After sailing into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion, Peyton Manning is sure to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a few more years. He may not have to wait much longer to earn a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame. Manning is among the 15 first-year candidates appearing on this year’s ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame, released today by the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame. He may also be going in with one of his former rivals, Steve Spurrier.
Manning is finally eligible this year because he no longer plays professional football. Being active in the professional game prohibits a player from being eligible for the ballot. Manning is joined by Marshall Faulk, Troy Polamalu, Tony Gonzalez, Craig Heyward, Jake Plummer, and Troy Vincent among others. Manning should be a lock for induction given his accolades while at Tennessee. Manning was a consensus First Team All-American and a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1997 and took home the Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award while setting Tennessee records for all-time passing yards and touchdowns.
Spurrier is a virtual lock to be inducted as a head coach after stepping in to his own retirement in the midst of the 2015 season at South Carolina. Spurrier owns the most wins at Florida and South Carolina and has the second-most all-time wins in the SEC, trailing only one Bear Bryant. Spurrier led the Gators to the 1996 national championship and six SEC crowns and has accumulated nine conference coach of the year awards and 21 bowl appearances between his stops at Duke, Florida and South Carolina.
You can see the full release and the names of all players on this year’s ballot HERE. The announcement of the Class of 2017 will be announced on January 6, 2017 in Tampa. The new class will be inducted later that year on December 5, 2017 in New York City.
A new NFL rule will prevent college football players turning pro from attending the NFL Scouting Combine and the NFL Draft if they have been convicted of domestic violence or sexual assault. The NFL will also refuse opening the doors for any NFL-sanctioned event if a player chooses not to submit to a background check.
“It is important for us to remain strongly committed to league values as we demonstrate to our fans, future players, coaches, general managers, and others who support our game that character matters,” NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent wrote in a memo to all NFL teams last month, according to USA Today.
The number of players each year affected by the rules should be minimal on a year-to-year basis, but it is interesting to see how that could impact the draft outlook of prospects moving forward if they get mixed in some legal trouble off the college football field. As noted by USA Today, the rule would have prevented Michigan linebacker Frank Clark, a second-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks, from attending the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Clark pleaded guilty to a domestic violence incident while at Michigan.
The policy adopted by the NFL will be intended to add further consequence for players getting in trouble in college with the hope of changing the image of the NFL player moving forward. As mentioned, this is expected to have minimal impact as only a select percentage of players are invited to the combine, and an even smaller percentage are invited to the NFL Draft. If nothing else though, it is one more consequence that will come from any involvement from a domestic or sexual assault in college.
It would be interesting to see if the NCAA or conferences will be inspired to build off this NFL policy. The NFL policy does not prevent players with a checkered past from attending pro day events or other private workouts. There is no indication whether any conference or the NCAA would consider such a policy on top of existing rules and policies related to domestic violence or sexual assaults. Would a conference adopt a policy that could extend the policy on their campuses to pro day events? Would that even be fair? Or is that going too far?