I really hate to do this, but I feel there’s no choice in this matter. When you are dealing with an ignorant bully, there are only so many times you can let it slide.
I’m talking about Jason Whitlock, Kansas City’s long-time sports media bully extraordinaire. Listen, if I blogged something about that blob every time he was factually incorrect or didn’t know what he was talking about, then I would never stop. With the shrinking of his audience and no outlet for his special brand of yellow journalism in Kansas City, Whitlock tends to flail about willy nilly these days, trying to pick journalistic fights so he can save a dead career.
He’s not Chicken Little, he’s Chicken Big and he laid an egg this week by going after the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors. If you like, you can go off to the only outlet he has these days and read the whole thing. I’m not going to link and make it easy.
But I will re-cap some of his comments: he says the process of selecting inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is corrupt. He uses as evidence the failure of OT Willie Roaf to get a first ballot election. Whitlock says the committee knows nothing about football and does know about backroom dealing. Here are a few actual passages:
“It’s a textbook, old-school, good-ol’-boys network led by Sports Illustrated’s Peter King (speaker of the house) and the Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin (majority leader) … the process is just as much about the selectors as it is the candidates. Seriously, the selection committee operates like Congress (a few power brokers control everything and worry most about whether the process enables them to hold onto power), only with less transparency.”
Transparency is the word Whitlock keeps throwing around. So, let’s lay some things out right from the start, so there’s no doubt where I’m coming from, for transparency purposes:
- Is it hard to get in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely; it should be.
- Yes, I am a member of the board of selectors, a role I’ve proudly served for over 15 years now and will continue for a few years more. I do not consider the position a lifetime appointment. I do consider it one of the highlight’s of my professional life.
- Part of being on this committee is dealing with the disappointment of those who do not gain election each year. Being called an idiot, knucklehead or stupid is part of being on the board.
- Whitlock wants desperately to be on the Board of Selectors, and for years when he was employed in Kansas City, he waged a campaign with others to have me removed so he could step into the role. One of his many failures.
- There is no question that the Hall of Fame process could use some tinkering, and alterations. But I have no problem saying I’m proud of the work the board has done and think the Class of 2011 is a wonderful group.
- And I agree with Whitlock – yes there are those times when the planets align – that there needs to be more transparency in the voting. If you read my post from last Sunday, you would have seen all my notes on the candidates that I voted for in the balloting for the Class of 2011. If you missed it, here’s the link.
Now, all of this got started because Roaf did not make the Hall this year. I voted for Roaf all the way through, but he did not make the final five. I have no problems with that. There were 15 people on the list and all were Hall of Fame worthy under the rules and standards that we’ve worked with over the years.
Did Roaf get knocked out by the positive votes for NFL Films Ed Sabol? Probably. But understand that it’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame, not the Pro Football Players Hall of Fame. There are a lot of people who have contributed to making the game what it is today and Ed Sabol was most definitely a worthy contributor.
Willie Roaf will make the Hall of Fame and in the end it matters not whether it was in his first, second or fifth year.
That Whitlock is outraged by Roaf being left out of the 2011 Class is fine. I didn’t like it either, nor when Derrick Thomas did not get in the first year that he was eligible. That’s part of what makes the arguments and process of the Hall of Fame interesting. Throw any number of people into a room and they will come up with any number of combinations.
But for Whitlock to impugn the character of members of the committee, especially guys like King and Gosselin is the sad rantings of a jealous man. Rick Gosselin has forgotten more football in a week than Whitlock has known in his life. Note to JW: believe me big guy, you don’t want to get into a football battle of wits with Goose. It’s a beating you will never recover from.
If there are backroom dealings involved in the Hall of Fame process they have escaped me. I’ve never been offered anything for my vote. I have been campaigned by people inside and outside of the board for particular players, coaches and contributors. But I’ve never been strong-armed by anyone to vote in a particular manner or for a particular person. There is no voting trading, no quid-pro-quo for taking a certain player.
Whitlock wants to be part of the board, but knows he won’t ever reach that status because he knows little or nothing about the game, its history or the men who made it happen. Take his rant on Chris Hanburger, one of the senior candidates elected to the Hall this year. Hanburger is not some obscure linebacker. Every year when the seniors committee meets to select the candidates they are joined by a pair of players already in the Hall of Fame. Last year, those players were LB Jack Ham and TE Charlie Sanders.
Ham told the group that when he went to the Steelers in the 1971 NFL Draft out of Penn State, the Pittsburgh coaches gave him film of Hanburger to study. Something he did for the rest of his career. There was no doubt in Ham’s mind that Hanburger was a legitimate candidate. Whose word are you going to take on this subject: Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham, or Jason Whitlock?
Are their biases in the room? Absolutely, and anybody that tries to tell you otherwise is not being honest. Everyone has biases on every level of our society.
I believe we put too many people in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Too often there are players going into the Hall that were very good players, but were not the best of the best. Those types of outstanding performers do not fall from trees every year. But the Hall of Fame has set up the process it wants. They are in charge and the rules are set by them. They want at least four inductees every year, so that’s what happens.
At some point in the future I will write more about how I think the process could be improved. There’s no question that it could be tweaked, and I doubt there would be many people on the board of selectors that would fight against change.
To make those types of suggestions, one needs to have some idea of the history and the current process. Unfortunately, as is true about so many other things that he writes about, Jason Whitlock has no clue.
NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10
- BRONCOS – WR Demaryius Thomas tore an Achilles while working out on Thursday and will likely need six to eight months to rehab.
- LIONS – released CB Eric King.
- RAVENS – signed FB Jason McKie.
- STEELERS – signed reserve/futures contracts with WR Tyler Grisham, TE Eugene Bright, OT Kyle Jolley, LB Chris Ellis, LB Chris McCoy and K Swayze Waters.