The long wait for Buffalo Bills great Andre Reed to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame will continue for at least another year, as Reed and the other wide receivers on the finalist list failed to gain inclusion in 2012. While the ballots are secret, and arguments are to be kept quiet outside the meeting room, two voters have shared a closer look at the process.
Sports Illustrated's Peter King had just a brief snippet in his Monday Morning Quarterback column on the Hall voting. He noted that Bill Parcells and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. were the two longest-debated candidates in 2012, at over 40 minutes each. Reed was next on the list at just under a half-hour. In fact, the longest four debates yielded zero inductees, as Dick Stanfel was also left out.
King's colleague at SI, Jim Trotter, was also on the 44-member voting panel. He had this to say about the debate time: "[The reason Reed was discussed the longest] was only because he was the last of the receivers presented," wrote Trotter, "so voters were able to compare and contrast the players at that position."
After that long debate, two wide receivers moved on to the Top 10, eliminating Tim Brown in favor of Reed and Cris Carter. Following that vote, each member is asked to select their final list of candidates, ranging from three to five players.
"I voted for four of the six inductees; the two I voted for who did NOT make it were Carter and [Charles] Haley," said Trotter to end his column.
Trotter did as Buffalo News writer and Hall of Fame voter Mark Gaughan surmised on Saturday night: "Reed likely was a victim of a splitting of the vote at the receiver position. The strong likelihood is voters only picked one receiver to get to the final five, and Reed and Carter cancelled each other out."
This isn't a revelation, but in 2011, Reed was the only receiver to make the cut to the Top 10. In that voting process, no receiver was there to cancel him out, so that excuse doesn't quite add up to me. When you consider this as a year without locks, it makes some more sense, though.
The most troubling part of the comments is this excerpt from Trotter, in which he outlines what may have been going on in the room:
Some thoughts on today's voting: It sure had the feel of a good old-fashion housecleaning. That may sound terrible, but in no way is it meant to demean the players who were selected. Each of them is most deserving. But voters were aware of what's coming down the pike, and if certain positions weren't addressed this year it would create major logjams going forward.
The housecleaning was the basis for many people's opinion that Reed and/or Carter would get in this year - to break the logjam at receiver. If the voters were worried about what was going to happen by adding Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen to a pool that included the elected duo of Dermontti Dawson and Willie Roaf, why wouldn't they also be worried about taking care of the problem they already have at wide receiver - one that will only get worse when Marvin Harrison is added to the mix in 2014?
With a strong crop of first-year eligible candidates in 2013, Reed and the rest of the wide receivers may have to wait an awfully long time. Michael Strahan, Ogden, Allen and Warren Sapp will all merit serious first-year consideration.