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Walter Jones leads list of Hall of Fame finalists

Fifteen men are one huge step closer to becoming members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2014.

The modern-era finalists were announced Thursday night on NFL Network's "Pro Football Hall of Fame: The Final 15." Twenty-five semifinalists were announced in November, so ten men did not make it through this cutdown. Two senior nominees, punter Ray Guy and defensive end Claude Humphrey, were selected as finalists in August by the Hall of Fame's Senior Selection Committee.

Here's the complete list of modern-era finalists:

Morten Andersen
Jerome Bettis
Derrick Brooks
Tim Brown
Edward DeBartolo
Tony Dungy
Kevin Greene
Charles Haley
Marvin Harrison
Walter Jones
John Lynch
Andre Reed
Will Shields
Michael Strahan
Aeneas Williams

Jones is one of the greatest left tackles in NFL history, and looks like a lock to make it on his first try. Strahan is another strong bet to make it to Canton. Harrison should make it in his first year of eligibility, while Derrick Brooks and Dungy are other compelling first-year finalists that have a solid chance to get in. (It's a great year for former Buccaneers, with John Lynch also making the cut.)

The bigger news here unfortunately surrounds the men that didn't make the list. Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis again is not a finalist. Voters continue to punish him for his short, brilliant peak. Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue also didn't make the cut. He is getting further away from enshrinement as the years go on, rather than closer. Tagliabue's candidacy was once a hotly debated topic, but now he's not getting a lot of support.

Former San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig is another player that isn't getting any closer to enshrinement. Once a finalist, he's been knocked out at the semifinalist stage for the last four years. Don Coryell, Steve Atwater, Joe Jacoby, Jimmy Johnson, Karl Mecklenburg, Steve Wisniewski and George Young also didn't make the list.

The new class will be announced Saturday, Feb. 1, as part of the "3rd Annual NFL Honors" special at Radio City Music Hall in New York that will air at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

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