PITTSBURGH - The lives of some football players will be changed profoundly this weekend in Dallas.
Yes, there's the Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and Steelers on Sunday, but the issue here is the Hall of Fame vote, which will be conducted Saturday morning in a hotel conference room.
Former Steelers Dermontti Dawson and Jerome Bettis are among the candidates for enshrinement.
Unlike baseball, which issues a Hall of Fame ballot to everyone who's been a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America for 10 years, the football vote is conducted in person by a carefully-selected electorate.
There is one representative from every NFL city, along with 11 at-large voters and one member of the Pro Football Writers Association.
Also unlike baseball, the voters can represent a broadcast or Internet outlet. Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette is the current Pittsburgh voter; he succeeded Myron Cope.
The committee will convene at 9 a.m. Saturday to consider a list of 15 finalists. Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk are considered the favorites.
Len Pasquarelli, a Pittsburgh native who has represented Atlanta for 11 years, says Dawson has his vote. He's skeptical about Bettis' chances, largely because Faulk and Curtis Martin are also on the ballot.
"Three running backs is a lot," Pasquarelli said. "There seems to be a perception that Faulk is in. So I would expect that only one other running back might get in, and that might work against Bettis. I think he's going to have a hard time."
This is Bettis' first year of eligibility. Dawson has been eligible since 2005. This is his third year of making the final cut.
"I'm a big Dermontti Dawson guy," Pasquarelli said.
The voter from the player's city makes the presentation every year to the committee. Bouchette will speak on behalf of Bettis and Dawson and try to convince voters they're worthy.
"The last few years I've tried to be the second to speak on [Dawson's] behalf," Pasquarelli said. "The guy ought to be in. I don't know that I agree or disagree with Ed that Dawson was better than (Mike) Webster, but he was unbelievably good. He should be the next offensive lineman to go in."
It took Lynn Swann 14 years to get elected. In fact, Cope resigned his position because he thought another voice might help Swann's chances.
After years of making the same speech, sometimes there's little left to say.
Pasquarelli said that last year the Washington voter, again making the case for Russ Grimm, simply said, "It's his time."
"Did it work? Grimm got in," Pasquarelli said.
The committee will vote first on two senior candidates. Then they'll listen to the presentations for the 15 modern finalists and have discussions. A preliminary vote will reduce the list to 10, then five.
The ballots go to the accountants and no one knows who's in until the envelope is opened. It takes 80 percent of the vote to gain enshrinement.
The voting takes three or four hours, and it's not always a smooth process. "It can get contentious," Pasquarelli said.
Just like football.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.