(Photo by Philly.com)
When you constantly see the Pro Football Hall of Fame writers always getting the vote wrong based on whom they leave out and what requirements they have used for players that did not deserve to get in, you wonder when the player you know that deserves enshrinement will ever get in. Annoyingly enough, in an institution where the voting system requires that a voter makes the judgment solely based on the player’s on-field performance but permits locker room personality attributes as arguments despite rules prohibiting the use of off-field and behavioral attributes, you wonder if the Hall knows what it is doing.
Despite having plays that landed him third all-time in touchdown catches and second in receiving yards, Terrell Owens’ durations on teams and behavioral flaws that literally took place off the field were heavily used to keep him out in 2016.
No one should be shocked by all of this there was already media dislike aimed at Owens.
But in a culture where writers made Deion Sanders’ candidacy debate not only exist but last nearly as long as less worthy candidates like Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, and Andre Reed, it is increasingly evident that the writers have a huge prejudice problem that is going out of control. Did we mention how biased they have been towards quarterbacks and running backs in their awards-voting history?
Selfish first-ballot Hall of Famers like Brett Favre and Eric Dickerson were given far better treatment than Owens and Sanders, and based on the case of a hoggish Fran Tarkenton, Owens is getting screwed. Similar to Owens and Sanders, Favre and Dickerson were self-centered, personal agenda-driven players on four teams, a quantity more alarming with Dickerson considering that he was thrown off four teams way faster than Owens was. Meanwhile, a teammate-disparaging Tarkenton was on the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings in two separate stints under two different administrations.
In Sanders’ case, like Owens, he probably had character flaws used against him in his candidacy. Considering that both, along with other formerly snubbed wide receivers, were celebrators who looked like hip hop hoodlums who walked with their pants hanging down, it would not surprise me if writers considered them to be “look-at-me” types (stereotypes aimed at non-conformist black players). Remember, when a player figuratively says “look-at-me,” he is a bigger disgrace to society than any woman beater could be.
For the record, Sanders was a first-ballot inductee and thus technically has no worries.
Regardless, when the Pro Football Hall of Fame allows the writers to override the rules and single out a different group of individuals, they are not much different than Christian judges who use Biblical Old Testament beliefs to override the Constitution for gay marriage bans.
On the day marriage-equality was nationally legalized, the Supreme Court ruled that “all same-sex marriage bans [violated] the 14th Amendment of the federal Constitution.” The Amendment’s “due process clause” had liberty that “[protected] gay couples’ fundamental right to marriage” and “equal protection clause [barred] the government from singling out a specific group,” gay people.
When a bias against a personality type has unfairly created ostracism for players like Sanders and wide receivers, players of a naturally selfish position, Hall of Fame Vice President Joe Horrigan deserves eggs thrown at his face. He is blatantly lying for saying that writers are instructed to only focus on what happened on the field and stopped in their advocacy plea if they bring up personality and off-field matters. As a result of this rules shredding, he is also creating an unnecessarily elongated voting process that might actually take nine hours this year.
If you saw past articles written by Clark Judge, Ron Borges, and a man who actually questions Randy Moss’ candidacy, Rick Gosselin, you could understand how Owens’ off-field heavy debate lasted forty-three minutes, hence, extending the total voting process to last at least seven-and-a-half hours, literally.
Did I mention that one-time teammate neck-stabber Michael Irvin got in faster than Cris Carter before Owens passed him for second all-time in touchdown receptions?
But Carter was selfish a while Irvin was selfless because he had three Super Bowl rings, another useless barometer as Joe Flacco is terrible and Eli Manning cannot be saved unless Odell Beckham Jr. is not out of his mind.
Another three-time Super Bowl winner will likely make it this year as he could join his former Washington Redskins teammate, Russ Grimm, a questionable addition from the beginning. Similar to Grimm, Joe Jacoby was an offensive lineman who won three championships on the famed Hogs squads but was not even that respected by his own peers and coaches.
He was named to the Pro Bowl just four times by those two groups before fan voting was permitted in 1995 and was a two-time First-Team All-Pro.
What is even more insulting about the Jacoby candidacy is how commensurate he is not to Super Bowl-winning linemen who are far greater than his equal. Former guard, and fellow 2016 Hall of Fame finalist, Alan Faneca had been named to nine Pro Bowls and six First-Team All-Pro selections and had one Super Bowl ring. Fellow left tackle Art Shell was a multiple Super Bowl title-winner (2) and received the same number of First-Team All-Pro selections as Jacoby, but doubled his number of Pro Bowl selections (8).
But because Jacoby has three rings that were on teams that also included Hall of Famers like Darrell Green and the closest thing to the Bill Belichick of his time, Joe Gibbs, his candidacy should push Faneca out of the final ten and put him in the same echelon as Shell?
If Super Bowl victories are the only reason Jacoby is being considered and really meant that an individual player was great, Tedy Bruschi and Simeon Rice would be in already. Also, included would be the inexcusably omitted, the late L.C. Greenwood, as his year-to-year accomplishments either match or have surpassed the likes of his current Hall of Fame teammates: Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, and, arguably, Terry Bradshaw.
Lastly, when writers act as if the players who win Super Bowl rings fully lead their teams to be champions, they act as if the winners played well in the game to do so.
We call Joe Montana the greatest quarterback ever and place Tom Brady in a similar category because of their Super Bowl victories. We also align Jerry Rice with these two particularly since all three have outstanding personal numbers and each has won at least one Super Bowl MVP, an award that is usually given to a player with great statistical output in the game.
You cannot say the same about Shannon Sharpe when he caught just eight total passes for 69 yards in three Super Bowls, all of which were victories and Marvin Harrison when he caught just five for 59 in his lone Super Bowl appearance. You definitely cannot say the same about Peyton Manning when he threw just 1001 yards and three touchdowns versus five interceptions in four Super Bowl wins and losses combined.
And this guy, at one point, was in the discussion for greatest quarterback ever? At a position that is defined by big games, his Super Bowl underachievements got to be covered up and passed off as sheer dominating performances?
When a system needs consistency to put the correct players in, the topics of teammate quality and Super Bowl victories prevent that from happening. There is no consistency with these topics because such topics overrate or slander players that no one really knows. If anyone should be slandered, it should be the writers. When they have to commit to teamwork by working with editors in goals meant for the publication only, but would never want their colleague-relations or selfish endeavors costing them awards, they should do what they apparently learned as kids: treat people the way they would want to be treated.
When they would only want to be judged on their writing, they should judge players based on playing. English dictionaries, of all places, define writers based on them writing and players based on playing. You would think that people who need to master the English language to have their jobs would do that.
The writers inadvertently use a dictionary definition when they talk about writers. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says a “writer” is “one that writes,” and when the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) honors a writer or reporter for the Dick McCann Memorial Award, they judge the writer or reporter based on writing or reporting while ignoring either’s colleague relationships and selfish endeavors.
Merriam-Webster also states that a “player” is “a person who plays a game,” and when these idiots cannot even try to use that definition while they have an ex-writing peer who can build football teams, it is time to get rid of the writers from voting on players altogether.
The famed architect of the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, and Giants, Ernie Accorsi, used to be a writer for the Charlotte News, Baltimore Sun, and Philadelphia Inquirer. After going to AFC Title Games in 1980s with the Browns and winning the NFC Championship in 2000 with Big Blue, he, unlike the writers, show how to evaluate Hall of Famers and solely base their resume on their play.
In a May 2013 interview with Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio, Accorsi was asked about the candidacy of Brian Urlacher. When doing so, he gave a surprising answer but at least did so with football intelligence.
“I think he’s a borderline Hall of Famer,” Accorsi said. “I don’t know that he’s a definite Hall of Famer. I think there is a host of them, like Willie Lanier, that were dominant players. He was good, but I wouldn’t put him in that level.”
“I don’t think he’s a guarantee. I mean, he may get in because he got a lot of publicity and he was a hard player. But his span that he covered was really restricted. Now a lot of those middle linebackers were in those days. They didn’t have three or four wide receivers, so they stayed on the field for three downs. They might be off today. But, no, I certainly don’t have him in [Dick] Butkus or Ray Lewis [category]. And I don’t think he should be in there, really with [Joe] Schmidt and [Ray] Nitschke and those guys, either.”
You see? You can grade a football player without taking his teammate qualities and Super Bowl rings into account. You can also evaluate the players based on how they played, and the longer that these writers keep on voting, the less it will be about how the player played.
To be fair, it takes an extraordinary form of luck in hard work to be in Accorsi’s position, but the Owens snub, Jacoby-over-Faneca finalization, and nine-hour length to determine seven total inductees show how unintelligent these writers are. We have already surpassed a period where Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was inducted as a first-ballot Hall of Fame slugger after he was more linked to steroid use than his fellow inductee, Jeff Bagwell.
A former teammate of Rodriguez, Jose Canseco, wrote in his 2005 memoir Juiced that he injected Rodriguez with anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, and in one off-season, Rodriguez lost 28 pounds and saw a decrease in his power-hitting numbers. Even though Canseco has exposed Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Barry Bonds, the voters still canonized Rodriguez while continuing to ostracize the former three. They also think that Canseco is a profiteering liar who is not worthy a court trip, a tooth fairy left them a $5 bill underneath their pillows, and Dougie the Whale is real.
With many of the football writers’ peers either have served or currently participate in the voting process for Cooperstown and likely having the same biases and habits as baseball voters, do not be surprised if horrible judgments are made when the Hall of Fame votes are decided. Hopefully, that will not happen as Hall of Famers like Dan Fouts and James Lofton will be the first inductees to have voting input and finally give the players the representation that they have been deprived of for so long.
Unfortunately, with forty-six writers versus two former players, it will be the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gunfight and the only thing remotely positive you can say is, “bringing the former players is a start.” Tragically, this is where we have to be because when the worst minds make the votes while knowing the least, the best people will never be considered to where you will have to tell guys like Owens and Faneca, “Better luck in five years!”