Dear Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee members,
I had the dubious pleasure of reading an article on Yahoo yesterday about Ray Guy, and I have one thing to ask every single one of you.
How dare you?
How dare you tell a man who devoted his life to perfecting his craft that he's not worthy of admission among the game's greatest? How dare you have the heartless effrontery to pronounce that football is a team sport, but that some positions are more equal than others? How dare you be so selfish, short-sighted, and just plain asshole-ish to declare that Ray Guy won't be recognized for his skills because you're too goddamned lazy to learn the subtleties of kicking?
That's right, voting committee, you're lazy. You're indolent, slothful, petulant, ignorant, and flat-out stupid. You perpetuate the same small-minded "Oh, he's just a kicker" stereotype every single time you refuse to acknowledge that Ray Guy belongs in the Hall of Fame, because YOU'RE UNWILLING TO LEARN.
You have no desire to understand the fundamentals and complexities of trying to make a football travel over 60 yards using just your foot; you have no inkling of just how hard it actually is to get distance, hangtime, and direction while operating under a rapid time constraint; you have no clue what it takes in terms of concentration, practice, and desire to be the very best at your job. All you can do is look at an arbitrary series of numbers and proclaim that they're not big enough, without even beginning to understand the story those stats tell. You look at a man who lowered his personal numbers so his team could succeed, choosing hangtime over distance so he would never—not once in his 14-year career—see a punt returned for a touchdown; a man who became a household name at an unrecognized position for the benefit he brought to those around him. And now you're trying to tell me that he doesn't belong in an institution nominally dedicated to the glories of teamwork and sacrifice? Seriously, are you fucking with me? Do you even realize how absolutely asinine that sounds?
This is a player who brought the concept of hangtime to the NFL, a stat that today's special teams coaches absolutely cannot do without. This is a player who pinned opposing offenses back inside their 20-yard line instead of simply booting a touchback, winning the battle of field position before anyone realized there was even a fight. This is a player who revolutionized his corner of the sport just as much as the coaches and owners in the Hall of Fame changed theirs. And you're saying, in effect, that he's "just a kicker"?
I've been trying not to swear lately, but this is one of the most absolutely horseshit infuriating things I've noticed in the world—the idea that you can denigrate what someone does because you're not willing to take the time to learn how hard it is to accomplish. As sportswriters, you should understand more than most what it's like to have people tell you that your job is unimportant and easy and unworthy of recognition, all because they're too lazy to recognize the time that goes into it.
I mean, let's take this as a prime example. Do you know why I'm chastising you, writers all? BECAUSE I TOOK THE TIME TO LEARN HOW TO WRITE AND CRAFT AN ARGUMENT. I understand the interplay between words and logic, the pacing of a sentence, how to use the rule of three for enhanced emotional impact. I read thousands upon thousands of books and learned the styles of each particular author; I spent time sparring online to hone my techniques and skills; I chose to understand WHY something works the way it does.
How many of you can say the same about punting? How many of you have taken time to learn about why the angle of a drop is important? Who among you knows how big a difference an inch can make based on where your foot hits the ball? Which one of you indolent cows has ever bothered to even actually TRY to punt, instead of dismissing it as an inferior position because we're not on the field as often as everyone else?
No, instead you continue down the path of ineptitude and ignorance. You've elected coaches to the Hall of Fame, administrators to the Hall of Fame, owners to the Hall of Fame, players at every single position other than punter to the Hall of Fame, and every year, every single damning year that you continue this trend of stupidity, you cheapen the integrity of the game. You tell children that football is the ultimate team game, unless you happen to play a certain position. You tell players that it doesn't matter if you're the very best at your job, because you play a certain position. You tell fans that it's all about the 53 men on the roster, except for that one guy who does the job you can't be bothered to learn about.
You preach intellectual sloth and apathy and the all too popular creed of "I can't be bothered to understand something but I'm going to render judgment on it anyway" that sometimes seems woven into the very fabric of our society. As you smugly guard your gate to the secret clubhouse, you never even stop to consider the underlying message you're sending to an entire generation of football players—a message that lies completely at odds with the stated intent of the game you cherish so much.
Frankly, you sicken me, every last one of you. You have no idea what teamwork really means. If you're going to be the stewards of greatness, the arbiters of team play, then do your fucking job. Ray Guy did his.
NFL team player
P.S. Ignorance is not bliss. It's ignorance, and you should be ashamed. Also, why don't you just change the HoF entrance by position group instead of just a static number? For example, you could do 0-2 specialists, 2-4 offensive players, 2-4 defensive players, and 0-1 administrator/coaches each year. That literally took me all of 10 seconds to think of.
Chris Kluwe is a punter for the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter, @ChrisWarcraft.