What is happening to the Hall of Fame?

Peter King gave a disturbing interview the other day.  At the 13:36 mark, he discussed among other things, Marvin Harrison’s chances at making the Hall of Fame. Now, I’m not as upset about him arguing that Harrison might not deserve to make the Hall as I am about his insane reasoning:

What I ask myself all the time about Marvin Harrison…and again, it’s not 5, 6, 7 years from now when we’ll be considering Marvin Harrison, but this is just my knee-jerk reaction right now.  What exactly is there…a signature catch, is there an incredible game, what is there about Marvin Harrison other than ridiculous incredible numbers…”

In a day when people are honestly discussing the Hall of Fame candidacy of Kurt Warner and his FOUR good years as a QB, I have to begin to question the sanity of voters everywhere.  Apparently, the Hall of Fame has become about ‘moments’ more than about performance.  Peter King is basically saying, “I don’t care about 7 All Pro teams, records and huge numbers for more than a decade.  I prefer one game or one catch I can remember.”
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I just gave you a few seconds to chew on those words.  Have we really become so simplistic?  As a football society, are we really willing to sacrifice the greatness of careers earned Sunday after Sunday and trade that for one catch or one game?  I’m convinced that the worst thing that ever happened to football was the insane “post-season is everything” bandwagon that started with New England fans early this decade.  Before this decade, the general assumption was that if a player won one Super Bowl he was validated (see Young, Steve).  Now, principally because of Patriots fans need to have everyone bow to Tom Brady, sites like Cold Hard Football Facts have irreparably damaged popular football thought by pimping the playoff crapshoot over the hard grind of the regular season.  Because the regular season numbers don’t support their conclusion, they chuck them.  The result is that players like Kurt Warner, brilliant for short stretches, get preference over men with sustained excellence, but perhaps less time in the spotlight. 

Or perhaps it’s the Jordan/Tiger effect.  Because sports’ two most dominant athletes over the past two decades made EVERYTHING in their careers revolve around ‘championships’, the sporting public now applies that standard indiscriminately to all sports, even ones like football where it doesn’t fit well at all because of the radically different nature of football as a team game (unlike golf) and the amount of chance in a single elimination tourney (vs the NBA in which someone couldn’t just get ‘lucky’ on one night to beat Jordan.  They had to beat him 4 times). 

Now we’ve come to the point where Hall of Fame VOTERS are saying insane things like what King just said.  Again, I’m bothered that he said it about Marvin Harrison, but if the player had been Harry Marvin of the Baltimore Ravens, I’d be just as bothered.  The problem isn’t the player, it’s the logic used.  Frankly, if all it takes to get in the Hall of Fame is a great moment or two, we should just make it the Hall of Super Bowl MVPs and induct Santonio Holmes and Larry Brown right now.  Perhaps I’m being unfair, after all, a hilariously undeserving Joe Namath somehow made the Hall of Fame.

If this is where the future of football analysis is heading, the only hope for sanity really is with the alternative media.  Thank God for the Football Outsiders.

Links:  Here’s Dungy on the Dan Patrick show last week.  There’s new stuff in the interview I hadn’t heard, including his thoughts on the inauguration and why he prays for Barack Obama.

It’s hard to argue with ESPN’s Mount Rushmore for Indiana (Bird, Knight, Manning, Wooden).  I think I would probably take off Knight and put Miller on.  Bird and Wooden are mortal locks.  Tony Hulman wasn’t on the list but should be in the discussion.

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