Three former Miami Dolphins players, including linebacker Zach Thomas, plus former coach Jimmy Johnson are among the 113 modern-era candidates nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Thomas, who played with the Dolphins from from 1996-07 and was the team's leading tackler 10 seasons, was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was a first-team All Pro selection five times. Thomas finished his career with 1,100 tackles, 20.5 sacks and 17 interceptions.
Thomas is joined on the list of nominated players by former Dolphins cornerback Troy Vincent and fellow linebacker Junior Seau.
Seau, a first-year eligible candidate, played with the Dolphins from 2003-05 and is most recognized for his outstanding career with the San Diego Chargers before coming to Miami. Vincent was selected by the Dolphins in the first round of the 1992 draft. He played only four of his 15 NFL seasons with the Dolphins before he went to Philadelphia as a free agent.
Vincent nonetheless collected 14 of his 47 career interceptions with Miami.
Johnson is best known for his days with the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-93. His Dallas teams won two Super Bowls under Johnson and the team he helped put together went back and won the Super Bowl in 1995 under Barry Switzer.
In Miami from 1996 through January of 2000, Johnson didn't experience that height of success. He was 36-28 (.563 winning percentage) with the Dolphins in the regular season and 2-3 in the playoffs. He did, however, take the Dolphins to the playoffs in three of his four seasons.
Johnson was also the architect of the Miami teams that gained postseason berths into the early 2000s. As the coach and general manager in Miami, Johnson was responsible for drafting Thomas in the fifth round, and Patrick Surtain and Sam Madison in the second round.
Johnson's best pick, however, was defensive end Jason Taylor who was picked in the third round of the 1997 draft.
Johnson's career coaching record is 80-64 (.556 winning percentage).
The complete list of modern-era candidates for the Class of 2015 consists of 113 nominees. From that list, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee -- of which I am a member -- will choose 25 candidates who will advance as semifinalist nominees that will be announced in late November. That semifinalist list will be further reduced by a mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists and announced in early January.
The Class of 2015 will be selected from the list of the 15 modern-era finalists plus the one senior finalist (former Minnesota Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff) selected last month by the Hall of Fame’s Senior Selection Committee, and two yet-to-be-determined Contributor finalists who will be selected by the Hall of Fame’s Contributor Selection Committee.
The senior finalist and contributor finalists will be voted yes or no for election at the Annual Selection Meeting. Like the modern-era finalists, the senior and contributor nominees must receive an 80 percent positive vote to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
The actual voting for the Class of 2015 will be conducted at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee’s annual meeting, which will be held in Arizona on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 the day before Super Bowl 49.
The complete list of modern-era nominees for the Class of 2015:
Quarterbacks: (4) – Randall Cunningham, Rich Gannon, Phil Simms, Kurt Warner.
Wide Receivers: (9) – *Tim Brown (also KR), Isaac Bruce, Gary Clark, Henry Ellard (also PR), *Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Sterling Sharpe, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith.
Tight End: (1) – Mark Bavaro
Running Backs: (14) – Ottis Anderson, Shaun Alexander, Tiki Barber, *Jerome Bettis, Roger Craig, Stephen Davis, Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Edgerrin James, Daryl Johnston, Jamal Lewis, Herschel Walker (also KR), Ricky Watters.
Offensive Linemen: (23) – Willie Anderson (T), Tony Boselli (T), Jeff Bostic (C), Lomas Brown (T), Jim Covert (T), Bill Fralic (G/T), Jay Hilgenberg (C), Chris Hinton (G/T), Kent Hull (C), Joe Jacoby (T), Jon Jansen (T), Mike Kenn (T), Jim Lachey (T), Kevin Mawae (C/G), Mark May (G/T/C),Tom Nalen (C), Nate Newton (G), Orlando Pace (T), Chris Samuels (T), Mark Schlereth (G), *Will Shields (G), Tra Thomas (T), Steve Wisniewski (G).
Defensive Linemen: (12) – Al “Bubba” Baker (DE), Jerome Brown (DT), Carl Hairston (DE/DT), *Charles Haley (also LB), Jevon Kearse (DE), Dexter Manley (DE), Charles Mann (DE), Steve McMichael (DT/NT), Fred Smerlas (NT), Greg Townsend (DE), Ted Washington (DT/NT), Bryant Young (DE).
Linebackers: (13) – Zach Thomas, Cornelius Bennett, Tedy Bruschi, *Kevin Greene (also DE), Ken Harvey, Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest (also DE), Karl Mecklenburg, Matt Millen, Sam Mills, Junior Seau, Chris Spielman, Darryl Talley.
Defensive Backs: (16) – Eric Allen (CB), Steve Atwater (S), Joey Browner (S), LeRoy Butler (S), Thomas Everett (S), Rodney Harrison (S), Ty Law (CB), Albert Lewis (CB), *John Lynch (S), Terry McDaniel (CB), Tim McDonald (S), Frank Minnifield (CB), Shawn Springs (CB), Troy Vincent (CB/S), Everson Walls (CB), Darren Woodson (S).
Kickers/Punters: (5) – *Morten Andersen (K), Gary Anderson (K), Jason Elam (K), Sean Landeta (P), Nick Lowery (K).
Special Teams/Position Players: (2) – Brian Mitchell (RB/PR/KR), Steve Tasker (also WR).
Coaches: (14) – Jimmy Johnson, Don Coryell, Bill Cowher, *Tony Dungy, Tom Flores, Mike Holmgren, Chuck Knox, Buddy Parker, Richie Petitbon, Dan Reeves, Lou Saban, Marty Schottenheimer, Clark Shaughnessy, Dick Vermeil.
* Denotes 2013 finalist. First-year eligible candidates in italics.