Who deserves the 2017 HOF contributor nomination?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame introduced a contributor category in 2015 and all three of the candidates nominated since then have been enshrined in Canton: general managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf in 2015 and owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. in 2016. Who will be next in 2017?

Tagliabue2

(Paul Tagliabue photo from the Talk of Fame Network files)

(Bobby Beathard photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins)

Talk of Fame Network

The Pro Football Hall of Fame introduced a contributor category in 2015, and all three of the candidates nominated since then have been enshrined in Canton: General managers Bill Polian and Ron Wolf in 2015 and owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. in 2016.

The new category opened the door to deserving candidates who previously faced long odds for enshrinement. There will be two such contributor candidates for the Class of 2017. That’s the subject of this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll -- who is most deserving of that nomination? Here are your candidates:

Bobby Beathard. Beathard was a talent evaluator extraordinaire, helping build championship teams in three cities – Kansas City (1966), Miami (1972-73) and Washington (1981, 1987). He also built a fourth franchise into a Super Bowl team – the 1994 San Diego Chargers, who lost to the 49ers in the championship game. Beathard served as a scout in Kansas City, the director of player personnel at Miami and the general manager of both the Redskins and Chargers. Three of his Washington draft picks are in the Hall of Fame: Darrell Green, Russ Grimm and Art Monk. Beathard retired from the Chargers and the NFL in 2000.

Jerry Jones. The flamboyant owner of the Cowboys owns three Super Bowl rings and the most valuable sporting franchise in the world. He changed the way NFL teams market themselves, introducing stadium revenue streams that put millions of dollars into the pockets of owners and players. He built the league’s first billion-dollar stadium, and the revenues generated from all these new buildings have been a principal reason the salary cap has skyrocketed from $34.6 million in 1994 to $155.27 million in 2016. Jones has served two tenures on the NFL competition committee and brokered the deal that moved the Rams back to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.

Bucko Kilroy. Along the lines of a Dick LeBeau and John Madden, Kilroy is a “body-of-work” candidate. He arrived in the NFL as a player in 1943 and wound up as an all-decade selection for the 1940s as an offensive tackle with the Eagles. He went on to spend 45 years as an NFL executive and talent evaluator with the Redskins, Cowboys and Patriots. As general manager of the Patriots in the 1980s, he built a team that went to the franchise’s first Super Bowl. As the team’s head of scouting in the 2000s, he was responsible for many of the players who won three Super Bowls for the Patriots from 2001-04. Kilroy passed away at the age of 86 in 2007.

Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots
Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots

(Bucko Kilroy photo courtesy of the New England Patriots)

Steve Sabol. Steve’s father Ed has already been enshrined in Canton for creating NFL Films, which accelerated the national popularity of pro football in the 1960s. But Steve was the creative genius behind the brand with cutting edge filmwork that gave faces and personalities to the men behind the facemasks. Steve won more than 40 Emmys during his career and received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for “revolutionizing the way America watches football and setting the standard in sports filmmaking.” Sabol passed away in 2012 at the age of 69.

Steve Sabol photo courtesy of NFL Films
Steve Sabol photo courtesy of NFL Films

(Steve Sabol photo courtesy of NFL Films)

Paul Tagliabue. The successor to Hall-of-Fame commissioner Pete Rozelle, Tagliabue served in the capacity for 17 years, during which the league expanded from 28 to 32 teams and saw 18 new stadiums built. There were no labor stoppages during his term and both free agency and a salary cap were implemented. The NFL also increased its international presence during Tagliabue’s term, starting a spring league in Europe and playing exhibition games in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Spain and Sweden. Tagliabue retired from the NFL in 2006.

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