Ray Lewis heads 15 Hall of Fame finalists

By Howard Balzer, The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 2, 2018 at 9:07 PM
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And then there were 15.

Highlighted by four first-time eligibles, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has now reduced a list of 108 nominees to the 15 modern-day finalists that will be considered for the class of 2018.

Those 15 will be joined by two seniors nominees and one contributor that will be discussed and voted on during the selection committee meeting the day before Super Bowl LII on Feb. 3 in Minneapolis.

The maximum to be elected is eight: five from the modern-day group plus the seniors and contributor. During the meeting, the 15 modern-day players will be reduced to 10 and then five, with at least 80 percent of the 48-person committee having to vote yes. That standard is the same for the seniors and contributor, who will be voted on prior to the discussion beginning for the 15 finalists.

The 15 modern-day finalists are:

--Tony Boselli, Tackle - 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars; second time as finalist

--Isaac Bruce, Wide Receiver - 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers; second time as finalist

--Brian Dawkins, Safety - 1996-2008 Philadelphia Eagles, 2009-2011 Denver Broncos; second time as finalist

--Alan Faneca, Guard - 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals; third time as finalist

--Steve Hutchinson, Guard - 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans; first time as finalist

--Joe Jacoby, Tackle - 1981-1993 Washington Redskins; third time as finalist

--Edgerrin James, Running Back - 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks; second time as finalist

--Ty Law, Cornerback - 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005, 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos; second time as finalist

--Ray Lewis, Linebacker - 1996-2012 Baltimore Ravens; first time as finalist

--John Lynch, Free Safety - 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos; fifth time as finalist

--Kevin Mawae, Center - 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans; second time as finalist

--Randy Moss, Wide Receiver - 1998-2004, 2010 Minnesota Vikings, 2005-06 Oakland Raiders, 2007-2010 New England Patriots, 2010 Tennessee Titans, 2012 San Francisco 49ers; first time as finalist

--Terrell Owens, Wide Receiver - 1996-2003 San Francisco 49ers, 2004-05 Philadelphia Eagles, 2006-08 Dallas Cowboys, 2009 Buffalo Bills, 2010 Cincinnati Bengals; third time as finalist

--Brian Urlacher, Linebacker - 2000-2012 Chicago Bears; first time as finalist

--Everson Walls, Cornerback - 1981-89 Dallas Cowboys, 1990-92 New York Giants, 1992-93 Cleveland Browns; first time as finalist

The seniors nominees are:

--Robert Brazile, Linebacker - 1975-1984 Houston Oilers; first time as finalist

--Jerry Kramer, Guard - 1958-1968 Green Bay Packers; 11th time as finalists

--Bobby Beathard, General Manager/Personnel Administrator - 1966-67 Kansas City Chiefs, 1968-1971 Atlanta Falcons, 1972-77 Miami Dolphins, 1978-1988 Washington Redskins, 1990-99 San Diego Chargers; first time as finalist

The modern-day finalists are comprised of nine offensive players, including five offensive linemen, three wide receivers and one running back, and six defensive players, which are four defensive backs (two cornerbacks and two safeties) and two linebackers.

Hutchinson, Lewis, Moss and Urlacher are the first-time eligibles, while Walls is the only other first-time finalist from the modern-day players. Walls has been a nominee previously, but had never been a semifinalist and is in his final year of modern-day eligibility as is Jacoby.

Nine of the 10 finalists that weren't elected last year are back again in the 15. James was a finalist for the first time in 2016, but failed to qualify last year. The only non-returning finalist this year is head coach Don Coryell, who has been a finalist four times, including the previous three years.

Howard Balzer, senior editor and writer for The Sports Xchange, is in his fifth decade covering pro football and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a member of the Contributors Subcommittee.

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