The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its finalists for the class of 2018 on Tuesday, and the list is stacked.
Randy Moss and Ray Lewis highlight the group of first-time nominees, while Terrell Owens returns from a pair of controversial snubs. Brian Urlacher joins Lewis and Moss as finalists looking to make the Hall of Fame on their first ballot.
Lewis and Moss look like shoo-ins, while Urlacher is a strong candidate.
Then again, Owens, now in his third year of eligibility, looked like a no-brainer first-ballot Hall of Famer only to be turned down twice already despite ranking in the top three all-time in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
Owens’ brash attitude and reputation for being a less-than-ideal teammate appeared to override his undeniable production on the field. His will be the most-closely scrutinized candidacy.
His history raises questions for Lewis and Moss as well. Both are easily first-ballot honorees based on their production and contributions to the game. Will Lewis’ association with a 2000 murder have an impact on his candidacy? What about Moss’ reputation as a locker-room problem and 2002 arrest after being accused of hitting a traffic officer with his car?
It will be interesting to watch play out.
The complete list of modern-era finalists is below:
LB Ray Lewis: 1996-2012, Baltimore Ravens
WR Randy Moss: 1998-2012, Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers
WR Terrell Owens: 1996-2010, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals
LB Brian Urlacher: 2000-2012, Chicago Bears
RB Edgerrin James: 1999-2009, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks
WR Isaac Bruce: 1994-2009, Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers
S John Lynch: 1993-2007, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos
S Brian Dawkins: 1996-2011, Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos
CB Everson Walls: 1981-93, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns
CB Ty Law: 1995-2009, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos
T Tony Boselli: 1995-2001, Jacksonville Jaguars
C Kevin Mawae: 1994-2009, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans
T Joe Jacoby: 1981-1993, Washington Redskins
G Steve Hutchinson: 2001-12 Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans
G Alan Faneca: 1998-2010, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals