Peter King will answer your questions each week in Monday Morning Quarterback: Tuesday Edition.
NEW YORK -- It's that time of year again. Time to get bashed by every Tom, Dick and Bill (Polian, just below) about the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process, now that the Hall has announced the 25 semifinalists for the 2007 class. Who's in, who's not, who we screwed up on. Going by the annual noise I hear, the selection committee has been wrong about everyone from A (Art Monk) to Z (Zimmerman, Gary).
I made some calls to take the temperature of some voters and league people about the Hall, and discovered that what raises the ire of most is the wide receiver position. Here's why: We're in the Aerial Era of NFL history. Over the past 10 years, a strong crop of receivers has become eligible for the Hall of Fame. And of the 50 men enshrined in the Hall of Fame in these last 10 years, the same number of receivers (four) as guards has been elected. Three of the four receivers weren't active past 1987. One of those was the long-forgotten Tommy McDonald, the other two were ex-Steelers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. (The last wideout to gain entry was James Lofton in 2003.)
Receivers with at least 750 career catches -- Andre Reed (951), Art Monk (940), Irving Fryar (851), Henry Ellard (814) and Michael Irvin (750) -- have been on the doorstep for years, unable to get in. Add up the total catches of Swann and Stallworth, 873, and you still don't get to either Reed or Monk.
There are 39 selectors from the news media for the Hall -- one hometown media person representing each of the 32 franchises, the president of the Pro Football Writers of America and six at-large reps (including me and Paul Zimmerman from Sports Illustrated). We vote by Dec. 15 for 15 of the 25 semifinalists, and we'll discuss the final 15 plus the two Senior Committee nominees (Detroit tight end CharlieSanders and Cleveland guard Gene Hickerson) at the voting session on Feb. 3 in Miami. Of those 17 candidates, we can vote in a minimum of three and a max of six.
It seems to me that the receiver discourse is handcuffing us because we can't figure out what a Hall of Fame receiver is anymore. Either that or we don't think the five guys with more catches than almost every Hall of Fame wideout ever are Hall-worthy.
"You guys are running the risk of becoming irrelevant,'' Colts GM Bill Polian told me. As general manager of the Bills in their glory years, Polian saw Reed's importance to Buffalo's four Super Bowl teams, and he calls it "disgraceful'' that Reed hasn't been elected. "You're just like the U.S. Congress, with all the bickering and infighting and 'if this guy doesn't get in I won't vote for that guy' stuff. You can't get the right thing done.''
I mentioned this to Zimmerman and fully expected a full-frontal rip job on Polian. What I got from Dr. Z was this: "He might be right. Sometimes we get so involved with inner-sanctum nonsense that we lose sight of the big picture. It's good to have an outsider knock us on our ass every now and then.''
With Tim Brown, Cris Carter and Jerry Rice -- each of whom have caught more than 1,000 passes -- coming up for election in the next four years, my feeling is it's incumbent on us to break the logjam. This would be the year to do it. It's not a strong year for new candidates, with Bruce Matthews, Terrell Davis and Randall McDaniel the best of the newcomers.