CANTON, OHIO – Former Pittsburgh Steelers stars Jerome Bettis and Kevin Greene were among the 27 semifinalists announced Friday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2013 class.
This is the third time in three years that Bettis, the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher all-time, has made the semifinals.
Bettis began his career in 1993 with the Los Angeles Rams before being traded to the Steelers in 1996.
He retired following the team’s Super Bowl win following the 2005 season.
Greene, a six-time semifinalist, also began his career with the Rams before joining the Steelers as a free agent in 1993.
He spent three seasons with the Steelers, leaving in 1996 as a free agent following the team’s loss in Super Bowl XXX to Dallas. Greene finished his career with 160 sacks.
First-time candidates John Lynch, Michael Strahan and Jonathan Ogden were also among 27 semifinalists.
Joining Lynch, Strahan and Ogden among first-year eligible players are Morten Andersen, Larry Allen and Warren Sapp.
Lynch was a star safety for Tampa Bay and Denver over 15 seasons and was considered one of the hardest hitters in the game, as well as a strong coverage defender.
Strahan retired after the Giants won the Super Bowl following the 2007 season with 141 1-2 sacks, including a league-record 22 1-2 in 2001. He was the Defensive Player of the Year in `01 and played 15 seasons for New York.
Ogden was a fixture at left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens from 1996-2007, making the Pro Bowl in all but his rookie season.
Andersen retired in `07 as the NFL’s career scoring leader with 2,544 points. He spent a quarter-century in the league with five teams: New Orleans, Atlanta twice, the Giants, Kansas City and Minnesota.
Only one placekicker, Jan Stenerud, is in the hall.
Allen was a Pro Bowler in 11 of his 14 seasons (12 with Dallas, two with San Francisco), playing both tackle and guard.
Sapp spent nine seasons with Tampa Bay and four with Oakland, making the Pro Bowl seven times, including 1999, when he was Defensive Player of the Year..
Also among those making the cut to 27 are former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Cris Carter and Charles Haley. Senior committee nominees Curley Culp and Dave Robinson automatically make the semifinals and don’t count in the 27.
The field will be reduced to 15 modern era finalists and the two senior nominees in early January. Voting for the inductees will take place Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl, in New Orleans.
Inductions will be Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.