In his first year of eligibility for Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration, former Dolphins defender Jason Taylor had until now simply watched from afar and enjoyed the selection process.
Taylor, who played 15 NFL seasons and 13 of them with the Dolphins, got a kick when his name was among the initial 94 or so nominees. He appreciated that he made the cut to 26 in October. But on Tuesday when he advanced through yet another round of voting to become one of 15 modern era finalists, well, that one really touched Taylor.
“I am a firm believer that, with any type of award or recognition, you leave your body of work out on the field and let the chips fall where they may, which is why I’ve kind of kept an arm’s length distance throughout this entire process,” Taylor said Tuesday. “It’s been fun to watch from afar with my kids, appreciate the incredibly accomplished list of players and coaches who I’m honored to be included amongst, and share stories about the guys who I played with and against.
“With all of that being said, finding out today that I’ve been named a finalist is truly humbling.”
The 15 modern-era finalists will be considered for election to the Hall of Fame on Feb. 4 when the Hall’s selection committee meets in Houston on the day before Super Bowl LI to elect a new class.
(I am a member of the Hall’s selection committee, which includes 46 journalists from around the country and two former players — Dan Fouts and James Lofton — who are already in the Hall of Fame).
Taylor is one of three first-year eligible nominees, including running back LaDainian Tomlinson and safety Brian Dawkins — and one of seven players who are finalists for the first time.
The complete list of modern era finalists in alphabetical order:
▪ Kicker Morten Andersen – 1982-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000, 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings.
▪ Offensive tackle Tony Boselli – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars.
▪ Wide receiver Isaac Bruce – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers.
▪ Coach Don Coryell – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers.
▪ Running back Terrell Davis – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos.
▪ Safety Brian Dawkins – 1996-2008 Philadelphia Eagles, 2009-2011 Denver Broncos.
▪ Guard Alan Faneca – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals.
▪ Offensive tackle Joe Jacoby – 1981-1993 Washington Redskins.
▪ Cornerback Ty Law – 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005, 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos.
▪ Safety John Lynch – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos.
▪ Center Kevin Mawae – 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans.
▪ Wide receiver Terrell Owens – 1996-2003 San Francisco 49ers, 2004-05 Philadelphia Eagles, 2006-08 Dallas Cowboys, 2009 Buffalo Bills, 2010 Cincinnati Bengals.
▪ Defensive end/outside linebacker Jason Taylor – 1997-2007, 2009, 2011 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Washington Redskins, 2010 New York Jets.
▪ Running back LaDainian Tomlinson – 2001-09 San Diego Chargers, 2010-11 New York Jets.
▪ Quarterback Kurt Warner – 1998-2003 St. Louis Rams, 2004 New York Giants, 2005-09 Arizona Cardinals.
The 15 modern-era finalists join three other finalists to comprise 18 under consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2017 class.
A Senior Finalist — former Seattle safety Kenny Easley — was announced in August 2016 by the seniors committee that reviews the qualifications of those players whose careers ended more than 25 years ago.
Two Contributor Finalists — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue — were also selected in August by the Hall of Fame’s contributor committee that considers persons who made outstanding contributions to professional football other than players and coaches.
To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent during the annual selection meeting.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero