The Pro Football Hall of Fame has always been fairly rigid when it comes to its annual induction classes.
Regardless of how many deserving players, coaches or contributors there were in any given year, the classes have been capped at eight. However, for the NFL’s 100th anniversary, the Hall of Fame will have one superclass.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame said Friday that it is going forward with its plan to have a 20-man class in 2020. That coincides with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the NFL.
However, if you think that’s great news for guys like Edgerrin James and Isaac Bruce, it really isn’t. Almost all of the extra spots will be for players who have been retired at least 25 years.
Big class mostly for seniors
Most of the recent logjam is from players who recently retired. John Lynch, Alan Faneca, Steve Atwater, James and Bruce all come to mind. But according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there still will be just five modern-era players to make the 2020 superclass.
“The group will include five Modern-Era players, 10 Seniors (a player who has been retired for more than 25 seasons), three Contributors (an individual other than a player or coach) and two coaches,” the Hall of Fame said.
There are deserving players who retired more than 25 years ago, and it will be nice for them to get their long overdue recognition. That is a positive. But it’s still a bit strange that when the Hall of Fame finally decided to relax its rules it was almost entirely to benefit seniors candidates and contributors, like we need more owners in the Hall of Fame. There are a lot of recently retired players who will see less deserving ex-players get in, just because those other players retired more than 25 years ago.
Two coaches will be in the 2020 class
Having two coaches make it will help a logjam there. Don Coryell, a five-time finalist who hasn’t gotten in, would be a great addition. His passing concepts permanently changed the NFL, even though he never won a Super Bowl.
Tom Flores could also get in. He won two Super Bowls as coach of the Raiders, and was a finalist last season. It will be an interesting debate to see which two coaches get those slots.
There will be some good stories among the senior players who are finally allowed in. It will be a great day for them. But some stars who retired recently will probably wonder when their wait will end.
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