Hall of Fame Semifinalists Awaiting Next Step

In late November, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee whittled the field for its Class of 2013 down to 27 candidates, including six first-year-eligible players.  At the time, the Hall also announced that the next reduction, down to the 15 finalists, would take place in “early January.”  The timeline on the Hall’s official web site still uses that somewhat non-specific language, but the upshot is that the next announcement should be coming very soon.

And that’s exciting news for former Buccaneer greats John Lynch and Warren Sapp.

Lynch and Sapp made that cut in November from the original field of 127 down to 27 (it was meant to be 25, but three players tied for the last spot in the voting), and that was no surprise.  Honestly, it will be a surprise if the two former Buccaneers are left out of the top 15 after the next cut.  After that, the real debate will begin – both within the small group of Selection Committee members and among the NFL public at large – as a maximum of five modern-era players can be chosen in any given year.

This certainly has the look of a field that will push that to the maximum, as Lynch and Sapp are joined by four other very strong first-year-eligible candidates: G Larry Allen, K Morten Andersen, T Jonathan Ogden and DE Michael Strahan.  And then there are some leftover candidates who have been finalists before but haven’t yet earned election, such as Charles Haley, Jerome Bettis, Bill Parcells and that difficult-to-parse trio of receivers, Tim Brown, Cris Carter and Andre Reed.

As always, the selection committee will meet on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, at the game’s site – so this year it’s February 2, in New Orleans – and come up with the final list of enshrinees.  There’s no white smoke, but it’s kind of like the selection of the pope – the committee members stay behind closed doors until the decision is made, and then the names are handed over immediately to the Hall of Fame president in a sealed envelope.

We made a short case for both Buccaneer players here in the Captain’s Blog in September when the original list of 127 players was revealed.  We’ll have more extensive arguments in the coming weeks after the finalists are announced, assuming Lynch and Sapp are among them.  For now, it’s wait-and-see as the former Buc Super Bowl champions look to take the next step towards joining Lee Roy Selmon in the Hall of Fame.

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