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Hickerson, Sanders selected as HOF finalists

CANTON, Ohio (Aug. 23, 2006) -- Gene Hickerson, who blocked for three Hall of Fame running backs with the Cleveland Browns during his NFL career, and Detroit Lions tight end Charlie Sanders have been selected as senior committee finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hickerson and Sanders were picked from a group of 17 candidates for possible election in the Hall's 2007 class.

They will be among 15 finalists voted on by the Hall's 39-member selection board on Feb. 3, 2007, the day before the Super Bowl. Three to six members will be enshrined next summer.

The senior nominees last year were John Madden and Rayfield Wright, both of whom made it on the final vote.

Hickerson played in 202 games from 1958-73 -- all with the Browns. Considered one of the finest pulling guards in league history, the six-time Pro Bowl selection blocked for Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly and Bobby Mitchell.

"He deserves it," said Brown, who ran for 12,312 yards behind Hickerson. "He was a great blocker on a great offensive line. I'm happy for him and I'm going to lobby for him to make the final."

Hickerson was a member of the league's All-Decade Team of the 1960s. If elected, he would be the 16th member of the Browns to be enshrined.

Sanders, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, caught 30 or more passes in a season seven times. Before retiring after the 1977 season as the Lions' career leader in receptions, he had 336 catches for 4,817 yards and 31 touchdowns.

"I look at the players that have gone in from my era, and I know I was at that level," Sanders said. "So I've always felt there was a chance."

He was also voted to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1970s.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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