The National Football Federation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame last week released the ballot for the Hall’s Class of 2019, and there were nine quarterbacks on it.
That’s not unusual. But this is: Not only won’t you find the names of Joe Montana or Tom Brady on the list, but you never will.
That’s because for a player to qualify for the College Football Hall he must have received first-team All-America recognition by a selector organization approved by the NCAA, and he must have been nominated by his alma mater.
“Those are the two overriding principles we look for in players,” said NFF president and CEO Steve Hatchell on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
So that means that guys like Montana and Brady — who were never first-team All-Americans — but who are among the greatest quarterbacks to play the game will never qualify for induction.
Nevertheless, Montana is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Brady will join him six years after his retirement. Montana was a first-ballot choice, and Brady will be, too.
But neither will make any ballot for the College Hall.
“That’s correct,” said Hatchell. “You can put Joe Namath in that group, too. Those guys are spectacular football players and, obviously, had terrific college careers (and) had spectacular, wonderful pro careers. But we don’t look at what they did in the pros at all. This is the College Football Hall of Fame.
“We give to our Honors Court, the selection committee who has the final say of who the class is going to be … we give them all the details. (Such as ) who were the Heisman finalists; who were the Outland finalists. We can build a pretty good case for a lot of guys.
“But if you weren’t a first-team All-American, then it gets to be pretty tough. So we just stay with that. But you’ve got to be a first-team All-American at some point in your career.”
There have been nearly 5.3 million players in the history of college football, but only 997 have been enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.