Five Super Bowl-winning coaches and such NFL champion players as Roger Craig, Drew Pearson and Donnie Shell are among the finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's special centennial class.
A 25-member panel of pro football experts is charged with selecting 10 senior players, two coaches and three contributors who will be inducted into the shrine in Canton, Ohio, next year as part of the league's celebration of its 100th season. On Thursday, 20 seniors, eight coaches and 10 contributors were identified as finalists.
Several Hall of Famers including John Madden, Ron Wolf and Bill Polian are on the committee that in January will vote for the inductees.
The finalists in the coaching category are Don Coryell, Bill Cowher, Tom Flores, Mike Holmgren, Jimmy Johnson, Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves and Dick Vermeil. Cowher, Flores, Holmgren, Johnson and Vermeil all won Super Bowls.
The contributors category finalists are Bud Adams, owner of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans until 2013; Ralph Hay, a founder of the league; Frank “Bucko” Kilroy, a scout and executive with four franchises; Art McNally, an official and head of officiating for the NFL; Art Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens until 2011; Clint Murchison, founder and owner until 1983 of the Dallas Cowboys; Steve Sabol, administrator and president of NFL Films until 2012; Seymour Siwoff, owner and president of the Elias Sports Bureau; Paul Tagliabue, NFL commissioner from 1989-2006; and George Young, executive for the league and three teams.
The 20 nominated players are wide receivers Cliff Branch, LaVern Dilweg, Harold Carmichael, Mac Speedie and Pearson; offensive linemen Jim Covert, Ox Emerson, Winston Hill, Duke Slater, and Al Wistert; running backs Craig, Verne Lewellen and Cecil Isbell, who also played defensive back; DBs Bobby Dillon, Cliff Harris and Shell; linebackers Randy Gradishar, Tommy Nobis and Ed Sprinkle, who also played on the defensive line; and DT Alex Karras.