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Pro Football Hall of Fame may add 'contributors' group

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is planning to change the way it enshrines future legends of the game that didn't necessarily play the sport.

David Baker, the president/executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said Friday that the Hall is looking to add a separate "contributors" category to the voting process.

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"At our board meeting today, we're going to take up a very special amendment that we've worked through with our Selectors and our Selector's Committee to work on the Contributors category," Baker said. "... So much like our Senior Committee, we're going to nominate Contributors separately should the amendment pass this afternoon. And the details about it will be forthcoming afterwards. But it will give a lot of these owners, former commissioners and general managers an opportunity to have a level playing field themselves."

Essentially, this means that contributors won't have to "compete" against modern era players. So, voters that are determining the Hall of Fame Finalists wouldn't consider the merits of someone like Paul Tagliabue or Eddie DeBartolo Jr. *against * the merits of players. Instead, the Contributor Committee could nominate one person each year and the Hall of Fame voters would then just vote yes or no, like the Seniors Committee candidates. (Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey both made the Hall of Fame this year through the Seniors Committee.) Any contributor choice would still need 80 percent of the vote to make it into the Hall of Fame.

"Much like we did with our Seniors, there's been a little bit of a bias here for a long time. In the history of the Hall of Fame -- over 287 Hall of Famers -- we've got only, I believe, 19 contributors, 10 of whom were elected in the first two years," Baker said. "That means only nine in the last 49 years, during which time there has been enormous growth in the game."

It doesn't sound like ex-coaches will be considered "contributors." This rule would theoretically help the Hall of Fame chances of people like Tagliablue, DeBartolo Jr., Art Modell and the late Steve Sabol.

Baker anticipated the changes happening in January, so that means the 2015 Hall of Fame class could have a maximum of eight enshrinees. Until now, seven would be the maximum number.

The latest Around The League Podcast breaks down Marshawn Lynch's belated arrival at Seahawks camp and debates which active NFL players are first-ballot locks for the Hall of Fame.

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