From the Colonel's point of view, the voting members for the Pro Football Hall of Fame have another opportunity to get is right.
The Colonel, Richard Dent, did one thing right when he was a member of the Bears--rush the passer--and he made the cut Tuesday to the final 17 candidates for enshrinement this year. Dent is the MVP of Super Bowl XX and is the franchise's all-time sacks leader with 124 1/2. He had a team record 17 1/2 in 1984 and then notched 17 the next season en route to the franchise's only Super Bowl victory.
This marks the fifth time in the last six years that Dent has made the final group for consideration on Jan. 31, the day before Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Fla., when voting will take place and the Class of '09 will be announced. There are four first-time players on the ballot: Bruce Smith, John Randle, Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson. The other modern players are: Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, Russ Grimm, Cortez Kennedy, Bob Kuechenberg, Randall McDaniel, Andre Reed and Derrick Thomas. Also on the ballot will be two contributors, Paul Tagliabue and Buffalo Bills founder/owner Ralph Wilson Jr.), and Senior Committee nominees, Bob Hayes and Claude Humphrey.
Dent made the initial cut to 10 during voting last season but couldn't break through, and two pass rushers did gain entry--Fred Dean and Andre Tippett. It's impossible to forecast how the voting will go, but Smith is considered a top candidate and is also a defensive end. Whether or not that could bring attention to Dent's credentials, take away from his candidacy or have no impact is unknown. McDaniel is considered a strong candidate too. He was elected to 12 consecutive Pro Bowls.