needs it? King, apparently, believes Hall of Fame voting is a charity. So looking forward to him voting in John Lynch over Manning next year. Anything else is hypocrisy.
And of course, actually voting for Lynch, or anyone, over Manning is stupidity.
What if every voter had King’s (wrong) mentality? Another voter looked at King and thought, “Peter’s gonna vote Troy in. So I’ll just skip him since he’s a lock.” Have enough of those and Polamalu wouldn’t have the votes to get in. And the sports would be dumbfounded.
The problem isn’t just with Troy. Any player, like Manning next year, who’s a lock to get in deserves the vote. This isn’t a Steelers’ thing. This is a fundamental flaw in King’s thinking. Mental gymnastics that don’t need to, and shouldn’t, exist. He’s twisting himself into a pretzel trying to justify an obviously wrong vote, one headmits to time and time again, instead of just making the smart, rational decision literally every other voter.
Here’s his cardinal sin. King is making the vote about himself. What can I do to help these other players. I’m sure he thinks it’s noble. But that’s not how the Hall of Fame works. These players resumes are what’s to be judged. No exceptions, and yes, that includes Steelers. Hines Ward, as I’ve said countless times, simply doesn’t have enough of a resume to make it to Canton. And I’d never give him the nod as some sort of justified, self-righteous good faith attempt.
The vote is about the players. Best five get in. No ifs, ands, or, as King used so many times in his explanation, buts.
Given King’s admission this isn’t the first time he’s made such an obvious mistake, he should be stripped of his Hall of Fame voting right.
Unlike Polamalu’s omission on his ballot, that’s something I feel good about.