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The Times
  • Less attention for Hall’s 2012 class announcement

  • This year’s group of Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists had plenty of meat but less pizzazz.

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  • The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012 was unveiled in the most impressive skyscraper an election day has seen.
    The proceedings were slightly scaled down.
    The announcement ballroom filled up early last year in Dallas, when the TV show was in prime time, and “Prime Time” himself, ex-Cowboy Deion Sanders, was in the house.
    This year’s finalist group had plenty of meat but less pizzazz. The starting time of 5:30 was less given to big ratings, and the crowd was down. The TV master of ceremonies was Fran Charles, not NFL Network’s big gun, Rich Eisen.
    In fact, there was room to rope off an area for Allstate, one of the in-town corporate sponsors behind Super Bowl week.
    Still, the evening had plenty of flash, dash and emotion.
    Joe Horrigan and Pete Fierle, in from the Hall of Fame for the big week, worked with the busy crew of NFL Network people hustling around in a space-age-looking control area driving the live TV show.
    “Thirty seconds to show ... 30 seconds,” a stage director said. The place got as quiet as church during communion.
    As the night progressed, the event made people in the audience drum up canned TV applause.
    With live TV, glitches mean trouble. Out in the hall, a nervous driver was on his cell phone, saying something was fouled up.
    “I’ve got three guys over at the Westin who are probably going to get in, and I’m supposed to pick them up,” he said.
    It’s all a guess in advance, and this year it was a big guess, because there were no no-brainers, as was the case last year with Sanders and Marshall Faulk.
    It turned out only one candidate who was in town needed a ride — 84-year-old Jack Butler, who originally hadn’t been expected to be in town.
    Wide receivers Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed and guard Will Shields — the only modern-era candidates in Indianapolis — didn’t get picked.
    Before the class was revealed, Hall of Famer Warren Moon tried to read the minds of the candidates listening in.
    “It can be the most nerve-racking day of your life, and the most wonderful day of your life,” Moon said.
    Dan Fouts, like Moon an HOF quarterback, hasn’t found a way to describe the moment of election 19 years after he went through it.
    “It’s almost impossible to put into words,” Fouts said.
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