The Pro Football Hall of Fame 2015 Finalists have been officially announced via NFL Network on Thursday night.
The fifteen modern era finalists included three first time eligible finalists featuring the late great Junior Seau most notably of the San Diego Chargers. Two legendary stalwarts of the greatest show on turf, Kurt Warner and Orlando Pace of the St. Louis Rams, are also first year eligible finalists.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are well represented amongst the finalists. Running back Jerome Bettis is a finalist for a fifth time and linebacker Kevin Greene gets into the finals for his fourth consecutive year.
The largest controversy lies within the wide receivers group. Tim Brown of the Oakland Raiders is now a finalist for the sixth time and Marvin Harrison of the Indianapolis Colts is again a finalist in his second year of eligibility.
Will Brown have to continue to wait as did Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Art Monk? Are Harrison’s gaudy statistics enough to cut in line of Brown or will the voters rather credit Peyton Manning?
Former Dallas Cowboy and San Francisco 49er Charles Haley is now a finalist for the sixth time. Haley is distinguished as the only player in NFL history to play for five winning Super Bowl teams. He was the NFC defensive player of the year twice in 1990 and 1994.
Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields hopes his fourth straight year as a finalist is the charm. It will be hard to deny the Hall again for Shields who was a twelve-time pro bowler and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 2000s.
The lone defensive back finalist is John Lynch formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos. The Nine-Time Pro Bowler is a finalist for the second straight year.
Two infamous head coaches made the final fifteen. Fiery Jimmy Johnson led the Dallas Cowboys dynasty to two Super Bowl wins. Calm and inquisitive Tony Dungy masterminded a dominant Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense before becoming head coach of the Indianapolis Colts leading them to a Super Bowl victory.
The surprise finalist may be Terrell Davis because of his relatively short career compared to Semi-Finalists Edgerrin James and Roger Craig who did not make the cut.
Rounding out the list of modern era finalists is kicker Morten Andersen most notably of the New Orleans Saints. The door for Anderson perhaps was opened last year when Ray Guy, the first ever punter was enshrined in Canton. A placekicker has not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame since Jan Stenerud in 1991.
This years’ Pro Football Hall of Fame class can include as many as five modern era players. Senior nominee Mick Tingelhoff and two contributor nominee’s Ron Wolf and Bill Polian could bring the class of 2015 to as many as eight which would be the most since 1967.
The rest not making the cut were Karl Mecklenburg, Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Joe Jacoby, Mike Kenn, Darren Woodson, Kevin Mawae and Ty Law.
The Class of 2015 will be voted on and announced Saturday Jan 31, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona the day before the Super Bowl. In order to be elected a player must receive a minimum of 80 percent of the selection committee’s vote.