Football Hall of Fame-Levels of Honor?

Washington Redskins Art Monk and Darrell Greene were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend. I defer to the summary at the Art Monk Hall of Fame blog to describe how great it was!

Now I can sit back and wait and hope that Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, and Bobby Beathard might one day make it.

I originally planeed to sit back, ignore the silliness of Doctor Z and all the naysayers, and revel in the moment.

But after the inductions on Saturday and the game on Sunday I had a chance to catch a show on the NFL network about the “Top Ten Players not in the Hall of Fame“.   One-Steve Tasker-I was not familiar with.  Others-like Alex Karras-I thought was already in the HOF. I am mystified why Jerry Kramer has not been inducted.

But as I watched the show the ego of some of these guys rose up from the screen like steam off a hot road after as summer shower…and it caused me to ask what are they thinking, and also to wonder are there levels of honor at Canton and Cooperstown?

What are They Thinking?

The “what are they thinking” came to me via Ken Stabler…

First, two points:

a) If there is a flaw in the Football HOF process, it is the very limited number of sportswriters who vote, and who can thus stop a nominee. 
b) There is a constant discussion of whether the decision should be based solely on what happens on the field or if off the field concerns, actions, and activities should be considered.

Stabler is blocked apparently because (1) while he was brilliant over 5-6 years, he played for 14, and he wasn’t so brilliant then, and (2) certain off the field activities. Paul Zimmerman (Dr. Z) was briefly interviewed as part of the show saying “I will never vote for Kenny Stabler as long as I live”, and Stabler supporters go on about how his partying should not be held against him.

Zimmerman is a little different. His opposition is based in an act more than simple late night partying:

In his prime, while it lasted, he was very accurate. Then he became consistently inaccurate. His teammates wondered why. That’s as far as I’ll take this one. A few years ago, the person presenting him at the enshrinement meeting mentioned how he had “always been cooperative with the media.” My hand shot up as if it were on a spring, and I reminded this ninny about how the Snake invited Bob Padecky of the Sacramento Bee down to the Redneck Riviera to do some offseason interviewing. And when Padecky showed up, all of a sudden Kenny’s buddies on the Mobile PD found some drugs that had been planted in the writer’s car, and off he went to the joint. For a night. Then he was released with no charges filed. Yeah, Kenny will make it. After I’m morto.

This was a big deal at the time. Invites a writer-who had been critical-to do an interview, gives him the run around after said writer gets into town, writer gets set up for a drug bust. Oh, and the interviews?

Most of Padecky’s time in the bars [for interviews] was spent either waiting for Stabler or listening to Stabler harangue him for his journalistic shortcomings

You can call this one way or the other. Did Stabler set him up? I don’t know…but it doesn’t look good. More to the point, while this is off the field conduct, it is the direct result of on the field activities…Padecky wrote for the Sacramento Bee, and had been critical of Stabler’s performance.

So all you Stabler guys out there…you want him in, you have to address this. Otherwise…

Levels of Honor

Then there is Chris Carter, who everyone is up in arms because he did not go in his first shot. Big Deal…Vince Lombardi didn’t go in on his first shot, and his name is on the trophy awarded to the Super Bowl winners! But to hear the Carter folks talk, this is some terrible insult.

I am reminded of my time in the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society at UVa. A probationary member has to give a speech, and have his/her effort approved by the membership present. A majority present voting for you meant you passed the speech. If the speech was good, it was nominated for best of semester. A member could even move “unanimous consent” for approval and dispense with voting. Many felt such a motion was an administrative tool to streamline the process for clearly deserving speeches. Others felt that “Unanimous approval” was an honor in itself that should be reserved for only the best presentations. It was not unusual to see Old Guard members vote no on a “UA” motion, then vote to approve the speech in a general vote.

The reaction of the Carterites strikes me in the same way. They act as if there are levels of honor in the Hall of Fame, that the guys approved in their first year of eligibility get a special medal attached to their bust. I imagine some of the voters think the same. It seems to me that Hall of Fame membership is like pregnancy-you either are or you are not, and there are no degrees of the condition. But that observation is tempered by other conditions.

Take a look at the Carter clip, and you notice that no one deals with the mathematics of the situation or the politics. No one notes that by consensus each class will be 4-7 members. So if this year’s class had only six members, that means one more could have come in…so maybe Carter was not the first round lock you thought. So they could have taken him in…even though it meant two wide receivers in the same class.

There will alwasy be obstacles. As long as voters are limited by statutue or agreement on how many can go in per class, deserving folks will be left out. As long as the voters focus on statistics, then offensive linemen will be underrepresented. As long as voters focus on the recent past, then older players will be ignored (i.e., what about Tommy Nobis?).

I can understand the Carter clique being disappointed, but their comments are way to whiny for my taste. One is either in the Hall or not, no matter whether you go in on the first ballot or not.

Perhaps Chris Carter should take a page from a man who waited many years for his induction. As Art Monk said:

“Getting here did not come without controversy, as I’m sure it did with some of the guys sitting behind me. But through it all, I’m here with a greater appreciation for something that not every player is able to achieve and for the people who stood up for me and spoke out on my behalf.”

It took a deserving career, years of manfully shouldering disappointment, and a concerted, non-stop effort to get Art Monk the recognition he deserves…years of waiting he should not have had to endure, but no complaints were heard from Art Monk.

Maybe The Snake Squad and the Chris Clique should take notes.

2 thoughts on “Football Hall of Fame-Levels of Honor?

  1. Bwana:
    Great Post! Agree 100%. Art also went on to say that while grateful for his induction, that it doesn’t define who he is…it goes along with what my Dad said to me when I was in my teens to help cheer me up after a dissapointing loss, he said “if you are not enough without it (it being whatever goal or honor or office, etc…) you will never be enough with it!”
    Do Jerry Kramer, Kenny Stabler and Cris Carter deserve to go to Canton? My opinion is yes they do. I think the whole Canton selection process is wrong, who cares what a bunch of moronic, alcoholic and boorish sports writers think. It should be a selection committee of former players, coaches and owners. Like many other organizations, the NFL should be the ones in charge of honoring their own.
    Thank you again Bwana

  2. Pingback: ken greene

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