Bruce Smith claims to have “no beef” with Tony Boselli

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Bruce Smith is tying to thread the needle.

On one hand, he doesn’t like that the supporters of Tony Boselli propped up a borderline case for the Hall of Fame case by pointing to Boselli’s performance against Smith in a playoff game. On the other hand, Smith has no issue with Boselli personally.

Tony and I are cool,” Smith told the Associated Press on Thursday.

Smith said that he and Boselli have spoken by phone, in an effort to resolve any confusion that may have arisen from comments by Smith that left no confusion as to where Smith stood on Boselli’s credentials for Canton.

“Tony and I have no beef with each other,” Smith said. “And I hope and I’d like to see Tony enjoy this process. But I needed to address several of his campaign supporters because it set a bad precedent.”

Smith believes that using the performance of a potential Hall of Famer against a current Hall of Famer to make the case for enshrinement creates potential conflict between members of the Hall of Fame, if/when the player gets in. Of course, Smith’s decision to address his concerns publicly will do the same thing.

He likely thinks that, by waiting until after Boselli got in, Smith avoided the perception/reality that he was trying to keep Boselli out. Still, Boselli inevitably will be in — and he and Smith will become teammates, sort of, in an organization fueled by the performances of individuals in a distinctly team sport.

The deeper point raised by Smith, whether intended or not, is that too many people make it into the Hall of Fame. The bar should be higher. The classes should be smaller. The mere existence of a genuinely spirited debate based on accomplishments (and not a contrived debate because some voters don’t personally like the candidate) should be enough to keep someone out.

The problem is that it’s far too late to raise the bar and to allow only the know-it-when-you-see-it, no-debate-necessary candidates in. Too many already have gotten in who, frankly, shouldn’t have.

The relaxed standard, with an annual quota treated more like a minimum than a maximum, makes sense. At its core, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a business. For one weekend per year, it’s the epicenter of the NFL. And the more who get in each year, the bigger the weekend. And more people come to Canton, spending money in hotels and restaurants and paying the admission fee for the ceremony, the game, and the museum.

The lower bar also makes the process inherently political. Aggressive lobbying occurs on behalf of many candidates who have no business getting in. Sometimes, the lobbying is effective enough to do the trick. Sometimes, the ability of a player or coach whose case is lacking becomes strengthened by subsequent football-related work that technically shouldn’t be considered, but that necessarily is.

Smith’s comments speak to one of the deeper flaws in the process. Those flaws that eventually should require the Hall of Fame to create a separate room in the museum where they place the bronze busts of the no-brainer members of the club.

Bruce Smith claims to have “no beef” with Tony Boselli originally appeared on Pro Football Talk