When Hanson announced his retirement earlier in the offseason, the question was immediately asked: is Jason Hanson a Hall of Famer?
It is a simple question but there is no simple answer. Hanson was one of this generation’s great kickers despite a lack of fanfare. While being known as one of the generation’s greats would be enough to get an offensive or defensive player into the Hall of Fame, that isn’t the case for kickers, punters and specialists.
Jan Stenerud is the only pure kicker in the Hall of Fame, and that is likely more because he was the first NFL player devoted to full-time kicking duty than his actual kicking prowess. Stenerud was a pioneer at the position but if his statistical performance set the standard, Hanson and many other kickers would be locks for the Hall. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is without a single punter or specialist.
Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is known for being outspoken. One of the causes he has taken up in recent years is Ray Guy‘s candidacy for the Hall of Fame. Kluwe did so again as a guest poster for Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column on SI.com this week and twice mentioned Jason Hanson in his Hall of Fame discussion.
My vote of choice goes to Ray Guy because he redefined the position of punter in the NFL, but there are plenty of other deserving candidates who are going to have a tough time getting into the Hall under the current selection criteria (Steve Tasker is one, Reggie Roby another; Jeff Feagles, Jason Hanson and Adam Vinatieri will be as soon as they’re eligible).
For that to happen Kluwe believes the selection process needs to change. It is in this discussion that Kluwe brings up Hanson’s name again:
Change the selection criteria to: Two to four offensive players, two to four defensive players, and zero to one specialists/administrators.
That’s it. Nice and simple. The Hall can keep the 80 percent majority horse-wrangling alive and well, it can keep the cut-down from 25 to 15, but now it has the option to include the players who might otherwise be overlooked simply because all the slots fill up too fast in that final cut-down from 15 to five. Notice that I’m not even putting a minimum requirement on specialists — if the voters really think there’s no qualified candidate, they don’t have to vote one in. However, I think there are a lot of voters who simply can’t reconcile putting in a Ray Guy or a Jason Hanson over a Jim Marshall or a Randy Moss, even though Ray (and Steve and Reggie and Adam) made just as much of an impact at their respective positions.
I may not agree with all of Kluwe’s opinions but I can’t argue against this one. What do you think? Should the selection process change and if it happened, would Jason Hanson make the cut?