The Pro Football Hall of Fame revealed the 26 Semifinalists during a live broadcast on the NFL Network on Wednesday night. To review the full list of eligible nominees for the Class of 2017 click here>>>
All of these great players have contributed so much to the game and their craft, here is a special look at a few of the 26 Semifinalists as they march toward Canton, Ohio.
Brian Dawkins is a second round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1996 NFL Draft. Dawkins, a strong safety, established himself as one of the premier defensive backs in NFL history.
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The hard hitting ball-hawk, nicknamed Weapon X finished his lustrous career with 778 tackles, 26 sacks, 28 forced fumbles and 37 interceptions. After spending 13 seasons in Philadelphia, Dawkins capped off his career with the Denver Broncos.
A nine-time Pro Bowler, member of the Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary Team and the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team are just a few honorable mentions but these days Dawkins can be seen scouting for the Philadelphia Eagles through the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship, the team announced early this summer.
Morten Andersen entered the National Football League as the fourth round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in 1982.
After 13 seasons in New Orleans and ranking as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, Andersen joined the Atlanta Falcons in 1995 and eventually became that team’s career scoring leader. He recorded a spectacular season his first year in Atlanta when he scored a career-high 122 points that included a then-NFL record for most 50-yard field goals in a season (8).
Among the most notable league records he set were career points (2,544), most field goals (565), and games played (382). In addition, his 40 field goals of 50 yards or longer were the most in NFL history at his retirement.
Clay Matthews was the 12th pick in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Matthews quickly established himself as a force at the linebacker position for the Brown and Orange.
After finishing a 19 NFL season, he played in 278 games, the 17th most appearances in the history of the game. Matthews will forever be known as the oldest player to record a sack at the age of 40. He finished his illustrious career with 69.5 sack and 1,561 tackles, the third most in NFL history.
Football runs in the Matthews’ bloodline, starting with Clay’s dad H.L Matthews and brother Bruce Matthews who was enshrined into the Pro football Hall of Fame in 2007. The values of the game bled into his son’s, Clay Matthews III and Casey Matthews. His nephews as well, Kevin, Jake, and Mike Matthews.
Hines Ward was a third round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1998 NFL Draft. The savvy wide-out played all of his 14-year career in a Steelers uniform.
Known for his blocking and ability to find opportunities to get open and make plays downfield, Ward led the Steelers to two Championships, Super Bowls XL and XLIII. He also received MVP honors in Super Bowl XL.
Being ranked among the best receivers in the league, Ward set numerous team records for the Steelers and finished his all-pro career with 1,000 catches for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns.
Jason Taylor was a third round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in the 1997 NFL Draft. Taylor was a fierce competitor at the defensive end position. His 14-year career is decorated with countless awards and records, nothing stands out more than 139.5 sacks, ranks Taylor among the great sack leaders in the NFL. Also adding to his accolades are eight interceptions for 110 yards, that led to three touchdowns and fumble recovery for six touchdowns.
The six-time Pro Bowl selection and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, Taylor would have spent time with the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets as well throughout his tenure in the NFL.
Isaac Bruce was the first of three second-round draft selections (33rd overall) by the St. Louis Rams in the 1994 NFL Draft.
Isaac played 14 seasons with the St. Louis Rams before signing with the San Francisco 49ers to play two final seasons. During his 16 NFL seasons, Isaac was considered one of the best receivers in the National Football League. He was a world-class route-runner, very elusive and highly intelligent with great hands and a tremendous overall threat.
Bruce made one of most famous plays in unforgettable history of Rams' football, catching 73-yard touchdown pass from QB Kurt Warner with under two minutes to play in the game to give Rams' 23-16 victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.
He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, including three consecutive (1999-2001). Bruce was the 1995 and 1996 recipient of Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Award, given to club's MVP, one of four players (DE Jack Youngblood 1975-76, RB Eric Dickerson 1983-84, and RB Marshall Faulk 1999-01) in team history to be honored with the award in back-to-back seasons. Bruce also holds three Rams' single-season records, including most receiving yards (1,781), most receptions (119) and most
When he retired, he was No. 2 on the NFL's all-time receiving yards list behind Jerry Rice and No. 5 on the NFL's all-time receptions list. He had more than 1,000 career receptions and more than 15,000 career receiving yards. His #80 jersey was retired by the Rams in 2010.
Roger Craig was a second round selection for the San Francisco 49ers and the 49th overall of the 1983 NFL Draft. Drafted from the University of Nebraska where Craig played both halfback and fullback in the Cornhuskers’ run-dominated offense.
Craig wasted no time proving his worth, as he became a regular in Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense as a rookie. He displayed his versatility that season when he ran for 725 yards and scored eight rushing touchdowns, and caught 48 passes for 427 yards, and four touchdowns.
In his second pro season, Craig was a key part of a 49ers team that finished with a 15-1-0 regular season record. The team’s success continued through the post-season and was capped by a victory in Super Bowl XIX. In that game, Craig scored three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing, as the 49ers downed the Miami Dolphins 38-16.
In 1988, he established a 49ers’ record with 1,502 yards rushing as San Francisco posted a league-best 10-6-0 record, followed by a 20-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.
At the time of his retirement, Craig’s 8,189 rushing yards ranked 13th all-time, and his 566 career receptions was 19th best overall. He scored 56 rushing touchdowns and added 17 more scores on receptions during his career.