Editor’s Note: To access audio, please click on the following iTunes link … then go to “No. 2. Jeff Legwold: Class of 2019:”
No sooner had the Pro Football Hall of Fame chosen its Class of 2018 then speculation centered on who’s next — specifically, predicting the five modern-era choices for 2019.
Predictably, the conversation centered on three guys in their first years of eligibility — safety Ed Reed, tight end Tony Gonzalez and cornerback Champ Bailey — with some persons on the Hall-of-Fame board of selectors privately touting them as “first-ballot” choices.
If that’s true, then it means only two seats would be left for anyone else deemed Hall-of-Fame worthy, and that’s not only a concern; it’s a subject we dissected on our latest podcast with Hall-of-Fame voter Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com as our panel looked to the Class of 2019.
“I believe if we get so wrapped up in ‘first-ballot Hall of Famers’ a lot more classes are going to look like this year’s,” Legwold said. “If we keep thinking people have to be ‘first-ballot Hall of Famers,’ I just think you’re going to get a lot more classes that look like that. And the players who either got stuck in position battles or clusters of championship-team players — got behind those people — they’re not going to get in.
“I know Joe Montana did more in terms of championships in his career, but I don’t believe Joe Montana is more of a Hall of Famer than somebody like Floyd Little or Rayfield Wright. I just don’t. Once you get the gold jacket, you’re a Hall of Famer.”
This year’s class was the youngest in anyone’s memory. The five inductees had a total of eight years of eligibility … which is another way of saying they left 92 combined years on the table. People tell us that’s OK because the five we elected were marquee names who deserved to be in. OK, fine. But tell that to guys like Alan Faneca or Kevin Mawae — both first-team all-decade choices who were passed over.
The Hall has inducted five first-ballot choices the last two years, which means everyone else competed for only five seats. In all likelihood, that trend continues in 2019, and we ask: Is that fair? And what does it mean for someone like a Tony Boselli, who will be in his 13th year of eligibility? To find out, listen in here:
Click on the following iTunes link, then go to “No. 2: Jeff Legwold: Class of 2019:”