Inside The Bills

HOF chances for Polian significantly improved

Posted by Chris Brown on August 6, 2014 – 6:21 pm

In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech last Saturday night Bills all-time leading receiver Andre Reed mentioned former Bills GM Bill Polian and indicated that he too would soon be in the Hall of Fame. Reed perhaps knew something that others may not have known as the Pro Football Hall of Fame has altered their bylaws making the chances of enshrinement for Polian far greater now than ever before.

On Wednesday the Board of Trustees of the Pro Football Hall of Fame formally announced changes to the organization’s By-Laws for the Selection Committee. They approved a modification to the selection process by which a Contributor – defined as an individual who has “made outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching” – will automatically be included among the annual list of finalists for election. The Contributor finalist will also be voted on for election independent of all other finalists. The change to the By-Laws was approved at the Board’s annual meeting last Friday in Canton.

Although the Contributor finalist will be voted on independent of the other nominees, he will still be required – like all other finalists – to receive an eighty percent positive vote for election by the 46-member Selection Committee.

Contributors have previously been part of the modern-era nomination list that included coaches and players. The result has been that since 1963, when the Hall of Fame first opened, only 19 Contributors have been elected and 10 of those were elected in the first five Hall of Fame classes, including six as Charter Members.

“The Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees has carefully reviewed the process as it relates to Contributors,” stated Board of Trustees Chairman Randy Hunt. “It is our belief that this modification will create a more level playing field when it comes to considering Contributors for election to the Hall of Fame.”

The Board, in an effort to address the backlog of deserving Contributor candidates, also approved a temporary measure allowing for two Contributor finalists in years one, three and five, of the next five years. In years two and four of that same period, there will be just one Contributor finalist. At the end of the five-year period, the number of Contributor finalists going forward will be one per year. talked to Hall of Fame Selector Committee member Jarrett Bell of USA Today, who told of the committee’s lobbying efforts to separate contributors (coaches, owners, commissioners, GMs etc.) from players. Now that it has happened Bell believes it will help in two ways.

“I think Bill Polian when you start talking about contributors and front office people and to (get to conference championship games) with three teams, having a second category for contributors will allow a GM type like Polian and NFL owners to get in the Hall of Fame and we can discuss them separately from the players. That will help.”

It will also keep contributors from serving as roadblocks to deserving players as was the case with Andre Reed when Ed Sabol, Bills Parcells and the late Ralph Wilson earned induction over the last eight years forcing Reed to wait until 2014 for enshrinement.

“A guy like an Andre Reed had to wait a little bit longer in part because along the way there were a couple of contributors,” said Bell. “This will help.”

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