In Larry Felser's commentary in The Buffalo News on Nov. 13th, he implied that no matter what an athlete does off the field (except, perhaps, gambling) his exploits on the field should be the only criteria for Hall of Fame consideration. Larry says, "I say you can't unring a bell or put the toothpaste back in the tube. What happened on the field can't be undone."
If you follow that reasoning to its logical extreme, then if an athlete is a murderer or a rapist, that should not come into play when he is considered for admission into one of the Halls of Fame.
Is there something wrong with that reasoning?
Larry's right when he says that what happened on the field can't be undone, but does that mean that it must be honored?
If a person is great on the athletic field, do we have to enshrine him regardless of whether or not he's a decent citizen? I don't think so.
I'm not suggesting that athletes have to be moral giants, but there has to be at least a modicum of ethical conduct and athletes should not be given an exemption because they're athletes.
When we honor people, we reveal what we believe in as a community and in the community of athletes, sports fans and sports reporters, we cannot even imply that character is not considered. To do so is to diminish all of us.