The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced 122 modern-era nominees yesterday for its class of 2020, and seven Bears made the list:
- Olin Kreutz, center (1998-2010)
- Lance Briggs, linebacker (2003-2014)
- Wilber Marshall, linebacker (1984-1987)
- Thomas Jones, running back (2004-2006)
- Muhsin Muhammad, wide receiver (2005-2007)
- Johnny Bailey, returner (1990-1991)
- Dave Krieg, quarterback (1996)
I’ll have my full guide to the Class of 2020 a bit later, similar to what I did last year. If you want to understand how the voting works, and what these seven Bears will face in the coming months, that’s the story to read.
For now, one important note.
If you want to make a push for Wilber Marshall to enter the Hall, this is your last shot before the seniors committee
The great Wilber Marshall played just his first four of his 12-year NFL career with the Bears, but he made a great impact both here and later on the Washington football team. In Chicago, he took over a starting outside linebacker spot in 1985 during Al Harris’ holdout and never relinquished it.
He starred on the ‘85 Super Bowl champs, and then earned Pro Bowl honors in 1986 and 1987, adding a first team All Pro selection in ‘87. An unfortunate contract fallout led to his signing with Washington in 1988, where he played for five years.
That run included another Super Bowl championship in 1991. Again, his contribution was critical. In the week leading up to the game, Washington defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon called Marshall “our best football player.”
Marshall finished his career with three teams in three years, retiring after the 1995 season.
As such, the Class of 2020 is Marshall’s final year with what’s called the “modern-era nominees.” If Marshall is not inducted into the Hall this year, then he moves on to the seniors committee, which inducts just one to two players per year.
There is such a backlog in the seniors committee that in honor of the league’s centennial, the Class of 2020 will expand from the usual eight inductees to 20, with 10 from the seniors committee.
Even that won’t be enough to honor all of the relevant players. Fans will be pushing for players from their franchises — among even recent Bears, the men eligible include Jimbo Covert (retired 1990, 2x Pro Bowl, 2x All Pro), Jay Hilgenberg (retired 1993, 7x Pro Bowl, 2x All Pro) and Steve McMichael (retired 1994, 2x Pro Bowl, 1x All Pro).
The two ways you can influence the vote
If you want to make a push for Marshall — or any of the seven Bears — you have two avenues.
First, you can reach out to the 48 members of the selection committee, listed here. The committee comprises one voter per team city (so two from the New York / New Jersey area, for instance, and two from Los Angeles), plus 16 “at-large” members. The member from each city will present the case for any player who reaches the final round of voting.
Chicago’s member is Dan Pompei, who two years ago presented the successful case for Brian Urlacher. So if you want to push for Marshall or any other Bear to enter the Hall, Pompei is a good person to contact, as are the other 47 voters, but particularly anyone whose team does not include a linebacker.
Voters whose team includes a linebacker will be more prone to zero in on their guy, and not listen to appeals for Marshall, Briggs or other LBs — think the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, who will lead any vote on Zach Thomas, or Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, who will lead any vote on Patrick Willis, for instance.
Second, you can vote yourself. The Hall has added a fan vote option, which you can access here. According to the tag line “vote now, vote often,” it appears that fans can vote as much as they want. The lengthy “rules” page, which is actually just some sort of sweepstakes, does not say how the votes will be weighted.
But in any case, vote now, vote often!
And remember folks:
Jack M Silverstein is Chicago’s sports historian, Bears historian at Windy City Gridiron, a Pro Football Hall of Fame analyst and commentator and author of How The GOAT Was Built: 6 Life Lessons From the 1996 Chicago Bulls. He is the proprietor of the Chicago sports history Instagram “A Shot on Ehlo.” Say hey at @readjack.