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Hall of Fame’s posthumous policy was adopted in 2010

2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 6: Fans wait to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame prior to the induction ceremony on August 6, 2011 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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When it comes to Friday afternoon bad-news dumps, the NFL typically engineers the placement of its own troublesome information. This Friday, the three-pack of suspensions released by the league was supplemented by a piece of bad news that came from another portion of Manhattan.

It was the New York Times, not the National Football League, that published a story about the late Junior Seau that makes the league look bad.

As noted previously by MDS, the Pro Football Hall of Fame won’t let Seau’s daughter give a speech on his behalf. The article from Ken Belson of the Times creates the impression that the Pro Football Hall of Fame simply said “no” without any specific reason or rationale. The Hall of Fame has since issued a press release regarding its policy on posthumous presentations.

“The policy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 2010 regarding individuals enshrined posthumously provides for an expanded presenting video (longer than the videos of living inductees) followed by the traditional unveiling of the bronzed bust and no additional comments made from the podium,” the Hall of Fame said in a statement issued late Friday. “This policy is not precedent setting and was implemented for the first time in 2011 when former Los Angeles Rams great Les Richter was inducted posthumously. The Pro Football Hall of Fame looks forward to honoring the careers of Junior Seau and the seven other members of the Class of 2015 during the upcoming Enshrinement Ceremony.”

The chain of events created suspicion that this policy was cobbled together not five years ago but today, especially since Belson’s story made no mention of any general policy regarding Hall of Famers who are inducted following their deaths, which would make the decision not to let Seau’s daughter speak seem disconnected to any concerns about the things she might say. However, the policy really was enacted in 2010, even if it wasn’t publicized and was otherwise poorly communicated until now.

The change came a year after both Chiefs G.M. Carl Peterson and Derrion Thomas spoke on behalf of the late Derrick Thomas, at the same time the Hall of Fame ditched the dual speeches and went with a video from the presenter followed by a speech from the new Hall of Famer. As Hall of Fame spokesman Joe Horrigan told Belson, the goal was to avoid redundancies between the two speeches.

Redundancies or not, the process continues to be tedious at times, with some of the Hall of Famers making their final moment in the sun last as long as humanly possible, and then some. The effort to streamline the process in 2010 should have gone well beyond ending the practice of having someone speak on behalf of the deceased enshrined; the fact that it didn’t will make it harder for many to accept that the five-year-old policy was actually about making a seemingly endless night end a few minutes earlier.