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An argument for revising the Hall of Fame voting process

Mike Kenn, Tommy Nobis, Jessie Tuggle and others are emblematic of the issue.

1995 NFL Pro Bowl Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

A couple of years ago, Mike Kenn’s daughter reached out to me to see if I would help to publicize the Hall of Fame case for her dad. Kenn is, in my mind, a slam dunk Hall of Famer, a tremendous player with a long, storied career who is one of the better left tackles in league history. Yet because he played for the Atlanta Falcons during (mostly) inept years for the franchise, Kenn has never quite gotten his due, and unfortunately his chances of getting into Canton seem more dim by the year.

The Falcons have several players like that who appear to be confined to history’s shadows despite their excellence, including Tommy Nobis, Jessie Tuggle, and Jeff Van Note. It’s an injustice that they may never get their due, but it’s one I’m more or less resigned to.

Not so much Vincent Lospinuso, an aspiring journalist attending school at Hofstra. Lospinuso has kicked off a campaign to get the Pro Football Hall of Fame to do something organizations like it are not wont to do: Change.

Essentially, Lospinuso is pushing for a revision to the way the Hall handles senior candidates. Currently, as he notes, the Hall chooses two senior players and a contributor one year, followed by two contributors and a senior player the next year. That places a (perhaps outsized) importance on contributors, while ensuring very few of the dozens of greats in football history get a real shot at getting in every year.

Here’s how Lospinuso is proposing we fix this:

In my proposal, the pool would be completely reworked and the players would be divided into four different sections, each section involving the eras that marked most of the player’s career or, in some instances, his best seasons. Similar to how it’s done now in baseball’s Hall of Fame.

For example, it might involve …

- Pre-modern era (1920-49) (or from 1920-59)

- Merger era (1950-79) (or from 1940-1979)

- AFL (its entire run, 1960-69)

- Football today (1980-present)

The idea here is that every year, voters would take a hard look at just one era. It may be that the pre-modern era does not have enough fruit to stay there forever, but the idea is that instead of being lured in by more recent greats who have made an impression that has yet to fade, voters would be forced to consider a pool of players from one era in history. Even if you simply divided this into a pre-1979 and post-1980 rotating set of votes, you’d be considering vastly different pools of players. Someone like Kenn who straddled the two eras would, perhaps, become a more interesting candidate.

Lospinuso has some further thoughts about how ballots could be re-configured and floats the idea of a coaches category that would be voted on separately, as well, which are interesting and worthy ideas in their own right. The upshot at the end of the day is that more candidates are given a real opportunity to make it to the Hall, and voters will perhaps be able to vote on a larger slate of older candidates who might otherwise be lost to time or subject to a vanishingly small number of spots every year. As a Falcons fan who will openly admit to his bias, I’d be happy to change the process in a way that gets true greats like Kenn and Tuggle into Canton, as well as other deserving candidates from across the league.

You can read the full article at our sister Broncos site Mile High Report, and reach out to Lospinuso directly on Twitter at @VinLospinuso91. I’m hopeful that his campaign, or one like it, will eventually propel some of these deserving Falcons into Canton.