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NFL Hall of Fame names 26 semifinalists

Will Shields and Bill Parcells are the two first-time semifinalists among the 26 candidates still alive and awaiting word of their potential enshrinement in the NFL Hall of Fame.

Parcells had been a finalist before in 2001 and 2002, but the Hall is not counting those in its announcement because the rules have since changed, requiring coaches to be retired for five seasons.

Normally the list would have been whittled down to 25 at this point, but the Hall’s bylaws allow for more when votes result in ties.

We’ll get word on finalists and eventual enshrines leading up to and then at the Super Bowl. The class will be inducted prior to the first preseason game next year in Canton, Ohio.

Of the 105 preliminary nominees that had been previously announced, four other players who had been previously eligible made the semifinals for the first time: Steve Atwater, Clay Matthews, Karl Mecklenburg (who did an interview with Zoneblitz a few months ago) and Ron Wolf, who led the Packers back to prominence after decades of futility (Just keeping you humble, Packers fans).

Here is the list of semifinalists:

Steve Atwater
Jerome Bettis
Tim Brown
Cris Carter
Don Coryell
Roger Craig
Terrell Davis
Dermontti Dawson
Edward DeBartolo Jr
Chris Doleman
Kevin Greene
Charles Haley
Cortez Kennedy
Curtis Martin
Clay Matthews
Karl Mecklenburg
Bill Parcells
Andre Reed
Willie Roaf
Donnie Shell
Will Shields
Paul Tagliabue
Steve Tasker
Aeneas Williams
Ron Wolf
George Young

Of the semifinalists from last year who were still eligible, former Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell fell off the list. Otherwise, as we predicted, that group returned again – including all 10 players who were designated finalists but not enshrinees. So far, all but one of our predicted finalists remain in the running. The lone exception is Bill Cowher, who likely suffers from speculation that he will return to the sidelines before retiring for good.

Kudos to boknows34, who nailed the return of Steve Tasker to this list, and to BSLO, who predicted in the comments section of our previous post that Donnie Shell had a decent shot of being named a semifinalist. I would not have guessed either one would make the list, but it shows what I know.

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33 Responses to NFL Hall of Fame names 26 semifinalists

  • chris says:

    great list of semifinalists, it is going to be interesting in early january when it gets reduced to 15 finalists, because then we will know for sure from that list who will be inducted and who will be left off till next year. hopefully steve tasker makes it into the 15 finalist list, at least get him in the room for debate, he probably won’t get inducted because of his position on special teams and because of his teammate andre reed most likely going to be inducted, but at least if u can get him in the final list, that will bode well for him in the next couple of years and he would probably be the first special teams/wide reciever to get in since jan stenerud who is the only kicker in the hall. much to the dismay of ray guy who should be in before tasker but the hall hates special teams, so its like whatever to the special teams department.

  • Paul says:

    No major surprises on or off this list and I am thinking the list of 15 finalists is going to be pretty predictable as well:

    Jerome Bettis
    Tim Brown
    Cris Carter
    Don Coryell
    Dermontti Dawson
    Chris Doleman
    Kevin Greene
    Charles Haley
    Cortez Kennedy
    Curtis Martin
    Bill Parcells
    Andre Reed
    Willie Roaf
    Will Shields
    Paul Tagliabue

    And I am sticking with my prediction from earlier this year with the five modern candidates for 2012 HOF:

    Dermontti Dawson
    Cortez Kennedy
    Curtis Martin
    Andre Reed
    Willie Roaf

  • Paul says:

    BTW all five of my predicted candidates finished in the final 10 in voting this year (6 – 10). I do not see a major push for any other candidate – including first year nominees – as those five have been discussed and close to selection in the past. IF I was to consider a surprise (and these elections tend to have at least one) it would be to see Coryell and/or Haley replacing Dawson or Kennedy. I believe too many voters hold grudges against Parcells enough to elect him in his first year (besides first time coaches and contributors are rare and should not block deserving players already considered and close to election before). I think if there is going to be a big shock to many people with this election – and every year there seems to be one – it will come with the failure to elect Parcells.

  • BSLO says:

    I think that Wolf and possibly Atwater have the potential to jump right to the finalist list, since their credentials are solid and they have limited competition at their position/job title within the semifinalist list. I would personally throw them in there over Coryell and Tagliabue, who in my opinion have no shot at induction this year anyway.

    Otherwise, I completely agree with your other 13 finalists Paul. I would like to at least see Kevin Greene make the jump this year, because he was in my opinion the best nominee left off of last year’s finalist list.

    As I mentioned on the other thread, my prediction for the 5 inductees are Dawson, Haley, Kennedy, Martin and Reed.

  • bachslunch says:

    The returning names are about what one could expect, given recent past semi-final lists.

    The new names are kind of interesting, with mostly good choices and one bad one:

    -it’s good to see Ron Wolf, who I think is very deserving, become a semi-finalist. He might make an Ed Sabol-type run all the way in if he reaches finalist stage.

    -Donnie Shell is in his last eligible year, if memory serves, and he has been a finalist once before. Not sure sure he’ll do any better this time around, though. Unfortunately, Kenny Easley, who is also in his last eligible year and eminently deserving, didn’t get this far.

    -Steve Atwater is to my mind HoF deserving, though why he got the push ahead of Easley, Joey Browner, Leroy Butler, Deron Cherry, and Darren Woodson is an interesting question. I guess you have to start somewhere with getting safeties in.

    -I’ve come around a lot regarding Karl Mecklenburg’s HoF worth. His honors profile is 4(3AP)/6/none, which is as far as I can tell the best among available middle or inside LBs of the 80s and 90s not in. Only Sam Mills rivals him at 3(1AP)/5/none. Given that only Harry Carson and Mike Singletary are in from this period thus far at the position, there’s room for at least two more. I think he belongs in, and Mills as well.

    -Clay Matthews is the major mistake here. When his postseason honors profile is 1(0AP)/4/none while other OLBs from the time such as Cornelius Bennett at 3(1AP)/5/90s and Pat Swilling at 2(2AP)/5/none and Greg Lloyd at 3(3AP)/5/none haven’t gotten the time of day, that puts Matthews at the next level down.

  • Paul says:

    I do not see Atwater making the jump into the 15 finalists. It is a number game with the 15 made up from 10 finalists from this year plus Parcells and Shields that only leaves 3 more spots from the remaining 14 nomnees. Of those 14 do you believe that Atwater is in the top 3 to continue in the selection process? Certainly many others are better qualified.

    If anyone might right the “Sabel effect” to the final 15 it would be Coryell and not Wolf as there has been plenty of discuss in recent years including by the voters about the candidancy of Coryell, I simply am not seeing the same level of “buzz” for Wolf.

    I can see Tagliabue getting into the 15 as the most common critism directed his way is that he left the NFL in a potential labor crisis, now that it has been resolved he may be more in favor among the voters, perhaps not quite to selection but at least for consideration among the 15.

  • BSLO says:

    I see your point about the amount of conversation around Coryell and Tagliabue being a positive, but I also think that that could be perceived as a bit of a negative. Tagliabue has consistently been the most talked about nominee in the room when he’s been a finalist. Evidently last year, there was talk that the voters were sick of talking about him and as a result decided to “take a year off” from discussing him and he ended up not making the finalist list, though I believe the strong list candidates had a lot to do with his exclusion as well. I think that after a year of labour unrest, the voters will take another year off from him because there are still several good names to discuss and the whole labour situation is still a bit fresh. I do agree though that he has a decent shot of bouncing back into the finalists pretty much any year. I just personally believe it won’t be this year.

    When it comes to Coryell, I think that his momentum has just really tailed off. He pulled off the jump from preliminary nominee only to finalist a couple of years back, but didn’t survive the final 15 to final 10 cut. I personally thought he had a great chance at induction last year and that he might get the sentimental vote after his passing. In fact, on this site, I predicted he’d jump to the final 10. Nonetheless, he wasn’t even a finalist. I don’t see how the voters could possibly argue that he was a better coach than Parcells, and that alone would be a dealbreaker similar to the way that there would be no point in discussing Roger Craig or Terrell Davis until Curtis Martin and/or Jerome Bettis get inducted. Maybe I’m reading too much into something that’s not there, but I believe that the voters would want to discuss 15 finalists that have a chance at induction. If they see the vote as a “Parcells or nothing” scenario then why even bring Coryell into the discussion. Again though, that’s my opinion, I don’t know if that’s how they see things.

    i chose Atwater and Wolf because they are fresh faces who haven’t been discussed before and that might be in their favour since they have few red flags surrounding their candidacies.

    Donnie Shell is a nice nominee, but in the last year as a modern-era nominee, I can’t see him jumping over everybody to get in. I think he’s too easy to just push to the side.

    Clay Matthews and Karl Mecklenburg are clearly the weakest guys on the ballot even if it was nice to see them on the list.

    Steve Tasker will likely again fall victim to the bias against special teams players.

    Ed Debartolo was a great owner, but his jail time is the type of thing that voters will unfairly hold against him as they have for years.

    As I said before, Terrell Davis and Roger Craig have 2 players at their position ahead of them that i can’t see them leapfrogging.

    Aeneas Williams is a great choice, and I could see him making the finalist list soon, but he’s really only the 4th best CB of his era.

    George Young probably should have been in years ago as a guy who made the final 5 but got voted down. I think that he will take a backseat to Bill Parcells even though he was the guy who hired him for his first head coaching job.

    As I said, Kevin Greene is a good bet to jump up to the finalist list this year. I think after several straight years of inducting pass rushers, he has to be close to getting his turn. Behind him, I like Atwater’s argument as arguably the best safety of the 90′s, an 8-time Pro Bowler and a 2-time Super Bowl champ. I think that Ron Wolf’s reputation for “saving” the Packers is one that’s held in high esteem around the league. Maybe that won’t get him on the finalist list right away, but I see enough in his favour to suggest that it might happen. There is always a surprise on the finalist list and I think these guys have the best chance at being this year’s surprises.

  • Paul says:

    I think you are putting way too much strategy into how the 15 finalists are selected as since this is done by a mail ballot I doubt there is any collective effort among the voters to discuss who should be voted into the 15 finalists. I doubt very much that there any organized plan to not select Tagliabue to avoid the debate again. Each voter selects their own 15 and those 15 with the most votes become the finalists list. Certainly every individual voter will weight each candidate and consider the merits of their case, but the end result is simply the results from those individual votes and not a collective planned decision.

    But you are very right that if we assume Parcells makes the final 15 then other coaches and perhaps contributors may not as there are already 10 players held over from last year (from what was described as a strong 15), so if we add Parcells and Shields only 3 more can make it – and would voters select another coach or contributor over players? If we can easily make the case for several players for those final 3 slots certainly the voters could as well.

  • Brad says:

    Between Andre Reed, Tim Brown, and Cris Carter, someone better get elected this year, unlike last year. Curtis Martin will get elected most likely. I would say he is the “biggest lock” this year. Willie Roaf has a good shot. I think Steve Atwater can be a player for the cut down to 15. I think he will eventually get elected, but I don’t think Clay Matthews is worthy of the Hall of Fame. He definitely had an above average career, playing the most games as a linebacker, and being a 4x Pro Bowler. But he never was first team All Pro, never had a “signature” season(Darrelle Revis 2009, Tom Brady 2007 , Aaron Rodgers2011), well maybe doesn’t have to be that great, but you get the picture.

    My 15 are:

    Jerome Bettis
    Tim Brown
    Cris Carter
    Roger Craig
    Terrell Davis
    Dermontti Dawson
    Chris Doleman
    Charles Haley
    Cortez Kennedy
    Curtis Martin
    Bill Parcells
    Andre Reed
    Willie Roaf
    Donnie Shell
    Will Shields

  • Paul says:

    I am not so sure the the voters would select 4 RBs for the final 15. I am guessing another defensive player or two may get in (Williams?) over Craig or Davis, other than that point a pretty solid looking final 15. Shell in his final year as a modern candidate may be a wildcard here as voters have a history of getting those players into the finalist list (although I doubt he would advance from there).

  • Paul says:

    I know that not everyone likes Peter King or his opinions, but he is one of the few national writers who serves as a HOF voter and comments regularly on the candidates and voting. His MMQB today discussed the 26 semifinalists.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/peter_king/11/27/week.12/4.html

  • boknows34 says:

    On a sidenote I read today Darren Sharper is expected to announce his retirement this week. Sharper doesn’t instantly strike me as a future HOFer but he does have some very impressive numbers. I have a feeling he’ll get caught up in the safety backlog with the likes of Steve Atwater, Darren Woodson, LeRoy Butler and eventually John Lynch and Brian Dawkins before Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu eventually come into the equation and jump to the head of the queue.

    http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/S/SharDa00.htm

    5 Pro Bowls,
    2 1st-team All Pros
    4 2nd-team All Pros (though I would dismiss his 2010 nomination)
    All-Decade team for 2000s
    63 Interceptions (joint 6th all-time)
    1,412 INT return yardage (3rd all-time behind Rod Woodson and Ed Reed)
    11 INT returns for Touchdowns. (joint 2nd all-time behind Rod Woodson’s 12)
    Led NFL in INTs twice and also had another season with 9.
    NFL single-season record of 376 INT return yards during the Saints’ Super Bowl season in 2009.

  • @Paul, thanks for posting the link to the King article. Interesting comments he has on Jerry Kramer–might be worth a post of it’s own at some point in the near future.

  • chris says:

    it is a travesty that jerry kramer and LC greenwood are not in the pro football hall of fame, it is just mind-boggling to me.

  • Paul says:

    Kramer and Greenwood most likely deserve election to the HOF, but there are strong cases for not electing them so it is really not that mind boggling, and no player(s) missing from the HOF is a travesty to the legacy of those players or the HOF

  • Brad says:

    An amazing stat I like about Darren Sharper is he led the NFL in interception yards with 3 different teams. And also he made the Pro Bowl under all 3 teams and he has had a 9 interception season with all 3 teams.

  • Paul says:

    The main issue with Sharper is the long list of Safeties from the 1990s and 2000s also waiting consideration by the HOF voters and the history of those same voters not electing Safeties.

  • BSLO says:

    Yeah safeties are traditionally overlooked by the committee. There were a lot of good ones that have come around in the past 15 years (all listed above), so I worry that Sharper may get lost in the shuffle, at least initially. His high INT totals will keep him in the conversation though.

  • Brad says:

    As far as who is ahead of who in peaking order for Hall, I think Ben Roethlisberger is ahead of both Eli Manning and Philip Rivers for Hall of Fame. Is Eli ahead of Philip Rivers? I don’t know. Yes Eli won a Super Bowl, but super bowls aren’t everything, but he did get super bowl MVP. He also has 7 straight seasons with 20 passing TD’s, but has been picked off 116 times during that time . Philip Rivers has years left to win, but window is closing. I do think Philip Rivers will rebound next year. For the past 3 seasons prior to this season, he was 1st, 3rd, and 2nd respectively in passer rating and has a career passing rating of 94.8; Ben has up and down years, but his passer rating is 92.4 for a career, 9th best all time. which the Hall will look at. Eli has a career passing rating of 81.9. That’s not bad at all. He is talented, but his interceptions are killing him IMO for the hall. more seasons like these and he will make it. Next year is a big season. Rookie’s should only get 18+ int seasons. After rookie season, QBs should at the most have two seasons of 18+ interceptions. Eli needs to make the Pro Bowl at least 3 times. He could this year. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are locks. Cam Newton is having not a bad rookie season and since he has THE MOST rushing TD’s in the NFL, the most in a season for a QB ever and is 7th in passing yards and is on pace for over 4,000 passing yards, rookie record by over 200 yards. I think he should get votes for the Pro Bowl.

  • Paul says:

    Both Manning and Rivers are going to need to set career record numbers and/or win multiple SBs before either are selected to the HOF as the history of the NFL has many such QBs with similar qualifications not in the HOF and their passing numbers and awards are pretty weak at this point (Manning is not going to get elected to the HOF based on one SB win).

    At this point I am not even willing to assert that Rodgers or Brees are locks, but they certainly further along then Manning or Rivers. Rodgers only has four seasons as a starter with two fantastic years, but what if the remainder of his career is average and he only ends up with the one or two SBs? Certainly winning another SB would go along way.

    Brees is closer with a longer higher quality career and accomplishments, but again to date just the one SB.

    For all four of these players the next 4-5 years will be critical in deciding their legacies.

  • Brad says:

    If Brees retires tomorrow he is a Hall of Famer and wouldn’t have to wait much longer after the 5 years. Rivers =Fouts so far. Great regular season(besides this year), not so great postseason. But Dan Fouts is a Hall of Famer. I am not saying Rivers is Fouts’ caliber, but Philip is not chopped liver.

    Aaron Rodgers is on his way without a doubt. He is MVP this year. His defense gives up points, but it is serviceable.

  • boknows34 says:

    Have to agree with Brad regards Brees. He’s already done enough to be considered a HOFer imo. Brees now has 6 sensational seasons with New Orleans and his last two in San Diego were pretty good too, including a 104.8 rating and 27-7 TD/Int ratio in 2004. Brees had a 51-22 ratio and a 96.1 rating during those last two seasons with the Chargers.

    After Week 13.
    39,297 yds
    265 TDs
    93.0 career passer rating
    6 straight 4,000 yd seasons including a 5k season (on pace again for another 5k season and smash Marino’s record)
    4 straight seasons of 30+ TD passes (only Favre and P.Manning have thrown more than 4 in their entire career)
    5 Pro Bowls
    3 All-Pros (1 1st team)
    Offensive Player of the Year 2008
    NFL record 70.6 completion % in 2009 (currently 70.4% in 2011)
    Led NFL twice in passing yards and twice in TD passes.

    Super Bowl title
    Super Bowl MVP
    Still only 32 years-old (Will be 33 next month).

  • Paul says:

    Rivers does not=Fouts, unless Rivers retires 2nd all time in total career passing yards and manages more all pro and pro bowl teams (or wins multiple SBs) Rivers is not going to make the HOF.

  • Brad says:

    Yes, like I said, Rivers is not Dan Fouts’ caliber(yet). My point was that Fouts was incredible in the regular season and that is great and that is “ultimately” what counts(Postseason is as important). Fouts’ postseason was NOT like his regular season:

    Post season

    FIrst game: 333 passing yards , 0 TD’s-5 int’s, with a 36.6 rating, lost the game by 3.

    Second game: 314 passing yards, 2 TD’s-1 int with a rating of 93.7, won by 6.

    Third game: 336 passing yards, 2 TD’s, 2 ints with a rating of 70.2, lost by 7

    Fourth game: 433 passing yards, 3 TD’s – 1 int with a rating of 99.0, won by 3.

    Fifth game: 185 passing yards, 1 TD- 2 ints with a rating of 56.4, lost by 20.

    Sixth game: 333 passing yards, 3 TD’s- -0 ints, with a rating of 112.5, won by 3.

    Seventh game: 191 passing yards, 1 TD’s-5 ints, with a rating of 32.5, lost by 21.

    When he was good, he was good(of course), When he was bad, he was as bad as it gets hence the stats in the first and last playoff games of his career. He was night and day when it came to the regular and postseason.

  • Paul says:

    My only point was the Fouts had the regular season career numbers and recognition to deserve HOF election. Unless Rivers greatly improves his numbers and SBs over the remaining 4 to 6 years of his career he will not make the HOF as his current career path if sustained will not get him in – he needs to get better.

  • Brad says:

    I agree 100%. Rivers can win at least one Super Bowl in my opinion. He still has years left. We shall see. Devin Hester hasn’t returned any in a while( ok not really a while) but it has been a pretty good season though. He needs to return for more TD’s as bad as it sounds because he has been outstanding as returner. He needs to ‘WOW” the voters. Like what he said, make it hard for them not to put me in, referring to himself. I think he will continue to return for TD’s. But I do fear a guy like Patrick Peterson can hurt his chances, now time will tell, because Patrick is returning just like Devin did and he is a good corner for a rookie and has the potential to be good for years . But Devin’s first two seasons are not parallel to any returners two seasons so far.

    Antoino Gates and Jason Witten when their careers are over, will be Hall of Famers, along with Tony Gonzalez of course. Jason Taylor Hall of Famer?

  • Brad says:

    Does Bryant Young have a good shot at making the Hall? His resume isn’t staggering without the 1990′s All Decade Team. He won a Super Bowl. He is only a 4 time Pro bowler, with 1 first team all pro(4 total between 1st and 2nd team). Another fellow 49er, Patrick Willis is a 4 time pro bowler and 3 first team all pro and 1 2nd team in 4 “full seasons”(not including this year). Of course he is not a hall of fame….yet. But he already has a good resume.

  • boknows34 says:

    The 15 finalists will be announced on Saturday.

  • Tony says:

    @Brad–would be shocked to see Bryant Young make the cut at any point.

    @BoKnows34–thanks for the head’s up.

  • Pingback: Jason Taylor: Hall of Fame Bound, but when? | Zoneblitz.com

  • boknows34 says:

    Parcells and Roaf have made the Final 15. There are 3 new first-time modern era finalists: Eddie DeBartolo, Kevin Greene and Aeneas Williams

    http://www.profootballhof.com/enshrinement/2012/1/7/class-of-2012-finalists/

    http://www.profootballhof.com/enshrinement/2012/1/7/class-of-2012-finalists-capsule-bios/

    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

    Edward DeBartolo, Jr. – Owner – 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers

    Chris Doleman – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers

    Kevin Greene – Linebacker/Defensive End – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers

    Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys

    Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks

    Curtis Martin – Running Back – 1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets

    Bill Parcells – Coach – 1983-1990 New York Giants, 1993-96 New England Patriots, 1997-99 New York Jets, 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys

    Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins

    Willie Roaf – Tackle – 1993-2001 New Orleans Saints, 2002-05 Kansas City Chiefs

    Will Shields – Guard – 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs

    Aeneas Williams – Cornerback/Safety – 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams

    Seniors:

    Jack Butler* – Cornerback – 1951-59 Pittsburgh Steelers

    Dick Stanfel* – Guard – 1952-55 Detroit Lions, 1956-58 Washington Redskins

  • boknows34 says:

    Should say Parcells and Shields as 1st-time eligibles to make it straight to the Last 15, though Parcells has been a finalist before when coaches only had to be retired for one season.

  • Paul says:

    Well 15 out of 17 is not too bad on my part (and I did suggest Williams as a strong possibility). Really only missed out on DeBartolo but I am guessing many others also left him off their guess lists. Frankly I do not see the appeal with his case and see it as a wasted spot that would have been better for a qualified player.

    And I am sticking with my election guess at:

    Jack Butler (s)
    Dermontti Dawson
    Cortez Kennedy
    Curtis Martin
    Andre Reed
    Willie Roaf
    Dick Stanfel (s)

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