Craig, Coughlin, Shanahan advance in HOF consideration

Published 8:13 pm Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Associated Press

Versatile running back Roger Craig, and two-time Super Bowl-winning coaches Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan advanced to the next stage of consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The selection committees cut down the list of candidates from 31 seniors and 29 coaches and contributors to 12 in each category in results announced Thursday.

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The 12-person committees for each group will meet next month to pick up to three senior candidates among players who last played no later 1998, and one coach and contributor. The finalists will be part of the Hall’s class of 2024 if they are supported by at least 80% of voters next January.

Craig was a key part of San Francisco’s dynasty in the 1980s with his ability as a physical runner and as a receiver out of the backfield. Craig was the first player ever to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season in 1985, and led the NFL with 2,036 yards from scrimmage in 1988 when he helped the 49ers win the Super Bowl.

Craig was also part of the title-winning teams in San Francisco in the 1984 and 1989 seasons. His 410 yards from scrimmage in those Super Bowl wins are the third- most ever behind only Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Franco Harris.

Among the other senior candidates are former league MVP Ken Anderson, 1978 Defensive Player of the Year Randy Gradishar and AFL star receivers Otis Taylor and Art Powell.

The other remaining semifinalists are Maxie Baughan, Joe Jacoby, Albert Lewis, Steve McMichael, Eddie Meador, Sterling Sharpe and Al Wistert.

Anderson was a four-time Pro Bowler for Cincinnati and won the MVP in 1981 when he helped the Bengals reach their first Super Bowl before losing to San Francisco. When Anderson retired after the 1986 season he ranked sixth all time with 32,838 yards passing and 13th with 197 TD passes.

Gradishar was a key part to Denver’s “Orange Crush” defense in the 1970s, making the Pro Bowl seven times in 10 seasons and being selected as an All-Pro in 1977 and ’78.

Taylor and Powell were among the top receivers in the pass-happy AFL. Powell’s 81 touchdowns rank second best in AFL history behind Don Maynard, and his 8,015 yards receiving were third behind only Maynard and Hall of Famer Lance Alworth.

Taylor, who died in March at age 80, was an All-Pro twice and led the AFL in TD catches in 1967 and the NFL in yards receiving in 1971.

Shanahan won back-to-back titles for Denver in the 1997 and ’98 seasons and Coughlin won two championships with the Giants in the 2007 and 2011 seasons to earn advancement to the next stage.

Of the 14 coaches to win multiple Super Bowls, nine are in the Hall of Fame, two more are active, with Shanahan, Coughlin and George Seifert the only ones not to get into the Hall.

Mike Holmgren, who won a Super Bowl for Green Bay in the 1996 season and lost two more trips with the Packers and Seahawks, also advanced.

The other semifinalists in the coach and contributor category are Frank “Bucko” Kilroy, Robert Kraft, Buddy Parker, Dan Reeves, Art Rooney Jr., Marty Schottenheimer, Clark Shaughnessy, Lloyd Wells and John Wooten.

The Class of 2024 will be formally enshrined next summer in Canton, Ohio.