NFL

Hall of Fame list sets up selection Saturday scrimmage

(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- There are no major surprises among 108 players and coaches announced Tuesday as nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2018 class. But that won't prevent plenty of fireworks when the Selection Committee convenes Saturday, February 3, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minn.

A quick poll of fellow selectors indicates only one apparent slam dunk for the Class of 2018, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

He and prolific wide receiver Randy Moss are among 11 first-year eligible stars who are on the list. Moss and linebacker Brian Urlacher are potential first-year inductees, but not a sure thing.

While many consider Moss a slam dunk, the path into the Hall of Fame is a difficult one, especially for wide receivers with any notable negativity during their NFL career.

That was certainly the case for Terrell Owens, who is one of 10 finalists returning from the 2017 selection process. Owens apparently lost votes because he was thought to be a difficult teammate, evidenced by being released by multiple teams during his prime. Although Moss is well-liked now, during the middle of his career he all but admitted he didn't play his best all the time.

The thought of those two controversial receivers being in the selection room at the same time has loomed as potential high drama for several years. When Owens failed to be inducted last year, the stage was set.

For those who may favor one over the other by any significant degree, there is this to consider:

Owens played 219 games (1998-2010), caught 1,078 passes for 15,934 yards and scored 156 touchdowns (three rushing). Moss played 218 games (1998-2012), caught 982 passes for 15,292 yards and scored 156 touchdowns. So, statistics will not separate these two and numbers obviously don't tell the whole story.

Other first-year eligible nominees: Wide receivers Donald Driver, Randy Moss, Steve Smith (from Giants, Eagles, Rams -- not Steve Smith Sr. of Panthers/Ravens who retired last year; offensive linemen Matt Birk (C), Steve Hutchinson (G), Jeff Saturday (C); defensive linemen Richard Seymour (DT), Kyle Vanden Bosch (DE); defensive back Ronde Barber (CB/S).

Other finalists from last year returning as nominees: Wide receiver Isaac Bruce; offensive linemen Tony Boselli (T), Alan Faneca (G), Joe Jacoby (T), Kevin Mawae (C/G); defensive backs Brian Dawkins (SS), Ty Law (CB), John Lynch (S); coach Don Coryell

The full list will be reduced to 18 finalists by Super Bowl week and presented to the full 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee on selection Saturday. The finalists will consist of 15 modern-era finalists, the recently named senior finalists, Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer, and the contributor finalist, Bobby Beathard.

The full list of modern-era nominees (*indicates finalist for 2017 class):

--QUARTERBACKS (5): Randall Cunningham, Rich Gannon, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair, Phil Simms

--RUNNING BACKS (10): Tiki Barber, Earnest Byner, Roger Craig, Corey Dillon, Eddie George, Edgerrin James, Lorenzo Neal, Fred Taylor, Herschel Walker (also KR), Ricky Watters

--WIDE RECEIVERS (13): *Isaac Bruce, Donald Driver, Henry Ellard (also PR), Torry Holt, Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, *Terrell Owens, Sterling Sharpe, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, Steve Smith, John Taylor, Hines Ward

--TIGHT END (4): Mark Bavaro, Ben Coates, Ferrell Edmunds, Jay Novacek

--OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (21): Willie Anderson (T), Matt Birk (C), *Tony Boselli (T), Lomas Brown (T), Ruben Brown (G), Ray Donaldson (C), *Alan Faneca (G), Bill Fralic (G/T), Jay Hilgenberg (C), Chris Hinton (G/T), Kent Hull (C), Steve Hutchinson (G), *Joe Jacoby (T), Mike Kenn (T), *Kevin Mawae (C/G), Tom Nalen (C), Nate Newton (G), Bart Oates (C), Jeff Saturday (C), Richmond Webb (T), Steve Wisniewski (G)

--DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (11): La'Roi Glover (DT/NT), Leonard Marshall (DE/DT), Keith Millard (DT/NT/DE), Leslie O'Neal (DE), Michael Dean Perry (DT/DE), Simeon Rice (DE), Richard Seymour (DT), Neil Smith (DE), Greg Townsend (DE/NT/LB), Kyle Vanden Bosch (DE), Bryant Young (DT)

--LINEBACKERS (15): Carl Banks, Cornelius Bennett, Tedy Bruschi, Seth Joyner, Ray Lewis, Greg Lloyd, Wilber Marshall, Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest (also DE), Karl Mecklenburg, Sam Mills, Joey Porter, Darryl Talley, Zach Thomas, Brian Urlacher

--DEFENSIVE BACKS (12): Eric Allen (CB), Steve Atwater (S), Ronde Barber (CB/S), LeRoy Butler (S), *Brian Dawkins (SS), Rodney Harrison (S), *Ty Law (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), *John Lynch (S), Dennis Smith (S), Everson Walls (CB), Darren Woodson (S)

--KICKERS/PUNTER (3): Gary Anderson (K), Sean Landeta (P), Nick Lowery (K)

--SPECIAL TEAMS (2): Brian Mitchell (KR/PR also RB), Steve Tasker (coverage, also WR)

--COACHES (12): *Don Coryell, Bill Cowher, Tom Flores, Mike Holmgren, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Knox, Buddy Parker, Richie Petitbon, Dan Reeves, Marty Schottenheimer, Clark Shaughnessy, Dick Vermeil

--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and third decade as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

Updated September 12, 2017


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