AFC West: 2014 Hall of Fame finalists

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the third time. He is competing with a strong group, so Shields may have to wait at least another year to get in.

But Shields deserves to be a Hall of Famer, whether it's this year or some time in the future.

Shields played perhaps the most unglamorous of positions, so he doesn't have any stats to prove his value. He also doesn't have any Super Bowl appearances or world championship rings, which leads me to my major complaint about the Hall and how its balloting is tilted toward those who happened to play on great teams.

Football is the ultimate team game, and more than in any other major sport, individual players and particularly linemen don't have the tremendous effect on winning and losing. But it certainly wasn't Shields' fault that the Chiefs never played in the Super Bowl during his 14 seasons. He certainly played to that level.

Shields never missed a game in those 14 years and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl 12 times. Those alone aren't reasons to put Shields in the Hall, but they're the only numbers linemen have.

Like any lineman, Shields was best appreciated by seeing him week after week, game after game, down after down. He was a key part of those great Chiefs offensive lines from the early and mid-2000s. Even if you don't appreciate watching offensive line play, you would have with that group. Alongside Willie Roaf, Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann and John Tait, Shields was part of a line that was poetry in motion.

That may not be good enough for Shields. If he doesn't get into the Hall soon, his contributions will soon be lost in the fog of time and fade away.

Except to those of us who had the privilege of watching him game after game, play after play.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Former Oakland Raiders receiver Tim Brown has been named a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist for the fifth consecutive year in making the cut from 25 semifinalists to 15 finalists (plus the two seniors committee nominees).

Brown joins punter Ray Guy, who played with the Raiders from 1973-86, as two of the 17 candidates the 46-member selection committee will discuss on Feb. 1 at its annual selection meeting. Guy is one of the two senior candidates, along with Claude Humphrey.

Former Raiders guard Steve Wisniewski, a first-time semifinalist who was with the Raiders from 1989-2001, did not make the cut, and neither did Raiders running back-for-a-season Roger Craig, who played for the Raiders in Los Angeles in 1991 and is a six-time semifinalist and a finalist in 2010.

Rules stipulate that between four and seven Hall of Famers are elected every year, with an 80 percent vote ensuring election.

Brown, a nine-time Pro Bowler who was the Raiders' first-round pick in 1988 (No. 6 overall) after winning the Heisman trophy at Notre Dame, was also an all-league kick returner. But he will find competition for Canton as fellow receivers Andre Reed and Marvin Harrison, a first-year eligible nominee, were also named finalists.

Their respective pass-catching stats: Brown (1,094 receptions, 14,934 yards, 100 TDs), Reed (951 receptions, 13,198 yards, 87 TDs) and Harrison (1,102 receptions, 14,580 yards, 128 TDs).

A year ago, Cris Carter was the lone receiver to be voted into the Hall.

The other 12 finalists are PK Morten Andersen, RB Jerome Bettis, LB Derrick Brooks, former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, LB/DE Kevin Greene, DE/LB Charles Haley, OT Walter Jones, S John Lynch, G Will Shields, DE Michael Strahan and CB/S Aeneas Williams.

The Raiders, meanwhile, currently recognize 21 Hall of Famers. Could Guy and/or Brown join them?

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the free agency season of 2004, then-Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan wanted leadership, experience and some playoff chops in the locker room.

So, Shanahan traded for Champ Bailey and, much like John Elway did last year with Peyton Manning, Shanahan took a chance on a guy coming off neck surgery -- a guy named John Lynch.

Lynch, who played 11 seasons in Tampa Bay and the final four years of his career with the Broncos, was the only player with Broncos ties to make the cut for the final 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2014.

The 15 modern-era finalists will be trimmed at the meeting of the Hall's Board of Selectors the day before the Super Bowl.

Former Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenberg, former Broncos safety Steve Atwater and former Broncos running back Terrell Davis made the cut to the 25 semifinalists, but none of the three were chosen as finalists.

The Broncos, with four Hall of Famers -- John Elway, Gary Zimmerman, Floyd Little and Shannon Sharpe -- continue to be under-represented in the Hall for the team's success level.

They have six Super Bowl appearances as an organization, yet just the four Hall of Famers. Davis, Atwater and Mecklenberg remain on the modern-era ballot.