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 Guru advising and some help from Zappa, a committee consisting of Jezru, studbucket, firstfan, and SlowWhiteGuy 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.
In this first post we will be giving you an update on the plan, purpose, and progress of this committee, and look for feedback and help from you guys! MHR is far and away the best Broncos community on the web, and I think that by leveraging our passion, intelligence, and numbers, we can influence the voters the way Redskins fans were able to influence Art Monk's induction. We have chosen one current candidate and one senior candidate to focus our efforts on this year, and we've been emailing voters to get feedback and opinions on the candidates. Learn about our candidates and findings after the jump!
Shannon Sharpe - A 14 year NFL veteran (12 with Denver), Sharpe was an 8-time Pro-Bowler and made 4 All-Pro teams while managing to win 3 Super Bowls and block for 2 different 2000 yard rushers. When he retired after the 2003 season, Sharpe was the NFL's all-time leader in receptions, yards, and touchdowns by a tight end. Sharpe was loved in Denver and reviled by opposing fans because of his propensity to have a big mouth and make even bigger plays.
Floyd Little - Little played all 9 years of NFL career in Denver, making 5 Pro Bowls and 1 All-Pro team. Little played for some truly awful Denver teams, never seeing a winning record until his 7th season. However, that wasn't his fault, because of his game-changing ability and the excitement he brought to the game, he helped sell out Broncos games and bring revenue to the team, earning him the nickname "The Franchise". Little retired in 1975 with 6,323 rushing yards, good enough for 7th all-time.
We emailed many of the of Pro Football Hall of Fame voters and got responses from 12 of the voters regarding Shannon Sharpe and current candidates and 2 responses about Floyd Little and the veteran's committee. Below you'll find a section for both Sharpe and Little with a sample of our initial emails and some of the responses from the candidates conveying their thoughts and general attitude toward the candidate.
I'm emailing you because I'm interested in hearing your take on Shannon Sharpe, and why he did not quite make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame of this past year. It's not that I don't feel that the candidates who made it in this past year were not deserving, because they were. It's just that I was surprised to see he did not make the cut after retiring as arguably the greatest receiving TE in NFL history and having blocked for two 2000-yard rushers.
Was it just a matter of it being his first year, while other deserving candidates like Derrick Thomas and Ralph Wilson Jr. have been on the list for a few years now?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response
Basically, everyone feels that Sharpe should and will make the Hall of Fame. Some this year, some next, and some just say he will make it at some point. See various responses below.
I realized after my first years voting just how hard it is to select the class because someone deserving is always left out. The veterans on the committee always preach patience, that candidates
I not only voted for him, but I was 1 of 3 or 4 people who spoke on his behalf at our Board of Selectors meeting. Shannon had a Hall of Fame career and hopefully gets his just reward next year. FYI nobody had anything negative to say about Shannon during the discussion. I think he got caught up in the annual numbers game and there was strong sentiment to vote 91 year old Ralph Wilson in while he was still alive.
Those who make it "in the room" for a few years usually get in. Derrick Thomas is a great example. So was Art Monk the year before. In my view Sharpe has very strong credentials and that fact is very widely recognized. ... The fact he didn't get in in year one, in my opinion, is not a commentary on him. There's a backlog of candidates and other guys have been waiting a lot longer. ... Lynn Swann had to wait until his 14th year of eligibility, Don Maynard his eighth, Fred Biletnikoff his fifth, Carl Eller his 19th, I believe, just to name a few, and it's not because the voters said "Make them wait!" it's becuase there are 15 finalists, and none of them stink (which is to say they're all great to one degree or another)
There are a lot of deserving candidates out there. Some have stats, some don’t. If a player belongs in the Hall of Fame, he’ll get in.
Shannon Sharpe will be in the Hall of Fame eventually, probably much sooner rather than later. Right now, all Hall of Fame voters are having trouble struggling to quantify the receiving numbers that are starting to flow in. These numbers are very inflated from previous years and speak more to the trends in the game than individual talents. I can't speak for anyone else but myself, and I will vote for Sharpe in the future. I did not vote for him this year because I felt there were other people more deserving at this time.
As for Shannon, I just think voters favored others. Cris Carter has now missed out for two years. I don't believe the receiver thing was really a factor, because like I said, I'm sure he will get it at some point.
Don't worry about Shannon. He will be in the Hall of Fame, as are almost everyone who makes the finals his first year. I didn't campaign for him because I don't campaign for anyone; I'm a voter. I voted for him on the first ballot and maybe the second; I honestly don't remember. But unless you're someone like Jerry Rice or Emmitt Smith, who will make it next year in their first year of eligibility, there's a certain amount of seniority involved. Shannon may not make it next year either depending on the dynamics of the vote but he'll be in within four or five years.
Shannon Sharpe will get in the Hall of Fame. I'm not sure who we would have left off to get him in this year. All of the guys going in this year are worthy. He's worthy too, and like I said, he will get in. It's a matter of when, not if. A lot of it is timing. Look how long Derrick Thomas had to wait. He was as worthy his first year as he was this year.
On whether the number of receivers in next year's class will affect Sharpe's chances:
I don’t consider position a factor, but I can’t speak for the other voters. I’ve already voted for Cris Carter twice and I wouldn’t hesitate again, even if Rice is a shoo-in next year.
On determining whether a candidate is worthy or not:
Remember one thing. The HOF is forever. We aren't looking for best players in a decade or a generation necessarily. I'm looking for somebody who MUST be remembered...say 100 or 200 years from now because of their profound influence on the game. Yes, that's a high standard. It should be. To lower the bar would devalue the Hall of Fame. We don't want it to be easy. We don't want it to be seen years from now as the Hall of Very Good...
Personally, I go through the process one step at a time..comparing candidates each time ...and the final list is what it is. I don't remember ever voting no on a player who made the final 6 because I think if they made it that far they might as well get in this time rather than clog up the process again another year. But that's me.....There are so many HOF worthy players who are not in.....It's frustrating. I can probably name two or three per franchise who should be in....But I am a soldier and I follow the process and do the best i can.
On whether candidates have a greater chance because of how long they have waited:
I think there might have been some of that with Roger Wehrli a couple of years ago. It was his last chance on the modern-era ballot. I'm just guessing. I don't know that. Maybe this year with Ralph Wilson, too, since he's getting up there in age. But I don't think that's why either of them got in. They got in because they are deserving.
On the small amount of HoFers from Denver:
The small number of Broncos players I realize is an issue in Denver, and the only thing I can figure is the feeling that they had a lot of very good players that made for very good teams, but not a large number of great players that would be Hall of Famers. I think it will be interesting when this Patriots era concludes, how many of their players will be Hall of Famers. It's early, but my sense is there won't be many.
I am trying to determine the criterion that the senior committee uses to select players for the Hall of Fame. With all of the players who fall into the senior category, I imagine the task can be somewhat daunting. The number of eligible players is growing every single year, and we all want to see some of our old favorites make it in, but with even less media coverage of the senior selections it's hard to know how the process works.
I'm particularly interested in some players from the AFL days, and how you measure them against their NFL counterparts.
If you would let me know what you look for in a player to be selected from the senior committee I would greatly appreciate it.
As you can see, our email wasn't specifically about little, we were trying to learn more about the senior committee and how it functioned before proceeding with his campaign.
There are nine of us on the seniors committee. We're also on the regular selection committee. Of the nine, five of us go to Canton every August on a rotating basis to vote on the two senior nominees, who automatically become finalists.
In Canton, the Hall of Fame brings in two members of the Hall of Fame to help us go over the candidates. We also have access to everything said in that meeting for the last 30 to 40 years by everyone the Hall has brought in to help the Seniors Committee.
For instance, I know what Tom Landry said about his candidates, Lombardi, Mara, etc.
We have a lot of information, and then we have to vote on the two nominees. I wish those nominees were rubber-stamped for induction by our regular committee, but, unfortunately, they're not. We didn't vote in Claude Humphrey this year to go with Bob Hayes. I felt terrible for Claude.
The thing to remember about players on the senior committee ballot, for the most part, is that there re no slam dunks. If they were a slam dunk, they'd already be in, most probably. So it becomes a matter of degrees, of determining what impact a player might have had, how it has stood the test of time, and occasionally of finding someone who made an impact and was overlooked, like Bob Hayes this year.
I can assure you that there are fans and team people in every city in the NFL who believe they have deserving players not in the Hall of Fame, and, frequently, they will accuse the committee of being biased against "their" guy.
I have a very simple test that I apply on Hall of Fame voting: Can you write the history of the game without the man? If you can't, then you need to look at him very, very closely.
As a committee, we've completed round 1 of the process. We've gathered some initial feedback and tested the waters, and we are ready to move on to phase 2. What will phase 2 entail? We are looking four things:
1) Send out emails to the senior committee members dealing specifically with Floyd Little. Mention his credentials, his importance to the Denver franchise, and see how often his name has come up in discussions.
2) Do more research on Sharpe so we are ready to bring hard-hitting stuff when the candidates are announced.
3) Determine the role of Broncos fans and the MHR community in this effort. At some point an email campaign will be used, but at what time and in what capacity has not been determined.
4) Get feedback from you! This may be the most important one. We posted this here so all of you could be kept apprised of what's been going on, and so we could get some feedback. What do you think of the feedback we have received from voters? How would you move forward? Do you have any questions or suggestions?
We hope that this committee can have a definite impact each and every year and help to get some Bronco greats the recognition they deserve. Our approach will be fine-tuned every year, and we should be able to accumulate a lot of feedback and different perspectives from voters, which allow us to most effectively market our players. With MHR, the Hof Committee, and Broncos fans working together, we can achieve some great things.