Now, the list for the journey of the 2024 class begins. 170 players have been announced for possible induction. And among this lengthy tabulation are seven former Browns.
The process for induction
Just because an athlete played in the NFL does not mean they will become inducted into the HOF. Not even close. In fact, the HOF is a very exclusive club of the best of the best.
The process begins with any player or coach who has been retired from the game for five full seasons. A Selection Committee then goes through three rounds of polling to decide which potential candidates will ultimately become official nominees on the final tabulated list.
The list this year contains 173 names. Of this number, nine are eligible for the first time.
One representative from each NFL city is on the Selection Committee with New York and Los Angeles having two delegates. Another voting member is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Another 17 are chosen as “at-large” from various media outlets for a total of 50.
The Browns Committee member is Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland/WKNR radio. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com/Cleveland Plain-Dealer is an at-large voting member.
All voting members remain until resignation, death, or retirement from their current media employer.
The process then begins with each Committee member selecting 25 names from the approved list. Then in November, that list becomes only 25 followed by another vote that whittles that number down to 15. At the annual meeting right before the Super Bowl, the list goes to 10 names which soon becomes just five. At that point, the five remaining Finalists are voted on for election into the HOF on a yes-or-no basis. A minimum positive vote of 80% is necessary for election into the Hall.
There is also a “contributor” category defined as an individual who has made outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching.
There is no set number of enshrines, but the Committee’s current bylaws state between four and nine members will be enshrined each year. Contrary to what a lot of folks believe, winning championships are not part of the consideration and are largely based on personal performance and production.
Part of the nomination process is that any fan may nominate a qualified person who has been connected with pro football in any capacity simply by writing to the HOF. The HOF itself has no voice in the nomination or the voting process. The only function of the HOF staff is to coordinate the annual meeting and then process the nominations as they are decided upon.
Pro Football Hall of Very Good
This Hall is for players who had exceptional careers, but just haven’t been voted into the HOF in Canton.
Some of these individuals go through years of either being on the initial list or involved in the final stages, yet never hearing their name called to be included in the HOF. Their career as a player, coach, or executive/contributor was deemed fruitful and exemplary, but just not quite judged as truly the best.
For whatever reason, despite a great career, they aren’t going into the HOF. Many are never even nominated. But these same men have another designation that awaits them on an annual basis: The Hall of Very Good.
This honor is a function of the Professional Football Researcher’s Association (PFRA). Every year, players are nominated and members then vote on who they believe should become an honoree in this other Hall. PFRA members are able to nominate five individuals to which their committee then whittles the list down to 20. Members then vote with 7-10 selected each year.
The Hall of Very Good features a Who’s Who of exceptional players who have yet to be inducted into the Pro Football HOF.
This Hall is the brainchild of Bob Carroll who is one of the founders of the PFRA. On August 25, 2009, Carroll passed away at the age of 73. He was known as a superb pro football historian and the editor of Coffin Corner, a magazine dedicated to the history of professional football.
There are currently 18 Browns in the Hall of Very Good: OT Gene Hickerson*, WR Mac Speedie*, WR Billy Howton, DE Jim Marshall, OT Lou Rymkus, OT Dick Schafrath, OG Jim Ray Smith, Head coach Blanton Collier, DT Bob Gain, LB Lou Saban, DB Erich Barnes, LB Rich Jackson, WR Gary Collins, OG Duane Putnam, DE Lyle Alzado, S Everson Walls, TE Mark Bavaro, and LB Clay Matthews.
Editor’s note: players marked with * were eventually inducted into the Pro Football HOF
Browns on both lists for 2024
The massive 173-name Pro Football HOF list for 2024 has a few former Browns: QB Jeff Garcia, RB Jamal Lewis, RB/KR Eric Metcalf, WR Andre Rison, LB Karlos Dansby, K Matt Stover, and KR Josh Cribbs.
The selection process for the Hall of Very Good is also going on. Former Browns include DT Michael Dean Perry and Assistant Coach John David Crow. In addition, also nominated is Peggy Parratt who played, coached, and eventually became an administrator with the Cleveland Tigers from 1916-1925.
Dawgs By Nature staff writer Barry Shuck is an official voter for the Hall of Very Good