CANTON, Ohio -- Four first-year eligible players, John Randle, Shannon Sharpe, Bruce Smith, and Rod Woodson, are among the 25 semifinalists being considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2009. The Hall of Fame's Board of Selectors chose the 25 semifinalists from the recently announced list of 133 preliminary nominees.
Although he has been eligible since 1999, this is first time that Roger Craig has been a semifinalist. Each of the remaining 20 nominees has been on the semifinalist list at least once prior to this year. Although no coaches are among the semifinalists, the list includes three contributors, Art Modell, Paul Tagliabue and Ralph Wilson.
The complete list of 25 modern-era semifinalists is as follows:
» Cris Carter, WR - 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
» Roger Craig, RB - 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings,
» Terrell Davis, RB - 1995-2001 Denver Broncos
» Dermontti Dawson, C - 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
» Richard Dent, DE - 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
» Chris Doleman, DE/LB - 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers
» Kevin Greene, LB/DE - 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
» Russ Grimm, G - 1981-1991 Washington Redskins
» Ray Guy, P - 1973-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
» Charles Haley, DE/LB - 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
» Lester Hayes, CB - 1977-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
» Cortez Kennedy, DT - 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
» Bob Kuechenberg, G - 1970-1984 Miami Dolphins
» Randall McDaniel, G - 1988-1999 Minnesota Vikings, 2000-01 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
» Art Modell, Owner - 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2003 Baltimore Ravens
» John Randle, DT - 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks
» Andre Reed, WR - 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
» Shannon Sharpe, TE - 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens
» Bruce Smith, DE - 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000-03 Washington Redskins
» Ken Stabler, QB - 1970-79 Oakland Raiders, 1980-81 Houston Oilers, 1982-84 New Orleans Saints
» Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner - 1989-2006 National Football League
» Steve Tasker, Special Teams/WR - 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills
» Derrick Thomas, LB - 1989-1999 Kansas City Chiefs
» Ralph Wilson, Owner - 1960-current Buffalo Bills
» Rod Woodson, CB/S - 1987-1996 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers, 1998-2001 Baltimore Ravens, 2002-03 Oakland Raiders
The list of 25 semifinalists will be reduced by mail ballot to 15 modern-era candidates. That list increases to 17 finalist nominees with the inclusion of the two recommended candidates of the Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee. The Seniors Committee nominees, who were announced in August, are Bob Hayes and Claude Humphrey. Hayes, a three-time All-NFL pick spent 11 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (1965-1974) and one season with the San Francisco 49ers (1975).
The results of the modern-era reduction vote to 15 finalists will be announced in early January.
To be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a nominated player or coach must have been retired at least five years. A contributor, who is a nominee who has made outstanding contributions to pro football in capacities other than playing and coaching, may still be active in his pro football career.
Although there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the Pro Football Hall of Fame's current ground rules do stipulate that between four and seven new members will be selected each year. No more than five modern-era nominees can be elected in a given year and a class of seven enshrinees can only be achieved if both senior nominees are elected.