Hall of Famers Fouts, Lofton first enshrinees to sit in on HOF debate

Fouts, Lofton first Hall of Famers to sit in on HOF selection meeting.

Dan Fouts

(Photo courtesy of San Diego Chargers)

Talk of Fame Network

For the first time since the inception of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963, two Hall of Famers this month attended the annual election vote as observers, a precursor to the likely adoption of a plan to allow some Hall of Famers who are also media members to become directly involved in the voting process.

Dan Fouts and James Lofton share their thoughts and observations this week on the Talk of Fame Network with hosts Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge as our guys continue to take you “behind the curtain’’ into the HOF process.

Lofton described his idea of that process as “kind of like moving things around in the garage. You’re not throwing anyone out. You’re just moving them around.’’

Both said they now had a better understanding of the selection committee’s general belief that, except for the rarest of players, some order in the selection process must be maintained. That included this year’s first-ballot selectee, Brett Favre. Favre’s presentation took all of six seconds and was really all that was necessary. That is not generally the case however and both Lofton and Fouts said they were impressed by the presentations made on behalf of the 17 other finalists and the depth of the debates.

“It was eye-opening,’’ Fouts said. “The most impressive thing was the research and passion with which each guy made his case. I came away with the feeling if I get the great opportunity (to be a selector) I’ll need to do a lot of research.’’

Lofton made an interesting point when asked his reaction to criticism leveled at the committee by Terrell Owens, who failed to gain admittance in his first time on the ballot. Lofton was one of many Hall of Famers who had to wait his turn before election and noted the different times when he was waiting admittance.

“I didn’t realize I was getting passed over,’’ Lofton said. “I looked on the list, and (Lynn) Swann and (John) Stallworth weren’t in and they had won championships. I was elated the first time I was on the ballot…Our culture has changed. Growing up I watched “Happy Days.” Now they watch reality TV and think their response is super important. I thought the process was fair and extremely thorough. Players who do get voted in have you guys to thank.’’

Also visiting this week is the man HOF inductee Marvin Harrison dubbed “the captain of the 2016 class,’’ Kevin Greene. Greene was the only defensive player selected this year. Although having the third most sacks in NFL history, Greene waited 12 years to reach Canton and was elated when the knock finally came on his hotel room door.

“I’m tickled to death,’’ Greene said. “I’m not quite yet in touch with reality.’’

Greene said he’d prepared his family for another disappointment, telling them if they learned he’d been put off for another year they were to take it graciously. Next thing he knew he was in a bear hug with Hall-of-Fame president David Baker.

“Right then, there was a big boom, boom, boom on (his) door,’’ Greene recalled. “The time you’ve waited for this thing is a non-factor at that point.’’

Our Talk of Fame hosts also launch into a preliminary discussion about next year’s most likely candidates and the difficulties each may face, as well as discuss Owens’ response to being rejected in favor of Harrison, another top receiver of their era and someone who had been eligible longer.

That discussion led to an expanded view of the problem judging today’s wide receivers with their inflated statistics against the standard of the past. With Owens, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson and others soon to be in the equation, our three HOF voters acknowledge there will be difficult debates ahead.

One interesting point Greene raised was his belief that the league’s all-time leading scorer, Morten Andersen, deserves a place in Canton despite the fact that only one pure kicker, Jan Stenerud, has been enshrined in the Hall’s 53-year history.

“I hope they look at the kickers a little more seriously,’’ Greene says. “The man has scored more points than anyone. I wish those stats mattered (more).’’

In our weekly State Your Case segment, Clark argues for former Minnesota Vikings’ defensive end Jim Marshall, who seems to be best remembered for running the wrong way with a fumble, while our resident guru of the draft, Rick Gosselin, debates whether Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook or North Dakota State phenom Carson Wenz will be the first quarterback taken this spring.

There’s that and much more on the two-hour Talk of Fame Network show this week. It can all be found on 80 radio stations around the country, by visiting the TuneIn app or listening to TOF’s popular podcast on iTunes while you’re on the treadmill! The show can also be heard at talkoffamenetwork.com.

Listen now!