Not long after the 2011 induction class was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the process of selecting the Class of 2012 has begun as the Hall’s Senior Committee nominated cornerback Jack Butler and guard Dick Stanfel as senior candidates (individuals whose career ended at least 25 years ago).
Butler and Stanfel, both members of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1950s, will join a group of 15 modern-era candidates who will be discussed and voted upon by the entire 44-person selection committee in Indianapolis on February 4, 2012, the day before Super Bowl XLVI is played.
The senior candidates were chosen in a meeting of five of the nine Seniors Committee members at the Hall’s Canton, Ohio headquarters today, after a larger list of senior nominees were reduced through mail vote.
Both senior candidates will have to receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of the modern-era finalists. Each year’s Hall of Fame class can have no less than four or no more than seven (two senior and five modern-era) inductees.
This is Stanfel’s second senior candidacy as he was not elected in 1993, while Butler is a senior candidate for the first time. Since the Hall of Fame doubled the number of senior candidates each year to two starting in 2004, 14 of the 16 candidates were elected (Bob Hayes was not elected in 2004, but made the Hall in 2009, and Claude Humphrey was not elected in 2009). The Hall’s Selection Committee nominated a single senior candidate from 1972-2003.
Butler, who never played high school football, was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent out of St. Bonaventure. He played nine seasons (1951-59) with the Steelers, was a four-time Pro Bowler (1956-59) and a three-time All-NFL first-team choice (1957-59). He had 52 career interceptions (was tied for second all-time when he retired) for 827 yards and four touchdowns. He led the NFL with a career-high 10 picks in 1957. He also had four touchdown receptions and a fumble return for a score.
Stanfel, selected in the second round of the 1951 NFL Draft out of San Francisco by the Detroit Lions, played from 1951-55 with Detroit and 1956-58 with the Washington Redskins. He was a member of the Lions’ back-to-back NFL champion teams of 1952-53, and the Lions’ team MVP in 1954. He was a five-time Pro Bowler (1953, 1955-58) and first-team All-NFL five times (1953-54, 1956-58). Stanfel later served as the interim head coach for the New Orleans Saints during the final four games of the 1980 season after Dick Nolan’s firing.
The Class of 2012 will be enshrined next August in Canton.