FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Bill Parcells might become an NFL Hall of Famer today.
Then again, he might not.
Same goes for receiving greats Cris Carter and Tim Brown, former running backs Jerome Bettis and Curtis Martin and the rest of the 17 finalists who must be whittled to a reasonable handful by a 44-member selection committee.
Those all-time greats aren’t coaching or playing in one more game for the ages before balloting begins. Nothing about their resumes will change before their legacies are either confirmed or denied.
It’s all a matter of perception.
And, much as some hate to admit it, whim.
“The word is ‘restrictive,’ ” former pro golfer Meg Mallon said. “I just think that’s not right.”
An 80 percent approval rating is required to gain admission to Canton, Ohio, but that’s just an attempt to make this mysterious and highly subjective system sound more scientific than it really is.
It’s much the same in nearly every other major sport – media members or ex-jocks being asked to scroll through their mental menus for increasingly hazy evidence of immortality.
The whole flawed process got me thinking again: What if they all picked their Hall of Famers the way women’s golf does?
“You’ve got to change your vernacular,” Mallon said, smiling as she corrects me. “We don’t pick. You either make it or you don’t.”
That’s true, thanks to the LPGA’s points system that seeks to ensure that greats from each era are properly recognized.
It’s been that way for all six decades of the LPGA’s existence, although for most of that time it took either 30, 35 or 40 career wins, depending on how many majors you won.
Since 1999, the magic number has been 27 points, a figure that can only be reached with a truly soaring impact on the sport.
LPGA members get one point for regular tour wins, scoring titles or Player of the Year awards.
There’s also a veterans committee to catch those who slip through the cracks. However, the basic template remains untouched.
Imagine a similar meritocracy instead of having to depend on strangers who, in too many cases, never saw nominees play.
An NFL points system, for instance, might assign value to All-Pro or Pro Bowl selections in addition to automatic statistical standards. For baseball, it might be All-Star nods or high finishes in balloting for year-end awards.
Anything to make sure the best of the best in a given era are recognized.