Bill Parcells moved one step closer to Canton on Saturday when the Pro Football Hall of Fame released a list of 15 modern-era finalists for enshrinement that included the Super Bowl-winning coach.
Wide receivers Tim Brown, Cris Carter and Andre Reed, running backs Jerome Bettis and Curtis Martin and former Kansas City Chiefs guard Will Shields also made the cut when the 26 semifinalists were pared down through a mail ballot. The final list of candidates also includes two senior nominees: former Steelers defensive back Jack Butler and former Lions guard Dick Stanfel.
The Hall's selection committee meets in Indianapolis next month. A finalist must receive 80 per cent of the vote to be selected.
Between four and seven enshrinees will be announced the day before the Super Bowl on Feb. 5, and inducted in August in the Hall's 50th class.
Parcells and Shields were the only two candidates to make the list of finalists in their first year of eligibility. The notable exclusions from the semifinal list include former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, ex-Chargers coach Don Coryell and running backs Roger Craig and Terrell Davis.
Parcells is considered a first-year candidate under new requirements that were put in place in 2008, after he had been a nominee in 2001 and 2002. The new rule makes it mandatory for coaches, like players, to be retired for five consecutive seasons. Before that, coaches were eligible immediately upon retirement.
Parcells won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants in 1987 and 1991, then coached the Patriots and Jets before retiring in 1999. He returned to coach the Cowboys in 2003.
Martin ranks fourth with 14,101 yards with the Patriots and Jets from 1995-2005. Bettis ranks sixth on the NFL rushing list with 13,662 yards in 13 seasons, three for the Rams and a decade with the Steelers, with whom he won the 2006 Super Bowl in his final game
Other finalists include DB Aeneas Williams, DEs/LBs Chris Doleman, Kevin Greene and Charles Haley, DT Cortez Kennedy, C Dermontti Dawson, offensive tackle Willie Roaf and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo, Jr.