Former National Football League running backs Curtis Martin, Jerome Bettis and Marshall Faulk are among 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
The Hall of Fame’s selection committee chose the finalists for the Class of 2011 from a group of 26 semifinalists. Deion Sanders, who played 17 NFL seasons as a cornerback and kick returner, was also selected as a finalist in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility.
The 2011 Hall of Fame class, which will include four to seven new members, will be determined Feb. 5, the day before the Super Bowl. To be elected, the 15 modern-era finalists and two senior nominees need to receive 80 percent of the vote from the Hall of Fame’s 44-member selection committee.
Martin, 37, ranks fourth in NFL history with 14,101 rushing yards, trailing only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame.
Martin spent eight of his 11 seasons with the New York Jets and retired in 2005.
Bettis, 38, is the league’s fifth-leading rusher with 13,662 yards and won a Super Bowl title with the Pittsburgh Steelers during his last NFL season in 2005. He played 10 of his 13 seasons in Pittsburgh.
Faulk, 37, won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2000 and his 136 touchdowns are seventh-most in league history. He rushed for 12,279 yards in 12 seasons and won a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams after the 1999 season.
Former defensive lineman Chris Doleman and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol -- both of whom were previously eligible -- are also finalists for the first time.
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 Finalists ========================= Jerome Bettis, RB Tim Brown, WR/KR Cris Carter, WR Dermontti Dawson, C Richard Dent, DE Chris Doleman, DE/LB Marshall Faulk, RB Charles Haley, DE/LB #Chris Hanburger, LB Cortez Kennedy, DT Curtis Martin, RB Andre Reed, WR #Les Richter, LB Willie Roaf, T Ed Sabol, Contributor Deion Sanders, CB/KR/PR Shannon Sharpe, TE
#Senior committee nominees