CANTON, OH – Former Saints offensive tackle Willie Roafwas one of five first-year eligible candidates for the Pro Football Hall Fame's Class of 2011, the organization announced on Monday.
Joining Roaf as first-year nominees are cornerback Deion Sanders, running backs Jerome Bettis, New Orleans native Marshall Faulk, and Curtis Martin, wide receiver Jimmy Smith, and coach Dick Vermeil.
Roaf played nine seasons with the Saints from 1993-2001, was named All-Pro (first or second team) seven times while with the Saints and was elected to seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 1994-2000 as a member of the black and gold. Both are the most by any player in New Orleans Saints history. The offensive tackle was named to the Saints Hall of Fame in 2008.
In addition, Roaf was named to the NFL's 1990's All-Decade Team. In 2000, Roaf was a pivotal part of the Saints NFC South title team and the first playoff win in franchise history, 31-28 over the defending world champion St. Louis Rams.
From this year's preliminary list of 113 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 in mid-November.
The semifinalists list will be reduced by a mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists that will be announced in early January.
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, former Washington Redskins linebacker Chris Hanburger and former Los Angeles Rams linebacker Les Richter. Hanburger and Richter were selected this past August by the Hall of Fame's Senior Selection Committee.
In 2008 the Hall of Fame modified its by-laws for the Selection Committee making it mandatory for coaches to be retired five consecutive seasons. Prior to that change coaches were eligible immediately upon retirement. As such, Vermeil was nominated in 2001 and again in 2007. This is his first year of eligibility since the change in the by-laws.
The Class of 2011 will be selected from the list of 17 finalists (15 modern-era and two senior nominees). The actual voting will be conducted at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee's annual meeting, which will be held on Saturday, February 5, 2011 the day before Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in North Texas. The election results will be announced that evening during a nationally televised broadcast live from the Super Bowl media headquarters.
While there is no set number for any class of enshrinees, the selection process by-laws provide that between four and seven new members will be selected.
The preliminary list includes 84 players, 9 coaches and 20 contributors, including former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and longtime team owners Bud Adams, Jr., and Art Modell.
To be considered for Pro Football Hall of Fame election, a nominated player or coach must have been retired at least five years. A contributor, who is an individual 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. The complete list of nominees can be found below and at Profootballhof.com.
Once again the Hall of Fame is calling on fans and asking them to vote for who they believe should be included in the Class of 2011 at www.fanschoice.com. For the second consecutive year, the Hall of Fame is teaming up with Van Heusen and J.C. Penney to provide fans with a dedicated platform forum to debate, discuss, and cast their ballot. To kick off the campaign, a team of Hall of Famers including campaign spokesman Steve Young, and Harry Carson, Warren Moon, Roger Staubach and Jerry Rice will be in New York City today casting the first "vote" and discussing their picks for the Class of 2011.
The Fan's Choice campaign gives fans unprecedented access to Hall of Famers, educates fans about the Hall of Fame selection process and brings them aggregated Hall of Fame news from across the country. Last year, nearly 1.5 million votes were cast for the inaugural Fan's Choice for the Class of 2010.
Preliminary List of Nominees for the Class of 2011
FIRST-YEAR ELIGIBLE NOMINEES
Running Backs – Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin
Wide Receiver – Jimmy Smith
Offensive Lineman – Willie Roaf (T)
Cornerback – Deion Sanders (also KR/PR)
Coach – Dick Vermeil
Quarterbacks – Ken Anderson, Jim Plunkett, Phil Simms, Doug Williams
Running Backs – Ottis Anderson, Larry Centers, *Roger Craig, Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Brian Mitchell (also KR/PR), Gerald Riggs, Herschel Walker, Ricky Watters
Wide Receivers – *Tim Brown, *Cris Carter, Gary Clark, Henry Ellard, Herman Moore, Stanley Morgan, Mike Quick, *Andre Reed, J.T. Smith
Tight Ends – Mark Bavaro, Todd Christensen, Ben Coates, Russ Francis, Brent Jones, *Shannon Sharpe, Frank Wycheck
Offensive Linemen – Bruce Armstrong (T), Tony Boselli (T), Lomas Brown (T), Jim Covert (T), *Dermontti Dawson (C), Jay Hilgenberg (C), Chris Hinton (G/T), Kent Hull (C), Joe Jacoby (T), Mike Kenn (T), Jim Lachey (T), Steve Wisniewski (G)
Defensive Linemen – Al "Bubba" Baker (DE), Dave Butz (DE/DT), Ray Childress (DT/DE), *Richard Dent (DE), Chris Doleman (DE/LB), *Charles Haley (DE/LB), Ed "Too Tall" Jones (DE), *Cortez Kennedy (DT), Joe Klecko (DE/DT/NT), Dexter Manley (DE), Charles Mann (DE), Fred Smerlas (NT
Linebackers – Cornelius Bennett, Kevin Greene (also DE), Ken Harvey, Clay Matthews, Karl Mecklenburg, Sam Mills, Darryl Talley
Defensive Backs – Eric Allen (CB), Steve Atwater (S), Bill Bates (S/ST), Joey Browner (S), LeRoy Butler (S), Kenny Easley (S), Lester Hayes (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), Frank Minnifield (CB), Donnie Shell (S), Aeneas Williams (CB/S), Darren Woodson (S), Louis Wright (CB)
Kickers/Punters – Gary Anderson (K), Ray Guy (P), Nick Lowery (K), Reggie Roby (P)
Special Teams – Steve Tasker (ST/WR)
Coaches – Bud Carson, *Don Coryell, Tom Flores, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Knox, Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves, Clark Shaughnessy
Contributors– K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr., Bobby Beathard, Leo Carlin, Jack Kent Cooke, Otho Davis, Ed DeBartolo, Jr., Ron Gibbs, Ole Haugsrud, Frank "Bucko" Kilroy, Art McNally, Art Modell, Bill Nunn, Joe Robbie, Art Rooney, Jr., Carroll Rosenbloom, Ed Sabol, Steve Sabol, Paul Tagliabue, Ron Wolf, George Young
*On 2010 finalists list.