In January, the list will be narrowed to 15. A maximum of five players who receive 80 percent of the vote from a committee of media representatives the day before the Super Bowl will be elected.
Ten of this year’s semifinalists were finalists last year but not elected: Boselli, Bruce, Coryell, Dawkins, Faneca, Jacoby, Law, Lynch, Mawae and Owens. One would expect one or two of those to make it. Perhaps among them will be Owens, who has outstanding receiving statistics but courted controversy with his colorful touchdown celebrations and disruptive presence in the locker room. He has been passed over twice so far.
Career numbers tend to be most important in selection to any Hall, and Owens and Moss are close. Owens is second overall in receiving yards, with Moss third, and in receiving touchdowns those positions are reversed. (Jerry Rice leads both categories.) What might give Moss the edge is his 23-touchdown season with Tom Brady and the Patriots in 2007, considered by many to be the greatest season ever for a wide receiver.
Baseball Hall of Fame vote totals are announced each year; those who just missed out in one year are strong candidates for election the next time. The Pro Football Hall of Fame does not release its totals, making projections more difficult.
While Lewis’s excellence on the field is undoubted, his involvement in a murder trial in 2000 could cost him some votes. The main charges against him were dropped in a plea deal, but he did plead guilty to obstruction of justice.
NFL.com selected Moss, Hutchinson and Owens as the top 3 candidates for 2018. Peter King of Sports Illustrated called Lewis and Moss the two locks.
Just as interesting as the semifinalists are those who didn’t make the cut from an initial group of over 100. (Anyone can nominate someone for the Hall of Fame — even you. The only criteria are that the player played for five seasons and made one All-Pro team or Pro Bowl and has been retired for five full seasons.)
Those eliminated included all five nominated quarterbacks: Randall Cunningham, Rich Gannon, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair and Phil Simms. Also eliminated were Barber’s brother Tiki, and other running backs Herschel Walker, Eddie George and Ricky Watters, as well as receiver Sterling Sharpe and special teams star Brian Mitchell.
Walker is a contentious candidate among some fans. He ranks 11th in career all-purpose yards in the N.F.L. and also spent three very productive years in the U.S.F.L. The Pro Football Hall of Fame recognizes players in American professional football, not just the N.F.L.
The three kickers and punters were also skipped. To the chagrin of aficionados of the kicking game, there is only one punter, Ray Guy, and two kickers, Morten Andersen and Jan Stenerud, in the Hall out of more than 300 members.
Coaches passed over included Dick Vermeil, Chuck Knox, Dan Reeves and Marty Schottenheimer.
Three nominees from the contributors and seniors category will be voted on separately: general manager Bobby Beathard, guard Jerry Kramer and linebacker Robert Brazile.
An earlier version of this article misstated the number of kickers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In addition to Morten Andersen, Jan Stenerud is also in the Hall.
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