Chris Doleman on NFL Hall of Fame Voting System: “Don’t hate me or hate the other guys who went in. That’s just the way it is.”February 14, 2012 – 6:45 am by Steven Cuce
Chris Doleman finally got his call into the NFL Hall of Fame two weeks ago after a long wait that he didn’t quite understand. Doleman had 150.5 career sacks becoming the third consecutive NFC North pass-rusher to earn a call to Canton after Richard Dent was selected in 2011 and John Randle in 2010. As a matter of fact Doleman notes how comical it was that Dent was his backup during his career and somehow made it into the Hall of Fame before he did, but he believes that’s the product of a flawed voting process.
The 2012 Hall of Fame Class has been very controversial to say the least with most of the talk centering around who didn’t get in. It’s honestly ridiculous and an injustice that Bill Parcells didn’t make it into the Hall of Fame on his first try after winning 2 Super Bowls and turning around four franchises that were in disarray, but Doleman believes the voters shouldn’t vote in that many candidates on their first go around anyway.
Chris Doleman joined WCNN in Atlanta with The Rude Awakening to discuss getting elected into the NFL Hall of Fame, where he was when he got the NFL Hall of Fame phone call, the idea of the NFL Hall of Fame Committee rotating every five years, and the NFL Hall of Fame voting process being unfair.
Congrats on getting into the Hall of Fame. We fail to recognize the great folks that got in this year and really have focused on the people who didn’t get in:
“Thank you very much. I have to agree with you there has been a lot of talk about the guys that didn’t get in, but I think what people need to realize is that none of us have a vote. All of us are qualified applicants. There’s definitely a…everybody will get in. If you’re a finalist you have a 97% chance of getting in. I don’t think they should lick the red off of the apple of the guys who have gotten in. Guys have worked extremely hard. The people who made those decisions? They sat in a room for seven hours and 37 minutes deciding five guys, so they went through this thing time after time after time and they all know who is coming up. They all know who is eligible in the next couple of years and they are going to make their decision the way they are going to make their decisions.”
Where were you when you got the Hall of Fame phone call? What was your reaction initially?
“I was in Indianapolis. I was with some family. I was born there and went back. A couple of my brothers had shown up and we all just watched around with some aunts, uncles and cousins. That was the best way to do it. They asked me to come down to the studio, but it is a tough situation when you go down there and then all of a sudden you are not the guy they chose. I just chose to spend it around family and explain to them: ‘Look this isn’t an exact science. I might get in. I might not get in.’ If you remember last year I wasn’t even considered. They had me on that non-consideration list. Then all of a sudden: Boom. You’re a finalist. How they do it? It took me five years to get off the semi-finalists list. You finish fourth in the history of the league that’s insane, but that was the way they had to do it. Obviously I am okay with the way this turned out. There are some guys that are a little bit bitter. Don’t hate me or hate the other guys who went in. That’s just the way it is.”
Do you think the Hall of Fame Committee should rotate every five years like Willie Roaf suggested?
“I think the system has to get a little better. I think what happened and what really slows the system down, is that we jump guys. That’s the biggest thing that screws up the system. You got a guy that all of a sudden comes up and we gotta put him in his first year of eligibility. Well you know what that is great, but what it does to the other guys is put them back a year. Number two is number three. Number three is number four. Number four is number five years back. Everybody is stretched back further and further and further. So now you get this big log jam because you had to put this one guy in. Now everybody on that list like I said before is all Hall of Fame material. It’s just that simple, but when you start jumping guys and throwing a guy in here and throwing a guy in there it messes it up for everyone else. I think it is important that we stay true to the cause and it might take you…it took me five years to get off a semi-finalists list. If you can get off that list and say ‘This is where I am slotted.’ You are going to get in. At least a guy can say I am going to get in this year. Not some of this stuff, putting in guys that numbers are cringed or they’ve been massaged a little bit because I think your numbers are your numbers. If you got a guy sitting there with 150 or 160 sacks and you are putting in a guy with 80 or 90 sacks? Come on?”
This may be unfair, but in football a lot has to do with how many Super Rings you win when the voters look at the numbers?
“Absolutely. Absolutely. You can’t identify guys when you see a Willie Roaf, an All-Pro, because players know who are the good ones and know guys who aren’t that good. I definitely wouldn’t want to put it in the hands of guys who already in the Hall of Fame. Maybe you get one vote, but what would end up happening is that you got players who are just sometimes on a Super Bowl team or a championship team then boom they are swept in. Perfect example Richard Dent. I love him. Richard Dent was my backup most of my career in the league, but he goes in [the Hall of Fame] before I do? What do you do about it? I’m not going to begrudge Richard for it because he didn’t have anything to do with it. He hung around for a long time.”