Pro Football Hall of Fame expands opportunities for seniors

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — Senior candidates will have more opportunities to be selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the next three years.

The hall’s Board of Trustees on Thursday approved several changes to the bylaws governing the selection of Hall of Fame enshrinees. In the past, only one player who no longer was in the modern-era category could be voted into the shrine annually. But for the 2023-2025 classes, a maximum of three per year could be chosen by the selection committee.

A deep backlog of senior candidates — players whose careers ended more than 25 years ago — led to the revision.

“Members of the selection committee have made it clear they wanted to get more seniors ‘in the room’ for discussion,” said Jim Porter, the hall’s president. “From those initial conversations, the team at the Hall of Fame overseeing the selection process worked with the board to create a path for those committee discussions that could lead to possible enshrinement for more seniors.”

There is no guarantee three seniors will be elected each of the next three years. But there now is a wider path for them to be chosen.

Through another change in the bylaws, 12 senior candidates will be presented to the hall’s seniors committee, meaning the careers of more players will be discussed at greater length than in the past selection meetings.

Also, a change for the next three election cycles merges the candidates from the coaches category and the contributor category. One finalist will be eligible for election from this combined group in the classes of 2023, 2024 and 2025.

No changes were made in the process of choosing modern-era players, those whose careers ended between five and 25 years prior to the election year.

With the revisions, the next three classes potentially could be comprised of nine individuals: up to five modern-era players, up to three seniors, and up to one coach or contributor. Previous years had a maximum of eight.

This summer’s Hall of Fame inductions are on Aug. 6.

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