What Really Defines a Hall of Fame Player with Rick Gosselin

Legendary NFL writer and Hall of Fame voter NFL Rick Gosselin discusses what really defines a Hall of Fame player.

Recently, Sports Illustrated’s Raider Maven writer and publisher Hondo S. Carpenter had the opportunity to talk with acclaimed NFL writer Rick Gosselin.

An NFL Hall of Fame voter and innovator of the modern-day mock draft, Gosselin brings great experience and wisdom to any football-related conversation.

Gosselin and Carpenter were able to go in-depth on several different subjects as we approach the start of the new league year.

One aspect fans should definitely find interesting is when the two discussed what really makes a Hall of Famer in their eyes.

In giving his opinion first, Carpenter said that “If you have to discuss whether or not a person belongs in the hall of fame, they don’t. You either look at them and say, ‘Yup, Hall of Famer,’ or no, and I think too many people get in for the wrong reasons.”

In agreeing with the first part of Carpenter’s point, Gosselin said that he believes that how people define a first-ballot Hall of Famer today has “really gone overboard.”

“If you weren’t one of the two or three best players at your position, you shouldn’t be a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” Gosselin said.

Gosselin did point out a situation where one of the best corners in his eyes, the former Raider Mike Haynes, took three years to get into the hall of fame.

It might be that not every great player should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but that shouldn’t preclude them from entering at all.

Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson is another example that Gosselin brought up.

A member of the NFL All-Decade team in the 1970s, Pearson had to wait for almost a half-century before he finally was elected to the Hall this year.

Even though they weren’t first ballot or the undisputed best ever at their positions, very few wouldn’t say Pearson or Haynes weren’t worthy of the honor. 

Not every case is as cut and dried as it would be for Tom Brady, of course. 

Sometimes, in the case of a player like Pearson, the wait can even make the story of finally getting that call even better. 

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Rick Gosselin has covered the NFL for 48 years for United Press International, the Kansas City Star, and the Dallas Morning News. He has covered the Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, and Dallas Cowboys. He has been a Hall of Fame voter for 25 years and, in 2004, won the Dick McCann Award for "long and distinguished reporting on professional football. He is a living legend in the NFL and you can read him at Talk of Fame Network and find him on Twitter at @RickGosselin9