Peter King has taken up a cause. That cause is accused serial rapist Darren Sharper’s right to a fair hearing for the NFL Hall of Fame. Sharper, a six-time All Pro, would be a strong candidate for his on field performance, when he’s eligible in 2016. That on field performance is the only criteria committee members are supposed to consider.
King believes he and his fellow voters should hold true to that principle, to the point he would resign from the committee if it were otherwise.
King weighed in on the principle previously in 2010, arguing that judging “character along with football” would present “a slippery slope.”
For now, Peter King of SI.com and NBC has shared his views on the subject. “I think it’s a very slippery slope to judge character along with football,” King said via e-mail. “I think it’s certainly a bad idea to remove someone from the Hall for something he does after his career. You’ll never convince me O.J. Simpson is not a Hall of Famer, for instance. As for judging players who screw up off the field during their careers, what’s a serious offense and what’s not? I see no reason to change the rules.”
Adding Sharper would indeed present a slippery slope. If you keep out suspected serial rapists, you’d be pressured to keep out suspected one-time rapists, perhaps even players who just abused women.
Real laws are changed, modified and reinterpreted in light of circumstances. Bylaws for inclusion in a silly history museum could be modified on a whim, tomorrow.
Some form of character clause, reasonably distinguishing heinous crimes from just being a jerk to reporters, would be an obvious fix here. Whether the bylaws change or not, we suspect many committee members will take Sharper’s extra-curricular activities into account anyway.