In just a matter of days, a number of players will become immortal, as they will take their rightful place as the next members that will be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The selection will take place on Saturday, January 31st, just one day before Super Bowl XLIII when the Steelers take on the Cardinals. Below are the lists of 17 finalists with their positions and teams they played for.
Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
Dermontti Dawson – Center – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
Richard Dent – Defensive End – 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
Russ Grimm – Guard – 1981-1991 Washington Redskins
Bob Hayes – Wide Receiver – 1965-1974 Dallas Cowboys, 1975 San Francisco 49ers
Claude Humphrey – Defensive End – 1968-1978 Atlanta Falcons, 1979-1981 Philadelphia Eagles
Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
Bob Kuechenberg – Guard – 1970-1984 Miami Dolphins
Randall McDaniel – Guard – 1988-1999 Minnesota Vikings, 2000-01 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
John Randle – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks
Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
Bruce Smith – Defensive End – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000-03 Washington Redskins
Paul Tagliabue – Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
Derrick Thomas – Linebacker – 1989-1999 Kansas City Chiefs
Ralph Wilson – Team Founder/Owner – 1960-Present Buffalo Bills
Rod Woodson – Cornerback/Safety – 1987-1996 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers, 1998-2001 Baltimore Ravens, 2002-03 Oakland Raiders
So the big question is – who will get in? Here’s our breakdown of the couple of players that we think will get the nod.
1. Bruce Smith – Smith was the first overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Bills, and was one of the best DE’s ever to play the game. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 and 1996, and was selected to 11 Pro Bowls. Played on the great Bills teams that were oh so close to winning a couple of Super Bowls. Had 10 or more sacks in an NFL record 13 seasons. A for sure.
2. Shannon Sharpe – The mouthy Sharpe was always great theatre on and off the field, but also was one of, if not the best tight end to play the game. At the time of his retirement, his 815 career receptions and 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns were all NFL career records for a tight end. Eight Pro Bowls, three Super Bowls and First or second-team All-Pro honors five times makes him a real good choice for the Hall.
3. Bob Hayes – A 1964 7th round pick by the Cowboys, Hayes was known as the “World’s Fastest Human” after winning a pair of gold medals in the 1964 Olympic Games. Led the Cowboys in receptions three times, and career stats include 7,414 receiving yards and 71 touchdowns. Deserving of being in the Hall. Passed away in 2002 at the age of 59.
4. Rod Woodson – 71 career picks, Woodson played for four teams, but will best be remembered for his 10 seasons with the Steelers. First round pick of the Steelers (10th overall) in 1987, he was a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team and NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. Named to 11 Pro Bowls, made a transition to safety later on after being a great cornerback and punt returner early in his career, and won a Super Bowl in 2000 with the Ravens.
5. Ralph Wilson, Jr. – Bills owner and one of original founders of American Football League. His team has won two AFL Championships and an unprecedented four straight AFC championships. Helped lead AFL through early years making tough decisions that were necessary for league’s survival.