Former Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor and former coach Jimmy Johnson are among 26 semifinalists selected Thursday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2017.
Both men with Dolphins ties survived a cut from 94 Hall of Fame nominees in a balloting of nationwide Hall of Fame selectors. Running back Edgerrin James, who played at the University of Miami before going on to star seven seasons in the NFL, primarily with the Indianapolis Colts, also is a semifinalist with South Florida ties.
Taylor is in his first year eligible for Hall induction. He joins Brian Dawkins, LaDainian Tomlinson and Hines Ward as first-year eligible players making the cut to 26. Former Colts guard-tackle Chris Hinton is also a semifinalist for the first time but he’s been eligible for some time.
All other individuals on the 2017 semifinalist list have been semifinalists in the past, including Johnson — who coached both the Cowboys, where he won two Super Bowls, as well as the Dolphins.
“The list of guys nominated months ago was just so impressive, and to even be in that conversation is an honor, let alone to make it this far,” Taylor said Wednesday. “I have tremendous respect and admiration for all of those guys, and certainly the ones still being considered. Somebody’s going to have some very difficult decisions to make.”
The selectors will trim the list of 26 to 15 Modern-Era finalists in January. That list will be augmented by three recommended nominees from the Hall of Fame’s Contributors and Seniors committees.
The 2017 Senior Finalist is former Seattle safety Kenny Easley. The Contributor Finalists are Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
The 2017 Hall of Fame class will be chosen and announced on Super Bowl eve.
Taylor played 15 years in the NFL. He earned six Pro Bowl berths, was All-Pro three times and the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2006. He is a member of the 2000s All-Decade team.
He led the NFL in sacks the first decade of this millennium (2000-2009) with 111 sacks. That is 21 sacks more than the second-best player of his time.
His 139.5 career sacks ranks sixth highest in NFL history and is more than several players already in the Hall. The total also represents the most by any player not yet in the Hall of Fame.
Taylor is also the NFL’s all-time leader in fumble return touchdowns with six. And he is the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdowns by a defensive lineman with nine.
Johnson was a finalist last year. He has been a semifinalist four times. He compiled a career record of 80-64 (.556 winning percentage).
Obviously his work in Dallas from 1989-1993 was more impressive because he won two Super Bowls and had a 7-1 postseason record. But during his four years with the Dolphins, Johnson surprisingly compiled a better regular-season record than he did in Dallas.
Johnson was 36-28 with the Dolphins in four years — a .563 winning percentage. His regular-season record in Dallas was 44-36 in five seasons — a .550 winning percentage.
Normally the cut to semifinalists goes to 25 but this year there was a tie for the last spot and the Hall carries over all ties.
The full list of 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalists:
Morten Andersen, K – 1982-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000, 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2013-17).
Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2012-17).
Tony Boselli, T – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve) | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2016-17).
Isaac Bruce, WR – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17).
Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers |(Times as a Semifinalist: 9 – 2005, 2010-17).
Roger Craig, RB – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings | (Times as a Semifinalist: 9 – 2009-17).
Terrell Davis, RB – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 11 –
Brian Dawkins, S, 1996-2008 Philadelphia Eagles, 2009-2011 Denver Broncos |(Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2017).
Alan Faneca, G – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010.
Arizona Cardinals | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2016-17).
Chris Hinton, G/T – 1983-89 Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts, 1990-93 Atlanta Falcons, 1994-95 Minnesota Vikings | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2017).
Torry Holt, WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17).
Joe Jacoby, T – 1981-1993 Washington Redskins | (Times as a Semifinalist: 7 – 2005, 2008, 2013-17).
Edgerrin James, RB – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17).
Jimmy Johnson, Coach – 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins |(Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2014-17).
Mike Kenn, T – 1978-1994 Atlanta Falcons | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17).
Ty Law, CB – 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005, 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17).
John Lynch, FS – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos |(Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2013-17).
Clay Matthews, LB – 1978-1993 Cleveland Browns, 1994-96 Atlanta Falcons |(Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2012, 2017).
Kevin Mawae, C/G – 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17).
Karl Mecklenburg, LB – 1983-1994 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2012-17).
Terrell Owens, WR – 1996-2003 San Francisco 49ers, 2004-05 Philadelphia Eagles, 2006-08 Dallas Cowboys, 2009 Buffalo Bills, 2010 Cincinnati Bengals | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2016-17).
Jason Taylor, DE – 1997-2007, 2009, 2011 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Washington Redskins, 2010 New York Jets | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2017).
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB – 2001-09 San Diego Chargers, 2010-11 New York Jets| (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2017).
Hines Ward, WR – 1998-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 –2017).
Kurt Warner, QB – 1998-2003 St. Louis Rams, 2004 New York Giants, 2005 Arizona Cardinals | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17).
Darren Woodson, S – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2015, 2017).