Earlier this year the 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was announced, and once again there were no Broncos inducted. There was anger and outrage, it was called a travesty, then it was called a travesty again. It was out of those posts a committee was born. No more weeping and gnashing of teeth, we're taking action. With John (Guru) advising and great help from Tim (Zappa), a committee consisting of Jezru, studbucket, and firstfan was formed with the purpose gathering data and opinions to create an organized campaign to get more Broncos in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. To see the first post in this series, go here. The second post can be found here.
As you may know, on August 25, 2009, Floyd Little was announced as one of the 2 Seniors Committee candidates for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That was 3 months ago, but we all need a moment to celebrate, right? So take a step back from the computer, pump your fist and scream to the heavens. Floyd deserves it, and even getting this far is an accomplishment, but there's much more that needs to be done for this mission to be complete. A lot has happened since our last update in August, and we have all of the information for you after the jump!
On a related note: The Committee will begin meeting this Saturday at 9AM est, with the announcement to be broadcast on NFL Network at 5:00PM est. Have your browser locked to MileHighReport all day for up to the second coverage. Be sure to follow MHR on Twitter as well - @MileHighReport
How We Got Here
The first two posts we made as the HoF committee are linked above, but there has been a lot going on in the fanposts, in our committee, and by the HoF voters in the last 3 months. In the weeks leading up to the 25th, we were aggressively engaging the members of the Seniors Committee through emails and Twitter. Thanks to you guys and your help, we bombarded the voters with emails, as can be seen here, here, here, and here. We'll never know if it can be completely attributed to our efforts, but when Floyd was announced, we had a pretty good feeling that we all made a difference in getting Floyd nominated.
What We Learned
There was a lot to be learned from this whole process, but there were two lessons we took away from all of the news items and feedback we received.
Lesson 1: It's a long road when you aren't a media darling
Immediately after the Seniors Committee nominees were announced, tweets and articles shot up all over the Internet and if you didn't look closely, you'd never know Floyd Little was a nominee. A Google News search on the 25th revealed 2 articles on Floyd's nomination, while the articles for Dick LeBeau's nomination filled more than 1 page of results. Peter King (one of the HoF voters) had to do a bit of research on Floyd to learn more about him, but had been pushing for LeBeau for a little while, as you can see below.
Denver running back Floyd Little, on the surface, falls short. He had but one 1,000-yard rushing season, ran for just 43 touchdowns, averaged 3.9 yards-per-carry in his career and rushed for 54.0 yards per game. But he had the misfortune of playing for a team that had a winning record only twice in his career. He won the rushing title in 1972 and had more rushing yards (5,185) than any other back in football from 1968 to '73. He played behind Steve Tensi, Marlin Briscoe, Steve Ramsey and Charlie Johnson.
We talk in the Hall of Fame selection room every year about not discriminating against guys on historically bad teams, which this Denver team was. I guess when I think of jobbed guys on historically bad teams, I think of Tommy Nobis, Claude Humphrey and Cortez Kennedy. I'll need to be convinced a little more on Little.
The man's not going to be hotter than he is now, and it's time. I am projecting him to come out of the Seniors Committee vote this year. Maybe that's as much hope as anything else, because I believe strongly in LeBeau's candidacy. And it's also time that assistant coaches begin to get recognized for their massive influence on the modern game.
I don't know if I can do much, but as one of the 44 selectors, I'll try everything I can to get LeBeau into the Hall this year, or very soon.
Rod Woodson even stumped for LeBeau in his HoF induction speech; Peter's right, LeBeau's not going to get any hotter. What about Floyd, could he get any colder? His car dealership in Seattle closed and nearly nobody was mentioning him, not even NFLN's own Rich Eisen on Twitter, as he congratulated LeBeau, but did not mention Little until Re-Tweeting studbucket's message about Floyd.
(Note: We feel LeBeau is very qualified for the HoF as a player and deserves to get in, our comments are strictly to highlight the disparity in coverage).
So what does all of this mean? Well, the Pro Football HoF voters are members of the media, and thus, by nature of their job, are publicity driven. Whoever is the most popular or gets the most reaction from readers is going to get the most press. With the Steelers coming off a Super Bowl win and the 50-year anniversary of the Lions last championship happening around the same time, it was like LeBeau had his own little media festival. Floyd on the other hand received very little support from the national media or the HoF voters (publicly). Many comments were about his 3.9 ypc or only one 1000-yard season, trying to find reasons to exclude him. Nobody seemed to note his receiving or return abilities or what he meant to the Denver franchise, everyone seemed to be focusing on the negative.
The work to get Floyd recognition and into the HoF has been and will continue to be an uphill battle. The stones of groupthink and ignorance will keep rolling down the mountain while the status quo, gravity, is pulling against us with every step. We can do it, but we just need to ensure that Floyd's strengths and qualities are highlighted for the voters to see.
Lesson 2: Being overzealous could hurt Floyd's chances
Dave Goldberg is one of several HoF voters on Twitter (@deegle84), but about the only one that's also on the Seniors Committee. Throughout the entire process he has been very forthright and informative about his thoughts and the process, exchanging tweets with studbucket and writing a very nice article on the voting process. The article is a must-read, but we are going to focus on the Twitter conversation with studbucket (@jtkimbell), because that's where Dave gave us some fantastic information.
We were so excited about Floyd's nomination that perhaps some of us got a little worked up and told everyone that we knew. Our excitement was good, but we can't overdo it and overwhelm the voters as it may very well work against us, and the voters know it may be coming. Here's what Howard Balzer had to say after Floyd's nomination:
@HBalzer721: Denver fans are going to be out of their minds now with Floyd Little a seniors nominee and Shannon Sharpe being considered again.
The voters know we are excited about our Broncos, and I think they are a bit worried that they'll be overwhelmed by Denver fans. In Floyd's best interest, we should heed Dave Goldberg's advice and not overwhelm the voters with a large campaign. So what can we do? Read on to find out.
What We're Doing Next
Given the advice we received and the current perception of Floyd Little, there was a plan of action that immediately stuck out to us, the committee. We would like to have only those who watched Floyd play write letters. This would include individuals like the committee's own firstfan. Because they saw Floyd play and lived through his tenure with the Broncos, they can write from the heart to the voters, explaining what he meant to the team and to them as fans, not just recite statistics & anecdotes.
So over the next few days we'll be collecting the names and emails of those who saw Floyd play and are willing to write letters/emails on his behalf. We hope that these letters, written from the heart, by those who saw him, on their own schedule, will truly show the voters how great Floyd was. The committee's only efforts will be directing these people to various writers to ensure good coverage of the voter base and to give the writers any resources they may need.
With a handful of great letters reaching each voter, there will be no appearance of a grand spam campaign, as all the letters will be different: the quantity is low but the quality is high.
A Note on Shannon Sharpe
Some of you may remember we actually have been supporting two candidates: Floyd Little & Shannon Sharpe. So what's up with Shannon? Well, we weren't sure that our efforts to get Floyd nominated and inducted would succeed this year. When Floyd was nominated we realized this may be his last chance to get into the HoF, and while Shannon's exclusion so far has been extremely frustrating, he is going to get into the HoF, it's just a matter of time. So while we will support anyone who wants to help Shannon get in by emailing and/or educating voters, this committee will focus all of our efforts on Floyd Little until the inductees are announced in January.
What You Can Do
Want to help? While not everyone can help in the same way due to the nature of our compaigning, there is something everyone can do. Go through the list below and see how you'd be able to help out.
- Are you old enough to remember watching Floyd play? If so, you are awesome and we really want your help. Please mention this in the comments, email studbucket at jtkimbell [at] gmail [dot] com, or do both (as long as we get a way to contact you). We would like longtime Broncos fans to write heartfelt letters to the voters, and we'd like to direct this effort to ensure equal distribution of mail across the voters and so we can be in touch with you to see how they responded to you.
- Do you have any contacts in the "main stream media"? This could be columnists or TV/Radio personalities. Perhaps you can get them to discuss Floyd Little to help raise awareness. Perhaps they can interview Floyd or our own John Bena. Anything to inform the public and help sway opinion on Floyd would be fantastic.
- Do you have a personal blog or website? It's your very own platform, and whether your only reader is your mom or if you get 2000 visitors a week, you can educate others about Floyd Little. Garrett from BroncoMadness wrote a nice article explaining the Floyd Little efforts by this committing and conducting a short interview with studbucket. John or anyone on the committee would be happy to answer your questions.
- Do you hang out or post on any other online football communities? Perhaps it's a general football forum, maybe it's a Chargers forum (yep, studbucket ventures there), perhaps it's just Twitter or Facebook. Anywhere that you have a voice in a community, you can make a post educating people on Floyd and how important he is and was to this franchise.
- Do you & and your friends know much about Floyd Little? Heck, even if you do, it never hurts to learn more. The mothership posted a fantastic blog article back when Floyd was nominated, and we learn from it every time we re-read it. This one article could be the one and only resource you need to become a Floyd Little guru (though I recommend checking out other sources as well). 44 Reasons to Elect #44. However, here are a few other things you could do:
Thanks again MHR and Broncos Country! By uniting on this effort we've made great progress and have given Floyd a fighting chance. The Denver Bronco Hall of Fame Committee really appreciates all the support we've received so far.