Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Jeff Legwold at the Bronco QB Club

ESPN's Jeff Legwold entertained a Denver Broncos Quarterback Club audience Tuesday night, giving us insight into the Pro Football Hall of Fame process and the recent NFL draft.

Legwold is currently the president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He has been on the Board of Selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 1999.  He attended his first Scouting Combine in 1987, and has been covering the NFL over 25 years.  Jeff has covered the Broncos since 2004, including writing for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News.  Previously Jeff has also covered the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, and Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans.

"There are over 990 saints in the Catholic church, and 295 members of the NFL Hall of Fame.  It's easier to become a saint than to get enshrined in Canton!" Legwold said, giving us a sense of how difficult it is for a player to enter the Hall.  "The fans of every NFL city think they have at least five players that are a slam dunk for the Hall.  Multiply that by 32 teams.  But we can only elect five total from the modern era each year."

Legwold said he just got his ballot for this season's Hall of Fame class.  The 46 members of the selection committee vote and reduce that list to 25.  Legwold then sends out information packets on all the Broncos on the list of 25 to the other voters.  That list then gets cut to 15, and Legwold again sends out followup information packets on the Broncos in the group of 15.  "If you get into the final 15, more than likely you'll get in eventually," said Legwold.  But often players have to wait.  Lynn Swann, for example, was in the final 15 12 times before he was selected for the Hall.  This gave us hope that Broncos Terrell Davis, Steve Atwater, and John Lynch will eventually get in, as they were in last season's 15 finalists.

The Hall of Fame voters are members of the media.  They are not compensated for their work - it is a voluntary effort.  The Hall of Fame Board of Directors is its own entity, consisting mostly of Canton, Ohio area businessmen, who don't answer to the NFL. Given the size of NFL rosters the pool of players from which the Hall chooses from is bigger than any other sport.  When the Hall voters have pushed for more spots, the Board of Directors has refused.  "They want to make it hard to get in," Legwold said.

Legwold said Terrell Davis has a good shot at getting in the Hall but maybe not for February’s class since LaDainian Tomlinson will first become eligible in 2017.  "A center or a safety has a long hill to climb," Legwold said (only 5 safeties are in the Hall currently) which reduces the chances for Atwater and Lynch. Louie Wright has a chance to make it from the senior pool, Legwold feels.

On this year's Broncos draft class, Legwold said the Broncos reached a bit for their first two picks, but they really like both players (Paxton Lynch round 1, Adam Gotsis round 2).  He said the Broncos found out later three teams had Gotsis targeted for early round 3, so Gotsis wouldn't have been there for Denver's third round pick.  He thinks Lynch has a stronger arm than Brock Osweiller but needs to sit a year to learn the NFL game.  He thinks the Broncos may stick with their current 3 quarterbacks to give each more reps in training camp.

Legwold hears that the Broncos should get an overseas game in 2017.  The team will be visiting the White House sometime during the next six weeks to celebrate their Super Bowl championship with the President.

Legwold spoke on these and other topics, answering our many questions for over an hour.  It was a great opportunity to pick the brain of a long time NFL reporter and Hall of Fame voter.

Afterwards Legwold stayed to talk to Bronco QB Club members individually, and take pictures (like this one with me!):