|Ogden, Strahan and Sapp lead the pack of first-year-eligible candidates likely to get in. (Getty Images)|
The 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony isn't for another nine months, but on Friday the preliminary list of candidates will be reduced to 25. Below, we take a gander at some of that names that could make the cut (you can see the full list here). Feel free to add your favorites in the comments.
But first, a quick recap of the selection process, via the Pro Football Hall of Fame's website:
"The Selection Committee meets annually at the time of the Super Bowl to elect new members to the Hall of Fame. There is no set number of new enshrinees, but the Committee's current ground rules do stipulate that between four and seven new members will be selected each year. Every candidate is carefully scrutinized and must receive at least 80 percent approval of the Committee at the annual meeting before he can be elected."
All right, let's get to it.
Jonathan Ogden, OT, Ravens. Along with Ray Lewis, Ogden was the "other" Ravens' first-rounder from the class of 1996, though you could argue he was as important to the team's success. One of the best left tackles in the game from the time he stepped on the field in 1996 until he retired in 2007.
Warren Sapp, DT, Buccaneers, Raiders. A former first-round pick out of the University of Miami, Sapp also won Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1999 when he registered 12 1/2 sacks. Along with John Lynch and Keenan McCardell, Sapp is one of three first-time eligible players from the 2002 Bucs team that won the Super Bowl.
Michael Strahan, DE, Giants. Almost certainly a shoo-in to earn a yellow jacket in his first try, Strahan set the NFL sack record with 22 1/2 in 2001. He also made seven Pro Bowls and ended his career by upsetting the previously undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
John Lynch, S, Buccaneers, Broncos. Today's NFL is littered with players influenced by what Lynch did over his 15-year career. The nine-time Pro Bowler will almost certainly make the list of 25 nominees, but with the glut of Hall-worthy candidates, he'll have to wait to get fitted for his yellow jacket. Our favorite Lynch fun fact isn't even football-related: Also a baseball player, he threw the first pitch in the history of the Florida Marlins organization.
Larry Allen, OG, Cowboys, 49ers. A second-round pick out of Sonoma State, Allen was an 11-time Pro Bowler and part of the Super Bowl XXX squad. He also was named to the 1990s and 2000s All-Decade teams.
Morten Andersen, K, Saints, Falcons, Giants, Chiefs, Vikings, Titans. Andersen's the NFL's all-time leading scorer and holds countless other records, so it's reasonable to think he'd have a shot at Canton at some point. Then again, only three kickers are in the Hall -- George Blanda, Lou Groza and Jan Stenerud -- and two of them played other positions.
Other player candidates
Jerome Bettis. This will be the Bus' third time as a finalist (assuming he makes it, which he should). Marshall Faulk got in ahead of him in 2010 and Curtis Martin got the nod last year.
Tim Brown. The former Raiders star came up short on three previous occasions, and with Cris Carter also looking to get in, Brown could again be on the outside looking in.
Cris Carter. Carter's been a finalist on five previous occasions. Is this the year he finally breaks through? As always, the Hall has too many qualified candidates for too few spots.
Charles Haley. He was a finalist on three previous occasions and part of five Super Bowl teams with the 49ers and Cowboys in the '80s and '90s.
Kevin Greene. A first-time finalist a year ago, Greene was originally drafted by the Rams but also played with the Steelers, Panthers and 49ers. A five-time Pro Bowler and the 1996 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Will Shields. He played 14 seasons, all with the Chiefs and made the Pro Bowl 12 times. Shields was a first-time finalist in 2012.
Andre Reed. The former Bills wideout has been a Hall finalist on six occasions but like Brown and Carter, he'll face a tough road to enshrinement.
Aeneas Williams. He played for the Cardinals and Rams over 14 seasons. In that time he was an eight-time Pro Bowler. He was a first-time finalist last year.
Randall Cunningham. One of the biggest knocks on Cunningham: he never won. But he was also ahead of his time -- today's NFL is littered with Cunningham clones, from Vick to Newton to Griffin to Kaepernick. Plus, as Robert Weintraub wrote in Slate a decade ago, Cunningham "singlehandedly carried the Eagles."
Terrell Davis. Davis played just eight seasons bu he got the most out of a relatively short career. He was the NFL and Super Bowl MVP for the 1998 season, and made the '90s All-Decade Team. But like Bettis, the competition has made it difficult for him to break through.
Eddie George. Great running back for most of his career but like the other names on this list, the bottleneck of talent makes it tough.
Sterling Sharpe. Shannon Sharpe made an impassioned plea for his brother during his induction speech in 2011. Like Davis, Sharpe's career was cut short by injury. Otherwise, he might already be in Canton.
Tony Boselli. The second pick in the 1995 draft, Boselli played seven seasons with the Jaguars. He was named to the 1990s All-Decade team but faces long odds to make it to Friday's semifinal list. (He'll need a committee of the entire Prisco family to get him in. Hey, stranger things have happen.)
Other nonplayer candidates
Robert Kraft. There will be a strong push to get the Patriots owner in this year.
Bill Parcells. Is he even the best Giants coach of the last 30 years (Tom Coughlin has a great argument). This might be one argument why he won't get in anytime soon.
Paul Tagliabue. The former NFL commissioner has been a three-time finalist, most recently in 2009.
Art Modell. Modell, who passed away in September, was critically important to the league's development. Still, he'll probably be best remembered for moving the Browns to Baltimore after the 1995 season.
Edward DeBartolo Jr. A finalist for the first time last year, DeBartolo owned the 49ers from 1977-2000. The team won five titles over that span.
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