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It’s time to scrap the Senior Selection Committee

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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In lieu of continuing to complain about the Hall of Fame voting process, it’s time to begin offering concrete recommendations for improving it.

Here’s the first one: As mentioned last night on NBC SportsTalk, the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees should disband the Senior Selection Committee.

This subset of the 44-person Hall of Fame voting group identifies two players who, for whatever reason, failed to achieve enshrinement when competing against their peers. And so, each year, up to two players of whom most casual (and many hardcore) fans have never heard are given equal billing with up to five men whose names instantly resonate with modern followers of football.

Needless to say, it makes little sense. If guys like Jack Butler couldn’t get into the Hall of Fame when considered with the men who played in the same era, why are they getting a spot that could go to an Andre Reed or a Charles Haley or a Cris Carter or a Bill Parcells?

That’s not a knock on Butler or any of the other 36 men who have been inducted via the Senior Selection Committee. It’s a broader observation that guys who didn’t get in through the front door shouldn’t be given a side entrance, either.

The mere fact that the Hall of Fame feels compelled to have a “clean up” process that accounts for up to 28.5 percent of the annual slate of inductees represents an implicit admission that, traditionally, the process as constituted has made significant mistakes. But instead of implementing radical change aimed at ensuring that the best decisions are made going forward, the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees seems to be content to keep using the Senior Selection Committee as a perpetual mop bucket to give spots in Canton to men whom the voters failed to properly include far earlier.

One of the loudest arguments for maintaining the current by laws and procedures is that it wouldn’t be fair to change rules that applied to so many other players for so many years. That’s a cop out. Any institution that wants to avoid change for the sake of avoiding change could make a similar point, opting for consistent flaws out of deference to the past in lieu of a future that carries the promise of doing things the best way possible.

For the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees to do things the best way possible, the Senior Selection Committee needs to go, and those two extra spots per year should be devoted not to enshrining those who slipped through the net but making a better net for the men currently under consideration.