All-World cornerback Deion “Prime Time” Sanders was recently named one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2011 Class. And I am sure the talkative former cover corner will not need any football writers to plead his case for him
The 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2011 class were announced this week including first-timers CB Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, RB Marshall Faulk, RB Jerome Bettis, RB Curtis Martin and dominating former Saints Pro Bowl offensive tackle Willie Roaf.
Besides the first timers, the majority of the 15-person finalist list is filled with players returning for another shot at being enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Among the returning players that are hoping that “This will finally be their year” are pass catchers Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Shannon Sharpe.
The 15 modern-era finalists, along with the two senior nominees that were announced in August 2010 (former NFL linebackers Chris Hanburger and Les Richter) will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the PHOF’s 44-member Selection Committee – made mostly of PFWA members — meet in Dallas on Feb. 5, the day before Super Bowl XLV.
Remember, there is a maximum of seven people that can be inducted each year including five of the 15 modern-era finalists on the ballot, so some hard decisions are sure to follow. To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent (35 votes). And I fully expect the selection committee to use at least six spots from the 17 candidates including at least one of the two senior committee choices. In my opinion, you might as well send gold jackets for sizing to Sanders, Faulk and Roaf.
The 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame 17 finalists (15 Modern-Era and two Senior Nominees*) with their positions, teams, and years include:
- Jerome Bettis – Running Back – 1993-1995 LA/STL Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
- Tim Brown – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Cris Carter – Wide Receiver – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
- Dermonti 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
- Chris Doleman – Defensive End – 1985-1993 & 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-1995 Atlanta Falcons, 1997-1998 San Francisco 49ers,
- Marshall Faulk – Running Back – 1994-1998 Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005 St. Louis Rams
- Charles Haley – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
- *Chris Hanburger – Linebacker – 1965-1978 Washington Redskins
- Cortez Kennedy – Defensive Tackle – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
- Curtis Martin – Running Back – 1995-1997 New England Patriots, 1998 – 2005 New York Jets
- Andre Reed – Wide Receiver – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
- *Les Richter – Kicker, Middle Guard, Middle Linebacker — 1954-1962 LA Rams
- Willie Roaf – Offensive Tackle – 1993–2005 New Orleans Saints
- Ed Sabol – He would go in as a “contributor”. The patriarch of venerable organization, NFL Films, has been associated with the league since filming Super Bowl I back in 1966
- Deion Sanders – Cornerback, Return man, Wide Receiver – 1989-1993 Atlanta Falcons, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-1999 Dallas Cowboys, 2000 Washington Redskins, 2004-2005 Baltimore Ravens
- Shannon Sharpe – Tight End – 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
During the week leading up to Super Bowl XLV, I will post my best guess as to who will be selected for enshrinement in July. Though I am pretty sure of a couple of names, I will reserve the right to wait until early February for my final predictions.
Fans are also invited to voice their choice for the PHOF in Van Heusen’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan’s Choice at www.fanschoice.com. But remember… fan votes only will matter to the contest’s sponsors as the 44-member committee have the only say.
Also checkout my Top 10 list of players deserving to be in the Hall of Fame.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)