The Pro Football Hall of Fame committee has announced the Class of 2014 inductees. The list includes Michael Strahan, Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Aeneas Williams and Andre Reed. Two names that you will not see on this list are former San Francisco 49ers Charles Haley and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. They made the committee’s final 15 list but did not receive enough votes to get them over the hump. At face value, this is a travesty considering the impact that they each had on the NFL.
Let’s take a look at the facts. Haley recorded 100.5 sacks in his career and was a five-time Pro Bowler. Haley also holds the distinction of being the only player to have won five Super Bowl rings, having earned two as a member of the 49ers and three as a part of the Dallas Cowboys. His 100.5 career quarterback sacks make him one of the better pass rushers in NFL history. These accomplishments as a player should clearly be enough to get Haley into the illustrious Hall of Fame. However, it is Haley’s caustic past with the press and some coaches that is apparently holding him back from getting the nod from the committee. Is this fair? I think not. Representation in the Hall of Fame is to be based on play on the field, not actions off of it. Furthermore, it is not like he was using steroids or committing heinous crimes. He just did things his own way and expressed his disdain for the press while doing so. Given the statistics Haley should be a lock for the Hall, but instead another year has gone by and he is still not in. Here’s hoping next year the committee gets it right.
Another erroneous call by the committee was not giving Eddie DeBartolo the nod into the Hall of Fame. DeBartolo bank-rolled five Super Bowl winning teams between 1977 and 2000 as owner of the 49ers. His business smarts and his love for his team made him a locker room favorite and led the 49ers to the most successful decade in NFL history. Only one franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have won more Super Bowls with six. These statistics alone should again be enough to get the committee to give DeBartolo the nod. However, it is some controversy off the field and the fact that he was a contributor and not a player that is holding him back. A few legal troubles that eventually led to his giving up ownership of the 49ers may be some of the politics as to why he is not getting the enshrinement. Again, the Hall of Fame status needs to be based on one’s on the field success and not what was done off of it.
Another year has gone by with another missed opportunity for former 49ers Charles Haley and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. Last time I checked it was called the Professional Football Hall of Fame and not the Professional Football Nice Guy Hall of Fame. So here is to hoping that in 2015 the committee gets it right and enshrines both Haley and DeBartolo into Canton where they deservedly belong.