The Structural Problem With the NFL Hall of Fame
I mentioned this briefly in the comments on my post on the 2006 NFL Hall of Fame inductees.
The problem that the NFL Hall of Fame has and has had since its inception, is a backlog of fully qualified candidates. For an illustration, let's take a look at the list of candidates for 1985:
Now that's a pretty good bunch of candidates there; in fact since then all of them but Johnny Robinson have been inducted But that year, only Gatski, Namath, Rozelle, Simpson and Staubach were chosen, leaving nine future Hall of Famers waiting at least one more year (John Madden would wait 20 years for another chance as a finalist).
If we go back to 1975, we can see the pattern existed then as well.
John Henry Johnson
Twelve of these men would give speeches at Canton eventually, although only four of them would do it that year. This inevitably clutters up the following year's ballot (and many years afterwards). When you consider that the Hall of Fame's procedures ensure that no more than six will be inducted in any given year, and maybe as few as three, there are definitely factions that form around players. Consider that the 15 finalists from 1985 appeared a total of 85 times on the ballot; that's almost six times apiece.
That's why players like Art Monk, who is ridiculously overqualified and will certainly eventually be honored, are still waiting. This was Monk's sixth straight year on the ballot.