The Pro Football Hall of Fame is moving toward a massive induction class in 2020. While it’s not official yet, a 20-person class could be on tap next year with a large emphasis on the backlog of worthy senior candidates.
At their annual meeting Friday, the Hall’s Board of Trustees approved a motion that would add 12 spots to the normally eight-man class. Typically, five modern era candidates join two senior candidates and one contributor for induction. The new proposal boosts the senior candidates to a ten-man class and the contributors to three while adding two coaches to the mix, as well. Five modern-era candidates plus ten senior candidates, three contributors, and two coaches would add up for one massive class.
Keeping the modern era candidates at five, this change benefits the senior candidates the most. Senior candidates need to have been retired for more than 25 years.
Cookie Gilchrist is the most obvious former Buffalo Bills player who could benefit from the change. He was the first player to rush for 1000 yards in one AFL season (on a 14-game schedule) in 1962 and he also earned AFL MVP honors and set the all-time record for the league with 13 touchdowns. In 1963, he set the single-game pro football record with 243 rushing yards and five touchdowns against the New York Jets. He led the AFL in scoring for his three years with the Bills. He was also a great blocker and fierce civil rights advocate. He was an all-star for ten straights years (six in the CFL and four in the AFL) and was named as the fullback on the All-AFL team. CFL stats count in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but aren’t compared apples to apples with AFL and NFL stats.
(For the record, Steve Tasker played through 1997 and is still a modern-era candidate as are the vast majority of the Super Bowl Bills.)
In the coaching ranks, former Bills coach Chuck Knox and former Bills player Marty Schottenheimer would both seem to have some claim toward the two spots available. Schottenheimer has the most coaching wins of among inactive coaches not already in the Hall of Fame. Knox is third on that list. Working against them is neither won a conference title, much less a Super Bowl, and both have putrid playoff records.
Next February and summer could be a massive undertaking in Canton, Ohio.