There are still a few more hurdles to clear, but running back Curtis Martin and head coach Bill Parcells are two with Jets connections who find themselves among the 15 modern-era finalists and two seniors-committee nominees announced today. Those 17 men will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame when the Hall's selection committee deliberates in Indianapolis on Saturday, Feb. 4.
Martin, the Jets' storied tailback from when he arrived in 1998 through 2005, will be making his second attempt to gain entry into the hallowed halls of Canton, Ohio. A year ago, in his first year of eligibility for the HOF, Martin made a run all the way to the "final 10" finalists but didn't make it into the top five for the final up-or-down vote into the Hall for the modern-era players.
Parcells, the Jets head coach from 1997-99 and general manager in 2000, is technically considered a first-year-eligible nominee. However, he's been a finalist twice before, in '01 and '02, following his announced retirement as Jets coach after the '99 season. At that time the HOF bylaws didn't require a coach to be retired for the now mandatory five seasons. Parcells returned to coach the Cowboys in '03 and the five-year waiting period was in effect when he retired from the 'Pokes in '06.
Today's announcement was the next stage in the process for inclusion in pro football's pantheon. What's next for Curt and the Tuna, who brought Martin to the Jets as a restricted free agent after the '97 season? The 44-person selection committee will meet in Indy the day before Super Bowl XLVI to select the Class of 2012.
At the meeting, which lasts all morning (last year it even went on into the late afternoon), the list of 15 modern-era nominees will be whittled first from 15 to 10, then to five names. Those five finalists will then be voted on individually (yes or no) for membership.
As many as all five modern-era finalists and the two seniors nominees can be inducted in any one class. The Class of '12 will be revealed at 5:30 p.m. ET during a one-hour NFL Network special live from the Super Bowl Media Center in Indianapolis.
For more on this year's list of finalists and other stories on this year's class, you can go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Website here. And check in with us for more info on the candidacies of Martin and Parcells here at newyorkjets.com.