NFC West: Chris Doleman

First look at Hall of Fame semifinalists

December, 1, 2012
12/01/12
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Seven of 27 recently announced semifinalists for the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame class have ties to current NFC West franchises.

The full list is available here. A few resources on the seven in question:
  • Roger Craig: The San Francisco 49ers great has lived by advice Bill Walsh gave him regarding the Hall. KGO-TV's Mike Shumann has the details in this 2010 item.
  • Eddie DeBartolo Jr.: This 1990 piece by Rick Reilly for Sports Illustrated captures the essence of the 49ers' former owner.
  • Kevin Greene: The former Los Angeles Rams and (briefly) 49ers outside linebacker has been a finalist previously. Jason Lisk's 2010 item for Pro Football Reference looked at Greene, Chris Doleman and the next man listed.
  • Charles Haley: ESPN's Jean-Jacques Taylor made the Hall case for Haley this year. Haley won Super Bowls with the 49ers and Dallas Cowboys.
  • Aeneas Williams: Williams made the final 10 last year. Hall selector Kent Somers profiled the former Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams defensive back this year.
  • Larry Allen: Allen finished his career with the 49ers after spending his best years with the Cowboys. Back in 2006, Dr. Z chose Allen as the most likely offensive linemen of the era to win quick enshrinement.
  • Jerome Bettis: Bettis began his career with the Rams before spending his prime years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Our AFC North blogger, Jamison Hensley, thinks Bettis has a better shot at enshrinement this year.

I'm one of the Hall selectors and feel privileged to be one. We'll gather in New Orleans one day before the Super Bowl to narrow the list from 15 finalists to no more than five modern-era enshrinees. To simulate the process, reduce from 27 to 15. From there, cut to 10 and then five. There are always tough choices with the bar set so high.
CANTON, Ohio -- Dermontti Dawson, the fifth of six Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees to speak Saturday night, thanked his parents for the guidance they provided over the years.

The other modern-day finalists preceding Dawson at the podium -- Willie Roaf, Chris Doleman and Cortez Kennedy -- made similar comments.

Curtis Martin, the final enshrinee scheduled to speak, will tell a different story. He'll surely pay tribute to his mother, but so many other factors in his life worked against him. His father left the family when Martin was 4. His grandmother was stabbed to death in brutal fashion when Martin was 9.

Martin never dreamed of the Hall of Fame; at one point, his goal while growing up in a rough Pittsburgh neighborhood was simply reaching age 21. The speech he delivers Saturday night has the potential to pack a different type of emotional punch.
CANTON, Ohio -- A theme is emerging throughout the ongoing Pro Football Hall of Fame proceedings.

Chris Doleman and Cortez Kennedy in particular have stressed the importance strong parenting played in their lives and, ultimately, in their successes on the field.

They've spoken of parents who held them accountable when it might have been easier let them off the hook.

Doleman's father had one rule: Finish whatever you start. Signing up for a sport or anything meant seeing it through no matter what.

Kennedy thanked his father for forcing him to cut the grass at 5 a.m. after doing a poor job the first time.

Kennedy reflected on his mother forcing him to quit the football team in high school when his grades slipped. When Kennedy's former teammates won a state title without him, Kennedy's mother went to the game and sent a postcard home.

"Wish you were here," it read.

Running away from difficulties might have shielded Doleman and Kennedy from short-term failures, but the lasting lessons would have been negative ones. Hats off to their parents.
video

CANTON, Ohio -- New Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman retired from the NFL following the 1999 season.

Doleman joked Friday that he'd still be playing if recently adopted NFL rules scaling back training camps had been in place during his career.

Another Hall of Famer, this one speaking informally earlier in the day, said he thought restrictions on contact and practice time would serve older players at the expense of the game. He suspected that was one reason some of the older players serving as labor leaders supported the restrictions.

I asked Doleman for his feelings on another issue dominating NFL headlines off the field: whether the game puts players at undue risk, and whether children should play the game. The video carries his answers.
CANTON, Ohio -- New Orleans Saints players gave Cortez Kennedy a standing ovation early in the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement program Saturday.

They won't be sticking around for Kennedy's speech, however.

The Saints, scheduled to open their exhibition season against the Arizona Cardinals in the same Fawcett Stadium on Sunday, left their seats and disappeared behind the end-zone grandstands once former New Orleans tackle Willie Roaf finished his acceptance speech.

Roaf led off the Hall program. Jack Butler's time is now, followed by Chris Doleman and then Kennedy. Dermontti Dawson and Curtis Martin round out the proceedings.

Kennedy played for the Seattle Seahawks, but he works as an adviser to the Saints. He collected a Super Bowl ring with the Saints following the 2009 season.
CANTON, Ohio -- Welcome to Fawcett Stadium for the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony.

I'll be blogging throughout the proceedings, as you might have noticed when this post went live a bit earlier. First, a look at the order for enshrinement and speeches for the program, which begins at 7 p.m. ET:
  • Willie Roaf: This one promises to be emotional, as anyone who witness the way Roaf's father, Clifton, hugged him during the Gold Jacket Dinner presentation Friday night. Clifton Roaf is presenting his son. The Hall encourages presenters to limit their comments to eight minutes in duration. That could be tough for the elder Roaf.
  • Jack Butler: Butler had to wait a record 50 years for enshrinement. He won't have to wait long Saturday night. The Hall has him going second.
  • Chris Doleman: The former Minnesota, Atlanta and San Francisco defensive end offered some thoughts Friday on the state of the game. I hope to share those a bit later.
  • Cortez Kennedy: The second career Seahawk to earn enshrinement will have some time to gather his thoughts. He's fourth in the order.
  • Dermontti Dawson: One of the greatest interior offensive linemen follows one of the greatest interior defensive linemen.
  • Curtis Martin: Bill Parcells is presenting Martin. Parcells could be back as an enshrinee before long. Parcells does have some star power. Having him go last wasn't a bad idea.

Should be a memorable night.

HOF12: The experience of a lifetime

August, 4, 2012
8/04/12
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CANTON, Ohio -- Sights and sounds from a magical first 30 hours in Canton for festivities relating to the upcoming 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony:

Batting 1.000


[+] EnlargeCortez Kennedy
US PresswireNo doubt, Seattle's Cortez Kennedy was one of the most dominant defensive players of his era.
Cortez Kennedy was the person I hoped to see first Thursday night after unloading bags for check-in at the McKinley Grand Hotel. He was the 2012 enshrinee I'd covered years ago and gotten to know while presenting his case to the other Hall selectors. Having the retired Seattle Seahawks great step out from the hotel's entrance before I could get my bags to the curb foreshadowed good fortune.

A trip to the hotel bar a couple of hours later found the place mostly empty except for a couple of reporters from Minnesota. I sat down with them and soon discovered Hall of Famer John Randle, Kennedy's teammate on the 1990s All-Decade team, seated across the way. Two-for-two and three full days in Canton still to come.

I'm not much of a drinker -- a six-pack lasts a year in our house -- so when tequila shots appeared unexpectedly on our side of the bar, visions of "Frank the Tank" from Old School came to mind.

My hesitance must have been easy to spot. Randle rose from his chair and looked my way.

"Hey, you in?"

Enjoying the ride(s)

Trip 1 to the elevator produces a five-story ride with Thurman Thomas and his wife, Patti.

Leroy Kelly, Elvin Bethea and Roger Wehrli are along for the ride on a subsequent trip.

By then, my wife, Kim, and our two sons, Derek (10) and Cade (7), have arrived via red-eye flight from Seattle to Cleveland. We'd decided to make this a family trip, a mini-vacation for them, upon learning months earlier that Kennedy had earned enshrinement.

"We were just in the elevator with Gale Sayers!" Derek announced upon entering our room.

Heading to the Hall

The lobby was packed with Hall of Famers, most wearing their gold jackets, as they assemble for bus rides (police escorts included) to the Hall for a dedication ceremony. Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. will be there when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Hall officials cut red ribbon for the new Pro Football Research and Preservation Center in Wilson's name.

Another chance meeting with Kennedy produces a lucky break. He graciously invites me to ride along in his car, along with Mark, an off-duty police officer from Las Vegas and Kennedy's friend since 1994.

The weather is already sizzling when we arrive, but it doesn't get much cooler than this: Hall of Fame corner Lem Barney, who averaged five picks per season for 11 years with the Detroit Lions, practically intercepts us as we get out of the car. He shakes Kennedy's hand. Mark and I get handshakes, too. Kennedy follows the red carpet to the special seating area for Hall of Famers.

All in the family

Mark and I wind up sitting next to Patti Thomas, Thurman's wife, in the front row of the general-seating area. Sayers and Joe Greene sit across the rope divider about 6 feet away. She's moved when Wilson, 93 and a World War II veteran, delivers a speech marked by self-deprecating humor after initially needing assistance to stand.

The Hall experience can be as much for the families as for the enshrinees themselves.

"I'm his wife and I'm blown away," Patti Thomas said. "These guys that you grow up watching ... my brothers come. They are huge sports fans. They're like kids in a candy shop. They've met 'em all and they're still like that, over and over again. Ninety-five percent of the guys are very outgoing. It's been an amazing thing. What a huge blessing."

Ray Nitschke Luncheon

From the Hall, it's off to the annual initiation luncheon, a chance for the new class to socialize with existing Hall of Famers in a private setting. Goodell is there, as are Hall officials, Class of 2012 presenters and some selection committee members. There are no wives or family members. And when lunch is served, enshrinees head into their own private room. No one else is allowed inside.

A microphone gets passed around, but the current class only listens. What happens beyond that, no one can say for certain.

"Thurman has so much fun when we come," Patti Thomas said. "He tells me his favorite thing of all is the Ray Nitschke Luncheon because it's only Hall of Famers, just the guys in there. And he said that is the coolest event because 'it's just us.' Nobody else is allowed to come in there and he loves it."

A Butler and a dentist

Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Jack Butler waited 50 years for enshrinement, a record. His son and presenter, John, would give a guy the shirt off his back. John Butler did just that Friday. When one of the Hall of Famers showed up with the wrong shirt -- all were supposed to wear official blue Hall polos -- the younger Butler gave up his.

While the Hall of Famers were enjoying their privacy and camaraderie at the Nitschke luncheon, John Butler and Willie Roaf's father, Clifton, a retired dentist, sat down at the table I'd chosen in our less exclusive luncheon room.

What an honor it was for me, a first-time visitor to Canton, and the two other Hall selectors seated at our table.

I'd approached Jack Butler in the hotel lobby earlier in the day, congratulating him on his enshrinement. With Ted Hendricks, James Lofton and several other Hall of Famers gathering nearby, the elder Butler said, "it's starting to have a meaning to it all."

"It's amazing, just incredible," John Butler said. "You think about it in the past, we would look at his numbers, ever since I was a kid, and say, 'Wow, his numbers match up.' But it's not like an expectation he'll get in. When it happens, it's overwhelming."

Gold Jacket Dinner

[+] EnlargeCurtis Martin
Linda Cataffo/NY Daily News Archive/Getty ImagesBeing steady in his career and patient with his rushing attack earned Curtis Martin a Hall of Fame induction.
Kennedy, Roaf, Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman and Curtis Martin received their gold jackets during an emotional ceremony at the local civic center Friday night.

Our family purchased tickets and arrived with a group featuring Greene, Dave Casper, Tom Mack and others.

"Is that the ghost-to-the-post guy?" Cade, our youngest, asked later.

That was him. Of course, Casper accomplished much more for the Oakland Raiders than his famed overhead grab for a 42-yard gain against Baltimore on Christmas Eve 1977. A 7-year-old raised on NFL Films drama might not know that yet.

Dozens of previously enshrined Hall of Famers took their turn walking an aisle through guest tables before greeting the 2012 class on stage. My wife heard our oldest, Derek, gasp when Marshall Faulk's name was called.

The boys craned to see Warren Moon make his entrance.

The video highlight packages are what got me.

Dawson pulling from his center position and flattening the same defender twice on one play. Doleman forcing fumble after fumble with blind-side hits on quarterbacks. Kennedy beating the center and then dragging the guard into the backfield to stop a runner in his tracks. Roaf collapsing one side of the formation with devastating power. Martin setting up his runs with patience and accelerating away from trouble. Butler picking off passes, scoring as a receiver and lighting up opponents (I feared Goodell might fine him retroactively).

There were poignant moments, too. The elder Roaf hugged his son and wouldn't let go. When he finally walked away, leaving his son to sport his new jacket alone on the stage, Clifton Roaf squeezed the bridge of his nose between finger and thumb, as if to stop the tears.

The after party

Once the Gold Jacket Dinner broke, Hall of Famers and their families returned to the hotel for a reception.

My kids headed straight for the ice cream sundae bar, of course.

Not to worry, a nearby bartender offered. Bill Parcells, presenter for Martin, had done the same thing. A weekend such as this one makes all of us feel like kids.
CANTON, Ohio -- Cortez Kennedy's private car joined the police escort from the McKinley Grand Hotel and headed for one of his new homes, the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

What a ride it was Friday, and what a ride it's been for all the Hall of Famers selected to the Class of 2012.

"It's so cool to put that 'HOF 2012' on it," Kennedy said while putting his autograph on a piece of memorabilia for a friend.

Kennedy and the other 2012 enshrinees -- Jack Butler, Chris Doleman, Dermontti Dawson, Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf -- have arrived at the Hall and are seated outside among dozens of enshrinees. Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson is speaking now at the dedication for the Hall's latest addition, the Ralph Wilson Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.

It's an awesome sight.

I'm seated in the first row of the spectator section, about six feet away from Gale Sayers and Joe Greene. Warren Moon, John Hannah, James Lofton, Lynn Swann and Willie Roaf are clearly recognizable across the way.

Wilson has just finished speaking. Commissioner Roger Goodell is succeeding him at the podium. We're about to head inside for a look at the new expansion. My notepad is quickly filling with material. Can't wait to share more of it on the blog.

I've got a couple other posts scheduled to run while I continue to gather. There's a luncheon to attend after this visit to the Hall, followed perhaps an hour later by media availability to the Class of 2012.

Greene, Thurman Thomas and other Hall of Famers are snapping photos while Wilson, Goodell, Moon and others cut the red ribbons.

Back as time permits.

HOF12: Finding 'Tez' in Canton

August, 3, 2012
8/03/12
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CANTON, Ohio -- One second you're driving along Interstate 77 from Cleveland to Canton. The next second you're face to face with the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2012.

It's a sight for any football fan to behold.

Football's hallowed Hall sits closer to the interstate than I would have imagined. Exterior lighting illuminates the colorful posters featuring each new enshrinee's mugshot. Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf on public display.

[+] EnlargeCortez Kennedy
US PresswireNo doubt, Seattle's Cortez Kennedy was one of the most dominant defensive players of his era.
The enshrinement ceremony isn't til Saturday, but each new Hall of Famer has been building to this moment since his selection in early February.

A glance at the rear-view mirror while approaching the Hall late Thursday night revealed no cars in sight. I touched the brakes on my rental car to process the visual.

From there it was on the McKinley Grand Hotel, where the Hall of Famers are staying.

Security officials have limited access to guests only. At least one Hall of Famer was sitting on a bench out front when I arrived, a gold jacket revealing his status as one of the very best to ever play the game. Darkness had fallen and I couldn't positively identify him.

A familiar face awaited near the hotel entrance. Kennedy has cut so much weight, he looks more like a big linebacker than the defensive tackle with the most Pro Bowls during the 1990s (eight). I'd guess he's in the low 260s, down from the 300- to 320-pound range during his playing days.

"Kennedy!" shouted a fan standing down on the corner, behind the security line.

My role as the Hall selector for the Seattle market included the honor of presenting Kennedy's credentials to the other selectors during our annual meeting one day before the Super Bowl.

The process had provided an opportunity to speak with Kennedy regularly and know him better. He was always grateful for any efforts on his behalf, but he never campaigned for support. That wouldn't be his style.

I'd gotten to know Kennedy a little while covering the Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune during his final three seasons, ending in 2000. Polite and reserved, Kennedy wasn't much use for reporters. He wouldn't speak off the record, said little on it and seemed determined to keep a low profile. His play would do his talking.

I've found Kennedy to be much more engaging outside the player-reporter context. He's got a sense of humor and the cackle to go with it. Kennedy has been a happy man during the six months since learning this would be his year, but he's continued to lay low. There has been no media tour.

Kennedy and the other new Hall of Famers are scheduled to give nationally televised speeches at the enshrinement ceremony Saturday. Kennedy doesn't like to talk about himself, but I'm thinking he'll enjoy the moment.

It's not every day your face flies on a banner atop the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Over the past year, the San Francisco 49ers have hired Jim Harbaugh, drafted Aldon Smith, posted a 13-3 record, won a playoff game, placed an NFL-best nine players in the Pro Bowl, watched former owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. become a Hall of Fame finalist and secured funding for a new stadium.

Oh, and Harbaugh was named coach of the year Saturday night.

Those notable achievements should ease whatever sting the 49ers are feeling after DeBartolo failed to earn Hall of Fame enshrinement and Smith, coming off a 14-sack season, finished second to Von Miller in balloting for NFL defensive rookie of the year.

DeBartolo was a first-time finalist facing stiff competition from candidates the selectors had been considering for years, including Cortez Kennedy and Chris Doleman, enshrinees with ties to current NFC West franchises. Failing to make the cut doesn't necessarily mean a candidate was deemed unworthy. Sometimes it means there were simply five other candidates with greater appeal among the 15 modern-era finalists considered each year.

Smith, meanwhile, finished his rookie season with 14 sacks as a situational pass-rusher. He played about half the defensive snaps and did not start. Miller started 15 games and had 11.5 sacks while playing nearly 80 percent of the defensive snaps for Denver. Both were strong candidates. Smith seemed to gain on Miller late in the year.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Thirteen modern-era NFL players were finalists for enshrinement Saturday in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Only one was named offensive or defensive player of the year during his career.

That was the Seattle Seahawks' Cortez Kennedy. His eight Pro Bowls, all-1990s selection and overall dominance made my job as his presenter quite simple. State the facts and let Kennedy's career do the talking. Picking the final five out of 15 modern-era finalists is always tough, however, because it usually requires leaving off worthy candidates.

[+] EnlargeCortez Kennedy
US PresswireNo doubt, Seattle's Cortez Kennedy was one of the most dominant defensive players of his era.
The 43 other selectors and I met for more than seven hours before identifying Kennedy, Chris Doleman, Dermontti Dawson, Curtis Martin and Willie Roaf as the class of 2012. Jack Butler made it as a seniors candidate.

A few thoughts on the process and the results:

  • This class made it through at a good time. Larry Allen, Michael Strahan, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp, Bryant Young, John Lynch and Steve McNair become eligible for the first time in 2013. Shaun Alexander, Derrick Brooks, Marvin Harrison, Rodney Harrison, Tony Dungy and Mike Holmgren join the list in 2014. Isaac Bruce, Edgerrin James, Walter Jones, Junior Seau, Chris Samuels, Kurt Warner, Ty Law and Orlando Pace are among those eligible beginning in 2015.
  • Former St. Louis Rams
    and Arizona Cardinals
    cornerback Aeneas Williams should feel great about cracking the final 10 in his first year as a finalist. Williams had 55 career interceptions and scored nine touchdowns. He was a big-time playmaker for bad and good teams alike.
  • The situation at receiver remains a mess and it's not going to get easier with Harrison becoming eligible in a couple years. Voters are having a tough time deciding between Cris Carter and Andre Reed. Both made the final 10 this year. Reed made the final 10 last year as well. Having both crack the final 10 this year made it harder for one of them to break through. Voters were more likely to choose one wideout when forced to pick only five players.
  • Former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. did not make the reduction from 15 to 10. I think it's tougher for voters to quantify how owners and even coaches -- think Bill Parcells, who missed the cut from 10 to five -- contributed to their teams' success. The discussions for Parcells (55-plus minutes) and DeBartolo (42-plus minutes) were more than twice as long as the discussions for other candidates. Hall bylaws prevented voters from considering the legal troubles and suspension that preceded DeBartolo's exit from the game.
  • DeBartolo was a finalist in part because he hired Bill Walsh, promoted a winning culture, cared tremendously for his players and helped win five Super Bowls. He spent this weekend with former 49ers player Freddie Solomon, who is in the final days of a battle with cancer. The 49ers' renewed success this past season also reflected well on DeBartolo, who has become a tremendous resource for current team president Jed York, his nephew.
  • Electing one pass-rusher (Doleman, who spent part of his career with the 49ers) to the Hall could give former 49ers and Dallas Cowboys pass-rusher Charles Haley an easier time in the future. But with Strahan joining the conversation in 2013, Haley faces stiff competition again. Former Rams pass-rusher Kevin Greene did not make the final 10 despite 160 career sacks.

It's been a whirlwind day. Hall bylaws prevent me from sharing specifics about what was said in the room during the proceedings. The Hall also asked voters not to reveal their votes outright. I voted for five of the six players enshrined on the final cut and supported others. As always, however, reducing to only five in the end required leaving off candidates I hope will make it in the future.

Programming note: At HOF ceremony

February, 4, 2012
2/04/12
6:27
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- Just a note to let you know I'm attending the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony and will post thoughts afterward.

Cortez Kennedy and Chris Doleman were among the enshrinees. Both played for current NFC West franchises.

Back in a bit.

Programming note: Hall of Fame voting

February, 4, 2012
2/04/12
8:24
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Pro Football Hall of Fame voters are beginning to assemble for a day-long session to determine the 2012 class.

Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Cortez Kennedy, Kevin Greene, Aeneas Williams, Charles Haley, Chris Doleman and Jerome Bettis are among the 15 modern-era finalists with ties to current NFC West organizations. I will be presenting Kennedy's case to the selectors as the representative for the Seattle market.

We will discuss each candidate -- see them all here -- and then hold a series of votes. The first vote will reduce the modern-era finalists from 15 to 10. The second vote will reduce that group from 10 to five. From that group, those with an 80 percent approval rate gain selection.

The NFL Network is scheduled to announce results at 5:30 p.m. ET.

In the meantime, here are our Super Bowl predictions.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Seven NFL figures with ties to current NFC West franchises head toward Saturday as finalists for the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Cortez Kennedy, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Kevin Greene, Charles Haley and Aeneas Williams spent all or much of their careers with franchises currently in the division. Jerome Bettis and Chris Doleman spent shorter stretches with current NFC West franchises.

I'll be among the 44 selectors trying to single out the five best candidates for enshrinement with the class of 2012.

710ESPN Seattle hosts Dave Grosby and Bob Stelton inquired about Kennedy's chances during our latest conversation Tuesday. That audio is here. In my view, more than five candidates deserve enshrinement in a typical year. That means worthy candidates must wait. Predicting how the voting will go becomes a futile pursuit.
The San Francisco 49ers' resurgence this season recalls the team's greatest years.

How appropriate, then, that Eddie DeBartolo Jr. has emerged as a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist for the first time. DeBartolo and former St. Louis/Arizona defensive back Aeneas Williams add NFC West flavor to the proceedings as first-time finalists for the Hall. I'll be among those casting votes when the selection committee gathers during Super Bowl week.

No more than five of the maximum 15 modern-era finalists can qualify for enshrinement in a given year. That makes handicapping a candidate's chances difficult. Worthy finalists miss the cut every year, in my view. They must wait their turn while other worthy finalists gain enshrinement.

Without slam-dunk candidates such as Emmitt Smith or Jerry Rice on the ballot this year, the door could open for some who have waited their turn recently. Cortez Kennedy, Charles Haley, Jerome Bettis, Chris Doleman and Kevin Greene are among the finalists with ties to franchises currently in the NFC West. Kennedy made the final 10 last year.

Also among the modern-era finalists: Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Curtis Martin, Bill Parcells, Andre Reed, Willie Roaf and Will Shields. Jack Butler and Dick Stanfel are eligible as seniors nominees. Their enshrinement would not come at the expense of the maximum five slots for modern-era finalists.

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