As is tradition, the day before the Super Bowl brings the announcement of the latest Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees.
All-time greats Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith led a class of seven into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
The NFL's career receiving and rushing leaders were joined in the Hall by John Randle, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Floyd Little and Dick LeBeau. Little and LeBeau were elected as senior committee nominees.
Conspicuously absent from the list was Cris Carter, one of the most prolific wide receivers in NFL history. From a numbers standpoint, it's hard to argue Carter's place amongst the all-time greats. He is third in NFL history with 1,101 receptions (behind only Rice and Marvin Harrison), fourth in touchdown catches (trailing Rice, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens) and eighth in career receiving yardage.
From what I understand, the voting process is somewhat convoluted. Essentially you have 44 media members debating which players belong in the Hall. Before these members fill out their respective ballots, there is a great deal of politicking taking place, a veritable "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." And quite often the mentality is no more than one player per position is enshrined in a given year. Well since no rational human being would deny that Rice should be selected to the Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility, this silly unwritten rule the writers enact denies Carter's induction in this his third year of eligibility.
Further speculation suggests that Carter's somewhat tumultuous relationship with the media during his playing days may have also contributed to his enshrinement being denied. Hence, this is the writer's opportunity to exact some measure of retribution. I don't know if I buy that. But I do believe the selection process causes many bones of contention amongst the voters themselves. That is, certain writers will campaign vigorously on behalf of a player they've covered. And if that player is, say, denigrated by another writer, this sets off a firestorm of tensions where other worthy players are left off ballots (players must be named on at least 80% of ballots to be inducted).
Whatever the case, Carter must continue to wait. But I'm sure he will be the first to say that all the waiting will be worth it when his day of enshrinement finally occurs.