NEW ORLEANS -- A strong contingent of newly eligible Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists complicated efforts to settle on five modern-era enshrinees for 2013.
I was among the 46 selectors for a fourth year and can tell you it's extremely difficult reducing the field, particularly on the final cut from 10 to five.
Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells and Warren Sapp were the last modern-era candidates standing this year. The Hall of Fame will enshrine them in Canton, Ohio, this summer.
Allen, Ogden and Sapp were eligible for the first time. Michael Strahan, also a first-timer, made the initial cut to 10 before missing the cut to five.
The strong push by newly eligible candidates contributed to former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. missing the cut from 15 to 10. This is the second year in a row DeBartolo has made the final 15 without advancing to the final 10. Art Modell, Kevin Greene, Will Shields and Tim Brown also missed the first cut.
While this isn't the end for DeBartolo as a candidate, some voters in the end seem to struggle supporting contributors over players on the final reduction.
Rules allow no more than five modern-era candidates to be enshrined in a single year.
Former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals great Aeneas Williams made the cut to 10 for the second consecutive year. That's a strong indication voters consider him worthy -- eventually. For example, Cortez Kennedy earned enshrinement last year after twice making the final 10.
Voters discussed Parcells' candidacy for more than one hour, the longest discussion for any candidate. Rules prevent voters from disclosing more specific details about the proceedings.
Curley Culp and Dave Robinson earned enshrinement as seniors candidates.
Andre Reed, Jerome Bettis, Charles Haley, Williams and Strahan missed the cut from 10 to five.