Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker announced earlier this week that plans are in the works for a special Centennial Class of 20 inductees for 2020. Pending approval from the Hall’s board of directors Aug. 2, seniors candidates will take 10 spots on the ballot.
Five modern-era candidates, two coaches and three contributors will make up the rest of the class.
Baker, though, did not provide details on who will select the seniors, coaches and contributors. Clark Judge of Talk of Fame Sports Network suggested a blue-ribbon panel.
Normally, five of the nine members of the seniors committee meet at the end of August to decide the seniors candidate(s), while five of the nine members of the contributors committee do the same to decide the contributor finalist(s).
Judge polled the nine seniors committee members about their three favorites, and the straw vote came up with 14 names.
Duke Slater and Maxie Baughan (pictured) were clear favorites, with Alex Karras, Cliff Branch and Ken Riley “not far behind,” Judge reports. Drew Pearson, Al Wistert, Randy Gradishar, Mike Curtis, Jimbo Covert, Tommy Nobis, Joe Klecko, Chuck Howley and Cliff Harris also were mentioned.
Slater was the first African-American lineman in NFL history and one of the top linemen of his era. He was the only African-American player in the NFL in 1927 and 1929. He made All-Pro six times and never missed a game for injury.
Slater was a Hall of Fame finalist in 1970 and ’71.
Baughan made the Pro Bowl nine games and seven times was named All-Pro during his first 10 seasons with the Eagles and the Rams. The linebacker is a member of the Eagles’ Hall of Fame but has never made the list of finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Wistert, Pearson and Harris were first-team all-decade selections, with Harris the only one of the seven first-team all-decade selections missing from the Hall of Fame who ever has made the list of finalists. Harris was a modern-era finalist in 2004.