Lynch, Sapp Take Next Step Towards Hall of Fame

The late Lee Roy Selmon remains the only player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played all or most of his career as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.  Selmon’s bust in Canton may soon have company, however.

On Friday, the Hall of Fame announced the modern-era semifinalists for the Class of 2013, including the six remaining first-year-eligible candidates.  One third of that latter list is made up of Buccaneers: safety John Lynch and DT Warren Sapp.

Friday’s announcement pared the original list of candidates from 127 down to just 27.  The Hall usually creates a list of 25 semifinalists, but a three-way tie in the voting for the final spot made it a little bit longer this year.  Of course, the most attention will be paid to the newest names on the list, as the other 21 semifinalists have already been passed over at least once.

It is possible that Lynch and Sapp will be able to enter the Hall together, especially if this year’s inductees come primarily from the newest semifinalists.  There is no set number of enshrinees each year, but the rules call for between four and seven new members to be chosen each year.  Up to five of those can be modern-era enshrinees each year.

The six first-year-eligible candidates for the Class of 2013 are Lynch, Sapp, offensive lineman Larry Allen, kicker Morten Andersen, tackle Jonathan Ogden and defensive end Michael Strahan.  A candidate must have not participated in pro football as an active player or a coach for five consecutive seasons before he can be considered for enshrinement.  Lynch and Sapp are the first two figures from the Bucs’ Super Bowl-era team to become eligible, but they will be followed by several more very strong candidates, including Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber.

Among the other semi-finalists who are not first-year-eligibles are Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown (who played a year with the Buccaneers), Cris Carter, Charles Haley, Bill Parcells, Andre Reed and Aeneas Williams.

As always, the Hall’s Selection Committee will gather at the site of the Super Bowl, the day before the big game (in this case, Saturday, Feb. 2 in New Orleans) to determine the Class of 2013.  They will announce the results immediately after the process is complete.  The Class of 2013 will be officially enshrined on Saturday, August 3.

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