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Sports Then and Now

Smith, Rice Top List of Football Hall of Fame Finalists

Posted on January 09, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Emmitt Smith carries

Emmitt Smith should earn induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Unless the members of the Football Hall of Fame selection committee have a collective meltdown (which isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility given some of their past decisions), the 2010 class for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame will have the distinction of including the top statistical running back and wide receiver in league history.

Many consider former San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks receiver Jerry Rice to be the best football player in NFL history while former Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals back Emmitt Smith is certainly on the short list of all-time great running backs.

They highlight the list of 17 finalists for the Hall of Fame announced on Friday.

Former Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Tim Brown is also a first-time nominee.

The other finalists include Cris Carter (receiver – Eagles, Vikings, Dolphins), Andre Reed (receiver (Bills, Redskins), Shannon Sharpe (tight end – Ravens, Broncos), Roger Craig (running back – 49ers, Vikings, Raiders), Dermontti Dawson (center – Steelers), Russ Grimm (offensive line – Redskins), John Randle (defensive line – Vikings, Seahawks), Cortez Kennedy (defensive line – Seahawks), Richard Dent (defensive line Bears, 49ers, Colts, Eagles), Charles Haley (linebacker/def. line – Cowboys, 49ers), Rickey Jackson (linebacker – Saints, 49ers) and Don Coryell (head coach – Cardinals, Chargers). Previously, senior nominees Floyd Little (Broncos) and Dick LeBeau (Lions) were announced.

Last summer, I spent two months analyzing the best players not in the Hall of Fame at each position. Click here to read my column on the Best Players Not in the Hall of Fame as well as the position by position breakdowns.

Because I looked only at players already eligible, Smith, Rice and Brown were not included on my list. Of the other 14, seven were included among my list of the top 25 players not in the Hall of Fame while many of the others were among the top 10 at their respective positions.

I will break down the finalists and provide my predictions for the Hall of Fame class of 2010 as we get closer to the announcement on February 6th.

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