John Elway (left) and Barry Sanders, two first-year eligible candidates, are among the 15 finalists who will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Hall's Board of Selectors meet in Houston, Texas on Saturday, January 31.
Joining the former Denver Broncos quarterback and Detroit Lions running back as finalists are 12 former all-league players and a highly successful team/league administrator. The players include defensive ends Richard Dent, Carl Eller, and Jim Marshall; linebacker Harry Carson; offensive linemen Bob Brown, Bob Kuechenberg, Rayfield Wright, and Gary Zimmerman; cornerback Lester Hayes; safety Cliff Harris; and wide receivers Bob Hayes and Art Monk. The team/league administrator is George Young.
To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.
Listed alphabetically, the 15 finalists with their positions, teams, and years follow:
Bob Brown - Tackle - 1964-1968 Philadelphia Eagles, 1969-1970 Los Angeles Rams,
1971-1973 Oakland Raiders
Harry Carson - Linebacker - 1976-1988 New York Giants
Richard Dent - Defensive End - 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
Carl Eller - Defensive End - 1964-1978 Minnesota Vikings, 1979 Seattle Seahawks
John Elway - Quarterback - 1983-1998 Denver Broncos
Cliff Harris - Safety - 1970-1979 Dallas Cowboys
Bob Hayes - Wide Receiver - 1965-1974 Dallas Cowboys, 1975 San Francisco 49ers
Lester Hayes - Cornerback - 1977-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Bob Kuechenberg - Guard - 1970-1984 Miami Dolphins
Jim Marshall - Defensive End - 1960 Cleveland Browns, 1961-1979 Minnesota Vikings
Art Monk - Wide Receiver - 1980-1993 Washington Redskins, 1994 New York Jets, 1995 Philadelphia Eagles
Barry Sanders - Running Back - 1989-1998 Detroit Lions
Rayfield Wright - Tackle - 1967-1979 Dallas Cowboys
George Young - General Manager/Administrator - 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts,
1974-1978 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League
Gary Zimmerman - Tackle - 1986-1992 Minnesota Vikings, 1993-1997 Denver Broncos
Brown, Carson, Eller, Lester Hayes, Kuechenberg, Monk, Young, and Zimmerman have all been finalists in previous years. Although they have been eligible prior to this year, this is the first time that Dent, Harris, Bob Hayes, Marshall, and Wright have been finalists.
From this year's list, seven players - Carson, Elway, Harris, Lester Hayes, Kuechenberg, Sanders (right), and Wright - spent their entire NFL career with just one team.
Brown and Bob Hayes were selected as senior candidates by the Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee at their August 2003 meeting. The Seniors Committee reviews the qualifications of those players, coaches, and contributors whose careers took place more than 25 years ago. Carson and Young are automatic finalists for the Class of 2004 because they finished in the top six in the voting last year. The remaining 11 modern-era finalists were determined by a vote of the Hall's 39-member Board of Selectors from a list of 67 preliminary nominees that earlier was reduced to a list of 25 semi-finalists. To be eligible for election, modern-era players must be retired at least five years while a coach needs only to be retired. A contributor may be elected while still active.
The Board of Selectors will meet in Houston, Texas on Saturday, January 31, 2004, to elect the Hall of Fame Class of 2004. To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.
At the 2004 election meeting (January 31), the selectors will thoroughly discuss the careers of each finalist before narrowing the field to six candidates. At least three candidates must be elected but the total class cannot number more than six.
Of the 2004 finalists, Brown has been eligible 26 years, Bob Hayes 24 years, Eller, Harris, Marshall, and Wright 20 years, Kuechenberg 16 years, Lester Hayes 13, Carson 11, Monk four, Dent and Zimmerman two and for Elway and Sanders 2004 is their first year of eligibility.
The Class of 2004 will be announced at a press conference at 12 noon (CST) on Saturday, January 31, at the Super Bowl media center in the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.
Representatives of the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche will tabulate all votes during the meeting. At the press conference, they will present Hall of Fame President John Bankert with an envelope containing the names of the nominees elected. The Hall will contact each new member immediately after the announcement. Members of the Class of 2004 in Houston for the Super Bowl will be asked to join the press conference. Those not able to attend will be asked to join via teleconference.
Enshrinement of the Class of 2004 will take place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, on Sunday, August 8, 2004.
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