Robert Wuhl of Ipso Facto sat down with newly named NFL Hall of Famer and former Atlanta Falcons kicker Morten Andersen to talk the Hall of Fame process and the highs and lows of his career.
“It starts back in August, and anybody can nominate anybody at that point. You gather a pool, and it gets cut around Thanksgiving to around 25 guys,” said Andersen. “The people who make the cuts are 48 people, 46 journalists [who cover the NFL] and two Hall of Famers: Dan Fouts (San Diego Chargers) and James Lofton (Green Bay Packers).”
Andersen continued that: “We ended up with 18 finalists, including 15 modern-day guys and these 18 guys go, the Saturday before the Super Bowl [we went to Houston] to be considered and sit there for 10 hours plus.”
This was the fourth time that Andersen had to endure this part of the process but the fifth time he was considered as a nominee: “It’s [the process] pretty brutal. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.”
Nominees needed at least 80% in their favor of each round to continue through the process, if you didn’t “get 80% in each round, you’re gone.”
“I’m not new in the room, everybody knows my stats,” said Andersen. “I was the only candidate on the team who had been on two all-decade teams, the ’80s and ’90s. I think that may have made a difference.”
Andersen explains that the most gut-wrenching part of the process is waiting to see whether you get a call or a visit to your hotel room between 3:30 and 5:00 p.m. A call is basically “better luck next year,” and that “the waiting in the room is just brutal [because] you want to turn your phone off, you don’t want the call.”
Andersen waited and waited but “five o’clock came and nothing, so [he] figured it must be good news.”
“I knew that come five o’clock the ones who didn’t make it had to be on a bus to the NFL Honor Show where the announcement is made,” said Andersen. “But then 5:30 came and still nothing, so I’m asking ‘did they forget about me, they haven’t called.'”
Andersen was counting the minutes until he knew what was going on, and it only took a couple more.
“Well, 5:32 came and there was a tremendous banging on the door, and I knew Dave Baker was a big man,” said Andersen. “And [that was it], that was a moment, man. That was a moment.”
The ‘moment’ Andersen was referring to, and waiting for, was the moment he became an NFL Hall of Famer.
“Of course, it elevates everything,” said Andersen. “The Hall of Fame is for life.”
“You have a bronze bust in Canton [Ohio] that lasts a thousand years and a gold jacket you can wear the rest of your life. A lot of Hall of Famers get buried in their gold jackets, and the ring, a big ring the size of a Ford Escort,” said Andersen. “There’s a lot of perks but the most important thing to remember is that you’re in an exclusive group of 310 men. [And I’m] 304, the Class of 2017.”