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Marino, Young among 15 finalists for Hall of Fame

CANTON, Ohio (AP) _ Dan Marino and Steve Young set dozens of NFL passing records in the 1980s and '90s, some of which Peyton Manning is erasing now. Marino and Young soon might have something else in common: membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The two retired quarterbacks are among 15 finalists for the hall announced Tuesday. The class of 2005, which will have from three to six members, will be announced Feb. 5, the day before the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.

``It's an honor to get to this stage of the selection process and to be considered along with 14 other deserving candidates,'' Marino said in a statement released by CBS, where he is a commentator on its NFL pregame show.

``I've always said that election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame was the greatest individual achievement in the game and it would be one of the highlights of my career to join the sport's greatest players in Canton.''

Marino, who holds many of the NFL's career passing records, and Young, who led San Francisco to the 1995 Super Bowl title, are among four finalists who made the list in their first year of eligibility.

The others are Michael Irvin, a member of the Dallas teams that won three Super Bowls between 1992 and 1995, and the late Derrick Thomas, the Kansas City linebacker who died in 2000 after a car accident.

Marino completed 4,967 of 8,358 passes for 61,343 yards and 420 touchdowns from 1983-99 with the Miami Dolphins. He passed for 3,000 yards 13 times in a season, including six seasons in which he reached 4,000. The native of Pittsburgh, who played for the University of Pittsburgh, passed for 300 yards in a game 63 times and 400 yards 13 times.

He held the record of 48 touchdown passes in a season until Manning threw 49 this season for the Indianapolis Colts.

Young, one of the top-rated passers in NFL history, was the 1995 Super Bowl MVP after throwing six touchdown passes in the 49ers' 49-26 win over San Diego.

It's a huge honor to be considered with the names on this list, some of the all-time greats,'' Young said in a statement issued through ESPN, where he is an NFL analyst.I have always had enormous respect for the Hall of Fame and all it represents, and should this come to pass it would be the capstone to my athletic career.''

The left-handed Young threw for at least 3,000 yards in a season six times and had 20 or more touchdown passes in a season five times. Adept at avoiding onrushing defenders and scrambling for yardage, he rushed for 4,239 yards and 43 touchdowns.

His league record for passer rating in a season 112.8 in 1994 was also shattered this season by Manning, who finished at 121.1.

Two of the finalists had already been determined: senior nominees Fritz Pollard and Benny Friedman.

Pollard, who played in the 1920s, was the first black coach of an NFL team. Friedman played for several teams from 1927-34.

The other nominees are linebacker Harry Carson, who played for the New York Giants in the 1970s and 1980s and was a member of the 1987 Super Bowl champions; defensive end Richard Dent, MVP for the Chicago Bears in the 1986 Super Bowl; defensive end L.C. Greenwood, a member of Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain'' teams of the 1970s; guard Russ Grimm, a member of Washington's famedHogs''; defensive end Claude Humphrey, who played for Atlanta and Philadelphia between 1968-81; guard Bob Kuechenberg, who played on Miami's 1972 undefeated Super Bowl champions; wide receiver Art Monk, a member of three Super Bowl winners with Washington; Roger Wehrli, a cornerback for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1969-82; and the late George Young, who built two Super Bowl winners as general manager of the Giants.

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