The list is normally 25, but there was a tie for the final position, and all ties advance to the next round of voting, which will be conducted by mail, and announced in early January 2012. The final balloting will take place the day before Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 4, 2012. The results of the final balloting will be announced live that evening on NFL Network.
The 15 finalists will join the two Seniors Committee candidates: cornerback Jack Butler, Pittsburgh Steelers (1951-59) and guard Dick Stanfel, Detroit Lions (1952-55); Washington Redskins (1956-58).
Here are the 26 modern-era semifinalists, in alphabetical order:
Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets; 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; Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers;
Roger Craig, RB – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings; Terrell Davis, RB – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos; Dermontti Dawson, C – 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers; Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Owner – 1979-2000 San Francisco 49ers; Chris Doleman, DE/LB – 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers;
Kevin Greene, LB/DE – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers; Charles Haley, DE/LB – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys; Cortez Kennedy, DT – 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks; Curtis Martin, RB – 1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets; Clay Matthews, LB – 1978-1993 Cleveland Browns, 1994-96 Atlanta Falcons;
Karl Mecklenburg, LB – 1983-1994 Denver Broncos; Bill Parcells, Coach – 1983-1990 New York Giants, 1993-96 New England Patriots, 1997-99 New York Jets, 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys; Andre Reed, WR – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins; Willie Roaf, T – 1993-2001 New Orleans Saints, 2002-05 Kansas City Chiefs; Donnie Shell, S – 1974-1987 Pittsburgh Steelers;
Will Shields, G – 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs; Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League; Steve Tasker, ST/WR – 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills; Aeneas Williams, CB/S – 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams; Ron Wolf, Contributor – 1963-1974, 1978-1990 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1975-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1990 New York Jets, 1991 -2001 Green Bay Packers; George Young, Contributor – 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League.
PLAYOFF CLINCHING SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 12: For the first time this season, teams can qualify for the playoffs, as Green Bay and San Francisco could lock up two of the six available NFC spots.
Green Bay (10-0) clinches a playoff spot one of three ways:
A victory over Detroit, a Dallas loss or tie to Miami AND an Atlanta loss to Minnesota OR
A victory, Dallas loss or tie AND a New Orleans loss to the New York Giants OR
A victory, an Atlanta loss AND a New York Giants loss or tie.
San Francisco (9-1) clinches the NFC West title in two ways:
A victory over Baltimore AND a Seattle loss or tie to Washington OR
A tie AND a Seattle loss.
LEWIS APOLOGIZES TO MEDIA FOR NOT BEING AVAILABLE: Ravens LB Ray Lewis, who missed his first game since 2007 last Sunday in Baltimore’s victory over AFC North rival Cincinnati, declined to talk to the media, but did issue a statement through the Ravens media relations staff to the media in advance of the Thanksgiving night showdown in Baltimore between San Francisco and the Ravens:
“I apologize for not being available as I normally am on a day like today, but I am taking every opportunity to get treatment on my foot to prepare to play on Thursday. Anytime you see your team on the field, you always want to be out there with them. As the leader of your team, it doesn’t sit well with me to be on the sidelines. But I was the biggest cheerleader out there on Sunday, and I was truly proud of the way we played as a team. I am doing everything in my power to get back as fast as I can, whether that’s this week, next week or whenever it is, I am doing everything I can to be out there with my team. I want to play Thursday night, and I am making some progress.”
BACKS IMPORTANT IN PASSING GAME: According to the NFL, running backs have continued to become more essential in teams’ passing games. The leader. by percentage of team receiving yards, is Chicago’s Matt Forte, who has accounted for 20.1 percent of the Bears’ total. He is followed by Baltimore’s Ray Rice (19.9%), Buffalo’s Fred Jackson (19.3%), Houston’s Arian Foster (18.0%) and New Orleans’ Darren Sproles (13.5%).
Rice has the most first-down receptions among RBs with 24, just ahead of Sproles (22) and San Diego’s Mike Tolbert (21).
PRO BOWL VOTING LEADERS: One note from last week, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the early Pro Bowl balloting being conducted on NFL.com. Rodgers had 589,801 votes as of Nov. 16, ahead of New England QB Tom Brady (537,780), Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson (487,547), Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson (469,117) and New England WR Wes Welker (430,945).
Balloting will conclude on Decemeber 19 after the Monday Night Football game, and the squads will be announced on NFL Network on Tuesday, December 27.
Last year, a total of 28 of the 84 players originally announced in late December did not take part in the Pro Bowl. Eighteen non-Super Bowl roster players originally selected did not play — 17 due to injury and one for personal reasons. Another 10 players — four Steelers and six Packers — were selected for the squad, but came off the rosters once their teams qualified for Super Bowl XLV. Two of those — Pittsburgh DE Brett Keisel and Green Bay CB Tramon Williams — were alternates who were added to the Pro Bowl rosters during January prior to the conference title games.
BROADCAST NOTES: NBC said the Sunday Night Football game between Philadelphia and the New York Giants posted a 14.0 overnight rating and 22 share. According to the network, the rating was down from last year’s Week 11 game, which was New York Giants-Philadelphia (15.9/24).
HBO Sports and NFL Films announced a documentary on legendary New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath. Namath will debut Saturday, Jan. 28 from 8-9 pm ET on HBO, the night before the AFC and NFC Championship Games.
NFL Network will debut a one-hour look inside Thursday night’s game between San Francisco and Baltimore this Saturday at 8 pm ET: Sound FX: Thursday Night Football Special Edition 49ers vs. Ravens, The “all-sound” cut down version will offer a unique look into the first-ever meeting between NFL head coaching brothers, featuring more than a dozen players and coaches wired for sound throughout the game.