Beyond Emmitt, Rice, LeBeau, HOF decision is a crapshoot
Posted by Mike Florio on February 6, 2010 9:14 AM ET
This morning, the 44 folks who hold the keys to admission into the Hall of Fame will meet in Fort Lauderdale to determine the next class of inductees.
The results will be announced at 5:00 p.m. ET on NFL Network. (We'll be there live, posting updates from the press conference.)
The two nominees of the Seniors Committee -- Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little -- separately will be subject to an up-or-down vote. Either man will win enshrinement with an affirmative vote of 80 percent or more.
The process for the 15 Modern Era Finalists is a little more cumbersome. The list first will be cut to 10, and then it will be reduced to five. Once five finalists have been identified, a "yes" or a "no" will be cast for each man, and every one of the five whose names generate a "yes" on 80 percent or more of the ballots will be added to the Hall of Fame.
This year, two of the five finalists surely will be receiver Jerry Rice and running back Emmitt Smith, and it would be shocking if either man gets fewer than 80 percent of the final vote.
LeBeau also is expected to conjure enough votes. Though consideration technically should be confined to his playing career, the "John Madden exception" likely will cause more than enough voters to give LeBeau the nod, given his long-time contributions as a coach and innovator of the 3-4/zone blitz scheme. (Madden, who was considered for induction based on his coaching career, benefited from his years of stellar work as a broadcaster and for his role in developing the ultimate tool for perpetually converting America's youth into pro football fans -- the Madden video game franchise.)
Beyond Smith, Rice, and LeBeau, the process this year will be a crapshoot. For each man, a case can be made for, and against, enshrinement.
The other Modern Era Finalists are: receiver Tim Brown, receiver Cris Carter, coach Don Coryell, running back Roger Craig, center Dermontti Dawson, defensive end Richard Dent, offensive lineman Russ Grimm, linebacker Charles Haley, linebacker Rickey Jackson, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, defensive tackle John Randle, receiver Andre Reed, and tight end Shannon Sharpe.
There's a sense that Dent could have the edge as to the rest of the field, and that Carter would be the first of the receivers other than Rice. Others who have a strong chance include Sharpe, Haley, Jackson, and Coryell. Given that no "Hogs" are in the Hall of Fame, Grimm could have a good shot, too.