One step closer to Canton

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: January 9, 2010

CANTON, Ohio — Three first-year eligible players, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, are among the 15 modern-era finalists who will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Hall’s Selection Committee meets in South Florida on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010.

Joining the three first-year eligible players, are 11 other modern-era players and a longtime head coach. The 15 modern-era finalists, along with the two senior nominees announced in August 2009 (former Detroit Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau and former Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little) will be the only candidates considered for Hall of Fame election when the 44-member Selection Committee meets.

To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.

The official Hall of Fame Selection Committee’s 17 finalists (15 Modern-Era and two Senior Nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years active follow: Tim Brown – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins Don Coryell – Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers Roger Craig – Running Back – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings Dermonti Dawson – Center – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers Richard Dent – Defensive End – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles Russ Grimm – Guard – 1981-1991 Washington Redskins Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys Rickey Jackson – Linebacker – 1981-1993 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks Dick LeBeau* – Cornerback – 1959-1972 Detroit Lions Floyd Little* – Running Back – 1967-1975 Denver Broncos John Randle – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins Jerry Rice – Wide Receiver – 1985-2000 San Francisco 49ers, 2001-04 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Seattle Seahawks Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens Emmitt Smith – Running Back – 1990-2002 Dallas Cowboys, 2003-04 Arizona Cardinals

Carter, Dawson, Dent, Grimm, Kennedy, Randle, Reed, and Sharpe have all been finalists in previous years. Although they were eligible in previous years, this is the first time Coryell, Craig, Haley, Jackson, Little, and LeBeau have been finalists.

From this year’s list, five players – Dawson, Grimm, Kennedy, LeBeau, and Little – spent their entire NFL career with just one team.

LeBeau and Little were selected as senior candidates by the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee at their August 2009 meeting. The Seniors Committee reviews the qualifications of those players whose careers took place more than 25 years ago.

The remaining 15 modern-era finalists were determined by a vote of the Hall’s 44-member Selection Committee from a list of 131 preliminary nominees that earlier was reduced to a list of 25 semifinalists.

To be eligible for election, modern-era players and coaches must be retired at least five years (prior to 2007 coaches were eligible immediately after retiring).

Since Coryell retired prior to the 2007 change in coach’s eligibility, he has been eligible the longest of the modern-era nominees, 23 years. Grimm has been eligible 14 years, while Craig has been eligible 12 years. Jackson has been eligible for 10 years, Dent eight years, Haley six years, Reed, Dawson and Kennedy five years, Carter three years, Randle and Sharpe two years. Brown, Rice and Smith are in their first year of eligibility. Senior nominees LeBeau and Little have been eligible 33 years and 30 years respectively.

The Selection Committee will meet in South Florida, on Saturday, February 6, 2010, to elect the Hall of Fame Class of 2010. The election results will be announced at 5 p.m. ET during a one-hour NFL Network special, live from the Broward County Convention Center.

At the 2010 selection meeting, the selectors will thoroughly discuss the careers of each finalist. Although there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s current ground rules stipulate that between four and seven new members will be selected each year.

No more than five modern-era nominees can be elected in a given year and a class of six or seven can only be achieved if one or both senior nominees are elected. Representatives of the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche will tabulate all votes during the meeting.

At the announcement, Pro Football Hall of Fame President/Executive Director Steve Perry will be presented with an envelope containing the names of the nominees elected.

Each newly elected member will be contacted immediately by the Hall of Fame. Members of the Class of 2010 in South Florida for the Super Bowl will be asked to join the live announcement show. Those not able to attend will be asked to join via teleconference.