NFC South: 2014 Hall of Fame finalists

Former New Orleans Saints kicker Morten Andersen is one step closer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The “Great Dane” was announced Thursday night as one of 15 modern-day finalists for the Class of 2014, which will be selected on Feb. 1.

Andersen, who spent the first 13 seasons of his 25-year career in New Orleans, might have the best case for Hall of Fame induction of any kicker in NFL history. The native of Denmark is the league's all-time leading scorer with 2,544 points. And he's the all-time leading scorer in both Saints and Atlanta Falcons history. Andersen was a member of the NFL's all-decade team in both the 1980s and 1990s. And he was selected to seven Pro Bowls.

Andersen's biggest hurdle, however, is that kickers haven't gotten much love from the Hall of Fame historically. Jan Stenerud is the only full-time kicker in the Hall of Fame. George Blanda and Lou Groza were both part-time kickers.

But Andersen is getting closer. Last year, in his first year of eligibility, he only made it to the list of 25 semifinalists before getting cut. Now he's in the final 15.

Plus, the Saints have broken through the previously-impenetrable Hall of Fame barrier in recent years. Over the past four years, outside linebacker Rickey Jackson and offensive tackle Willie Roaf became the first two players who spent a large portion of their careers with the Saints to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Former Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Kevin Greene was named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2014 on Thursday.

Greene began his career in 1985 with the then-Los Angeles Rams, where he played until 1992. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1993-95, then came to Carolina in 1996 to be a part of coach Dom Capers' 3-4 zone blitz scheme.

He signed with the San Francisco 49ers for the 1997 season, then returned to Carolina in 1998 and retired after the 1999 season.

Greene was selected to five Pro Bowls, the final two times (1996, '98) with Carolina. He finished his career with 160 sacks, third on the NFL's all-time list.

His 15 sacks in 1996 were a Carolina single-season record until defensive end Greg Hardy tied it this season.

Now in his fifth season as the outside linebackers coach at Green Bay, where Capers is the defensive coordinator, Greene had been a semifinalist for the Hall the past seven seasons.

Among the top 12 sack leaders in league history eligible for the Hall, only Greene and Leslie O'Neal haven't made it.

The knock on Greene is he was a pass-rushing specialist and not an all-around player when it came to run support and pass coverage. That may ultimately keep him from getting into the Hall this season with defensive ends Michael Strahan, fifth on the sack list at 141.5, and Charles Haley among his competition.

The Class of 2014 will be selected on Feb. 1, the day before the Super Bowl.

Morten Andersen a Hall finalist

January, 9, 2014
Former Atlanta Falcons kicker Morten Andersen was named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2014.

Andersen was a seven-time Pro Bowler, a six-time All-Pro and a member of the NFL all-decade team in the 1980s and 1990s. He is the NFL's all-time leading scorer with 2,544 points.

Andersen had two stints with the Falcons from 1995-2000 and 2006-07. He was the kicker on the 1998 Super Bowl team that lost to the Denver Broncos, 34-19.

The fact that kickers rarely make the Hall of Fame could work against Andersen, but his production and longevity speaks volumes. He played 25 seasons, including his first 13 with the New Orleans Saints and eight with the Falcons. His final season was 2007 in Atlanta.

Only three placekickers have been inducted: George Blanda (also a quarterback), Lou Groza (also a tackle), and Jan Stenerud.

The Class of 2014 will be selected Feb. 1, the day before the Super Bowl. The class will officially be enshrined on Saturday, Aug. 2, in Canton, Ohio, as the main event of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Annual Enshrinement Festival Celebration.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Derrick Brooks, Tony Dungy and John Lynch were named among the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 on Thursday night.

It’s fitting that all three have a chance to go into the Hall of Fame at the same time because the trio played a very big role in turning the Bucs from a laughingstock into a consistent winner in the 1990s.

Brooks, an outside linebacker, probably has the best chance of the three to get in this year. This is the first time Brooks has been eligible. Dungy coached the Bucs, but won his only Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts.

The one potential knock on Dungy is that he won only one Super Bowl, despite having a great defense in Tampa and quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.

Lynch was known as one of the hardest hitters of his era. But it’s difficult for safeties to get into the Hall of Fame, and Lynch might have to wait until there is a class that’s not as deep as this one.

The Class of 2014 will be selected Feb. 1, the day before the Super Bowl.