The NFL has just released its list of the 17 finalists for this year's National Football League Hall of Fame balloting, and two Minnesota Vikings are among the group. . .one of whom has been there before, and one that is on the ballot for the first time.
The first-time finalist is former defensive end Chris Doleman, who the Minnesota Vikings drafted out of the University of Pittsburgh with the fourth overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft. Doleman was originally drafted as an outside linebacker for the Vikings, but truly became a force as a pass rusher after switching to defensive end in 1987. His 150.5 career sacks ranks him fourth all-time behind Bruce Smith, Reggie White, and Kevin Greene (who, incidentally, was on the list of semi-finalists, but didn't make the cut for the finals). In 1989, he was a part of one of the great pass-rushing front fours of all time, as he, Keith Millard, Al Noga, and Henry Thomas combined for a whopping 59.5 sacks on a defense that registered 71 overall that season. The 21 sacks that Doleman put up that season is still tied for the third-most in a season in NFL history.
The repeat finalist is wide receiver Cris Carter, and he's been on the ballot enough times where we all know his story. The Vikings got him for the price of $100 when they claimed him from the Philadelphia Eagles off of the waiver wire following the 1989 season. When he retired, he had more receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns than any receiver in NFL history not named Jerry Rice. Even after having been out of the NFL since 2002, he still ranks third in receptions, eighth in yards, and fourth in touchdowns. It's nothing short of an absolute joke that he isn't in already, and hopefully this will be the year that he gets into Canton.
The full list of finalists is as follows. Hanburger and Richter are your nominees from the Veteran's Committee, while Bettis, Faulk, Martin, Roaf, and Sanders are your first-time nominees, and they make this one of the strongest classes in quite a while. . .hopefully at least one of the two Vikings that are nominated can somehow break through, though.
-Jerome Bettis, RB (1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers)
-Tim Brown, WR/KR (1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
-Cris Carter, WR (1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins)
-Dermontti Dawson, C (1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers)
-Richard Dent, DE (1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles)
-Chris Doleman, DE/LB (1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers)
-Marshall Faulk, RB (1994-98 Indianapolis Colts, 1999-2005 St. Louis Rams)
-Charles Haley, DE/LB (1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys)
-Chris Hanburger, LB (1965-78 Washington Redskins)
-Cortez Kennedy, DT (1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks)-Curtis Martin, RB (1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets)
-Andre Reed, WR (1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins)
-Les Richter, LB (1954-62 Los Angeles Rams)
-Wllie Roaf, OT (1993-2001 New Orleans Saints, 2002-05 Kansas City Chiefs)
-Ed Sabol, Contributor (1964-1995 NFL Films)
-Deion Sanders, CB/KR/PR (1989-1993 Atlanta Falcons, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1995-99 Dallas Cowboys, 2000 Washington Redskins, 2004-05 Baltimore Ravens)
-Shannon Sharpe, TE (1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens)