Should the Hall of Fame put Tom Brady in now?

By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer 

Views expressed in the column are the author’s own.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady recently announced his plans to unretire and return for his 23rd NFL season with the Buccaneers. He is universally considered the greatest quarterback of all time. Many believe he’s the greatest NFL player of all time, and some go as far as to say the greatest athlete in any sport of all time. There is no doubt he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer whenever he decides to actually retire. 

The Pro Football Hall of Fame requires players to be retired for five seasons before gaining eligibility. I think in special cases like Brady that should be waived, and the player should be automatically eligible as soon as they retire. In this week’s column, I’m going to discuss how the Hall of Fame can make this happen.

If Brady actually retires for five seasons, he would be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2027. I don’t think someone who has accomplished everything you can as a quarterback should have to wait. I understand the reasoning; they want to be sure the player has no intention of playing before they put them in the Hall of Fame. 

With that being said, there are certain players whose resume speaks for themselves. Even if they wanted to come back, they have already cemented themselves as a Hall of Famer. I think in certain cases like Brady, we should give that player the chance at immortality as soon as possible. 

One of the main reasons I believe this is because of Kobe Bryant. While he isn’t a football player, he was clearly one of the greatest basketball players of all time. It was devastating to hear of his passing, especially at such a young age. He deserved to give his Hall of Fame speech, and it’s unfortunate he never got the chance to. 

When Bryant died, it made me realize the importance of celebrating legends while they can experience it. Obviously, I hope nothing like that happens to Brady or anyone else. However, Bryant’s death taught me a valuable lesson: Tomorrow isn’t promised. I would hate to see a player like Brady not get his moment in Canton. 

I believe putting a player in the Hall of Fame immediately after retirement should be a rare occurrence. It should be saved for players who are undoubtedly deserving. Under the current rules, a candidate requires 80% of the vote to get in. For a player to get in after one year of retirement, it should be harder for them to get in. 

I would require players who are retired for one season or less to get at least 90% of the vote in order to waive the five-year requirement and get in. I would also limit it to one player per year at most. This should not become a regular occurrence, even for players who do deserve to be first-ballot. This should be saved for players like Brady who are so deserving of the Hall of Fame, it would be unfair to make them wait. 

I wouldn’t have a problem with an active player in the Hall of Fame. If anything, I’d find it unique and interesting to watch a literal living legend play. Not many players make it past 30, let alone 40. For Brady to play at the level he has for as long as he has is nothing short of incredible. 

I doubt the Hall of Fame ever considers this, but I think it would be a great way to honor the players whose impact on the game is unquestioned. What Brady has accomplished will never be matched. With how unique his career has been, I think the way he gets into Canton should also be unique. 

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