Peter King Stepping Down from HOF Vote
It's good to be able to sit and think for a while after the Super Bowl. Gives us all time to think about the season and all the things that go with it. So I've been giving my role in the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process some thought. It's a good time to give it some thought, too. I just finished my 20th year deliberating the immortality of retired pro football greats.
I've been thinking of stepping down from the committee of 44 selectors. Many of you are right. Twenty years is a long time. I've stated my case -- in favor or opposed -- for many who've been elected and many who haven't. And I've thought, independent of the argument some have proposed for term limits for Hall voters, that maybe it's time for someone else to sit in judgment of these great players, coaches and league and club officials. Fresh voices are good things.
In 20 years, sitting on the panel has gone from an honor to equal parts burden and honor. I never got in this for pats on the back. I got in it to try to do the right thing by my conscience. Sitting in judgment of the all-time greats is an often-intimidating job, because you realize you're acting as judge and jury to a man's career. When Chris Doleman got in this year, he said that night that the only thing better in his life would be when he died and met his maker. Don't think that's lost on me. It's an honor -- with a heavy weight attached. And the weight gets heavier every year.
In the last few years, I've lost count of how many people in the game and on the street have told me, in various ways, "You're an idiot, you're incompetent, you stink at this, and how can you leave [fill in the blank] out of the Hall of Fame?" And after a while, you just start thinking, Why am I doing this anyway? I figured the other day that I spend the equivalent of about four days of my life each year on the Hall of Fame -- asking former coaches and players and officials about the cases of certain candidates. I know how important it is. I try to do the best and most conscientious job I can, knowing that there are, in almost every class of 15 modern-era finalists, more candidates I'd vote yes on than no.
This year, when all the discussions in the room were finished, I looked down my list and checked 11 men I'd have voted for and four I would have turned down. But we whittle the list from 15 to 10, and then from 10 to five, before we vote yes or no on individual candidates. That means, on my list this year, six deserving men wouldn't get in.
So when you look at the list of those who got in and ask how could I not have voted for so-and-so, the answer in many cases is simple: I supported so-and-so every step of the way, but it's a democracy. Majority rules.
The four I don't think are Hall of Famers? It has nothing to do with some bias I have against them. None of them was rude to me. None turned me down for an interview. The 11 I favor? It's not because I covered them or worked on TV with them; I have twice voted against men I respect and covered as a team beat writer. It's not because they are my friends. One of the men I opposed never spoke to me again after he learned of my vote. That's life.
I believe all votes should be made public, because we should stand behind our opinions. I believe the committee should be expanded to include a conscientious player, coach or club official from the existing 32 teams. But if you think that's going to end the arguments and the perceived biases, you're crazy. It would, however, give the vote more legitimacy, in my opinion.
I try to be as honest in my writing as humanly possible, and I don't write this today to engender any sort of pity party. It's a tremendous honor to be asked to be a Hall of Fame voter. I have a lot of thinking to do about this. It might be time to make it someone else's tremendous honor.
Read more: Peter King considers stepping aside from Hall of Fame committee - Peter King - SI.com
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