The Pro Football Hall of Fame will announce the class of 2014 on Super Bowl Eve.
The list of modern era finalists has been narrowed down to 15 men, and includes some of the best defensive players to ever strap on a helmet. Headlined by sack master Michael Strahan, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks and iconic pass-rusher Kevin Greene, the theme of this year's list of finalists is defense.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers great Jerome Bettis, Raiders playmaker Tim Brown and tackle Walter Jones are also expected to receive plenty of votes.
On Saturday, Feb. 1, the 46-member selection committee will vote on the finalists to determine the class of 2014. A minimum of four players must be voted in while no more than seven can be inducted in one year. Finalists must receive at least 80 percent of the vote to get in, but will be selected by highest percentage received if less than four or more than seven earn the required amount.
For those hoping to catch the reveal as it happens, the class of 2014 will be announced during Feb. 1's annual NFL Honors awards special.
Date: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET (pre-taped)
The Finalists (Senior nominees are highlighted)
|Morten Andersen||K||Saints (1982-1994), Falcons (1995-2000, 2006-07), Giants (2001), Chiefs (2002-03) and Vikings (2004)|
|Jerome Bettis||RB||Rams (1993-95) and Steelers (1996-2005)|
|Derrick Brooks||LB||Buccaneers (1995-2008)|
|Tim Brown||WR, KR||Raiders (1988-2003) and Buccaneers (2004)|
|Edward DeBartolo, Jr.||Owner||49ers (1977-2000)|
|Tony Dungy||Coach||Buccaneers (1996-2001) and Colts (2002-08)|
|Kevin Greene||LB, DE||Rams (1985-1992), Steelers (1993-95), Panthers (1996, 1998-99) and 49ers (1997)|
|Ray Guy||P||Raiders (1973-1986)|
|Charles Haley||DE, LB||49ers (1986-1991, 1999) and Cowboys (1992-96)|
|Marvin Harrison||WR||Colts (1996-2008)|
|Claude Humphrey||DE||Falcons (1968-1974, 1976-78), Eagles (1979-1981)|
|Walter Jones||T||Seahawks (1997-2008)|
|John Lynch||FS||Buccaneers (1993-2003) and Broncos (2004-07)|
|Andre Reed||WR||Bills (1985-1999) and Redskins (2000)|
|Will Shields||G||Chiefs (1993-2006)|
|Michael Strahan||DE||Giants (1993-2007)|
|Aeneas Williams||CB, S||Cardinals (1991-2000) and Rams (2001-04)|
It's certainly fair to call former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
Although 2013 inductee Warren Sapp has publicly stated that he doesn't believe Strahan's resume "stacks up," a majority of those close to the game seem to disagree, including Denver Broncos head coach John Fox, per ESPN NFL Nation's Rich Cimini:
John Fox says it's "a shame" that Michael Strahan and Warren Sapp are waging public war of words. Fox says Strahan belongs in HOF.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) January 30, 2014
Although Strahan failed to make the cut in 2013, his numbers are simply to good to keep being passed over. He recorded 141.5 sacks over the course of his career and still holds the all-time single-season record for sacks at 22.5.
Strahan, a seven-time Pro Bowler, also won a Super Bowl title in his final season in 2007.
Like Strahan, Derrick Brooks dominated on defense while playing his entire NFL career with one team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And all it takes is one quick glance at Brooks' impressive resume to realize that he's a surefire Hall of Famer. Brooks earned 11 Pro Bowl nods, won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2002 and finished with 25 interceptions and 24 forced fumbles for his career.
But despite having won a Super Bowl title, Brooks has admitted he's nervous ahead of the Feb. 1 announcement, per The Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud:
It's been hard not to think about it every day. I'm trying to equate it to a ball game. As I got closer to a ball game, the more my nerves, my excitement, it boiled in a good way. But I knew on Sunday I had an opportunity to affect the results.
I don't have that in this capacity. That's the nervousness I have in accepting that. The resume is written. There is nothing else I can do.
Brooks' versatility at the outside linebacker spot made him one of the league's most valuable players during his time and definitely adds to his case for the Hall.
Oakland Raiders legend Tim Brown starred as a wide receiver and a kick returner during his time in the NFL, but will go down as one of the best wideouts to ever play the game regardless of whether he's enshrined in 2014.
Brown's 1,094 career receptions rank fifth and his 14,934 career receiving yards rank sixth all time. Not to mention his 100 career touchdown receptions rank seventh on the all-time list, tying him with Steve Largent, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 1995.
While there are strong cases to be made for both Andre Reed and Marvin Harrison, it's difficult to ignore Brown's eye-popping career numbers.
Although offensive linemen are rarely showed love over the course of an NFL season, the Hall of Fame selection committee has been on a mission to enshrine the sport's best road graders in recent years, meaning former Seahawks tackle Walter Jones has an excellent shot of making the cut this year.
Will an offensive lineman be inducted in 2014?
Both Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden were inducted into the Hall in 2013 and at least one offensive lineman has been selected in seven of the past eight years.
A nine-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All Pro, Jones played a dozen seasons in the NFL, leading the way for Shaun Alexander in 2005. The running back's 1,880-yard season ranks 11th-best on the all-time list. On top of that, Jones' Seahawks reached Super Bowl XL that year before falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jones will be face stiff competition in fellow lineman finalist Will Shields, who played with the Kansas City Chiefs during the 1990s and early 2000s.
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