Message behind Hall’s jump to three senior finalists: ‘Just do the right thing’

In seven months as President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jim Porter has introduced a series of welcome…and, frankly, overdue…changes.

He brought back former executive director and Hall historian Joe Horrigan. He asked the Halls of Famers to deliver The Knock to the class of 2022. He led the campaign to increase the number of senior finalists per year, with the announcement last week that the number will increase from one to three for next three voting cycles (2023-25).

And he didn’t finish.

In his last appearance on the “Eye Test for Two” podcast (, Porter’s third since taking office, he said he hasn’t objected to nominating three senior finalists in more than three years … mentioning a possibility of six. This would require consultation with the Hall’s board of 49 selectors, and then its board, before a vote to extend current regulations for seniors (defined as over 25 years from retirement) three more voting cycles are taken.

Wearing does not exclude anything.

“I just want to do the right thing,” he said. “Let’s do it right.”

It’s been his mantra since taking office, and so far so good. He made numerous changes to voting procedures, starting by consulting his 49 constituents on the seniors issue – first through virtual meetings, then via an emailed survey. When he gathered what he needed, he acted on their recommendations, which included merging the Coaches and Contributors categories into one for the next three years and increasing the number of subcommittee members. from nine to 12.

Then he approached the board of directors of the hall and the proposals were adopted.

The main breakthrough was the increase in the number of senior finalists, a jump that voters had been seeking for years. The reason: There are far more Hall of Fame-worthy seniors waiting in Canton than there are coaches and contributors combined – with our Rick Gosselin naming 58 unlisted players from all decades, including 53 never discussed as finalists.

This resonated with Porter, and he decided to seek a change.

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“It’s subjective as to who gets into the Hall of Fame,” he said. ” I understand. But, at the same time, you want to give everyone the opportunity… everyone in the conversation. What really struck me was when you told me that many of these people on this list of 90 to 100 seniors hadn’t even been mentioned. That’s the part that stuck in my mind the most… I just want to do the right thing.

And so he has.

The response was immediate, with voters, fans and seniors applauding the Hall for its action. But let’s be honest: This wouldn’t have happened if Porter wasn’t in charge and voters hadn’t been heard.

“As far as listening to pickers,” he said, “I’ve actually heard this maybe a dozen times from different pickers. And, quite honestly, it blows my mind when I hear that.

“We have 49 of the best writers and broadcasters in the country at our disposal to help us get it right. And the fact that I’m being thanked for listening to them seems a little weird to me to be honest with you. I appreciate all the knowledge that 49 breeders bring.

The Hall’s announcement last week was the most visible proof of this. When Porter first learned that there were too many old people waiting in Canton, he vowed to look into the matter. Then, after hearing from voters, he helped make history, with the next three classes being the first to include nine seniors. Along with the Centennial Class of 2020, a group of 10 seniors to commemorate 100 years of the NFLand anniversary, there have not been more than two a year since 1970.

But here’s what makes the move so intriguing: When the polls were mailed to selectors, an increase to three was not one of the options. Three of the four choices included two. The fourth was one. Then there was an additional item that asked the respondent “another unlisted scenario”.

Yet when Porter approached the board, he offered three.

“The biggest part for me,” he said, “is this: that 12 guys every year have to be discussed by this new process. We did it for three years. Seems to me (that) we might need six, I don’t know, to go through the list. But we’ll start with three and then evaluate from there to see how it works.

As with modern-era candidates (defined as 25 years or less from retirement), there will be transparency. When the preliminary list of candidates is established, it will be revealed to voters. The same goes for the reductions to 25 and 12. At that time, each of the 12 semi-finalists will be presented to the senior sub-committee. The first cut will be six, then three finalists. They will then be presented to the jury of 49 Hall selectors, along with the modern-day finalists.

It didn’t happen before. It’s ok now. Alleluia.