The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced their Seniors Committee finalists for the HoF Class of 2014 on Wednesday. Oakland Raiders punter, Ray Guy, and Falcons & Eagles defensive end, Claude Humphrey were given the nod this year. Once again, a host of worthy AFL candidates were left to “wait ’til next year.”
At this point, I don’t know what to say other than the system is broken and needs to be fixed. Honestly, I have no problem with Ray Guy. He is among the top two or three to ever play his position, and truly changed the game during his career. He has been long overlooked, and is due his moment in the sun. As for Humphrey, I just shake my head and ask, “why?”
Claude Humphrey was a very good player – some might even say that he was great. He was a five-time All-Pro, and six-time Pro Bowl member, and was a reckoning at defensive end. However, he was a Senior Committee nominee in 2009, when he was passed over in a class that consisted of Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson, Ralph Smith, Randall McDaniel, Bob Hayes and Derrick Thomas. I am wondering what Humphrey has done in the past four years to make him a more worthy candidate than he was back in ’09? If the answer is nothing, which it undoubtedly is, then why is he given another opportunity at enshrinement when guys like Johnny Robinson, Walt Sweeney, Art Powell, Charlie Hennigan and so many others don’t even get an initial look? For that matter, what about Packers guard Jerry Kramer, if there truly is an AFL bias?
If the HoF voting didn’t mean so much to the fans of this great game, then I would say that it has become laughable. But that is not fair – though frankly, neither is the shotty voting, and perhaps, even the process in general. The AFL featured a whole host of men who not only ran, hit, sweated and bled to make themselves and their teams better, they did that while carrying the burden of playing in a league that sometimes could not even guarantee their paycheck, let alone their season. These men deserve honest, informed and unbiased voters to weigh their careers and determine their worthiness for induction. When 20-or-more worthy candidates can be glossed over based on throwaway comments such as “there was no defense in the early years of the AFL,” then it becomes obvious that the voters are simply not interested in putting in the time to truly understand the contributions of the players in question. And if that is the case, then they should be replaced by someone who will.