Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker 'anticipates' Peyton Manning will be selected for 2021 class02/06/2021
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The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio could welcome as many as eight new members on Saturday in what President and CEO David Baker called the “the finest classes ever” inducted.
It’s a bold statement that Baker joked some current Hall of Famers strongly disagreed with when he made a similar comment in a call last week, but a look at this year’s 15 finalists reveals the names of some of the greatest players in NFL history.
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“I think it’s going to be one of the finest classes ever,” Baker told Fox News during an interview this week. “And when you combine that with the 20 guys from the centennial class who had to postpone until this year [because of the pandemic], I think it’s going to be the greatest gathering in football ever.”
This year’s group includes four, first-year eligible players including quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, defensive back Charles Woodson and defensive end Jared Allen.
“I think most everyone anticipates that Peyton is going to be in the Hall of Fame,” Baker said with confidence.
Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game at the RCA Dome December 18, 2006 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Without giving too much away, Baker compared Peyton’s nomination pitch to when longtime Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre was up for selection in 2016.
“I turned to the guy from The Green Bay Gazette and I said ‘Next up is Brett Favre, you’ve got eight minutes.’ And the guy kinda said ‘Well I gotta presentation here but do you really want to hear it.’ I looked around the room and everybody chuckled and said ‘No, let’s move on.’”
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He continued: “I think it took about 12 seconds for everybody to know that Brett Favre is going into the Hall of Fame.”
Reports say that Manning’s pitch took all of 13 seconds.
“When I got up that morning I knew I was going to knock on [Favre’s] door. He knew I was going to knock on his door,” Baker recalled. “But when I knocked on his door, he was so humble. He was not this polished 47, 48-year-old veteran. He put his hands in his pocket like a 10-year-old kid and he kinda hung his head in humility.”
2016 Hall of Fame enshrinee, quarterback Brett Favre waves to the crowd after receiving his gold jacket during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket Dinner on August 4, 2016 at the Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
“I think Peyton is that guy.”
There are only 346 members in the Hall of Fame. The first class ever inducted was in 1963 and included legends like Jim Thorpe, Earl Lambeau and Sammy Baugh.
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“John Stallworth (Class of 2002) once said that when you put on the gold jacket, it’s like wrapping yourself in the entire history of the game, from when the first pigskin was laced up to the presentation of the last Lombardi Trophy,” Baker said proudly.
“Just being a finalist probably makes you one of the 900 best players in all-time out of the 330 million men and now women that have played this game.”
Some players find themselves named as finalists time after time, only to get the dreaded call from Baker saying: it just wasn’t your year.
“If you’ve got great stats but maybe there was somebody else who was a better teammate, does that take a bigger role? What if your career was spectacular for six or seven years but somebody else’s career was really exceptional for 18 years?”
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The honor is monumental, so naturally, the process of getting there is difficult.
Baker says the general consensus from those who get to wear the gold jacket is that it changes your life. It’s an accomplishment a lifetime in the making that only a few will ever get to claim.
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