Monday, August 6, 2007
Pro Sports' Hall's of Shame
Pictures like this are the reason Michael Irvin had to wait a couple years to get the call from the Hall.
Michael Irvin became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2005, and he was very deserving. One-third of the famed Triplets. Won three Super Bowls. Led the league in receiving and set a record with 11 100-plus yard games in 1995. Finished his career with nearly 12,000 yard receiving and 65 touchdowns in twelve seasons when he was forced to retire at the age of 33 due to a spinal cord injury. Second most productive playoff receiver ever. The first big, strong, physical receiver, Irvin was rough with opposing cornerbacks, shoving them aside with such ease that the league was forced to create the "offensive pass interference" rule in order to give hope to overmatched defensive backs. "The Michael Irvin Rule." The prototype for Anquan Boldin. The template for Keyshawn Johnson. The original Terrell Owens. The Playmaker.
So why did he just make his induction speech yesterday? Because the Hall of Fame selection process is retarded, that's why. The voters have too much power. They're dumb. Common sense and logic is thrown by the wayside. It's just one big mess, when you think about it.
These are the rules each year: you need at least eighty percent of the vote to get in. If no one gets the minimum percentage, the three with the highest number are elected. If more than six get the eighty percent, the six with the highest percentage
are selected. You follow me?
Now, I don't know how many times either of these scenario's have actually come into play, especially the latter one. It's hard to imagine there ever being more than six no-brainers up for induction at the same time. And that certainly wasn't the case in Irvin's first two years of eligibilty. Here were the 2005 enshrinees: Benny Friedman, Dan Marino, Fritz Pollard, and Steve Young. The 2006 inductees: Troy Aikman, Reggie White, Harry Carson, John Madden, Warren Moon, and Rayfield Wright.
And herein lies our first problem. Marino, Young, Aikman, White, and Moon all made it on their first try. But the others? The first NFL Hall of Fame class was inducted in 1963. Players must be retired five years before they become eligible. Coaches must be retired. Well, Pollard, the first black NFL head coach, worked his last job in 1928. Friedman, an ancient quarterback, quit in 1934. Madden, enshrined as a coach, retired following the 1978 season. Wright...1979. Carson...1988. Did you do that mental math yet? What made Wright a HoFer in 2005 that didn't make him one twenty years earlier? He didn't add anymore Pro Bowls to his resume during that span, did he? Did Carson record any more tackles in the period he was left out? What about Madden, did he win anymore games, or get the Raiders to another Super Bowl? Friedman was such an important player in the game's history that his name didn't even come up in discussions until the last decade - more than sixty years after he retired, more than thirty years after the Hall's inception, and more than 15 years after he died. I mean, this guy played so long ago that they don't even have definitive stats from his era. He might have led the league in touchdown passes during his career...and he might not have. We don't know for sure. It was too long ago. He was selected by the Veterans Commitee, who elect players who have not been selected after twenty years on the ballot. What a stupid idea. Um, there's a reason they didn't get in after all those years. If you're on the ballot for two decades and you can't garner enough votes to get in after all that time, you're not a Hall of Famer. Period. Case closed. I can't even believe I have to think about something so ridiculous. Is anybody with me? Helloooooooo? Am I the only person perplexed by this nonsense? Why do I feel like I'm the only one? Why do I feel like I'm alone? My goodness. I'm starting to get a headache.
Anyways, Irvin should have gone in in 2005 as the third most deserving candidate behind Marino and Young. It's not even an argument. Which brings us to another problem: the saintly voters. Irvin was one of the most troubled athletes - off the field - ever, and when he came up, the Selection Commitee sat atop their high horses, looked down on him, and decided that they were going to punish him for not living up to their ethical standards. Mike indulged himself in cocaine and women in his free time and the voters didn't approve, so they took it upon themselves to make an example out of him. You can call it the 88th Commandment: If thou engages in drug-driven sex orgies and the wearing of full-length mink coats to court appearances, thee will be penalized by Us, the Holy Electors, regardless of how game thou was on Sunday. These jerks shouldn't have the authority to make these kinds of moral judgments. They're mere mortals like everyone else. More than that, it just ain't about the righteousness - or lack thereof - that someone exhibits in his personal life; it's about on-field performance and nothing else. Or at least it should be. Aikman, the good guy, goes in on the first ballot, and Irvin, better at his position and just as important to those great Cowboy teams of the nineties, doesn't. B.S.
And the beat goes on. Roger Wehrli, Mike's 2007 classmate, gets in on his twenthieth try. Derrick Thomas still isn't in, for reasons unknown to man. And it's not just football, either. James Worthy had to wait five years. Bernard King, one of the best and most admired players of the mid-eighties and a legend to true basketball fans, still ain't in. Andre Dawson continues to be denied. Numbers mean more than anything now, especially in baseball. That's not what has kept Dawson out (you can blame that on pure stupidity), but it is what might keep David Ortiz out. Big Papi got a late start on stardom, and probably won't finish his career with the kind of numbers that would be deemed Hall worthy today, let alone fifteen years from now. He won't have 3,000 hits, or 500 homeruns, plus he was a DH, and the voters will likely look at that and decide that he doesn't deserve to go down as an all-time greats, instead of focusing on what really mattered: that he was the most beloved and respected player of his era, a playoff hero and Boston legend on par with Larry Bird, the guy from this generation you'll remember most 30 years from now, for all his clutch hits and the way he tossed his helmet rounding third after a walkoff bomb. Would you bet against them doing this? I sure wouldn't.
And when they do, will you any longer have any reverance for the Hall of Fame? I won't. I barely do now.