GRETZ: Time To Get It Right
Jan 30, 2008, 2:49:24 AM by Bob Gretz - FAQ
This Saturday could be one of the biggest days in Chiefs history.
If the board of selectors cooperate, the Pro Football Hall of Fame should have two more members wearing red and gold: Emmitt Thomas and Derrick Thomas.
Thereís no doubting these Thomases. They have the credentials for busts in Canton. But having a Hall of Fame-type career and being a Hall of Famer are two very different things.
Especially, if you happen to play defense.
One of the great inequities among the Hall of Fame busts is this: defensive players are much less likely to gain admission than offensive players. Right now, itís pretty much a 2-to-1 advantage for the guys on offense.
The Hall of Fame has 249 members. Letís cut that number by the coaches, owners and administrators (38) and players from the earliest eras of the game, who frequently played both ways (another 47 members from 1920-50.)
That leaves 164 players. One was a kicker: the Chiefsí Jan Stenerud. Among the remaining 163 members, the offense has 105, while 58 played defense.
Thatís 64 percent vs. 35.3 percent.
As a member of the board of selectors, those numbers are an embarrassment. Admission to this voting group goes to media members with a long history of covering the professional game. Yet, as a group we fall victim to the same things that fans do: we get hung up on offensive numbers.
In the last four years, there have been five quarterbacks enshrined in the Hall and in last seven years there have been eight offensive linemen. Yet, in the last seven years there have been no safeties and only one cornerback, Roger Wehrli who went in last year.
In the last 10 Hall of Fame classes there have been 37 modern-day players inducted. Hereís how those numbers work out by position:
(Click this link for the numbers, and the entire article from the Chiefs page.)
Among the top five positions, four are on offense. Among the bottom seven positions, five are on defense. It breaks down over the last decade to 25 on offense, 12 on defense, again more than two to one.
Back in 1972, the Hall of Fame established a senior candidate each year. This was to be a player or coach who had fallen through the cracks in their first 20-year window for induction to the Hall. There have been 41 nominations, including this yearís duo of Emmitt Thomas and Marshall Goldberg. Two players Ė Jerry Kramer and Henry Jordan Ė were nominated twice.
So thatís 39 men. Five were owners or coaches, which leaves 34 players. Among that group 27 were offensive players and seven were defensive players. Thatís 79 percent to 21 percent. In the last 20 years, there have been 25 senior nominations and only four went to defensive players. Thatís 15 percent.
The board of selectors must soon realize that it is short-changing the guys on defense. An attempt to fix the inequity improves the chances of both Emmitt and Derrick Thomas. If the committee continues to follow itís trend and put the emphasis on offensive players, it will be much more difficult for both men.
The old football saying is that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. Itís time for the Hall of Fame board of selectors to stop selling tickets and start winning championships with more Hall of Famers from the defensive side of the game.