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17 Pro Hall of Fame finalists named

Jan. 6, 2009 at 11:32 PM
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CANTON, Ohio, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Tuesday announced 17 finalists for its Class of 2009, including four in their first year of eligibility.

The four first-year candidates are defensive end Bruce Smith, tight end Shannon Sharpe, defensive back Rod Woodson and defensive tackle John Randle.

Nine other modern-era players, including receivers Cris Carter and Andre Reed, and linebacker Derrick Thomas, also are on the list, which was culled from 25 semifinalists picked from an initial list of110 players, seven coaches and 16 others who contributed to the game in other ways.

The contributor finalists are former league commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Buffalo Bills founder/owner Ralph Wilson Jr.

Senior nominees Bob Hayes and Claude Humphrey are assured of being inducted, having been selected in August by the Hall of Fame's Senior Selection Committee.

The Class of 2009 will be announced immediately after the Selection Committee's annual meeting Jan. 31 in Tampa, Fla., the day before Super Bowl XLIII.

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