Earlier this week, Jason Whitlock bemoaned the inconsistent logic of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.
Someone — I honestly don’t know who — came up with the false narrative that induction into the HOF should hinge on "whether or not you can write the history of the league without mentioning this person or player."
In case you're curious, yes, the column does feature the ubiquitous three-word "It's a joke" paragraph. Whitlock is right on the money, though, because... "the history of the league"? What does that even mean?
The obvious first question to raise would be, "well, how complete do you want this history to be?" You can't write the complete history of the league without Tim Couch, who threw a few passes for the Browns. I realize how ornery it is to dwell on this; my point is that
"whether or not you can write the history of the league without mentioning this person or player."
is a hopelessly vague statement, and if this really is the primary criterium for induction, then inconsistent selections are all that we can really expect. I'll take this a step further, though, and suggest that "the" history of the league, in terms of relevance, is hopelessly limited.
Fan experiences are dramatically isolated. I'm a Chiefs fan, so Kimble Anders means a lot to me, but if you're an Eagles fan, he probably means nothing to you. We can agree that players such as Emmitt Smith are among the greatest, but suppose there were no Hall of Fame? Suppose we had no means of organized commemoration of his career? Would that be a terrible thing?
I suppose it would be kind of a bummer. But what we have is this: 44 dudes deciding who the bestest, most awesome football players are, and giving these players a bust in an unsightly building off the Ohio interstate. My suggestion is this: the Hall of Fame is not relevant by default. It is not a referendum on my sentiments, or yours, or anyone's apart from these 44 dudes. The issue of who is and isn't in this building is only relevant if you decide it is.
I hate to be Jaded Guy on the Internet, but I've checked out long ago. The Pro Football Hall of Fame isn't a joke, or a fraud, or a shame, or a whatever. To me, it's a museum that is fun to visit, and nothing else. To try and wrench it into some sort of collective consensus... well, Hell, we may as well agree on a favorite color.