Five first-year eligible players — Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin, Deion Sanders, and Willie Roaf — 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 North Texas on Feb. 5.
Joining the five first-year eligible players, are nine other modern-era players and a contributor. The 15 modern-era finalists, along with the two senior nominees announced in August 2010 (former Washington Redskins linebacker Chris Hanburger and former Los Angeles Rams linebacker Les Richter) 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.
Also, for the second consecutive year, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has teamed up with Van Heusen and JCPenney to ask fans to voice their choice for whom they think should be included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2011 at www.fanschoice.com.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee's 17 finalists (15 modern-era and two senior nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years active follow:
Jerome Bettis – Running Back – 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers * 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 * Dermontti 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 * Chris Doleman – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers * Marshall Faulk – Running Back – 1994-98 Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005 St. Louis Rams * Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys * *Chris Hanburger – Linebacker – 1965-1978 Washington Redskins * Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks * Curtis Martin – Running Back – 1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets * Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins * *Les Richter – Linebacker – 1954-1962 Los Angeles Rams * Willie Roaf – Tackle – 1993-2001 New Orleans Saints, 2002-05 Kansas City Chiefs * Ed Sabol – Founder/President/Chairman – 1964-1995 NFL Films * Deion Sanders – Cornerback/Kick Returner/Punt Returner – 1989-1993 Atlanta Falcons, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-99 Dallas Cowboys, 2000 Washington Redskins, 2004-05 Baltimore Ravens * Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
Brown, Carter, Dawson, Dent, Haley, Kennedy, Reed, and Sharpe have all been finalists in previous years. Although they were eligible in previous years, this is the first time Doleman, Hanburger, Richter, and Sabol have been finalists.
From this year's list, four players — Dawson, Hanburger, Kennedy, and Richter — spent their entire NFL career with just one team.
Hanburger and Richter were selected as senior candidates by the Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee at their August 2010 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 114 preliminary nominees that earlier was reduced to a list of 26 semifinalists.
To be eligible for election, modern-era players and coaches must be retired at least five years. Contributors need not be retired.
Dent has been eligible for election for nine years, Doleman and Haley seven years. Dawson, Kennedy, and Reed have each been eligible for election for six years, Carter four years, Sharpe three years and Brown two years. Bettis, Faulk, Martin, Roaf, and Sanders are in their first year of eligibility. Since the retirement minimum for a player prior to 1968 was three years, senior nominee Richter has been eligible for 46 years. Hanburger has been eligible for 28 years.
The Selection Committee will meet in North Texas on Feb. 5 to elect the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011. The election results will be announced at 7 p.m. ET during a one-hour NFL Network special, live from the Super Bowl Media Center.
At the 2011 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 2011 in North Texas 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.
The Van Heusen Fan's Choice campaign which launched in September mirrors the Hall of Fame's selection process and will name the Fan's Choice for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 live on NFL Network just prior to the official announcement from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Van Heusen Fan's Choice Top 15 list includes only five candidates who also appear on the official Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee list including: Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Marshall Faulk, and Andre Reed. Others who made the Van Heusen Fan's Choice Top 15 list who didn't make the official Hall of Fame Selection Committee list include coach, Tom Flores, as well as former players, Darryl Talley, Steve Tasker, Cornelius Bennett, Kent Hull, Fred Smerlas, Ray Guy, Jim Plunkett, Lester Hayes and Donnie Shell.
The Final Round of fan voting begins today and the top 15 Fan's choices will be combined with the official Hall of Fame Selection Committee choices for one powerhouse list of candidates looking for fans' votes to become a part of the Fan's Choice for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
Fans are encouraged to visit www.fanschoice.com to vote for their favorites before the Fan's Choice for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 is revealed Feb. 5.