<span style="">Six former members of the New Orleans Saints are once again candidates for election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Linebackers Rickey Jackson, Pat Swilling, Sam Mills, wide receiver Wes Chandler, quarterback Ken Stabler, cornerback Eric Allen and center Jay Hilgenberg were 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.
In addition, DT Cortez Kennedy, who serves as a personnel consultant for the Saints, is also eligible for induction into the most revered place in Pro Football history.
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.
Jackson is known as perhaps the most dominate defensive player in the history of the Black-and-Gold. The Saints Hall of Fame inductee played for New Orleans from 1981-1993 was a six-time Pro Bowl selection (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1992, 1993). He recorded 10 or more sacks in six different seasons and led the NFL in fumble recoveries in both 1990 and 1991. He finished his career with 136 (8 unofficial in 1981) sacks and 8 interceptions, which he returned for 68 yards. He also recovered 29 fumbles. At the time of his retirement, his 28 defensive fumble recoveries were the second most in NFL history behind Jim Marshall's 29.
Drafted in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft (53rd overall) from the University of Pittsburgh, Jackson was a member of the first Bum Phillips draft and went onto play all 16 games as a rookie. Jackson, along with Mills, was a member of the Saints' famed "Dome Patrol", a four-man linebacking corps that the NFL Network ranked as the best in NFL history.
During his tenure with the Saints, Mills was considered one of the true anchors of the defense, and like Jackson he was a member of the vaunted "Dome Patrol," the stellar linebacking corps that led a ferocious Saints defense in the early 1990s. Mills earned four Pro Bowl appearances with the Saints in 1987, 1988, 1991, and 1992. Regrettably, Mills passed away on April 18, 2005 at the age of 45 after a battle with cancer.
Swilling, a five time Pro Bowl honoree, was also a member of the fabled "Dome Patrol" defense that New Orleans fielded in 1991 and 1992.
In 1991 Swilling had 17 sacks and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Swilling was a third round draft choice of the Saints in 1986 out of Georgia Tech and quickly became one of the most reliable and productive members of the Saints' defense. The 6'3, 250 pound native of Georgia ranks third on the Saints' all-time sack list with 78 career sacks and averaged 11.5 sacks during his time in a Saints uniform.
Hilgenberg, who played for the Saints in 1993, attended the University of Iowa and started in the NFL's Pro Bowl seven times. He was a member of the winning team in Super Bowl XX as a member of the 1985 Chicago Bears as well as their Division Champion teams from 1984-88 and 1990.
Kennedy, who retired after the 2000 season, played his entire career with the Seattle Seahawks, amassing 668 tackles, 58 sacks, and 3 interceptions. He is generally considered one of the best defensive tackles to ever play the position in the NFL. In 2006, Kennedy was inducted into the Seahawks' Ring of Honor.
Chandler, currently the WR coach for the Cleveland Browns, was drafted out of the University of Florida in the 1978 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints with the third overall selection in the 1978 NFL Draft. Chandler was selected to the Pro Bowl after his second season in the league after finishing with 1,069 yards and 6 touchdown receptions. He was traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1981 and retired from the NFL during the 1988 season after an 11-year playing career. During his NFL career, he caught 559 passes for 8,966 yards and 56 touchdowns, rushed for 84 yards, returned 48 kickoffs for 1,048 yards, and gained 428 yards on 67 punt returns. Overall, he amassed 10,526 all-purpose yards. At the time of his retirement, Chandler ranked 12th in NFL history in receiving yards and 13th in receptions. He also earned four Pro Bowl selections during his career.
Allen, was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, who retired from football after the 2001 season and is currently an NFL analyst for ESPN. In his NFL career, he recorded 54 interceptions for 827 yards and eight touchdowns, while also recovering seven fumbles. His 54 interceptions ranks twentieth all-time.
Allen played for the Philadelphia Eagles for seven seasons and the New Orleans Saints for three. He is the only NFL player to run back three interceptions for scores in two seasons. Through the 2001 season, Allen played in 214 of a possible 217 games.
Stabler, who played for the Saints from 1982-84, passed for 27,939 yards during his career and 194 touchdowns. Stabler was the quickest to win 100 games as a starting quarterback having done so in 150 games. This accomplishment was better than Johnny Unitas previous mark of doing it in 153 games. Since then, only Joe Montana and Tom Brady have reached 100 wins quicker.
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.
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 THE 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