A list that started with over 100 candidates is now down to the final 15.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Thursday the 15 finalists for its 2014 class. The process of naming the finalists began in September with a list of 126 potential inductees. That number was trimmed down to 25 semi-finalists in November and now it's down to 15.
Here's a list of the 15 finalists, including a look at the five we feel have the best chance of getting in, followed by the remaining 10. The list includes four people eligible for the first time in Derrick Brooks, Marvin Harrison, Walter Jones and Tony Dungy.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalists
Michael Strahan, DE -- 1993-2007 New York Giants: Strahan probably felt pretty snubbed when his name wasn't announced last February for the 2013 class, but he most likely won't be feeling that again in 2014. In 15 seasons with the Giants, Strahan tallied 141.5 career sacks, a number that ranks fifth all-time. Strahan also holds the single-season sack record (22.5), a record that's mostly remembered for the phantom sack Strahan got on Brett Favre to set the record. That aside, the seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro seems like a lock for 2014.
Derrick Brooks, LB -- 1995-2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If Brooks doesn't make it into the Hall of Fame, then they should stop having a Hall of Fame. The underrated Brooks is one of the best outside linebackers of all-time and was a big part why Tony Dungy's Tampa-2 defense was successful. In pass coverage, Brooks had the ability to cover large parts of the field, which in turn made things easier for teammates like John Lynch. Brooks finished his 14-year career with 11 Pro Bowl appearances, one Defensive Player of the Year award (2002) and one Super Bowl title.
Tim Brown, WR/KR -- 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If Brown's going to get in the Hall of Fame, 2014 seems like a good year to do it. Brown, Andre Reed and Marvin Harrison will create a logjam at receiver that could lead to some long arguments when the selection committee gets together. It's hard to argue with what Brown did in his career, he has the fifth most receptions (1,094) in NFL history, the fifth most receiving yards (14,934) and is tied with Hall of Famer Steve Largent for the seventh most touchdown catches (100). Brown accomplished all of this despite tearing the MCL and PCL in his left knee in Week 1 of 1989, only his second year in the league.
Walter Jones, T -- 1997-2008 Seattle Seahawks: The selection committee has been on an offensive linemen kick for the past the few years. With the exception of 2011, at least one offensive linemen has been selected for the Hall in every year since 2006, including two linemen -- Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden -- in the class of 2013. The 2014 class can make a strong case for two linemen -- Jones and Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields -- but we're going to go with Jones. Over 12 seasons, Jones played in 180 games and started every single one of those. The Seahawks left tackle was a nine-time Pro Bowler and made first-team All-Pro four times. Jones wasn't suppose to eligible for the Hall of Fame until 2015, but the Hall recently ruled that because Jones spent his final season in 2009 on injured reserve, he would be eligible a year earlier in 2014.
Jerome Bettis, RB -- 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers: Bettis didn't just drive the bus in Pittsburgh, he also drove it with the Rams for three seasons in Los Angeles and St. Louis. After the Rams made Bettis the 10th overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, Bettis went out and won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award thanks to 1,429 rushing yards, the second highest total of any back in the league. Bettis ranked third in NFL history with eight 1,000-yard seasons and fifth in career rushing yards with 13,662 when he retired after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL.
Charles Haley, DE/LB -- 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
Marvin Harrison, WR -- 1996-2008 Indianapolis Colts
Aeneas Williams, CB/S -- 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
John Lynch, FS -- 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos
Will Shields, G -- 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Owner -- 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers
A group of 46 sports writers have the final say on who eventually gets inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The writers will meet on Feb. 1 in New York and consider the candidacy of each finalist, plus two senior nominees in Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey.
The Hall of Fame selection process stipulates that the number of modern-day inductees is capped at five. This means a maximum of seven players can be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The number usually falls between four and seven.
The 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be announced in a television special that's set to air on Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
The list above was trimmed down from 25 semifinalists, here's the 10 that didn't make the cut this year:
- Steve Atwater, S -- 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets
- Roger Craig, RB -- 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings
- Terrell Davis, RB -- 1995-2001 Denver Broncos
- Joe Jacoby, T -- 1981-1993 Washington Redskins
- Karl Mecklenburg, LB -- 1983-1994 Denver Broncos
- Steve Wisniewski, G -- 1989-2001 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders
- Jimmy Johnson, Coach -- 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins
- Don Coryell, Coach -- 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers
- Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner -- 1989-2006 National Football League
- George Young, Contributor -- 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League