EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 25 semifinalists for induction in 2014 on Wednesday night and three former Rams made the cut.
Defensive back Aeneas Williams, running back Jerome Bettis and linebacker Kevin Greene made the list of 25, which was whittled from 126. Williams, Bettis and Greene spent varying parts of their careers with the Rams. While none are exactly remembered in the big picture for their time with the team, all made valuable contributions to the organization at some point.
Williams, Bettis and Greene all made the cut to the list of 15 modern-era finalists last year which could portend possible inductions this year. They'll receive tough competition from some of the new additions to the ballot, a list that includes receiver Marvin Harrison, tackle Walter Jones, coach Tony Dungy and linebacker Derrick Brooks.
Williams is probably the most familiar to Rams fans after he came to St. Louis in a trade in 2001. He promptly moved to safety and served as a veteran leader of a defense which helped the Rams reach Super Bowl XXXVI. Williams still lives in St. Louis and is active in the community. He spent most of his career in relative anonymity in Arizona but was long regarded as one of the team's best cover corners. His time is probably coming in Canton but it seems this year may not be the one.
Bettis spent just one season in St. Louis after his first two came with the team in Los Angeles. He was traded to Pittsburgh in 1996 and went on to become the fifth most accomplished rusher in league history. Of this group, Bettis probably has the best chance to break through this season.
Greene never played a down for the St. Louis version of the Rams but he played for the Los Angeles edition from 1985-1992. Greene also has local ties as he hails from nearby Granite City, Ill. Like Bettis, Greene is probably more renowned for his time with the Steelers. He finished with 160 sacks, which ranked third all time at the time of his retirement. Much like Williams, Greene's day is probably going to come but it may not happen right away.
Two other semifinalists have St. Louis area ties. Coach Don Coryell, one of the most innovative offensive minds in league history, coached the St. Louis Cardinals from 1973-77. Safety Steve Atwater made his name with Denver but is a native of St. Louis and played high school ball at Lutheran North.
For Rams fans looking for further connections to possible Hall of Fame inductees, the real fun will begin next year. Receiver Isaac Bruce, tackle Orlando Pace and quarterback Kurt Warner are due for Hall of Fame eligibility for the class of 2015 followed by receiver Torry Holt the following year.