Updated 4:12 p.m. EDT
Just weeks after the Class of 2010 enshrinement, the selection process for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2011 began today with the naming of linebackers Chris Hanburger and Les Richter as the senior nominees. The players were chosen by the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee. To be considered as a senior nominee, an individual must have completed his active career by at least 25 years.
Hanburger and Richter will join 15 still-to-be-named modern-era candidates on the list of finalists from which the Class of 2011 will be selected. The Hall of Fame selection meeting will be held on February 5, 2011, the day before Super Bowl XLV in North Texas. To be elected, the former linebackers must each receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists. The Hall's Selection Committee can elect a maximum of two senior candidates and five modern-era candidates for a class no smaller than four or larger than seven during next February's meeting.
The Seniors Committee is comprised of nine members of the overall selection committee. Through mail vote, the 2011 senior nominees were reduced to a final list of candidates that included 16 nominees. Today, five members of the Seniors committee met in Canton to discuss the merits of the finalists. The group was joined by two Hall of Fame members, linebacker Jack Ham and tight end Charlie Sanders, who served as consultants to the process. Neither Ham nor Sanders voted on today's nominees.
Hanburger played 14 seasons with the Washington Redskins who drafted him the 18th round of the 1965 NFL Draft. An integral part of the dominant Redskins team of the 1970s, Hanburger earned first-team All-NFL acclaim four times in a five-year period from 1972 to 1976. He was also named All-Eastern Conference in 1968 and 1969 and All-NFC six times in seven seasons from 1970 to 1976.
"I'm thrilled to death and I appreciate it very, very much," commented Hanburger when contacted by Hall of Fame officials following the meeting.
The nine-time Pro Bowler played 187 career games and intercepted 19 passes, two of which he returned two for touchdowns. In addition, Hanburger also scored three touchdowns on fumble returns.
In 1952, the Los Angeles Rams dealt 11 players to the Dallas Texans in exchange for the rights to Richter who had been was selected as the second player overall in that year's draft by the New York Yanks. Two days after the draft, the Yanks franchise folded and was sold back to the NFL. The assets of the club were granted to the new Dallas club shortly thereafter. After serving two years in the military, Richter joined the Rams in 1954 and quickly turned into one of the most dominant linebackers of his era. He was voted to eight Pro Bowls during his nine-year career. He also earned first- or second-team All-NFL honors every season from 1955 to 1960.
In all, he recorded 16 interceptions in his 112-game career that ended with his retirement after the 1962 season. Richter, who also handled the placekicking duties for Los Angeles early in his career totaled 193 points on 106 extra points and 29 field goals.
Richter passed away on June 12, 2010 at age 79.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2011 will be formally inducted during the enshrinement ceremony at Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium next August.
Senior Nominees, 1972-2011