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2009 Hall of Fame Election: Bills Preview

This weekend as part of the Super Bowl festivities the Pro Football Hall of Fame electors will gather to hold their annual selection meeting.  If you've been reading the blog, you know that I have been publishing a series of articles discussing the candidacies of the three Bills Hall of Fame Finalists (and one semi-finalist).  Here are the earlier articles on founder and owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. and Super-Bowl era pillars Andre Reed and Bruce SmithSteve Tasker was a semi-finalist this year but failed to move on to the finalist list.

Now that we've polled you, the Buffalo Rumblings community, about the candidates and their Hall-worthiness, it's time to digest the results.  Almost unanimously, Bruce Smith was elected to the Hall of Fame this year with 98% of the vote and 100% of the Buffalo Rumblings vote (silly Dolphins fans).  This is also the consensus around the "real" media, as the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle's Bob Matthews, ESPN's Tim Graham and John Clayton, and many others believe Smith is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. 

Your polls also say that Andre Reed (75%) belongs in the Hall, but he probably won't make it this year .  That is also the general consensus of bloggers and opinion-makers out there.

Ralph Wilson Jr.'s candidacy received mixed support.  77% of you said he belonged in the Hall but that poll did not contain the option of this year versus ever.  I made the change on subsequent polls.  Graham suggests this year would not be the year to induct Wilson since the Bills aren't doing well and they retained Dick Jauron saying  "...the throngs of Bills fans who'd drive down to honor Smith probably would boo Wilson when he stepped to the lectern."  This sounds a lot like the Bills not announcing Jauron's contract extension during the season waiting for the right time.  What's the right time?  If Wilson belongs in, vote him in.  Historically people named finalists eventually are elected.  Wilson belongs.

Competition from teammates?
Ultimately, the big question here is how many players from these Super-Bowl-less Buffalo Bills can make the Hall of Fame?  Hall of Fame writer and selector John Clayton says, "The Bills may have more Hall of Famers than the three-time [Super Bowl] champion Patriots. It is what it is.  People make the argument that a player was the best at his position."  

Bruce Smith is mentioned as the best ever.   Steve Tasker is mentioned as the best ever (but couldn't get a finalist spot).  Reed and Wilson are near the top of their fields.  These guys all deserve a spot in Canton.

Hall of Fame Finalists
To review the criteria, at least four candidates must be elected from the list of 17 but the total class cannot number more than seven.  In order to be elected they must receive 80% of a yes/no vote.  Here is the complete list of the finalists: DE Bruce Smith; DB Rod Woodson; TE Shannon Sharpe; DE John Randle; C Dermontti Dawson; DT Cortez Kennedy; WR Cris Carter; WR Andre Reed; DE Richard Dent; OL Russ Grimm; OL Bob Kuechenberg; OL Randall McDaniel; LB Derrick Thomas; commissioner Paul Tagliabue; Bills owner Ralph Wilson; DE Claude Humphrey; WR Bob Hayes.

For more information on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Process, visit the Hall's official site.  Also, Hall of Fame Selector Peter King from Sports Illustrated gives us an unbiased (at least city-wise) look at the odds of all 17 finalists actually being elected this year.  No surprise he has Bruce as a mortal lock, Wilson on the bubble looking in, and Reed far down the list.  Chuck Pollack of the Olean Times also breaks down the candidates with the help of Jim Kelly and Marv Levy.

Last year was the year of the Redskin when two former D.C. players, Art Monk and Darrell Green, were both enshrined.  Could this be the "Year of the Bill" and multiple Bills make the cut?  Add your comments on that thought here.