NFL writers announced on Wednesday they had voted on former general managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf as contributor finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2015 class. In getting selected, Polian and Wolf will now be submitted to the full voting body in January, and if they receive 80 percent of the vote, they will be inducted next August.
In prior years, contributors were included in the pool with players, and voters had to pick and choose between all of them. This past year, the writers created a separate category for contributors. This was meant to avoid creating a backlog of contributors that would be overlooked in favor of players. Now, they are considered separately, with that 80 percent requirement independent of any vote for players.
This announcement also means that former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo will not be getting into the Hall of Fame next year. The committee started with a list of 40 contributors, and cut them down to 11. DeBartolo was among those 11, which included:
- Former Washington and San Diego GM Bobby Beathard
- Outgoing Denver owner Pat Bowlen
- Former Dallas personnel man/current NFL analyst/draftnik Gil Brandt
- Former San Francisco owner Eddie DeBartolo
- Longtime NFL officials and administrator Art McNally
- Former Cleveland and Baltimore owner Art Modell
- Bill Polian, the former Buffalo, Carolina and Indianapolis GM
- Former NFL Films president Steve Sabol
- Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue
- Ron Wolf, the former Raiders scout and Tampa Bay and Green Bay GM
- Former Giants GM George Young
Peter King (a member of the committee) said DeBartolo, Bowlen, Modell, Tagliabue and Sabol all generated significant discussion. He included Tagliabue and Sabol in a separate sentence from the first three, so it is possible they were discussed a little bit less. But for now, that maybe gives us an idea of where the discussion might be headed. It would seem Eddie DeBartolo could find himself right in the thick of things over the next couple years, and finally make his way into the Hall of Fame.
My guess is Modell ends up getting in next year, in part because he is a pre-merger owner. Eddie DeBartolo and Pat Bowlen both joined the NFL after the merger, and they would be the first post-merger owners to get into the Hall of Fame. I think eventually it will happen, but it will still take some time.