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Pro Football Hall of Fame expands nominations for Class of 2020, opening door wider for officials

With this expansion in the contributor category, there is another opportunity for former head of officiating Art McNally to receive a nomination.



In conjunction with the league’s centennial, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s board of 29 trustees voted today to expand the Class of 2020 from the usual 8 inductees to 20. The class will include 10 senior nominees, 5 modern players, 2 coaches, and 3 contributors.

With this expansion in the contributor category, there is another opportunity for former head of officiating Art McNally to receive a nomination. McNally, 94, was a former field judge and referee from 1959 to 1967, and the head of officiating in the NFL from 1968 to 1990. He was one of 10 individuals under consideration by the Contributors Committee for the Class of 2019, but was passed over in favor of the late former Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and former Cowboys vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt, who are both being enshrined this weekend.

Ordinarily, candidates are selected by the contributors committee and are voted for enshrinement by all Hall of Fame voters in February. The three candidates for the contributors committee are scheduled to be selected later this month. Usually the Contributors Committee meets in August, but for this year only, the Hall of Fame will assemble a blue-ribbon panel to work through the backlog of candidates in all categories. The Contributors and Seniors Committees will not make selections this year. The Hall of Fame released the details of the new process:

The Hall will assemble a special 25-person Centennial “Blue-Ribbon” panel who will review the backlog of deserving Seniors, Coaches and Contributors. The Blue-Ribbon Panel will be comprised of Hall of Fame Selectors, Pro Football Hall of Famers, media members, football historians and industry experts.

A tentative timeline for the election process by the Blue-Ribbon panel includes the compilation of a comprehensive list of nominated Seniors, Contributors and Coaches by no later than September. A reduction vote by the panel to 20 Seniors, 10 Contributors and 8 Coaches will be announced in the fall.

The special panel will then meet in person to vote for 10 Seniors, 3 Contributors and 2 Coaches. The final slate of 15 will be voted on as one singular unit by the Hall’s Selection Committee when the group meets on “Selection Saturday [Feb. 1, 2020].” The Centennial slate will need to receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent to earn election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The eventual full class of 15 from the nonplayer slate and up to 5 players through the usual deliberative process will be enshrined in Canton during either the regular August enshrinement ceremony or a special enshrinement ceremony near the centennial date in September. Hall of Fame president David Baker will make the determination as to which enshrinees are assigned to each ceremony.

Football Zebras made the case for McNally’s induction in February 2018. Since there are three available contributor slots, we also have a list of candidates to fill the rest. (Sorry, but a century-long snub makes you hungry for more.)

Why Art McNally is long overdue to be the first official in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

No officials are currently enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Halls of Fame for hockey, baseball, and basketball include a combined 42 officials. With the expansion of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020 approved, there is no doubt that one of the three contributor inductees should be granted to the great Art McNally.

[This post was updated to include details of the new procedures in place specifically for the Class of 2020.]

Cam Filipe is a forensic scientist and has been involved in football officiating for 12 years. Cam is in his fourth season as a high school football official. This is his ninth season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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