The Pro Football Hall of Fame created the contributor committee in 2015 to provide a pathway to Canton for worthy candidates whose impact on the game came off the field. The committee has nominated five candidates in the last three years: general managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf, owners Edward DeBartolo Jr. and Jerry Jones, and commissioner Paul Tagliabue. All but Tagliabue have been elected.
The committee will nominate just one candidate for the Class of 2018 –and that’s the subject of this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. Who’s the most deserving candidate? Here are your options:
Bobby Beathard, general manager. Serving as a scout, personnel director or general manager, Beathard has had a hand in building seven Super Bowl teams in Kansas City, Miami, Washington and San Diego. His greatest success came during an 11-year run as the general manager of the Redskins, where he drafted Hall of Famers Darrell Green and Art Monk and won three Super Bowls.
Pat Bowlen, owner. Bowlen bought the Broncos in 1984 and, thought he stepped away as the team’s CEO in 2014, still owns the club. During his tenure, the franchise the Broncos have gone to five Super Bowls and won two of them. Furthermore, the Broncos have enjoyed more winning seasons (21) and won more games (320) than any other NFL team.
Gil Brandt, personnel. His 30-year tenure as personnel director of the Cowboys helped produce two Super Bowl champions, three other NFC champions and 18 playoff appearances. His outside-the-box thinking brought to Dallas players with track backgrounds (Bob Hayes), basketball backgrounds (Cornell Green) and military commitments (Roger Staubach).
Bucko Kilroy, personnel. Perhaps the definition of the term “contributor,” Kilroy was an all-decade lineman with the Eagles in the 1940s before embarking on a 46-year career in talent evaluation with the Eagles, Redskins, Cowboys and Patriots. He served as general manager and vice president of the Patriots from 1979 through 1993. He drafted Hall of Famers John Hannah and Mike Haynes.
Robert Kraft, owner. A man crediting with saving football in New England, Kraft has presided over a franchise that has won 14 of the last 16 AFC East titles, seven AFC championships and five Lombardi Trophies. A former season-ticket holder of the Pats, Kraft bought the stadium lease in 1988 to ensure the franchise would stay in Foxboro and then bought the team itself in 1994.
Paul Tagliabue, commissioner. During his 17-year tenure as NFL commissioner (1989-2006), Tagliabue presided over labor peace and an explosion of both television revenues and stadium construction. The NFL went from 28 teams to 32 during his tenure and also brought football to Europe with the World League. It was Tagliabue’s call to cancel games the weekend following the terrorists attacks on 9/11. Tagliabue was a finalist for the Class of 2017.
George Young, general manager. Young served 19 years as general manager of the New York Giants, a franchise suffering through a stretch of 15 consecutive seasons without a playoff berth. Young turned dysfunctional into functional with the Mara ownership family and hired Bill Parcells as his coach to straighten out the franchise on the field. The Giants went to the playoffs eight times in Young’s GM tenure and won two Super Bowls.