On Super Bowl Saturday, February 1, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will be announced in New York. The process to select the best of the best is thorough and multi-faceted. In August the two senior nominees were announced. Raiders punter Ray Guy and Falcons and Eagles defensive end Claude Humphrey have a very good chance to be elected.
The Hall of Fame by-laws mandate that between four and 7 new members will be selected each year with a max of 5 modern era nominees. It wasn’t long ago that the seniors and modern candidates were competing for the same spots that’s changed, now the seniors stand alone. If I vote for Ray Guy it won’t reduce the chances of Jerome Bettis, Art Modell or any other modern era candidate. If Ray Guy is selected he’ll be the first full time punter to be enshrined in Canton. Speaking of punters For the second straight year Baltimore native (Loch Raven High, Towson U) and former Giants punter Sean Landeta made the preliminary ballot.
This years ballot consists of 126 modern-era candidates including 89 players, 16 coaches and 21 contributors. Marvin Harrison, Derrick Brooks and Tony Dungy are among the 16 in their first year of eligibility. Among the finalists returning from last year are Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Andre Reed, Will Shields, Charles Haley, Michael Strahan, Kevin Greene, Aeneas Williams, Ed DeBartolo Jr. and Art Modell.
This week I reduced the 126 modern-era candidates to 25. The other members (46) of the Board of Selectors did the same and the 25 semifinalists will be announced in late November. Those 25 will be chopped to 15 finalists with that announcement in early January. While the first two reductions are done by mail ballot the final session is a 6-8 hour Super Bowl Saturday meeting with detailed and often passionate discussion on the merits of the final 15.
As few as 4 and no more than 7 will be fitted for Gold Jackets and next summer their busts will be displayed in the hallowed halls in Canton. From 126 of the best in the NFL will come a handful who will be known forever as Hall of Famers.