SAN FRANCISCO — Last year was my first serving as a member of the 46-person selection committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Saturday was my first as a presenter.
For the 15 modern-day finalists, the voter from the market where that player spent the majority of his career presents the player’s case, so as the representative covering the Green Bay Packers, this year I presented Brett Favre.
In recent weeks I’d thought out the gist of what I was going to say, and late last week I finally wrote it out and refined it. The selection meeting is a long grind — about nine hours — so time is precious and brevity a luxury. The Hall asks that presenters keep their initial statements to five minutes but they usually end up being closer to 10 because few candidates are slam dunks.
Favre was a slam dunk, so when I gave my presentation a dry run Friday night it was about 1 minute, 15 seconds. The crux was that the Packers’ .629 winning percentage in Favre’s 16 seasons as their starting quarterback was the best in the league over that time, and that considering Don Hutson had four of his five best statistical seasons during World War II, there’s a good argument that Favre’s NFL-record durability and indispensable role in reviving the Packers in the 1990s make him the greatest player in the history of a franchise that already had 20 players in the Hall.
But during the meeting I called an audible. Favre came up late in the morning, a little more than halfway through the 18 players (there also were two candidates from the seniors committee and one from the contributors committee). By that point, several of the 46 selectors had mentioned Favre in passing, including Jason Cole of Bleacher Report.
In talking about another candidate, Cole said he’d consulted 199 NFL people at the Senior Bowl and asked them to pick the five players they’d put in the Hall from the list of 15 modern-day candidates. All 199 picked Favre.
So when Favre’s turn came in the meeting, I told the committee I had a presentation ready but let’s just skip it and go with what Jason Cole said. David Baker, the Hall’s president and executive director, said, “I take it that’s the final word?” I said yes, the committee cheered and we moved on to Kurt Warner.
One voter said the presentation took nine seconds. Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News said six seconds, so that’s what we’ll go with.
It’s hardly the first time a selector has taken that approach. From what I’ve heard the same was done for Walter Payton, Dan Marino, Joe Montana, John Elway, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.
Peyton Manning probably will be next on that list.
— email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @PeteDougherty.