Our first episode of “Judge & Jury” addresses Deion Sanders’ suggestion that the hall should have a separate section for the elite inductees.

Each week, the Talk of Fame Two will entertain a rotating group of three historians and ask them to answer the Question du Jour. After hearing from them, a judge – in this case Clark Judge – will render a verdict based on their testimony. So here’s today’s question:

Deion Sanders proposed a separate place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year for the best of the best, meaning picks on the first ballot. He even went so far as to say that the really big players should be separated from others, adding that there should be “an upper room” for elite inductees. Agree or disagree?


CHRIS WILLIS, chief of research, NFL Films and football author

“I understand Deion’s argument, but I’m not one to agree with his suggestion. It is not the main purpose of the Pro Football Hall of Fame – or its constituents – to have levels in their hall. You’re in the hall, or you’re not. That doesn’t mean you can’t argue that some Hall of Famers are better than others. For example, no one will say that Bob Griese is better than Joe Montana. But in the end, they’re both on the same team. They are both Hall of Famers. Leave the Hall-of-Fame ‘level argument’ to social media.”

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TJ TROUP, football historian, author and consultant for the movie “Leatherheads”

“There have been years when there have been so many deserving candidates that they all CANNOT be Hall of Famers as first ballot due to the limited number entering the hall for inauguration. So nothing should change.”

JOHN TURNEY, Historian, Pro Football Journal & Talk of Fame Two

“One of the first events of the Hall’s Induction Weekend is a Friday luncheon where Hall-of-Fame players welcome the new inductees. As part of his welcome speech, Deacon Jones used to say, “You’re now part of a team that you can never be cut from.” Deion’s proposal to introduce elitism and division among Hall of Famers goes against the spirit of the Hall and its mission statement, which includes such statements as “honoring the greatest in the game” and “celebrating excellence together.” Deion probably did not familiarize himself with the meaning, purpose and values ​​of the hall. Otherwise he wouldn’t have come up with such a bad idea.”

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It’s hard to argue with a unanimous decision, so I won’t. But again, I wasn’t inclined to it. Deion’s argument is provocative, but it’s flawed. For example, who decides who belongs in the “upper room” or tier? And how is that decision made? For example, if “the upstairs room” is reserved for Hall of Famers on the first ballot, does that mean Jason Taylor is there and Michael Strahan isn’t? And what about someone like John Mackey, elected to the Hall in his 15th year of election, or Mike Ditka in his 12th? They don’t belong there, do they? Puh-read. Sanders assumes he would be in the “upstairs room,” but you might want to run that past people who saw “Night Train” Lane or Michael Haynes in the corner. See, it’s always good to suggest separate quarters if you’re the guy making the suggestion. You can’t lose. But Deacon Jones was right. Hall of Famers are all part of one TEAM, not a team within a team. It makes no sense to divide or define it. As a smart man once said, “You know what they call the guy who graduated last in his class from medical school? Doctor.” Case closed.

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This story was originally published on February 8, 2023 at 7:01 AM.

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