CANTON, OHIO – Two first-year eligible candidates, coach Bill Parcells and guard Will Shields, are among the 26 semifinalists being considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2012. Although technically a first-year eligible candidate, Parcells has been a finalist twice before (2001, 2002) following his announced retirement as head coach of the New York Jets in 1999. At the time the Hall of Fame By-laws did not require a coach to be retired the now mandatory five seasons. Parcells returned to coach the Dallas Cowboys in 2003 and the five-year waiting period was in effect when he retired from coaching in 2006.
The semifinalist list is usually limited to 25, this year there are 26 resulting from a tie for the final position. The Pro Football Hall of Fame By-laws for the Selection Committee provides that the list shall consist of "twenty five nominees plus all ties."
The Hall of Fame's Selection Committee chose the 26 semifinalists from the previously announced list of 105 preliminary nominees. In addition to the two first-year eligible nominees, four other previously eligible candidates, Steve Atwater, Clay Matthews, Karl Mecklenburg and longtime contributor Ron Wolf have made it to the semifinalist's list for the first time. Each of the remaining 20 nominees on the Selection Committee's list has been a semifinalist at least once prior to this year.
The complete list of 26 modern-era semifinalists is as follows:
*Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets
*Jerome Bettis, RB – 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
*Tim Brown, WR/KR – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
*Cris Carter, WR – 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
*Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers
*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
*Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Owner – 1979-2000 San Francisco 49ers
*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
*Charles Haley, DE/LB – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
*Cortez Kennedy, DT – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
*Curtis Martin, RB – 1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets
*Clay Matthews, LB – 1978-1993 Cleveland Browns, 1994-96 Atlanta Falcons
*Karl Mecklenburg, LB – 1983-1994 Denver Broncos
*Bill Parcells, Coach – 1983-1990 New York Giants, 1993-96 New England Patriots, 1997-99 New York Jets, 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys
*Andre Reed, WR – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
*Willie Roaf, T – 1993-2001 New Orleans Saints, 2002-05 Kansas City Chiefs
*Donnie Shell, S – 1974-1987 Pittsburgh Steelers
*Will Shields, G – 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
*Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
*Steve Tasker, ST/WR – 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills
*Aeneas Williams, CB/S – 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
*Ron Wolf, Contributor – 1963-1974, 1978-1990 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1975-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1990 New York Jets, 1991-2001 Green Bay Packers
*George Young, Contributor – 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League
The list of 26 semifinalists will be reduced by mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists. 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 cornerback Jack Butler, Pittsburgh Steelers (1951-59) and guard Dick Stanfel, Detroit Lions (1952-55); Washington Redskins (1956-58).
The results of the modern-era reduction vote to 15 finalists will be announced in early January, 2012.
To be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a nominated player or coach must not have participated as an active player or coach for five consecutive seasons. 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 of Enshrinees for any Hall of Fame Class, 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 six or seven Enshrinees can only be achieved if one or both senior nominees are elected.
The Class of 2012 will be determined at the Selection Committee's annual meeting on Saturday, February 4, in Indianapolis, Indiana the day before Super Bowl XLVI. The election results will be announced during a one-hour NFL Network special, live from the Super Bowl media headquarters.
Tickets and fan packages for the 2012 Enshrinement Ceremony may be purchased on the Hall of Fame's website at Profootballhof.com or by calling (800) 913-9788.