NFL Hall of Fame candidates announced
Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson and Shannon Sharpe are first-time eligible candidates among the 133 players, coaches and contributors on the preliminary list for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009.
From this group, Hall of Fame Selectors will choose 25 semifinalists next month. That group will be narrowed to 15 and join Senior Committee selections Bob Hayes and Claude Humphrey during the final vote Jan. 31, the day before Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Fla.
Smith is the all-time sacks leader with 200 and NFL MVP in 1987 and 1997 with the Buffalo Bills. Woodson is an 11-time Pro Bowl pick at defensive back and third all-time with 71 career interceptions. Sharpe won three Super Bowl rings as a tight end with Denver and Baltimore. He was the first tight end with more than 10,000 receiving yards and scored 62 touchdowns.
Cris Carter, Andre Reed, Russ Grimm, Bob Kuechenberg, Randall McDaniel, Richard Dent, Derrick Thomas and Ray Guy were finalists for the Class of 2008.
Former coaches and players must be retired five seasons before becoming eligible. Contributors may still be active in their careers. Among the contributors nominated are former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, current Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
First-year eligible nominees
RUNNING BACKS: Larry Centers, Brian Mitchell
TIGHT ENDS: Shannon Sharpe, Frank Wycheck
OFFENSIVE TACKLE: Lincoln Kennedy
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: John Randle, Bruce Smith, Dana Stubblefield
LINEBACKER: Jessie Armstead
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Darren Woodson, Rod Woodson
QUARTERBACKS: Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason, Jim Plunkett, Phil Simms, Ken Stabler, Joe Theismann, Doug Williams
RUNNING BACKS: Ottis Anderson, Roger Craig, Terrell Davis, Greg Pruitt, Herschel Walker, Ricky Watters
WIDE RECEIVERS: Cliff Branch, Harold Carmichael, *Cris Carter, Wes Chandler, Gary Clark, Isaac Curtis, Henry Ellard, Irving Fryar, Roy Green, Harold Jackson, Herman Moore, Stanley Morgan, *Andre Reed, Sterling Sharpe
TIGHT ENDS: Mark Bavaro, Todd Christensen, Ben Coates, Russ Francis, Brent Jones, Steve Jordan
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Tony Boselli, Lomas Brown, Jim Covert, Randy Cross, Dave Dalby, Dermontti Dawson, Ray Donaldson, *Russ Grimm, Jay Hilgenberg, Kent Hill, Chris Hinton, Kent Hull, Joe Jacoby, Mike Kenn , *Bob Kuechenberg, Jim Lachey, Henry Lawrence, Mark May, *Randall McDaniel, Max Montoya, Marvin Powell, Steve Wisniewski
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Ray Childress, *Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Carl “Big Daddy” Hairston, Charles Haley, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Cortez Kennedy, Joe Klecko, Steve McMichael, Leslie O’Neal, Fred Smerlas, Art Still
LINEBACKERS: Cornelius Bennett, Robert Brazile, Kevin Greene, Ken Harvey, Rickey Jackson, Tom Jackson, Clay Matthews, Karl Mecklenburg, Sam Mills, Hardy Nickerson, Chris Spielman, Pat Swilling, Darryl Talley, *Derrick Thomas
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Eric Allen, Steve Atwater, Joey Browner, LeRoy Butler, Deron Cherry, Raymond Clayborn, Kenny Easley, Lester Hayes, Albert Lewis, Ken Riley, Eugene Robinson, Donnie Shell, Louis Wright
PUNTERS/KICKERS: Rich Camarillo, *Ray Guy, Nick Lowery, Reggie Roby
SPECIAL TEAMS/WIDE RECEIVER: Steve Tasker
COACHES: Don Coryell, Tom Flores, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Knox, Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves, Clark Shaughnessy
CONTRIBUTORS: Bud Adams, Gil Brandt, C.O. Brocato, Leo Carlin, Ed DeBartolo Jr., Ben Dreith, Bob Harlan, Jerry Jones, Art Modell, Art Rooney Jr., Ed Sabol, Steve Sabol, *Paul Tagliabue, Ralph Wilson Jr., Ron Wolf, George Young
*Finalist for Class of 2008