I write this column at about the same time, every year. It's the Hall of Fame's annual telephone directory, a.k.a. the preliminary ballot. It has more names on it than the voting registers of both Denville and Mountain Lakes, N.J., and is about as interesting ... no wait, I didn't write that ... and has some rare and exotic names, some going as far back as Watergate.
Once it was explained to me how the 124 names contained herein were submitted, but it's the kind of thing I forget without much encouragement. I think a phone call or write-in from a concerned observer might swing it. I know the lobbyists have been hard at work, as usual.
Nothing like getting a phone call from an old coach -- "You want me to ever talk to you again? You vote for my guy." Even better are the endorsements from noted public figures, on their letterhead, U.S. Congress, State House of Representatives, Hi-di-ho Box Company, whatever. I like it best when the secretary who has typed this thing is kind of in a hurry, and you find your share of howlers:
"Mr.Boselli in his career was able to amass over 300 tackles and assists ... is that what guards do?"
Enough beating about the bush. Step one of this long process is to submit to the Hall 25 choices, those whom I want to progress to step two, which chops the list down to 15. I have not fully decided in some cases, but I'll share what I have with you.
Quarterbacks. My favorite of the nine, and probably the only one I'll vote for, at this point, is
He played for seven seasons, only four of which were really outstanding ... dynamic actually ... and that's perceived as a negative. But all you have to do is look at one of the current senior candidates,
In the last two years of the glory part of Davis' career, the Broncos rode his shirttails to a pair of Super Bowl titles, the only ones in their history. You could rightly say he and
I'm going heavy on the wideouts this year, for some reason. I've always been a fan of the gigantic
I'm tired of being a negative. I'm tired of all the impassioned letters asking me what did he ever do to me. I've been thinking long and hard about this. OK, he caught a lot of short passes but he also bought a lot of first downs, and he was a terrific team guy, well-respected and a pleasure from whom to borrow money. Why must I continue to pound a shoe on the table?
"Because the heel is falling off," says
Where was I? Oh yeah, Art Monk. OK. He's got my vote. D.C. e-mailers can mail their contributions to me, care of the office.
But let's not forget about another guy who's eminently qualified,
And there's still another tight end on this list. Right now I'm undecided.
"Kooch was the best of all of them,"
I'm trying, coach, Lord knows I'm trying. But what do you do when he makes it to the absolute finals and all that's required is a yea vote instead of a nay, and he still gets dinged? I mean do I call my Corsican friends in the Bronx and have them pay some of these birds a visit?
Two centers get my vote in this round,
Granted, his "less" was more than a lot of other players' "more," but I wanted to see him going after people. I wanted to see some
There's always tremendous quality in the defensive line list and this year is no different. I penciled in three out of the 11 names, and I wish I could have picked more.
Now we come to 17 linebackers, and it was agonizing, trying to trim some of these guys from the roster. Why don't I tell you the guys about whom I'm definite? Top gun is
Thirteen defensive backs listed, and there's a reverse situation going on at this position, and I mean cornerback. At one time every team had a shutdown corner who could excel in man coverage. Now almost none do. They have cover two guys, players like
I've allowed myself one coach's selection, and it's
Whenever I see the heading, CONTRIBUTOR, I expect to see a list of donations, as they have in the college alumni reports. OK, my contributor is