The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced a change to its selection process that will likely lead to an increase in induction class sizes over the next several years.
On Thursday, the Hall of Fame’s board of trustees approved several changes to the selection bylaws that included a third senior finalist spot for the next three induction classes. The extra finalist spot increased the maximum induction class size from eight to nine members.
“Members of the Selection Committee have made it clear they wanted to get more Seniors ‘in the room’ for discussion,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame president Jim Porter. “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.”
Only two Hall of Fame classes have included more than eight members: the inaugural induction class of 1963 (17 members) and the Centennial Class of 2020 (20 members). Last year’s class featured eight inductees that included five modern-day players, one coach, one senior finalist and one contributor. The class of 2022 will again feature eight inductees that includes senior finalist Cliff Branch, who won three Super Bowls during the late 1970s and early ’80s as a member of the Raiders.
A senior finalist is a player whose career ended at least 25 years ago. Along with celebrating the league’s 100th anniversary, the Hall of Fame created the 20-member Centennial Class in 2020 to help induct players who may have slipped through the cracks in previous years.
The addition of an extra senior finalist should also lead to more representation from teams that have not been well-represented in Canton, Ohio. The Cincinnati Bengals, for example, only have one former player currently enshrined in Canton: offensive tackle Anthony Munoz.