The Pro Football Hall of Fame has asked me to serve as one of 50 selectors that will vote to determine the Hall of Fame class of 2014 on Saturday.
I will serve as an alternate in place of former Miami Herald sports editor Edwin Pope, who is not present at this year's Super Bowl and wil not be at the meeting to determine which of the 17 finalists becomes part of the new class of inductees. Pope has been South Florida's representative to the Hall of Fame ever since I can remember.
A determination on a permanent South Florida rep will be made in the months following Super Bowl and I will be considered for that high honor. Regardless, I feel privileged to be among the few who have ever gone behind the so-called curtain to see and participate in the process of electing a HOF class.
There are 17 finalists whose HOF status will be decided Saturday.
K Morten Andersen: Played 25 seasons and was the most prolific scorer in NFL history when he retired. Was in seven Pro Bowls and at his retirement was first in games played, most points scored (2,544), most consecutive games scoring (360), most FGs attempted (709), most FGs made (565), most FGs of 50 or more yards in a career (40) and most FGs of 50 or more yards for a season (40).
RB Jerome Bettis: Played 13 seasons with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. Was chosen to six Por Bowls. Gained 13,662 yards over his career, which was fifth on the all-time list at the time of his retirement. Had eight 1,000-yard seasons. Averaged 3.9 yards per rush. Was comeback player of the year in 1995.
LB Derrick Brooks: Never missed a game during his 14-year career. Names NFL's defensive player of the year in 2002. Was Pro Bowl selection 11 times and All-Pro six times. Had three interception returns for TDs in 2002, second most ever for a season. Retired Tampa Bay's all-time leader in tackles for a career (2,196) and a game (23). Was part of the 2000s all-decade team. Was the Walter Payton man of the year in 2000.
WR Tim Brown: Played 17 seasons. Starting in 1993 Brown recorded nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He had 10 seasons of 75 or more catches. Was on the 1990s all decade team. Selected to the Pro Bowl nine times. Caught 1,094 passes for 14,934 yards with 100 TDs. Aslo had three punt return TDs and one KO return TD. Led the NFL in pass receiving in 1997 and kickoff returning in 1988.
Owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.: Purchased the San Francisco 49ers in 1977. Team went 2-14 two consecutive seasons before DeBartolo hired Bill Walsh in 1979. Walsh draft Joe Montana. San Francisco won the Super Bowl in 1982. Under DeBartolo team claimed 13 division titles, 16 playoff appearances, went to the NFC title game 10 times and won five Super Bowls, including in '84, '88, '89 and '94. Franchise had NFL's best winning percentage in the 1980s and 1990s.
Coach Tony Dungy: After serving as defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh and Minnesota he took over as head coach in Tampa. The Bucs had 12 double-digit loss seasons in previous 13 years but Dungy's team was 10-6 in his second year. Took Bucs to the playoffs four times in six seasons in Tampa. He then coached Indianapolis for seven years and won double-digit number of games every season. He won the Super Bowl XLI over Chicago. He was 139-69 in the regular season; was 9-10 in the postseason (2-4 with Tampa Bay).
LB Kevin Greene: Had double-digit sack seasons 10 times in a 15-year career. Won the NFL sack title twice, in 1994 and 1996. Was a member of the 1990 all decade team. Was selected to the Pro Bowl five times. Finished career with 160 sacks in 228 games.
P Ray Guy: First punter ever selected in the first round of the NFL draft when he was pick No. 23 in 1973. Played 14 seasons and averaged more than 40 yards per punt in 13 of his 14 seasons. Had 1,049 punts and had only three blocked. Led the NFL in punting three times and finished second three times. Was selected to seven Pro Bowls.
DE: Charles Haley: Only player in NFL history to win five Super Bowls. Led the 49ers in sacks in each of his first six seasons. Amassed 100.5 sacks in 169 games. Was named to five Pro Bowls. Had double-digit sack seasons six times.
WR Marvin Harrison: Caught 1,102 passes in 190 career games. Finished with 14,580 receiving yards and 128 TDs. Caugh 100 or more passes four consecutive seasons from 1999-2002. Was a member of the 2000s all decade team. Was selected to eight Pro Bowls. Led the NFL in receiving yards in 1999 and 2002 and led the NFL in catches in 2000 and 2002.
DE Claude Humphrey: Was NFL defensive rookie of the year in 1968. Credited with 122 career sacks in 171 career games (although the sack statistic did not become official until after he retired). Was selected to six Pro Bowls.
OT Walter Jones: Selected to nine Pro Bowls in 12 seasons. Part of the 2000s all decade team. Was an AP All Pro selection four times. Considered the best LT of his day.
S John Lynch: Selected to nine Pro Bowls in 15 seasons. Had 26 interceptions in 224 games. Also collected 13 sacks in his career. Finished with 973 tackles, third most in Tampa Bay history at the time of his retirement.
WR Andre Reed: Selected to the Pro Bowl seven times in a 15-year career. His 951 career catches was third in NFL history at the time of his retirement. Had 13 seasons with 50-plus receptions, exceeded only by Jerry Rice at the time of his retirement. Finished wtih 13,198 yards and 87 TDs in 234 games.
G Will Shields: Never missed a game during his 14-year career. Had a string of 12 consecutive Pro Bowl berths. Member of the 2000s all-decade team. Walter Man of the Year award in 2003.
DE Michael Strahan: Collected 141.5 sacks in 216 career games. Was selected to seven Pro Bowls. Won the sack titles in 2001 and 2003. Set the record for most sacks in a season with 22.5 in 2001. Selected to the 2000s all decade team.
CB Aeneas Williams: Played cornerback first 12 seasons of his career and moved to safety final two seasons. Was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times as a cornerback and once as a safety. Finished with 55 career interceptions in 211 games. Was second in NFL history, at the time of his retirement, with nine interceptions returned for touchdowns. Led the NFL in interceptions in 1991 and 1994.