If you haven’t read the introduction on why I undertook this Hall of Fame experiment, I encourage you to read Part I of my blog. After doing so, you’ll have a better feel for the Pro Football Hall of Fame voting process, which I spent the last month attempting to duplicate with a 20-person committee who was provided the same responsibilities: the chance to determine H.O.F. worthiness for two senior candidates and 15 modern-era finalists.
It’s time to reveal and analyze those experiment results and compare them with what happened in Indianapolis last month. (And yes, given that I assembled my committee with an open invitation on Twitter, I’m not surprised the mock results have a strong Minnesota tilt to them.)
Still, it’s the process more than the results that I was interested in sharing.
Step one: each committee member was asked to provide a “yes or no” hall vote on senior candidates Jack Butler and Dick Stanfels. Committee members were then asked to place a checkmark next to their top 10 candidates off of this list of 15 modern-era-finalists: Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Eddie DeBartolo, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Curtis Martin, Cortez Kennedy, Bill Parcells, Andre Reed, Will Shields, Willie Roaf, Aeneas Williams.
The top 10 in reality: Brown, Carter, Dawson, Doleman, Haley, Martin, Kennedy, Parcells, Roaf, Williams.
The experimental top 10 (with number of top 10 votes in parentheses): Carter (20), Doleman (19), Martin (19), Brown (16), Haley (15), Parcells (14), Shields (13), Dawson (13), Williams (12)
Step two: each committee member was asked to place a checkmark next to their top five candidates off the top 10 list.
The final five in reality: Dawson, Doleman, Kennedy, Martin, Roaf
The experimental final five (with number of top five votes in parentheses): Carter (20), Doleman (17), Martin (11), Shields (11), Roaf (10)
Step three: Each of the five modern-era finalists were brought up for a “yes or no” vote, needing 80 percent approval to be included into the Hall of Fame.
The Class of 2012 in reality: Jack Butler, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf, Dermontti Dawson, Curtis Martin
My experimental Class of 2012 (with number of “yes” votes in parentheses): Jack Butler (17), Cris Carter (20), Chris Doleman (18)
Worth noting: in the experiment, both Roaf and Shields fell one “yes” vote short of making the Hall. Martin fell four votes short.
Still, to reiterate, it’s not the final results of my experiment I was interested in. More so, I wanted to hear from those who participated in the experiment as to what surprised them and what suggested changes they might have for the process. Here is some of that feedback:
Steven Stauff: "I can now better understand why Cris Carter is having a harder time getting in based on the current process. If you look at the body of work by Carter, Brown and Reed, they either need to all be in or not. I believe they all should be in, but it would be difficult to include just one since they do have similar bodies of work."
Chad Stenzel: "I was surprised and disappointed that a couple of my picks didn't make it past the first round of cuts."
One voter who wished to remain anonymous: "I am surprised that even though Will Shields was in my first group of cuts, I was able to vote 'yes' for him in the final selection. Although, we were not able to debate in this experiment, I figured that if others felt that he should be in the top five then I would go along with the majority."
Stauff: Make the process less rigid or less structured. Allow for some flexibility. Instead of a set process of going from 15 to 10 to 5, etc., you simply vote who makes it to the next round, regardless of a set number. And only make it one cut. This way if there are seven people that are deserving, seven can get in. If there are only two so be it.
Logan Fredrickson: I would change voting to implement some type of ranking system like Heisman voting. Voters would rank their top 10 players on the ballot. Each ranking would be assigned a point total – the higher the rank the more the points. Tally up those points and have a pre-determined point total needed for admittance. … The current system allows for voters to single out certain players. For instance say, I really didn’t want Carter to get in. By not voting for him in the final vote, I significantly lower his chances due to the steep 80% approval requirement.
A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS
At the conclusion of the experiment, I asked each of my 20 voters to cast a “yes or no” Hall vote for each of the 15 modern-era finalists. What did that tell us? First and foremost, 16 of the 20 voters agreed that more than five modern-era candidates belonged in the Hall.
Ten of the voters would have deemed at least eight modern-era candidates as Hall of Fame inductees with two voters giving the green light to at least a dozen of the candidates.
Here is the number of “yes” votes (out of 20 possible) obtained by each of the 15 modern-era finalists:
- Carter 20
- Doleman 18
- Roaf 15
- Shields 15
- Brown 14
- Dawson 13
- Parcells 13
- Martin 12
- Kennedy 10
- Williams 8
- DeBartolo 7
- Bettis 5
- Haley 4
- Reed 3
- Greene 3
Look over that list again. Curtis Martin made the final five in our experimental vote. Yet had a “yes or no” vote been given to all 15 candidates right out of the gate, Martin would have ranked eighth overall in terms of committee approval.
And again, with all the hullabaloo that surfaced after Carter and Parcells didn’t make this year’s Hall class, is it possible that in the real selection room, one or both of them would have obtained 80 percent approval from the committee had they been given a “yes or no” vote at the outset?
Sensing now how complex and arbitrary the process can be? It would take only one minor tweak to the process to produce very different end results – even with the exact same voters.
Hope this sheds some light on the process. Thanks again to the experimental voters who offered their time to be a part of the process.
Until next year ...