How Pro Football Hall of Famers are Selected

By Victoria Barnett

It's almost that time of year! And by that we mean, it's almost time for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 modern-era nominees to be announced! But first, let's talk about what this process looks like. Who selects the members? How are they selected? Keep reading to find out and be sure to check out our infographic for a more simplified version! 

Who Selects the Hall of Fame Members?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame 48-Person Selection Committee is given the task of selecting the new class each year. The Selection Committee consists of one media representative from each geographical area with a current NFL franchise. For New York, there are two. There are 16 at-large selectors, including one representative of the Pro Football Writers of America and two members of the Hall of Fame. 

How Many Enshrinees Are Selected?

The committee’s ground rules require that between four and eight new members are selected each year. Every candidate must receive at least 80 percent of the approval of the committee before he can be elected.

How Are the Enshrinees Selected?

Any player, coach or contributor can be nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a stipulation that a player or coach has to be retired for at least five seasons before he can be considered. A contributor does not have a waiting period.

The Selection Committee is polled three different times before the finalists are determined. The Initial Preliminary List is sent to the committee by March 1 and includes any eligible candidates nominated by any person, first-time eligible candidates with strong enough credentials and the modern-era nominees from the previous year’s final preliminary list who received at least four votes in the balloting.

The Second Preliminary List is sent to the committee during the month of September which includes the nominees from the previous list and any additional nominees received since the first list was compiled.

The Third Preliminary List is decided by the committee during the month of November and narrowed down to 25 Modern-Era Semifinalists.

The Final Preliminary List of 25 Modern-Era andidates is narrowed down to 15 Modern-Era finalists in January. Three other finalists are added – the recommended candidates of the Seniors Committee and Contributors Committee.

Prior to the Hall of Fame Selection Meeting in February, the committee is provided with detailed biographies of the 18 finalist candidates. At the annual meeting, the committee discusses the nominees and takes a series of reduction votes.

The senior candidate(s) and contributor candidate(s) are discussed and voted on first. Like the modern-era candidates, they must receive an 80 percent affirmative vote. Next, the committee votes to reduce the modern-era finalists list from 15 to 10 and then once again from 10 to 5. The five remaining candidates are voted on (yes or no) for membership.

How are the Senior and Contributor Candidates Determined?

In order to assure consideration alongside modern-era players, the Pro Football Hall of Fame decided the selection of older players (who have been retired for at least 25 years) as well as individuals who contributed to the game in a way other than playing or coaching would be decided by a Seniors Committee and a Contributors Committee. Each committee consists of nine veteran members of the overall Selection Committee. 

The process for selecting the senior and contributor candidates is very similar to the process for selecting the modern-era nominees. You can learn more about the process here.

Celebrate the Class of 2017!

Official HOF Experiences Ticket Packages for the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend will be available soon. For now, you can fill out our online form to be contacted and given more information! If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please leave us a message below or call us at 844.751.0532