The NFL announced the finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009, and Shannon Sharpe is among them.
There were 133 eligible candidates — players, coaches and contributors — at the beginning of the process, and Sharpe was only one of a handful of players in their first year of eligibility to be selected as one of the 25 semifinalists.
Former Bronco Terrell Davis was also one of the 25 semifinalists, though the Hall of Fame selectors only voted Sharpe through to the final 15.
Sharpe played 12 seasons in Orange and Blue and two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens during a playing career that spanned from 1990 to 2003.
In that time, he played his way to become one of the most prolific tight ends in NFL history. He caught 815 passes for 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns. When he retired, he was the all-time leader among tight ends in all three categories.
There are 17 finalists — two players were nominated earlier by the Hall of Fame’s Senior Committee. They are as follows: WR Cris Carter, C Dermontti Dawson, DE Richard Dent, G Russ Grimm, WR Bob Hayes, DE Claude Humphrey, DT Cortez Kennedy, G Bob Kuechenberg, G Randall McDaniel, DT John Randle, WR Andre Reed, Sharpe, DE Bruce Smith, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, LB Derrick Thomas, Buffalo Bills Founder/Owner Ralph Wilson and CB/S Rod Woodson.
There’s no set number of inductees that will actually make it to Canton, but the Hall of Fame’s ground rules state that each class will be composed of four to seven members.
To be elected into the Hall of Fame, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.
The Class of 2009 will be determined at the Selection Committee’s annual meeting on Saturday, January 31, 2009, in Tampa, Florida — the day before Super Bowl XLIII. The election results are announced immediately following the meeting at a press conference at the Super Bowl media headquarters.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com