Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Modern-Era nominees for Pro Football Hall of Fame announced

Modern-Era nominees for Pro Football Hall of Fame announced

And what else but mistaken identity explains Smith's presence on the list of 108 nominees for induction into next year's class, alongside players like Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and Richard Seymour? Among them were eight noteworthy former Broncos players and one former Denver coach.

That means the player who was nominated was... the other Steve Smith.

Defensive backs: Eric Allen (CB), Steve Atwater (S), Ronde Barber (CB/S), LeRoy Butler (S), Brian Dawkins (SS), Rodney Harrison (S), Ty Law (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), John Lynch (S), Dennis Smith (S), Everson Walls (CB), Darren Woodson (S).

Owens has been one of the most divisive players among Hall voters the last two seasons, making the Round of 15 each year by failing to advance beyond that despite ranking second all-time with 15,934 receiving yards.

Saturday's early story included perseverance; despite being one of the top collegiate centers in the country coming out of North Carolina in 1998, he was not selected in that year's NFL Draft.

You know, the Smith who played in the National Football League for six years for a variety of teams including the Super Bowl-winning Giants. He retired with 24 career interceptions, 1,180 total tackles, 6 forced fumbles and 5 sacks, but he made a name for himself as one of the best defensive enforcers of his era.

Of the 11 players ahead of James on the rushing charts, 10 have bronze busts in Canton, Ohio. He also was an All-Pro in 1988 before Buffalo's Super Bowl run, played in 206 games and appeared in another Super Bowl with the Falcons. The remaining five finalists will be voted on individually, "yes" or "no" and must receive the same 80 percent positive vote as the Seniors and Contributor Finalists to earn election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He spent most of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, but gave the Broncos three great seasons before hanging up his cleats following the 2011 season.

At the suggestion of former college roommate Nate Hobgood-Chittick, then-Colts general manager Bill Polian chose to give Saturday a tryout the following year. He'd been among the Modern Era nominees annually since becoming eligible for consideration. Manning is a lock to be a first-ballot inductee. "Doesn't it take five years for that?"

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