Which NFL Greats Will Be Inducted Into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

The preliminary list of modern-era nominees for induction in 2010 in the Pro Football Hall was recently released and it’s loaded with big names. Headlining the list are Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, two of the greatest players in NFL history.

NFL greats  Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith are top contenders for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Other nominees include Tim Brown, Herschel Walker, Andre Reed, Cris Carter, Sterling Sharp and former commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Smith is the NFL’s all-time rushing leader. He is the only running back to ever win a Super Bowl championship, the NFL MVP award, the NFL rushing title and the Super Bowl MVP award in the same season. He is also one of four running backs to lead the NFL in rushing three or more consecutive seasons, joining Steve Van Buren, Jim Brown, and Earl Campbell.

Rice is considered the greatest wide receiver in NFL history and is the all-time leader in every major statistical category at his position. He was a 13-time Pro Bowler and won three Super Bowl titles with the San Francisco 49ers.

Walker enjoyed a long career with four teams, including two stints with the Dallas Cowboys.  In 12 NFL seasons, Walker gained 8,225 rushing yards, 4,859 receiving yards, and 5,084 kickoff-return yards. This gave him 18,168 total combined net yards, ranking him second among the NFL’s all-time leaders in total yardage at the time of his retirement.

They join two previously announced senior nominees, former Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little and Detroit Lions cornerback Dick LeBeau. For Little, the nomination was an emotional moment, one that he’s been waiting for a long time. My wife and I just looked at one another, and we both saw tears in our eyes,” Little said after hearing the news. “We talked about how my son Marc wrote a letter to The Denver Post 25 years ago, explaining my disappointment (with not being elected) and to ask, ‘Why?’ So after 25 years, it’s hard to believe this is happening.”

Little still needs to receive 80 percent of the votes for induction, but history is on his side. Since 1996, 16 of the 18 senior candidates nominated have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Little was one of the first great all-purpose backs in the NFL. When he retired in 1975 after playing his entire career with the Broncos, Little had amassed 6,323 yards rushing and was seventh all-time in rushing yards behind Jim Brown, Jim Taylor, Joe Perry, O.J. Simpson, Leroy Kelly, and John Henry Johnson.

The nomination list includes 131 players, coaches and contributors. The  25 semifinalists will be selected by November 27 and the 15 finalists by January 7. Voting will take place on February 6, the day before the Super Bowl.

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