When the Pro Football Hall of Fame released its list Wednesday of Modern-Era nominees for the Class of 2017, running back LaDainian Tomlinson was the only first-year eligible player with a shot at becoming a first-ballot inductee.
The list comprises 94 players and coaches. It consists of 45 offensive players, 32 defensive players, six special teams players and 11 coaches. The Modern-Era nominees will be trimmed to 25 semifinalists in November, and from there, to 15 finalists in January.
Eighteen finalists will be presented to the full 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee during its annual selection meeting on the eve of Super Bowl LI. The finalists will consist of 15 Modern-Era finalists, the recently named Senior Finalist, Kenny Easley, and the 2017 Contributor Finalists, Jerry Jones and Paul Tagliabue.
Easley definitely belongs in the HOF and Jones should make it at some point, but Tagliabue was the man in charge when the NFL curated the plot for the movie "Concussion."
For whatever he may have done to help pro football as a business, Tagliabue should be held accountable for the key questions regarding player safety in general and concussions in particular. Those questions are: What did you know and when did you know it?
The Selection Committee will meet on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017 in Houston to elect the Class of 2017. The selection process by-laws provide that between four and eight new members will be selected.
The Senior Finalist and Contributor Finalists will be voted "yes" or "no" for election at the annual selection meeting and must receive at least 80 percent support from the Committee to be elected.
The Modern-Era Finalists will be trimmed during the meeting from 15 to 10 and then from 10 to five. The remaining five finalists will be voted on individually, "yes" or "no" and must receive the same 80 percent positive vote as the Senior and Contributors Finalists to earn election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017 NOMINEES
(*Finalist in 2016; #Indicates first year of eligibility. Players and coaches must have last played or coached at least five full seasons ago to be eligible for nomination. Therefore, any individual who last played or coached in 2011 is eligible for the first time in 2017).
RUNNING BACKS (13)
Shaun Alexander, Ottis Anderson, Tiki Barber, Larry Centers, Roger Craig, *Terrell Davis, Eddie George, *Edgerrin James, Daryl Johnston, Eric Metcalf (also WR/PR/KR), #LaDainian Tomlinson, Herschel Walker (also KR), Ricky Watters
WIDE RECEIVERS (10)
TIGHT END (1)
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (14)
Tony Boselli (T), Ray Donaldson (C), *Alan Faneca (G), Jay Hilgenberg (C), Chris Hinton (G/T), Kent Hull (C), *Joe Jacoby (T), Mike Kenn (T), #Olin Kreutz (C), Jim Lachey (T), Kevin Mawae (C/G), Tom Nalen (C), Nate Newton (G), Steve Wisniewski (G)
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (5)
Leslie O'Neal (DE), Simeon Rice (DE), Fred Smerlas (NT), #Jason Taylor (DE), Bryant Young (DT)
DEFENSIVE BACKS (16)
Eric Allen (CB), *Steve Atwater (S), Joey Browner (S), LeRoy Butler (S), Brian Dawkins (SS), Rodney Harrison (S), Ty Law (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), *John Lynch (S), #Frank Minnifield (CB),#Bob Sanders (SS), Darren Sharper (FS), Dennis Smith (SS), Troy Vincent (S), Everson Walls (CB), Darren Woodson (S)
SPECIAL TEAMS (2)
Brian Mitchell (KR/PR also RB), Steve Tasker (ST also WR)
Shaun Alexander (RB), Eric Allen (CB), *Morten Andersen (K), Ottis Anderson (RB), Gary Anderson (K) , *Steve Atwater (S), Carl Banks (LB) , Tiki Barber (RB), Mark Bavaro (TE), Cornelius Bennett (LB), Drew Bledsoe (QB), Tony Boselli (T), Joey Browner (S), Isaac Bruce (WR), Tedy Bruschi (LB), LeRoy Butler (S), Larry Centers (RB), *Don Coryell (Coach), Bill Cowher (Coach), Roger Craig (RB), Randall Cunningham (QB).
*Terrell Davis (RB), Brian Dawkins (SS), Ray Donaldson (C), Henry Ellard (WR/PR), *Alan Faneca (G), Tom Flores (Coach), Doug Flutie (QB), Eddie George (RB), Rodney Harrison (S), Jay Hilgenberg (C), Chris Hinton (G/T), Mike Holmgren (Coach), Torry Holt (WR), Kent Hull (C), *Joe Jacoby (T) , *Edgerrin James (RB), Chad Johnson (WR), Jimmy Johnson (Coach), Daryl Johnston (FB), Seth Joyner (LB), Mike Kenn (T), Levon Kirkland (LB), Chuck Knox (Coach), Olin Kreutz (C), Jim Lachey (T), Sean Landeta (P) , Ty Law (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), Nick Lowery (K) , *John Lynch (S), Derrick Mason (WR/KR/PR), Clay Matthews (LB), Kevin Mawae (C/G), Willie McGinest (LB/DE), Steve McNair (QB), Donovan McNabb (QB), Karl Mecklenburg (LB), Eric Metcalf (also WR/PR/KR), Sam Mills (LB), Frank Minnifield (CB), Brian Mitchell (KR/PR/RB).
Tom Nalen (C), Nate Newton (G), Leslie O'Neal (DE), *Terrell Owens (WR), Buddy Parker (Coach), Richie Petitbon (Coach), Joey Porter (LB), Dan Reeves (Coach), Simeon Rice (DE), Bob Sanders (SS), Sterling Sharpe (WR), Darren Sharper (FS), Clark Shaughnessy (Coach), Phil Simms (QB), Fred Smerlas (NT), Jimmy Smith (WR), Dennis Smith (SS), Rod Smith (WR), Steve Tasker (ST/WR) , Jason Taylor (DE), Zach Thomas (LB), LaDainian Tomlinson (RB) , Dick Vermeil (Coach), Troy Vincent (S), Herschel Walker (RB/KR), Everson Walls (CB), Hines Ward (WR), *Kurt Warner (QB), Ricky Watters (RB), Steve Wisniewski (G), Darren Woodson (S) , Bryant Young (DT)
--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 26th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.