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.