The Pro Football Hall of Fame has whittled its laundry list of 2010 modern-day nominees down to 25 semifinalists.
They are, as listed right here, receiver Cliff Branch, receiver Tim Brown, receiver Cris Carter, coach Don Coryell, running back Roger Craig, running back Terrell Davis, center Dermontti Dawson, defensive end Richard Dent, defensive end Chris Doleman, linebacker Kevin Greene, guard Russ Grimm, punter Ray Guy, defensive end Charles Haley, cornerback Lester Hayes, linebacker Rickey Jackson, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, owner Art Modell, defensive tackle John Randle, receiver Andre Reed, receiver Jerry Rice, tight end Shannon Sharpe, running back Emmitt Smith, Commissoner Paul Taglabue, receiver Steve Tasker, and cornerback Aeneas Williams.
Mail ballots will be used to trim the list of 25 to 15, with results announced on January 7.
The list will then bulge to 17 with the addition of the Seniors Committee finalists — Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little. Up to five modern-day finalists may be elected for enshrinment on February 6. One, both, or neither of the Seniors Committee nominees also may be Cantonized at that same time.
No-brainers for enshrinement are Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice. Tim
Brown might have to wait until Carter gets in. Reed arguably should
get in before either of them. Sharpe also has a strong chance of
making it through.
As to the Seniors Committee nominees, there’s a strong sense that LeBeau will make it. Even though, technically, he’s being considered only for his efforts as a player, LeBeau’s decades of work as an assistant coach — and his role in the two most recent Super Bowl wins by the Steelers — is giving his bid the same kind of boost that John Madden received from his stellar broadcasting career and the profound impact of his Madden video game series, which made pro football more understandable and accessible to young fans, many of whom can now manage a clock much better than half of the men who work as NFL head coaches.