The Pro Football Hall of Fame has released its preliminary list of 113 modern-era nominees for enshrinement in 2011, and a trio of running backs are among the most notable names.
Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk and Curtis Martin are all eligible for the first time in 2011. Three different running backs on the ballot could cancel each other out with some voters, but I’d bet on Faulk to make it this year and Bettis to have a very good chance, while Martin is probably a long shot for enshrinement in 2011.
Also eligible for the first time are offensive tackle Willie Roaf and cornerback Deion Sanders, both of whom had brilliant careers and are unquestionably worthy of a bust in Canton.
Dick Vermeil, who retired from coaching after the 2005 season, is also eligible. He’s technically not eligible for the first time because he had previously been eligible in the 1980s and 1990s after retiring from the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was never considered a strong candidate based purely on what he had done in Philadelphia. He now has a much stronger case, having won a Super Bowl with the Rams and a division title with the Chiefs.
In November the Hall of Fame selectors will vote choose 25 semifinalists from the list of 113 nominees, and in January that list of 25 will be whittled down to 15. On the day before the Super Bowl, the selection committee will choose the class of 2011 from that list of 15, along with the two senior nominees, Chris Hanburger and Les Richter.