Former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf and wide receiver Sterling Sharpe are among the primary nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2004.
Wednesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame released a list of 67 former players, coaches and contributors who make up the primary list for election for next year's class.
From that list only 23 will be selected as semifinalists, as former New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson and league executive George Young are automatic finalists, having finished in the top six in the voting for 2003.
Wolf, who retired from his GM position in 2000, spent his nine seasons in Green Bay rebuilding the Packers back to championship status.
Among his many contributions, Wolf hired head coach Mike Holmgren, traded for quarterback Brett Favre and signed defensive end Reggie White, putting in place the key components that led two Super Bowl appearances and one championship title.
Sharpe is the Packers' all-time receptions leader with 595 catches over his seven-year NFL career (1988-94). In 1993 broke he his own team record with a 112-catch season.
His 103 consecutive games with a reception are the most in team history -- 43 ahead of second-place Edgar Bennett's 60.
Wolf and Sharpe will learn if they're among the 25 semifinalists in November.
From there the list of nominees will be pared down to 13 modern-era candidates -- including Carson and Young -- with Senior Committee nominees Bob Brown and Bob Hayes already having been named to the final 15.
Voting for the 2004 class will be conducted January, 31, 2004, in Houston, Texas, at the Selection Committee's annual meeting on the eve of the Super Bowl.
There is no set number of enshrinees, but ground rules suggest that three to six new members will be selected annually (prior to 2004, rules stipulated four to seven new members would be selected).
To be considered for Hall of Fame election, a nominated player must have been retired at least five years. There is no mandatory retirement period for a non-player, however a contributor can be nominated while still active in his NFL career, while a coach must be retired.
PRELIMINARY LIST OF NOMINEES FOR THE CLASS OF 2004
Nominees in First Year of Eligibility
Quarterback: John Elway
Running Back: Barry Sanders
Wide Receiver: Henry Ellard
Defensive Back: Albert Lewis
Additional Nominees For the Class of 2004
Quarterbacks: Ken Anderson, Jim Plunkett, Phil Simms, *Ken Stabler
Running Backs: Roger Craig, Herschel Walker
Wide Receivers: Cliff Branch, *Art Monk, Drew Pearson, Sterling Sharpe, Wesley Walker
Tight End: Todd Christensen
Centers: Ray Donaldson, Kent Hull, Rich Saul, Jeff Van Note
Guards: Russ Grimm, Chris Hinton (also T), *Bob Kuenchenberg
Tackles: Leon Gray, Joe Jacoby, Mike Kenn, Rayfield Wright, *Gary Zimmerman
Defensive Linemen: Fred Dean (DE), Richard Dent (DE), Carl Eller (DE), Mark Gastineau (DE),
L.C. Greenwood (DE), *Claude Humphrey (DE), Ed "Too Tall" Jones (DE), Joe Klecko (DE-DT-NT), Jim Marshall (DE), Harvey Martin (DE)
Linebackers: Matt Blair, **Harry Carson, *Randy Gradishar, Rickey Jackson, Clay Matthews, Karl Mecklenburg, Chris Spielman, Darryl Talley, Andre Tippett
Defensive Backs: Cliff Harris (S), *Lester Hayes (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), Ken Riley (CB), Donnie Shell (S), Mike Wagner (S), Roger Wehrli (CB)
Special Teams/Position Players: Elbert Shelley (DB), Steve Tasker (WR)
Punter/Kicker: Ray Guy (P), Nick Lowery (K)
Coaches: Don Coryell, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Knox
Contributors: Ed DeBartolo, Jr., Art McNally, Art Modell, Paul Tagliabue, Ralph Wilson, Jr., Ron Wolf, *George Young
- On last year's 15 Finalists List
** Automatically on the 15 Finalists List for 2004