|Brian Bahr / Getty Images|
|Shannon Sharpe retired as the NFL's all-time leader in receiving yards for a tight end.|
CANTON, Ohio -- Defensive end Bruce Smith, defensive back Rod Woodson and tight end Shannon Sharpe are first-year eligible candidates among the list of 133 players, coaches and contributors who make up the preliminary list of modern-era nominees for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2009.
From this preliminary list of modern-era nominees, Hall of Fame selectors will choose 25 candidates who will advance as semifinalist nominees. The list of 25 modern-era semifinalists will be announced later next month.
The 25 modern-era semifinalists list will be reduced by a mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists.
The final list of nominees that will be considered for election will consist of the 15 modern-era finalists and the two previously announced senior nominees, Bob Hayes and Claude Humphrey. Hayes and Humphrey were selected this past August by the Hall of Fame's Senior Selection Committee.
Hayes, a three-time All-NFL pick, amassed 371 career receptions for 7,414 yards and 71 touchdowns during his 11-season career with the Dallas Cowboys (1965-1974) and the San Francisco 49ers (1975). He also returned 104 punts for 1,158 yards and three touchdowns and had 23 kickoff returns for 581 yards.
Humphrey, a defensive end, was selected third overall in the 1968 draft by the Atlanta Falcons. The NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year he earned first team All-Pro honors in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1977 and was named to six Pro Bowls during his career with the Falcons (1968-1978) and Philadelphia Eagles (1979-1981).
The Class of 2009 will be selected from the list of 17 finalists (15 modern-era and two senior nominees). The actual voting will be conducted at the Hall of Fame Selection Committee's annual meeting, which will be held on Saturday, January 31, 2009, in Tampa, Florida the day before Super Bowl XLIII. The election results will be announced immediately after the meeting at a press conference in the media headquarters. While there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the ground rules provide that between four and seven new members will be selected.
The preliminary list includes 110 players, seven coaches and 16 contributors, including former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and longtime team owners Bud Adams, Jerry Jones, Art Modell and Ralph Wilson.
To be considered for Hall of Fame election, a nominated player or coach must have been retired at least five years. A contributor, who is a nominee who has made outstanding career contributions to pro football in capacities other than playing or coaching, may still be active in his pro football career.
Preliminary list of nominees for class of 2009
First-year eligible nominees:
RUNNING BACKS -- Larry Centers, Brian Mitchell (also KR/PR).
TIGHT ENDS -- Shannon Sharpe, Frank Wycheck.
OFFENSIVE TACKLE -- Lincoln Kennedy.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN -- John Randle (DE/DT), Bruce Smith (DE), Dana Stubblefield (DT).
LINEBACKER -- Jessie Armstead.
DEFENSIVE BACKS -- Darren Woodson (S), Rod Woodson (CB/S).
QUARTERBACKS -- Ken Anderson, Boomer Esiason, Jim Plunkett, Phil Simms, Ken Stabler, Joe Theismann, Doug Williams.
RUNNING BACKS -- Ottis Anderson, Roger Craig, Terrell Davis, Greg Pruitt (also KR/PR), Herschel Walker, Ricky Watters.
WIDE RECEIVERS -- Cliff Branch, Harold Carmichael, *Cris Carter, Wes Chandler, Gary Clark, Isaac Curtis, Henry Ellard, Irving Fryar, Roy Green, Harold Jackson, Herman Moore, Stanley Morgan, *Andre Reed, Sterling Sharpe.
TIGHT ENDS -- Mark Bavaro, Todd Christensen, Ben Coates, Russ Francis, Brent Jones, Steve Jordan.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN -- Tony Boselli (T), Lomas Brown (T), Jim Covert (T), Randy Cross (G/C), Dave Dalby (C), Dermontti Dawson (C), Ray Donaldson (C), *Russ Grimm (G), Jay Hilgenberg (C), Kent Hill (G/T), Chris Hinton (G/T), Kent Hull (C), Joe Jacoby (T), Mike Kenn (T), *Bob Kuechenberg (G), Jim Lachey (T), Henry Lawrence (G/T), Mark May (G/T/C), *Randall McDaniel (G), Max Montoya (G), Marvin Powell (T), Steve Wisniewski (G).
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN -- Ray Childress (DT/DE), *Richard Dent (DE), Chris Doleman (DE/LB), Carl "Big Daddy" Hairston (DE/DT), Charles Haley (DE/LB), Ed "Too Tall" Jones (DE), Cortez Kennedy (DT), Joe Klecko (DE/DT/NT), Steve McMichael (DT/NT), Leslie O'Neal (DE), Fred Smerlas (NT), Art Still (DE).
LINEBACKERS -- Cornelius Bennett, Robert Brazile, Kevin Greene (LB/DE), Ken Harvey, Rickey Jackson, Tom Jackson, Clay Matthews, Karl Mecklenburg, Sam Mills, Hardy Nickerson, Chris Spielman, Pat Swilling, Darryl Talley, *Derrick Thomas.
DEFENSIVE BACKS -- Eric Allen (CB), Steve Atwater (S), Joey Browner (S), LeRoy Butler (S), Deron Cherry (S), Raymond Clayborn (CB), Kenny Easley (S), Lester Hayes (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), Ken Riley (CB), Eugene Robinson (S), Donnie Shell (S), Louis Wright (CB).
PUNTERS/KICKERS -- Rich Camarillo (P), *Ray Guy (P), Nick Lowery (K), Reggie Roby (P).
SPECIAL TEAMS/WIDE RECEIVER -- Steve Tasker.
COACHES -- Don Coryell, Tom Flores, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Knox, Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves, Clark Shaughnessy.
CONTRIBUTORS -- Bud Adams, Gil Brandt, C.O. Brocato, Leo Carlin, Ed DeBartolo, Jr., Ben Dreith, Bob Harlan, Jerry Jones, Art Modell, Art Rooney, Jr., Ed Sabol, Steve Sabol, *Paul Tagliabue, Ralph Wilson, Jr., Ron Wolf, George Young.
*On 2008 17 finalists list