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Hall of Fame makes dramatic change to the rules for the 15-person centennial mega-class

Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremony

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 5: Denver Broncos Terrell Davis will be presented his bust, which is covered on stage at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremony on August 5, 2017 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Denver Post via Getty Images

Faced with the prospect that the Hall of Fame selection committee will revolt against an all-or-nothing vote on a 15-person centennial mega-class of enshrinees for 2020, the Hall of Fame has solved the problem.

The Hall of Fame selection committee will not vote on the 15-person centennial mega-class.

In a memo dated November 1, a copy of which PFT has obtained, the Hall of Fame selection committee is informed that they won’t be voting on the 15-person centennial mega-class.

Instead, a so-called “blue-ribbon panel” will choose 10 senior candidates, three contributor candidates, and two coaching candidates -- and the choices of the blue-ribbon panel will be final, with no vote at all by the selection committee.

It’s an astounding outcome, one that bastardizes the entire process. Since the inception of the Hall of Fame, a selection committee has determined the candidates that do, and don’t, get in. For the 15-person centennial mega-class, the usual process will be turned on its head.

The reason for this grossly unconventional approach is obvious: It prevents the selection committee from scuttling the all-or-nothing process, to which many of them have objected, by voting “no” to the entire class. And it likewise ensures that people who otherwise would have a very hard time getting past the selection comittee (e.g., former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue) will have a chance to get in.

So, basically, the 48-person selection commitee will now be disregarded, with the judgment of the blue-ribbon panel supplanting the usual process.

The blue-ribbon panel consists of Ernie Accorsi, Bill Belichick, Jarrett Bell, Joel Bussert, John Clayton, Frank Cooney, John Czarnecki, Rick Gosselin, Elliott Harrison, Joe Horrigan, Ira Kaufman, Dick LeBeau, Jeff Legwold, John Madden, John McClain, Gary Myers, Ozzie Newsome, Sal Paolantonio, Carl Peterson, Bill Polian, Dan Pompei, Charean Williams, Chris Willis, Barry Wilner, and Ron Wolf.

Thirteen members of the blue-ribbon panel have Hall of Fame votes, but this new process shuts out the other 35, supplanting their will with Accorsi, Belichick, Bussert, Harrison, Horrigan, LeBeau, Madden, Newson, Peterson, Polian, Willis, and Wolf.

Regardless of the qualifications of specific members of the blue-ribbon panel, this procedure takes the normal authority away from the 48 duly-appointed members of the selection committee and gives it to a group that consists of 13 members of the selection committee and 12 people who have been gathered together for a one-time effort to trump the year-in, year-out work of the selection committee.

It’s wrong. It’s embarrassing. It’s an obvious effort to ram the 15-person centennial mega-class through without regard to the will of the committee that has been painstakingly (or not) selected to determine who does and doesn’t get it.

And, frankly, it should be enough to get one or more of the folks who usually vote on the Hall of Fame classes to vote with their feet.