Hall of a debate: Uncertainty surrounds 2008 Hall of Fame selections
January 31, 2008
PHOENIX — Trying to predict the Pro Football Hall of Fame class is always difficult, but I don’t recall a more difficult year in my decade and a half as one of the selectors. The reason: there are no gimmes in this group and there are varying degrees of support for many of the 17 candidates.
Voting for the Hall is Saturday in downtown Phoenix. The 17 candidates consist of 15 modern era and two Seniors Committee nominees. The announcement of the new class — a minimum of four and maximum of seven — should come late Saturday afternoon.
Last year I did a tote board with odds on who I liked and why. I’m not going to be that stupid this year because one of last year’s fair-headed men, Paul Tagliabue, didn’t come close to being elected. Here’s how I forecast his group.
Newcomers Darrell Green and Cris Carter — particularly Green, the two-decade Redskins standout — enter the room with the best chances of getting through. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. The leaders, from my sense of it, are wide receiver Art Monk, tackle Gary Zimmerman, linebacker Andre Tippett, defensive ends Richard Dent and Fred Dean, guards Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg, and Seniors nominee Emmitt Thomas, a veteran cornerback and longtime assistant coach.
The reason I can’t give you a much better clue is that I think sentiments of the voters are all over the place, judging from my informal talks with them this week. So it’d be dangerous to say any single guy is a favorite, other than Green, most likely.
Talking with Pro Football Hall of Fame vice president Joe Horrigan today I found I had a lot in common with someone who knows the Hall better than anyone. “I’m befuddled,” Horrigan said. “There’s great equality in this class, and it’s really hard to tell which candidates will get in first.”
It’s clear that a guy like Carter, with 1,101 receptions and 130 touchdowns, is Hall of Fame-caliber, but I just don’t know if the zeal of some voters to get Monk in the Hall after a decade of frustration is going to cause Carter to wait a year or two.
I’ll have more to say about this in a file on Saturday afternoon and again on Monday, in my regular column. But stay tuned, there’s going to be quite a lot of intrigue.