Superlative coaches and nonplaying contributors to the game were once virtual locks for the Pro Football Hall of Fame: One was included in six of the seven classes between 2000 and '06. However, only one has been enshrined since, a trend that figures to continue on Feb. 5, when the '11 class is announced. The problem: Nonplayers must vie with players for the five slots open to modern-era (post-1986) candidates.
With so many iconic players from the fantasy football era now entering the pool, nonplayers will find it even tougher to break through in future years.
Take this coming year, for instance. If Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk are shoo-ins, as expected, that leaves only three spots for other modern-era candidates. The 44-member selection committee has shown that it is likely to lean toward players first.
One solution is to vote on coaches and contributors separately. That's the way it's done with seniors (pre-1986), who are guaranteed at least two spots each year. The Hall could set aside a slot every year for a nonplayer and require him to receive the usual 80% of the vote for induction.
It's time to act. Nonplayers such as NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, ex--Chargers coach Don Coryell, and former owners Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and Art Modell deserve to be considered on their merits.
WALTER IOOSS JR. (CORYELL)
STANDOUT CAREERS Nonplayers such as Coryell should be considered separately.