Elway is the NFL's second all-time leading passer and Sanders the third all-time leading rusher. Both are first-year eligibles.
The semifinalists were chosen Wednesday by the board of selectors of the Hall of Fame from a list of 67 nominees. Former New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson and late Giants general manager George Young are automatic finalists because they finished in the top-six in the voting last year.
The other semifinalists this year are Cliff Branch, Richard Dent, Carl Eller, Randy Gradishar, L.C. Greenwood, Russ Grimm, Ray Guy, Cliff Harris, Lester Hayes, Claude Humphrey, Bob Kuechenberg, Jim Marshall, Art Modell, Art Monk, Donnie Shell, Ken Stabler, Steve Tasker, Roger Wehrli, Ralph Wilson, Rayfield Wright, and Gary Zimmerman.
Voting for the Class of 2004 will be held on Jan. 31.