Elway, Barry Sanders highlight semifinalists for Hall of Fame

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Canton, OH (Sports Network) - Running back Barry Sanders and quarterback John Elway, both first-year eligible candidates, head the list of 25 semifinalists for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2004. Elway played his entire career with the Denver , capturing Super Bowl championships in his final two seasons. Meanwhile, Sanders spent all of his career with the Detroit and currently sits third on the all-time rushing list with 15,269 yards.

The other semifinalists announced Wednesday were wide receivers Cliff Branch, Art Monk and Steve Tasker; quarterback Ken Stabler; defensive ends Richard Dent, Carl Eller, L.C. Greenwood, Claude Humphrey and Jim Marshall; linebacker Randy Gradishar; guards Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg; safeties Cliff Harris and Donnie Shell; cornerbacks Lester Hayes and Roger Wehrli; tackles Rayfield Wright and Gary Zimmerman; punter Ray Guy; and team owners Art Modell (Browns, ) and Ralph Wilson Jr. (Bills).

The next step reduces the number of semifinal candidates to 15 finalists, of which three to six members will be selected for the Class of 2004.

Former New York linebacker Harry Carson and team and league executive George Young are automatic finalists after finishing in the top six of the voting last year.

A player needs to be retired for at least five years to be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration. Non-players have no mandatory retirement period, but coaches must be done working before becoming eligible.

After a 2003 class of running back Marcus Allen, defensive end Elvin Bethea, guard Joe DeLamielleure, wide receiver James Lofton and coach Hank Stram, there are currently 221 members of the Hall of Fame.

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