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Sunday, January 30, 2011
The week ahead: Bound for Dallas

By Mike Sando

Super Bowl week begins in full Monday and I'll be on the scene for the 13th year in a row.

It's a great privilege to attend a usually eventful week.

NFC West teams appeared in two of the past five Super Bowls.

Marshall Faulk
Marshall Faulk could be one of many NFC West players enshrined this year into the Hall of Fame.
I'll be chasing down NFC West storylines and contributing to our broader Super Bowl coverage during the week, but the personal highlight will have nothing to do with the big game. This marks my second season as one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I'll be presenting the case for Cortez Kennedy, who made the final 10 the previous year.

This could be a significant year for NFC West teams and the Hall of Fame.

St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk appears likely to earn enshrinement in his first year of eligibility. The same could be true for cornerback Deion Sanders, who helped the San Francisco 49ers win a Super Bowl in his only season with the team.

Kennedy, Faulk and Sanders are among seven Hall of Fame finalists with ties to teams currently residing in the NFC West. The others: running back Jerome Bettis, who played with the Los Angeles and St. Louis Rams from 1993-95; defensive end Richard Dent, who spent the 1996 season with the 49ers; defensive end Chris Doleman, who was with the 49ers from 1996-98; and outside linebacker Charles Haley, who was with the 49ers from 1986-91 and again in 1999.

Identifying players worthy of the Hall of Fame is the easy part. The hard part: settling on no more than five modern candidates in a given year. Worthy candidates routinely miss the cut, something we can discuss as selection day approaches (voting takes place Saturday, with winners announced that evening).

Enjoy your Sunday. I'll check in upon landing in Dallas.