The Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to have three members of the Hall of Fame enshrined this year. As I wrote about yesterday morning, that won’t happen, with Hall of Fame weekend cancelled, and the enshrinement ceremony pushed back until next August.
Troy Polamalu, the great safety of the 2000s-era championship teams, was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Through the Centennial class, he was joined by his first head coach, Bill Cowher, who returned the Lombardi back to Pittsburgh after 25 years, and then Donnie Shell, who had been up to now the most underrated player of the 1970s teams.
While they will still all be part of the 2020 class, they will have to wait until next year to be enshrined. And that will be part of a massive weekend in which the 2021 class will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame, in separate ceremonies.
David Baker, the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, discussed the decision made yesterday, and what it means for 2021. The long and short of it is, next year will be really exciting.
“We’re disappointed to postpone the events for this year, but you might want to get your hotel room and your tickets right now for 2021”, he told NFL Network. “The 2021, interestingly enough, is gonna have a guy named Peyton Manning in it, and I suspect it’ll take about 10 seconds to get him selected. But it may also have Charles Woodson, or Calvin Johnson in that class. They’ll be first-time eligible as well”.
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) June 25, 2020
I’m sure none of those players need any introduction, especially Manning, who is widely understood to be one of the greatest quarterbacks, and perhaps football players in general, in the history of the game. Johnson’s case is an interesting one as a player who truly dominated, but over a comparatively brief period of time.
“When you combine that with the Centennial class that has 20 Hall of Famers, that could be anywhere between 24 to 28 enshrinees that will all be enshrined in that one weekend”, Baker said. “We will have separate ceremonies for each of those guys, but they’ll all be in the same parade, they’ll all be in the Ray Nitschke luncheon. They will all have the gold jacket ceremony. They will be a part of the enshrinees roundtable. But in terms of the ceremonies, they’ll all be separate”.
“I know in talking to all of our enshrinees today, frankly, they were all relieved, they were thankful”, he added, “but now they’ve got a little more time to plan for their speech and to make sure that that bronze bust is just right, because it’s gonna last for 40,000 years”.
He’s not wrong about that. Shell was among those saying that they made the right decision. As of this writing, Polamalu and Cowher have not publicly commented, but I’m sure they felt similarly. I don’t like that this decision had to be made any more than anybody else, but it’s hard to see how they could pull off the event the way they think is necessary under these conditions. And that just means next year will be that much more awesome.
Great decision by President David Baker with the Pro Football H O F to put the health and welfare of the former players, their families and the fans first. I am Super excited about the Steelers and Cowboys kicking off the 2021 season.
— Donnie Shell (@donnie_shell) June 26, 2020