I’m tired of the bashing Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors take each year. And I felt that way long before becoming one.
Critics who express outrage over our failure to make Terrell Owens a first-ballot choice or complain that we granted Tony Dungy a spot in Canton use sweeping conclusions to form weak arguments that go something like this: “Owens has the numbers … Dungy doesn’t have the numbers.”
We don’t have that luxury. The 46 of us who gathered in San Francisco on Saturday relied on months of research that went far beyond statistics. We speak with current/former NFL coaches, executives, and players, including Hall of Famers, to get a complete portrait (not snapshot) of each candidate. Cases were made against Owens for being a divisive force and for Dungy for his strategic impact, leadership and strong record.
The conversation that whittled the list from 15 to the eight inductees lasted nearly nine hours. For the first time, two Hall of Famers, Dan Fouts and James Lofton, were allowed into the meeting room to observe the process.
Afterward, Lofton said, “I know one thing: You better come here prepared.”