The senior committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame faces a daunting task each summer.
Every NFL franchise has two to four players it believes have unfairly fallen through the cracks of the selection process. Dallas has Cliff Harris, Chuck Howley and Drew Pearson. Denver has Randy Gradishar, Karl Mecklenburg and Louis Wright. Kansas City has Ed Budde, Johnny Robinson and Otis Taylor.
Add all those players up from the 32 NFL teams and you have a working list of 85 to 95 seniors to consider each year. But the committee can only nominate two. As a member of that committee, I can tell you it’s a gut-wrenching task leaving so many quality candidates behind each year.
But our quandary can’t compare to that of the National Football Foundation. That’s the Irving-based organization that selects the College Football Hall of Fame.
Its list of candidates is massive. It includes every player ever named a first-team All-America.
Think about that.
College football has been around since 1869. The first All-America team was published by the Walter Camp Foundation in 1898. There have been as many as nine All-America teams selected in a given year.
In the 2013 season alone there were 51 players who earned the All-America designation from the five organizations currently recognized by the NCAA. Those 51 candidates won’t become eligible for induction, though, until 2023 after their 10-year waiting period expires.
Still, there are approximately 1,500 first-team All-Americas now eligible for consideration. But the NFF’s 17-member “Honors Court,” which selects the Hall of Fame members, can only induct 12 players each year.
The Honors Court will meet in late April to choose its Class of 2014, which will be announced in May. It will consider a slate of a mere 75 finalists.
There’s a three-time All-America (North Carolina cornerback Dre Bly) on the 2014 ballot. There’s a two-time unanimous All-America (Texas running back Ricky Williams), five two-time consensus All-Americas (including Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth), and 10 other two-time All-Americas (including Texas Tech linebacker Zach Thomas).
There are three Heisman Trophy winners (Williams, Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch and Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam) and players who won the Butkus (Bosworth and Alabama’s Derrick Thomas and Illinois’ Dana Howard), Lombardi (Miami defensive tackle Warren Sapp), Outland (Boston College nose tackle Mike Ruth), Thorpe (Southern Cal safety Mark Carrier) and Walker (TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson and Washington’s Greg Lewis) awards.