(LaDainian Tomlinson photo courtesy of San Diego Chargers)
By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
Ninety-four nominees, including first-year eligibles LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Hines Ward, Brian Dawkins and Donovan McNabb, comprise the Pro Football Hall of Fame s list of modern-era nominees for the Class of 2017.
The group includes 45 offensive players, 32 defensive players, six special-teams performers and 11 coaches.
The list will be cut to 25 semifinalists in November and 15 finalists in January. Then, those 15 – plus contributor candidates Jerry Jones and Paul Tagliabue and senior candidate Kenny Easley – will be presented to the Hall's board of selectors on Feb. 4, 2017, in Houston.
The senior and contributor finalists will be voted "yes" or "no" for election and must receive 80 percent approval. The modern-era candidates will be trimmed from 15 to 10 to five – with the final five elected only if they receive an 80 percent "yes" vote.
While there is no set number for enshrinees, the selection process by-laws provide that between four and eight new members will be chosen.
Tomlinson, the former star running back for San Diego, is the favorite for the Class of 2017, with quarterback Kurt Warner, who made the cut to the final 10 a year ago, a close second. But then the class is wide open, and that’s the good news for all those eligible next year.
Reason: Look what's next. The Class of 2018 includes luminaries like Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Steve Hutchinson, Ronde Barber, Matt Birk, Richard Seymour, Antoine Winfield and Jeff Saturday. In all, there are six all-decade choices from the 2000s' all-star team.
The modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017 are as follows:
QUARTERBACK (7) – Drew Bledsoe, Randall Cunningham, Doug Flutie, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair, Phil Simms, Kurt Warner.
RUNNING BACK (13) – Shaun Alexander, Ottis Anderson, Tiki Barber, Larry Centers, Roger Craig, Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Edgerrin James, Daryl Johnston, Eric Metcalf, LaDainian Tomlinson, Herschel Walker, Ricky Watters.
WIDE RECEIVER (10) – Isaac Bruce, Henry Ellard, Torry Holt, Chad Johnson, Derrick Mason, Terrell Owens, Sterling Sharpe, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, Hines Ward.
TIGHT END (1) – Mark Bavaro.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (14) – Tony Boselli, Ray Donaldson, Alan Faneca, Jay Hilgenberg, Chris Hinton, Kent Hull, Joe Jacoby, Mike Kenn, Olin Kreutz, Jim Lachey, Kevin Mawae, Tom Nalen, Nate Newton, Steve Wisniewski.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (5) – Leslie O'Neal, Simeon Rice, Fred Smerlas, Jason Taylor, Bryant Young.
LINEBACKER (11) – Carl Banks,, Cornelius Bennett, Tedy Bruschi, Seth Joyner, Levon Kirkland, Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest, Karl Mecklenburg, Sam Mills, Joey Porter, Zach Thomas.
DEFENSIVE BACK (16) – Eric Allen, Steve Atwater, Joey Browner, LeRoy Butler, Brian Dawkins, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law, Albert Lewis, John Lynch, Frank Minnifield, Bob Sanders, Darren Sharper, Dennis Smith, Troy Vincent, Everson Walls, Darren Woodson.
KICKER/PUNTER (4) – Morten Andersen, Gary Anderson, Sean Landeta, Nick Lowery.
SPECIAL TEAMS (2) -- Brian Mitchell, Steve Tasker.
COACH (11) – Don Coryell, Bill Cowher, Tom Flores, Mike Holmgren, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Knox, Buddy Parker, Richie Petitbon, Dan Reeves, Clark Shaughnessy, Dick Vermeil.