The Pro Football Hall of Fame and its 46-member selection committee will announce its Class of 2014 inductees on Saturday, Feb. 1, during the annual NFL Honors awards special.
The list of modern-era finalists has been trimmed to 15 names, but 17 former players total will be up for consideration, with no fewer than four and no more than seven set to earn football's highest honor this weekend.
Making the cut requires at least 80 percent of the vote. However, if fewer than four players receive 80 percent, the next highest-percentage vote-getter(s) will be inducted until at least four are selected. If more than seven players receive at least 80 percent of the vote, the top seven vote-getters will be inducted.
With voting set to get underway one day ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII, the anticipation will soon be over.
Here's a closer look at the 2014 finalists and my predictions.
When: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET (pre-taped)
The Finalists (Senior nominees are highlighted)
|2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Finalists|
|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)|
Pro Football Hall of Fame Predictions
There's no such thing as a lock, but Michael Strahan and Derrick Brooks appear to be as close as you can get. The two dynamic defenders played their entire careers with only one team and with total domination.
Strahan recorded 141.5 sacks over the course of his career (fifth-most all time) and still holds the record for most sacks in a single season with 22.5. Meanwhile, Brooks won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award in 2002 and was one of the most versatile outside linebackers to ever strap on a helmet.
Both men also won Super Bowl titles before they retired.
Despite his impressive resume, Brooks recently admitted to being nervous about the selection process, 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.
Former Raiders great Tim Brown is another finalist likely to be inducted this weekend. Brown's 1,094 career receptions and 14,934 career receiving yards rank fifth- and sixth-most all time, respectively. Meanwhile, his 100 career touchdown receptions rank seventh-most all time, tying him with 1995 inductee Steve Largent.
Another offensive weapon with a great shot of making it into the Hall in 2014 is former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award right off the bat with the St. Louis Rams in 1993. At the time of his retirement in 2006, "The Bus" ranked fifth in career rushing yards (13,662) and third in most 1,000-yard rushing seasons with eight.
Walter Jones is another name to watch for. The former Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times during his 12-year career and could benefit from a recent Hall of Fame trend. Keep in mind that two offensive linemen were enshrined in 2013 and at least one has been inducted in seven of the past eight years.
Among the two senior committee nominees, Ray Guy seems like the most likely to be inducted. Guy revolutionized the game, earning seven Pro Bowl nods over the course of his career and leading the league in punting on three separate occasions. He also helped the Raiders win three Super Bowl titles during his career.
Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe is in full support:
If Guy gets his due, he would be the first punter elected, according to ESPN.com.
2014 Inductee Predictions: Michael Strahan, Derrick Brooks, Tim Brown, Walter Jones, Jerome Bettis and Ray Guy
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