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Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones and Marvin Harrison are first-time eligible finalists for induction into the Pro Football

Courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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.

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19 Responses to 2014 Finalists for Hall of Fame Announced

  • BSLO:

    I wouldn’t say there were any big surprises here. The only guys I got wrong were Craig and Atwater. I went back and forth with Atwater and Lynch for my last pick, and Craig was a bit of a stretch too. Andersen is a very nice surprise! Totally deserving, and really a bit of a wildcard now that he will get into the discussion room.

    For all the discussion about how this was a “down year”, we once again have 4 first-timers on the finalist list. I would really like to see Jones and Brooks make it in on the first ballot. Both were among the best all-time at their position, but yet remained underrated thanks to playing in small markets. I feel like Strahan is a lock, and one receiver gets in as well. For the last pick, it’s a total crapshoot. As a Chiefs fan, I am admittedly biased toward Will Shields and would love to see him grab that final spot!

  • bachslunch:

    Posted this to the Pfraforum website and am doing so here as well.

    Thirteen of these folks seemed very likely, and of the first-time eligibles I’d have been very surprised if Jones, Brooks, Harrison, and Dungy weren’t on the list. There were two slots that seemed wide open, and they were filled with Andersen and Lynch. Some thoughts:

    -unless this is an aberration, Lynch getting the nod looks like bad news for Steve Atwater’s future chances via this route. Not sure Lynch makes it in either, with some tough classes and Brian Dawkins coming up soon enough.

    -glad Andersen got this far. He may also have slow-going ahead of him given the tough overall upcoming competition and (eventually and I think wrongly) Adam Vinatieri in the future. Not a big fan of Vinatieri’s candidacy at the expense of Andersen, Gary Anderson, and Nick Lowery, given that I value adjusted FG pct. and not signature moments for HoF PK candidates.

    -if they choose the best WR candidate, that’s likely Harrison. If they choose who has been waiting longest, probably Reed. Not sure if Reed is voted in as a regular candidate if he misses out again this year.

    -will be very surprised if no OL are elected. Does Jones leapfrog Shields? He might. Do both of them get in? Possibly — and if so, that’s probably not good news for the WRs.

    -am thinking Strahan and Brooks are the closest things to locks this year.

  • Paul:

    Pleasant surprise to see Anderson and Lynch make the final 15 (although I agree that at least for 2014 they will not advance any further), felt pretty good about 12 names on my predication, last 3 were harder to choose and did not include Anderson or Lynch but I have no problem with their selection.

    I may be in the minority but I do not believe that Harrison has a strong case for election this year or as some are suggesting he is a ‘”lock” (as we all know here no one is truly a lock selection with these elections!). I think Harrison, Reed and Brown are still close candidates and HOF voters will select Reed given his time on the ballot and as a recent final 10 selection. Also does not seem to be much buzz on Shields, so I am predicting Jones does jump him and Shields goes in 2015.

    Which leads to my prediction of modern candidates:

    Brooks
    Haley
    Jones
    Reed
    Strahan

  • Justin:

    Very nice final 15. I got 14 of 15. I had Terrell Davis over DeBartolo, but I was picking those who I think should make the HOF, not necessarily who the selectors will pick. With that in mind, my final five break down as follows:

    Locks (I’d pick and the selectors will too):
    Brooks,
    Jones,
    Strahan

    My next two:
    Williams,
    Brown

    However, the selectors could pick any of the following candidates for those last two slots: Harrison, Dungy, Shields, Reed, Bettis, or Haley.

    Greene, Lynch, Andersen and DeBartolo seem to be destined for next year (but stranger things have happened)

  • Paul:

    Anyone getting a sense of a “buzz” or behind the scenes effort to push any candidate this year? The only one I have heard about in those regards is Haley. Hard to say if we are looking at any major surprises, which for me would be if the final five did not come from some mix of: Brooks, Jones, Haley, Strahan, Harrison, Reed, Shields. Maybe if Bettis, Brown, Williams or Greene got selected, but at least at this point I have not heard much push on any of those over the list of seven? Or perhaps Dungy may be more of a “sleeper” candidate then I am thinking?

  • Paul:

    In his most recent MMQB column Peter King provided this insight (and yes I know many people dislike King and certainly he will admit that even as a HOF voter he can not predict the outcome of elections very well):

    “I think, and I have been wrong on this before (like, most years, as one of the 46 voters), that this would be my best guess as to the five finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame most likely to be elected Feb. 1: Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Marvin Harrison, Charles Haley, Michael Strahan. And I would list these three as the closest contenders to them: Will Shields, Tony Dungy, Aeneas Williams. Now, I didn’t say those first five would be my picks. I don’t know my picks yet, and won’t until we get inside the room.”

  • Dr Phil:

    My guess for the modern-era selection will be Brooks, Jones, Strahan, Haley and Reed. Though I only have about 1% confidence on the Reed pick. If Reed doesn’t make it this year, I feel like he will be destined for the Seniors pool. I’m picked just one of the seniors to make it. I’ll plump for Guy, but with no confidence.

  • boknows34:

    Cbssports.com are debating the HOF merits of most of this year’s finalists. The only three they are not debating are those they consider to be locks for 2014 – Brooks, Strahan and Jones. The first part of the series looks at the WR logjam of Harrison, Reed and Brown.

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24409731/the-hof-cases-for-harrison-brown-reed-untangling-the-wr-logjam

  • BSLO:

    I agree that Brooks, Strahan and Jones are close to being locks. For the receivers, I think Marvin Harrison has the best credentials, and would probably be a first-ballot inductee if Reed and Brown hadn’t had such long waits already.

    I don’t really think Reed has to get in this year since only Holt and Bruce are eligible next year. Neither of them are jumping the queue ahead of Brown, Reed or Harrison. Owens will also be easy to keep out in his first year given his baggage, so I don’t see why these three couldn’t make it in the next 3 ballots. I think one of them is a lock this year for a 4th spot. My vote is for Reed

    The interesting debate will be for the last modern-era spot. My vote a couple weeks ago was for Shields…I think he is at least a lock for next year with only Pace and Mawae coming up. Among the remaining candidates, I would say Bettis and Williams are the next most likely, being the best at their respective positions left. DeBartolo is easy to leave off for now, as is Lynch, and unfortunately probably Andersen. Can’t see them inducting two special teamers at once. Kevin Greene has too many similar players ahead of him and is probably out as well.

    I am really not sure about how Haley and Dungy will fare. Dungy to me is nowhere close to being a first-ballot coach, but he has so much respect around the league that anything is possible. I would be disappointed to see him jump over so many good players though. Haley seems to have momentum, but with two front-seven players being locks (Brooks and Strahan), and another having a fairly good chance coming from the senior pool (Humphrey), he might just fall victim to a numbers game. With no one sack masters coming up in the next two ballots, Haley will get in shortly anyway (hopefully Greene too).

    Humphrey and Guy could really go either way. Both have been finalists several times, and Humphrey has been a senior’s nominee twice in only 8 years of eligibility, so the support is there, but “not quite” there. I want to believe both get in, and I believe the voters will do the right thing in this case. Guy would be a solid representative as the first punter in the hall, and Humphrey is in my opinion the best DE not named Strahan that is left out.

  • bachslunch:

    BLSO says: “Humphrey is in my opinion the best DE not named Strahan that is left out.”

    Agreed. Postseason honors numbers for those in the general vicinity who I think have a good argument:

    Claude Humphrey – 5/6/none
    Mark Gastineau – 4/5/none
    Gene Brito – 4/5/none
    L.C. Greenwood – 2/6/70s

  • Paul:

    Good overall analysis BSLO.

    Of interest from the cbsports story was how they view the process by which the HOF voting usually works with favor placed eventually on players the longer the stay on the ballot as a finalist as compared to similar 1st time or newer candidates – a factor that should play in favor for Reed over Harrison (although they seemed to dismiss it in predicting Harrison’s election).

    Also as has been noted by a number of observers, historically WRs do not fair well as 1st time candidates, I suspect because of the increasing challenge of having to compare their numbers with the changing focus on the passing game and resulting numerous big numbers WRs are now gaining compared to previous eras, including even as recently as the 1990s.

    Coaches as first time selections are also rare, but I agree that are many factors that may influence voters to select Dungy – I certainly hope that is not the case only because there are more deserving players especially Haley and Reed who have been on the ballot for a number of years (clearly having HOF voters support to continue to appear on the ballot, and even advance to the final 10), only to see their election delayed again because of a coach on the ballot for the first time.

  • Paul:

    In reference to the cbs sports online article referred to in an earlier post I found this quote interesting…”from a HOF voter”…..

    “How many first-ballot receivers are there? Unless you’re Jerry Rice, getting in as a first-ballot receiver is pretty difficult at best. When you look at guys’ sixth year and later on the [ballot], a good percentage of them are wide receivers. I don’t know why. It just seems that out of all the stats, the one that gets the most scrutiny is receiving. Receivers and pass-rushers, those are the ones that are going to take the most time [to debate]. Andre Reed and Cris Carter had been almost even, and last year, there were a lot of private conversations. We had to get one in to get rid of the backlog. The presentation speech last year on Carter shed some new light and it was good. Of all those guys, we thought, ‘Let’s get Carter in.’

    Is it possible that the long term Reed supporters among the HOF voters were convinced to swing their support to Carter last year in turn for an agreement for Carter supporters to do same this year and back Reed?

  • Rasputin:

    I might make Harrison wait 1-3 years, but he’s certainly Canton worthy and I’d rank him above Owens and Moss, whom I’d also make wait a little while due to limitations in their games (Moss – routes; Owens – drops; both questionable as teammates; neither won a SB). But then I still think Sterling Sharpe is one of the 3 greatest receivers of the 90s and deserves Canton induction, so the selection committee and I often aren’t on the same page.

  • Rasputin:

    Am I the only one disappointed by Darren Woodson not even getting consideration as a semi-finalist? By the eyeball test he certainly looked better than Atwater and even Lynch; all three hit hard but no other safety matched Woodson’s coverage ability. The guy ran a 4.35* 40 and reliably shut down slot receivers one on one, a third down job usually filled by cornerbacks. He deserved to go to more Pro Bowls than he did (I still remember Madden complaining about him being unjustly passed over in the late 90s/early 00s), and was seriously slighted by the All Decade picks in what may have been an anti-Cowboys backlash, but he did make 5 Pro Bowls and 3 first team AP All Pro selections, which isn’t chump change. Once a player has “a lot” of accolades I’m not sure the precise number is decisive in comparisons.

    Woodson was the best Dallas defensive player among those there throughout the 90s Super Bowl dynasty, and by the end of his career was almost single-handedly holding the defense together. He’s the all time franchise tackle leader and the team has been struggling unsuccessfully to replace him since he left. Doesn’t he deserve more of a look than he’s gotten?

    *http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1005855/index.htm

  • bachslunch:

    Re Darren Woodson — I can see the disappointment with him not getting a sniff here, and I think he’s got a solid case. Not that it’s likely much consolation, but being a safety makes things a lot tougher for him — we all know how little love folks at this position get from HoF voters. He’s even got plenty of company when it comes to deserving safeties not getting any semi-finalist recognition: same’s unfortunately true as far as I know for Leroy Butler, Joey Browner, Deron Cherry, Kenny Easley, Jimmy Patton, and Bobby Dillon.

  • boknows34:

    Some interesting insight:

    Charles Haley:
    What a Hall of Fame voter thinks: “I think he deserves to be in. When you look at pass-rushing statistics and how many rings he has, he deserves it. He possibly gets in. It depends on the debates and how things go. My first year in that room, there was no way I thought Ricky Jackson would get in, and all of a sudden, Ricky Jackson is in the Hall of Fame.”

    How are his chances: There certainly is a contingent of writers who believe Haley should be inducted. And his five NFL titles are incredibly impressive. But Strahan and Greene are still in his way, and I really don’t see much of a reason to believe this will be Haley’s year to get into the HOF. Unless, like our Hall of Fame voter insinuates, whomever is giving the Haley presentation impresses the room so much that they feel obligated to vote for him.

    Jerome Bettis:
    What a Hall of Fame voter thinks: “Eh. Jerome is going to take some time. A lot of time, in fact. Jerome made progress this past year by getting into the final 10, but making that next jump into the final five is going to be the one. Running backs are kind of marginalized. With a guy like Bettis, the presentation carries some weight. I’m trying to get something new or have the presenter give something to me in a way I hadn’t seen or looked at before.”

    How are his chances: It seems likely that Bettis eventually will get in the HOF, but I’m not sure it happens this year.

  • Paul:

    cbs sports “eye on football” online has a very detailed ongoing profiles of 2014 finalists.

    here is link (and you can jump from this profile to others, including to be posted over the next two weeks)

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24411766/the-hof-case-for-jerome-bettis-does-end-of-career-hurt-his-chances

  • Corey:

    In regards to being elected to the Hall of Fame, I would say they are very few sure things, as it is hard to predict. Unlike some others, I didn’t have a problem with Sapp’s election last year, but I thought for sure Strahan would get nod over him. So in regards to Strahan and Greene standing in Haley’s way, it could be, but I honestly think the Baseball Hall of Fame is a lot easier to correctly pick something or not. I think out of all the first timers, Derrick Brooks is probably most likely to get elected, but it’s so hard to tell with the way things go.

  • Paul:

    Yes it is hard to predict what 45 voters are going to do especially when very few of them discuss their thoughts before the sessions and of course what is said in those sessions (and their voting) is not revealed. And although I know that it was announced that we will see some of the behind the scenes from the election meeting this year (on NFL Network?), I doubt it will be that revealing as to the actual critical debates and voting. What I understand of the election is that there often is much background discussions and building of voting blocks that can occur resulting in “collecting” assurances of voters especially when a year to year logjam over a candidate or group occurs and there is an effort to move a stuck candidate forward (i.e. Art Monk, Lynn Swann, Chris Carter).

    I have been following these elections and debates closely for over a decade and can often get 3, sometimes even 4 of the modern candidates correct, but one thing is always certain – there is always a surprise of a candidate not getting electing and/or one who does. Voting trends year to year also matter, including the progression of players from 15 to final 10 – it a player continues to make the final 10 it is setting the stage for future election very soon as does someone staying on the final 15 for 4 or more years – thus why I am putting thought to Haley and Reed being elected this year. The extra factors that often comes into play and can alter this pattern are when highly valued 1st year candidates appear on the ballot or when suddenly a movement among the voters pushes forward a candidate one year not usually seen as a strong candidate from previous election results.

    For this year I feel pretty confident about Brooks and Strahan, think that Haley has a very good shot, an OL will get elected (Jones over Shields), then it will come down to Reed/Harrison. Once you start getting to those close selections among players at the same position (WR and OL this year), that is when a surprise candidate can emerge as others have slot votes – such surprise candidates this year could be Williams or Bettis.

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