Pro Football Hall of Fame

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Pro Football Hall of Fame
Photo of Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio
Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in USA
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Magnify-clip.png
Location of Pro Football Hall of Fame
Established 1963
Location 2121 George Halas Dr NW, Canton, Ohio, 44708
Coordinates 40°49′16″N 81°23′52″W / 40.82111°N 81.39778°W / 40.82111; -81.39778Coordinates: 40°49′16″N 81°23′52″W / 40.82111°N 81.39778°W / 40.82111; -81.39778
Type Professional sports hall of fame
Visitors 191,943 (2010)[1]
Director Steve Perry[1]
Nearest car park On site (no charge)[2]
Website profootballhof.com

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame for professional American football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League (NFL). Opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter enshrinees,.[3] The Pro Football Hall of Fame is unique among North American major league sports halls of fame in that officials are not inducted. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Hockey Hall of Fame have each inducted game officials as members.

History[edit]

Canton, Ohio was selected as the location for the Hall of Fame for three reasons: First, the NFL was founded in Canton in 1920 (at that time it was known as the American Professional Football Association); second, the now-defunct Canton Bulldogs were a successful NFL team based in Canton during the first few years of the league; and finally, the community of Canton successfully lobbied the NFL to have the Hall built in their city.[3] Groundbreaking for the building was held on August 11, 1962. The original building contained just two rooms, and 19,000 square feet (1,800 m2) of interior space.[3]

The Hall is made up of several sections, at heart is the display of inductees.

In April 1970, ground was broken for the first of many expansions. This first expansion cost $620,000, and was completed in May 1971. The size was increased to 34,000 square feet (3,200 m2) by adding another room. The pro shop opened with this expansion. This was also an important milestone for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as yearly attendance passed the 200,000 mark for the first time. This was at least in some part due to the increase in popularity of professional football caused by the advent of the American Football League and its success in the final two AFL-NFL World Championship games.[3]

Inside the original structure in 2008.

In November 1977, work began on another expansion project, costing US$1,200,000. It was completed in November 1978, enlarging the gift shop and research library, while doubling the size of the theater. The total size of the hall was now 50,500 square feet (4,690 m2), more than 2.5 times the original size.[3]

The building remained largely unchanged until July 1993. The Hall then announced yet another expansion, costing US$9,200,000, and adding a fifth room. This expansion was completed in October 1995. The building's size was increased to 82,307 square feet (7,647 m2). The most notable addition was the GameDay Stadium, which shows an NFL Films production on a 20-foot (6.1 m) by 42-foot (13 m) Cinemascope screen.[3]

Inductees[edit]

Through 2014, all inductees except one, played some part of their professional career in the NFL (the lone exception is Buffalo Bills guard Billy Shaw, who played his entire career in the American Football League (AFL) prior to the 1970 AFL–NFL merger). Though several Hall of Famers have had AFL, Canadian Football League, World Football League and United States Football League experience, and there is a division of the Hall devoted to alternative leagues such as this, to this point no players have made the Hall without having made significant contributions to either the NFL, AFL or All-America Football Conference. For CFL stars, there is a parallel Canadian Football Hall of Fame; only one player (Warren Moon) and one coach (Bud Grant) are in both halls.

The Chicago Bears have the most Hall of Famers among the league's franchises with 32 enshrinees.[4]

Selection Process[edit]

Board of Selectors[edit]

Enshrinees are selected by a 46-person committee, largely made up of sportswriters, officially known as the Board of Selectors.[5]

Usually, the representative is a beat writer for the major newspaper in that city, even though this isn't always the case; for instance, the Atlanta Falcons are represented by Len Pasquarelli (who no longer writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and the Jacksonville Jaguars are represented by WJXT sports director Sam Kouvaris.[5]

There are also 11 at-large delegates (usually cities that lose NFL teams keep representation on the board; Los Angeles is the only current city to have lost an NFL team and not been granted an expansion team), and one representative from the Pro Football Writers Association. Except for the PFWA representative, who is appointed to a two-year term, all other appointments are open-ended and terminated only by death, incapacitation, retirement, or resignation.[5]

Voting procedure[edit]

Fawcett Stadium with the Hall of Fame in lower right

To be eligible for the nominating process, a player or coach must have been retired for at least five years. Any other contributor such as a team owner or executive can be voted in at any time.[6] Unlike the Baseball Hall of Fame, which explicitly waives its five-year waiting period for players who die during that time or while active,[7] the Pro Football Hall of Fame has no provision to waive its waiting period.[5]

Fans may nominate any player, coach or contributor by simply writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame via letter or email. The Selection Committee is then polled three times by mail to eventually narrow the list to 25 semifinalists: once in March, once in September, and once in October. In November, the committee then selects 15 finalists by mail balloting. Nine members of the Selection Committee also serve as a subcommittee known as the Seniors Committee to screen candidates who finished their careers 25 or more years prior. The Seniors Committee then adds two finalists from that group which makes a final ballot of 17 nominees.[6]

The Selection Committee then meets the day before each Super Bowl game to elect a new class. To be elected, a finalist must receive at least 80 percent support from the Board, with at least four, but no more than seven, candidates being elected annually. If less than four candidates get 80 percent of the vote, then the top four vote-getters will get in that year. If more than seven get 80 percent, then the top seven vote-getters will be inducted.[6]

Induction ceremony[edit]

A football signed by the 1974 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement class

The induction ceremony is usually held the first full weekend in August. An enshrinement festival is held throughout the week in Canton leading up to the induction ceremonies.[8]

Enshrinees do not go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of a certain team. Rather, all of an inductee's affiliations are listed equally.[6] While the Baseball Hall of Fame plaques generally depict each of their inductees wearing a particular club's cap (with a few exceptions, such as Catfish Hunter), the bust sculptures of each Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee make no reference to any specific team. In addition to the bust that goes on permanent display at the Hall of Fame, inductees receive a distinctive golden jacket and previous inductees nearly always wear theirs when participating at new inductee ceremonies.

Previous induction ceremonies were held during the day (Sunday from 1999–2005, Saturday in 2006), situated on the steps of the Hall of Fame building. Starting in 2002, the ceremony was moved to Fawcett Stadium. Since 2007 the enshrinement ceremony has been held on Saturday night.[9]

Pro Football Hall of Fame Game[edit]

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, an annual NFL pre-season exhibition game, is held the day after the induction ceremony and officially kicks off the NFL Preseason.

Criticism[edit]

The "Other Leagues" display includes the USFL.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame uses only media representatives to select inductees. This, along with its policy of inducting only a maximum of seven players a year (six in certain years past), with a current maximum of two "senior" candidates and five "non-seniors," has been criticized by sports columnists, former players, and football fans.[8] Such critics would like to see solutions such as expanding the number of selectors, rotating panel members on and off the selection committee, and allowing former players to participate in the voting.[10] The small number of candidates elected each year has helped foster what some perceive as an inequality of representation at certain positions or in certain categories of player, with defensive players in general and defensive backs and outside linebackers in particular, special teams players, wide receivers, deserving players who primarily played on bad teams, and those from the "seniors" category, being slighted. This has included a 2009 New York Times article which criticized the Hall for not including punter Ray Guy on its ballot, also noting that the Hall did not have an inductee at the time representing the position.[10] (While inductee Sammy Baugh played regularly as a punter, as well as defensive back, he is most widely known as a quarterback.) Guy was eventually inducted as part of the 2014 class for the Hall of Fame. Another glaring oversight is sports-journalist Howard Cosell. An August 2010 Sports Illustrated article hints that he may have even been "blacklisted" by the NFL.[11] [12] There has also been criticism that certain players get overlooked because their team underproduced during their career.[13]

The Hall has also recently been the object of complaints by retired players from both the NFL and AFL, who claim that the Hall has not helped injured, disabled and mentally distressed retirees, including numerous members of the Hall of Fame, obtain a reasonable care and retirement package from the NFL and the players' union, the NFLPA.

The selectors have also been criticized for their unwillingness to acknowledge Canadian Football League (CFL) experience as a factor in qualifying potential inductees. For example, Cookie Gilchrist's six straight CFL All-Star selections (followed by four consecutive AFL All-Star picks) appear to bear no weight on his consideration (Gilchrist also had antisocial tendencies stemming from the onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which led him to decline most Hall of Fame honors during his lifetime). The most commonly cited reason for this is because there is already a Canadian Football Hall of Fame for that purpose. This, of course, puts players who played for a shorter time in both leagues, and had success in both (such as Gilchrist and Doug Flutie), at a significant disadvantage. As of 2012, only one player (Warren Moon) and one coach (Bud Grant) are in both the Canadian and American Halls.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "History of the Pro Football Hall of Fame". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Travel info". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The Pro Football Hall of Fame: Then and Now". Pro Football Hall of Fame. January 1, 2005. Archived from the original on February 6, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Chicago Bears: Team History". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 6, 2011. Retrieved February 6, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Selection Process". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Selection Process FAQ". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Rule 3-D". BBWAA Election Rules. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Schedule". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Class of 2007 Presenters". Pro Football Hall of Fame. July 2, 2007. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Joyner, K C (January 25, 2009). "A Case for Ray Guy Belonging in Pro Football Hall of Fame". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Billson, Marky (August 4, 2010). "As strange as it sounds, Howard Cosell has never won Rozelle award". Sports Illustrated. 
  12. ^ Researcher, NFL (February 4, 2013). "Cronyism on the part of the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame?". NFL Sports Blog. 
  13. ^ Barall, Andy (February 16, 2012). "How to Fix Football's Hall of Fame Voting System". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]