CANTON, Ohio, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and three former quarterbacks were among first-time nominees eligible for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it was announced Monday.
. A total of 71 former players, coaches and contributors are on the preliminary list of nominees for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2002.
Tagliabue is eligible as a contributor for the first time.
Among the players eligible for the first time are quarterbacks Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar and Jim McMahon, tight end Keith Jackson, offensive linemen Ray Donaldson and Guy McIntyre, defensive linemen Ray Childress and Sean Jones, linebackers Darryl Talley and Clay Matthews and kicker Nick Lowery.
To be considered for Hall of Fame election, a nominated player must have been retired at least five years. For a non-player, there is no mandatory retirement period, but a coach must be retired before he may be considered. A contributor, who has made outstanding contributions to pro football in capacities other than playing or coaching, may still be active in his football career.
The Hall's Selection Committee will determine 14 modern-era finalists from the nominee list.
The 15th member of the finalists group that will be announced in mid-January, is former NFL coach George Allen, the recommended candidate of the Seniors Committee, which reviews the qualification of those players, coaches and contributors whose careers primarily took place more than 25 years ago.
The Class of 2002 will be determined at the Selection Committee's annual meeting, which will be held on February 2, 2002, the day before Super Bowl XXXVI.
Rules stipulate that between four and seven new members will be selected each year.