Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones and Marvin Harrison are first-time eligible finalists for induction into the Pro Football
Hall of Fame. Their candidacies and those of 12 other modern-era candidates unveiled this evening will be debated and voted on until the group is narrowed down to five finalists who, along with two senior candidates, will receive up or down votes on whether they will be enshrined in 2014.
The announcement was made Thursday night on NFL Network. The final voting takes place during Super Bowl week and the final class will be unveiled in the days leading up to the big game.
Joining Brooks, Jones and Harrison as finalists are Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Andre Reed, Will Shields, Michael Strahan, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, John Lynch, Aeneas Williams, Morten Andersen, Edward DeBartolo Jr. and Tony Dungy.
The group will be voted down to 10 and then to five. The final five and two senior candidates will be given yes or no votes. Up to five modern-era and two senior candidates can be inducted in any given year. This year’s senior candidates are Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey, who were selected by the Hall of Fame’s senior committee. They advance directly to the final vote.
The list was reduced in November to 25 semifinalists, including the several prominent first-time nominees. So the 10 candidates who did not move along to the finalist round were Roger Craig, Terrell Davis, Joe Jacoby, Steve Wisniewski, Karl Mecklenburg, Steve Atwater and four contributors and coaches, Don Coryell, Jimmy Johnson, Paul Tagliabue and George Young.
Harrison replaces Cris Carter, who was inducted last year, as the third WR in what to this point has been a logjam with Tim Brown and Andre Reed. Carter, Brown and Reed had each seemed to have factions of voters on their side, seemingly canceling each other out and making it difficult, until last year, for any of the three to be inducted.
There also, to a lesser degree, seems to be some debate over pass rushers such as Haley, who has five Super Bowl rings, and Greene, a star hybrid defensive end/linebacker for Pittsburgh and Carolina. Strahan joined that crowd last year and lost out to a strong group of first-year candidates.
Tony and I collectively made our guesses in August as to who would be the 15 finalists. We got 14 of 15 correct. We expected Steve Atwater to make the finalists list and did not select Morten Andersen. At that link you can also see our prediction for which five modern-era candidates will ultimately be enshrined.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held the weekend of August 1-3 in Canton, Ohio.