Thoughts on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Voting

It doesn’t seem like a very difficult proposition. Get 44 of the best football minds in one room and select the next class of Hall of Famers from a list of 17 players, including two nominees from the Senior Committee.

If only it were that simple. Everyone has their own personal biases which come into play when narrowing down the list. This doesn’t mean too much when you’re talking about the 573 ballots cast for the Baseball Hall of Fame. A handful of voters can make a bad decision without any real impact, case-in-point Pedro Gomez voting for Bill Mueller. However, one must only convince eight of the 44 football voters to effectively filibuster a player’s election, a much easier figure to manipulate.

Now I’m not saying there’s any funny business going on behind closed doors, but there aren’t too many other logical conclusions to the question “Why isn’t Cris Carter in the Hall of Fame?”

My personal standard for Hall of Fame election is very simple: a Hall worthy player should have displayed an era of excellence that stretches roughly 10 or more years. There can always be exceptions to this rule, like Gale Sayers, but generally speaking 10 years is my gold standard.

From 1992 to 2001, Carter met that standard, leading the NFL in receptions (905) and touchdown catches (102) while standing behind only Jerry Rice and Tim Brown in receiving yards (11,008). He went to eight Pro Bowls and was named an AP First Team All-Pro twice during that stretch.

Need more evidence? Carter recorded seven seasons with at least 75 receptions, 1,000 yards and nine scores. The only receivers to perform that feat more times? Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison. Only six players have done so more than four times.

Another complaint I have is the exclusion of Bill Parcells, the ornery old man who flipped bad teams like repossessed houses. His accolades aren’t mind-boggling, but take into account the fact that he had to build four teams virtually from the ground up.

The Giants had posted a 46-96-1 record in the ten seasons before Parcells took over as head coach, making just one postseason appearance between 1963 and 1982 (He was the defensive coordinator on the only playoff team in 1981). With Parcells at the reins, they went 77-49-1 with two Super Bowl wins and five playoff spots.

Parcells had similar success with his three other stops. The Patriots had posted four consecutive losing seasons before the “Big Tuna” arrived. He took them to the postseason twice, including a Super Bowl appearance in his final campaign with the team. The Jets went from 1-15 in 1996 to 12-4 in ’98, moving their scoring defense rank from last to fifth place during that span. Finally, the Cowboys went from 5-11 in three consecutive season to 10-6 with an offense led by Quincey Carter and Troy Hambrick. Enough said.

But perhaps the most lasting success of Parcells is his coaching tree, the assistants he mentored and taught the knowledge necessary to become leaders of men. They include Bill Belichick, Romeo Crennell, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, Todd Haley, Eric Mangini, Al Groh and Tony Sporano. At least two of these men will someday grace the Hall of Fame with their membership.

All it takes is eight of 44 men to decide someone doesn’t belong. In my humble opinion, the voters should be shaken up a bit to ensure more integrity. For one, all the ballots should be public, no hiding behind a veil of anonymity. Second, there should be 15-to-20 year term limits for voters to remind those people that their position is a privilege and not a right. Finally, I believe the field should be widened to include more minds. Not to the point that baseball has, but it there were a 100-man panel it would take 21 nay votes to stonewall a candidate, hopefully leading to the most deserving players, coaches and executives earning their rightful place in Canton.

Thanks you for reading my blog. Be sure to like and share it on Facebook and retweet me on twitter. My twitter handle is @LucasKinser if you want to follow me. Have a great weekend, America!

Super Bowl XLVI

Here it is America. Millions of people will be watching as the two surviving teams, quarterbacks, and head coaches clash for a shot at immortality. Sounds dramatic, right?

A co-worker of mine at Panini pointed out a very significant point that made me lead with that corny line: this is a legacy game. Imagine the boosts each side would get with another ring? Eli Manning would (I can’t believe I’m saying this…it hurts) a legit argument for Hall of Fame enshrinement with two Lombardi trophies. Tom Coughlin will probably retire if the Giants win, just a hunch but what else would he have to prove after a lifetime in the game? For New England, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick would both move up a few notches on the GOAT list while another Patriots ring could put the team in the same phrase as the 70s Steelers, 80s Steelers, heck, even Lombardi’s Packers would arguably fall on the all-time dynasty list. Four Super Bowl rings and five appearances in a span of 11 seasons are more than unheard of in the Free Agency era. I’d be surprised if it happened again in the next 50 years.

That being said, I’m not a fan of either team. No, let me rephrase that. I despise the Patriots, strongly dislike the Giants and would cry with sadness if Eli had more rings than his more talented brother. However, as a wanna-be-journalist, I have to try and be neutral. Here is a detailed breakdown of both teams with a difficult prediction at the end of the rainbow.

New York Giants vs. New England Patriots (-2.5)

When the Giants pass…

Eli Manning is posting some unheralded numbers in this postseason, passing for 923 yards and eight TDs to just one pick, a 103.1 QB Rating. All of this has been done despite the fact that his offensive line has been nothing less than a train wreck, allowing 52 pressures in the postseason, just over 39% of all drop backs according to Pro Football Focus. The Patriots’ pass rush has improved in the postseason from 10.25 pressures per game to about 12.3, but that doesn’t mean nearly as much when you consider that Manning was among the league’s best when under pressure this season, leading the NFL with a 69.4 true completion percentage (minus throwaways, spikes etc.). Take into account the idea that either James Ihenacho or Julian Edelman will probably cover Victor Cruz in the slot and I have to give a sizable advantage to the G-Men.

…the Giants have the advantage.

When the Patriot’s pass…

Tom Brady has been protected like a Ming Dynasty vase covered in bubble wrap this postseason, facing pressure only 13 times and getting sacked once. His excellence has been overshadowed by Manning, but according to the QB ratings he is slightly ahead of the former Ole Miss standout. With that being said, the last time these two teams met Brady was sacked twice and pressured seven times. I don’t know how they will cover Wes Welker, probably with Antrel Rolle which could get scary. Also Gronkowski’s health is a concern. I give the Patriots an advantage here, but not as big as it would be with Gronk at 100%

…the Patriots have the advantage.

When the Giants run…

Big Blue’s run blocking hasn’t been as sad as their pass blocking, but it still ranks among the lower totals in the postseason, earning a -15.5 rating as compared to -25.1 against the pass according to Pro Football Focus. A combination of Bradshaw, Jacobs and Ware should be formidable against a solid run-stopping unit in New England, especially since they totaled 111 yards on the ground in their regular season matchup…with Ahmad Bradshaw sidelined with injury. Vince Wilfork and Gerard Warren have been the run-stuffing stars this postseason, but the linebackers and defensive backs haven’t done well once plays reach the second level. I see the Giants breaking off a couple of big runs combined with a number of three-yard-or-less trudges, giving New York a slight advantage.

…the Giants have the advantage

When the Patriots run…

Expect New England to use the run game as more of a changeup than an actual threat, since they frankly don’t have the personnel to dominate on the ground. All of their backs have certain roles that are rarely deviated from with none of them excelling too much. They have run best off-tackle in the postseason which could lead to some run-ins with the two best run-stoppers in the postseason for New York: Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. One wild card is whether or not Aaron Hernandez carries the ball in this game, as he’s shown some explosiveness in earlier games. However, the Giants take this category hands down.

…the Giants have the advantage

To save myself a few words, I feel special teams is about even for both teams. Good kickers and punters, not great. Plus, there aren’t any glaring holes in kick coverage or explosive returners who could exploit the non-existent holes. The third factor shouldn’t be a big factor.

So, for the final selection. I feel that New York has a slight edge in this game, but let me emphasize that. SLIGHT. SLIGHT. SLIGHT. If I were a betting man, I’d pick the Giants to win in an offensive contest with Victor Cruz coming in as the MVP. If he has fewer than 100 yards receiving, I feel the Patriots will have a great shot.

Prediction: Giants win 34-31.