Wide receiver Cris Carter and cornerback Darrell Green are the only first-year eligible players to make the list of 26 semi-finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2008. The Hall of Fame's Board of Selectors chose the 26 semi-finalists from the recently announced list of 124 preliminary nominees. The list includes one more than the required 25 since there was a tie for the twenty-fifth position. Hall of Fame selection by-laws provide for the inclusion of all ties for the twenty-fifth position on the ballot.
Nominees included on the semi-finalist list for the first time, although eligible prior to this year, include linebacker Rickey Jackson and defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy. Each of the remaining 22 nominees has been on the semi-finalist list at least once prior to this year.
The list of 26 semi-finalists will be reduced by mail ballot to 15 modern-era candidates. That list will increase to 17 finalist nominees with the inclusion of the two recommended candidates of the Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee. The Seniors Committee nominees, who were announced in August, are Marshall Goldberg and Emmitt Thomas. Goldberg, a multi-purpose back starred with the Chicago Cardinals (1939-1943, 1946-48). Thomas, an all-league cornerback played 13 seasons (1966-1978) for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The results of the modern-era reduction vote to 15 finalists will be announced in mid-January.
To be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a nominated player or coach must have been retired at least five years. A contributor, who is a nominee who has made outstanding contributions to pro football in capacities other than playing and coaching, may still be active in his pro football career.
This is the first year that coaches are affected by the mandatory five-year waiting period; one of three significant changes to the selection process by-laws approved by the Hall of Fame's Board of Trustees effective this year. The other major changes include increasing the minimum and maximum number of nominees that can be elected from a minimum of three and a maximum of six, to a minimum of four and a maximum of seven. The Board of Trustees also approved an increase in the number of selectors on the Selection Committee from 40 to 44.
The Class of 2008 will be determined at the Selection Committee's annual meeting on Saturday, February 2, 2008, in Phoenix, Arizona the day before Super Bowl XLII. The election results are announced immediately following the meeting at a press conference at the media headquarters.
The list of modern-era semi-finalists includes:
- Cris Carter, WR - 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins
- Terrell Davis, RB - 1995-2001 Denver Broncos
- Dermontti Dawson, C - 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers
- Fred Dean, DE - 1975-1981 San Diego Chargers, 1981-85 San Francisco 49ers
- Richard Dent, DE - 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles
- Randy Gradishar, LB - 1974-1983 Denver Broncos
- Darrell Green, CB - 1983-2002 Washington Redskins
- Kevin Greene, LB/DE - 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
- Russ Grimm, G - 1981-1991 Washington Redskins
- Ray Guy, P - 1973-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
- Charles Haley, DE/LB - 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
- Lester Hayes, CB - 1977-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
- Rickey Jackson, LB - 1981-1993 New Orleans Saints, 1994-95 San Francisco 49ers
- Joe Jacoby, T - 1981-1993 Washington Redskins
- Cortez Kennedy, DT - 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks
- Bob Kuechenberg, G - 1970-1984 Miami Dolphins
- Randall McDaniel, G - 1988-1999 Minnesota Vikings, 2000-01 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Art Monk, WR - 1980-1993 Washington Redskins, 1994 New York Jets, 1995 Philadelphia Eagles
- Andre Reed, WR -1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
- Ken Stabler, QB - 1970-79 Oakland Raiders, 1980-81 Houston Oilers, 1982-84 New Orleans Saints
- Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner - 1989-2006 National Football League
- Steve Tasker, Special Teams/WR - 1985-1986 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills
- Derrick Thomas, LB - 1989-1999 Kansas City Chiefs
- Andre Tippett, LB - 1982-1993 New England Patriots
- George Young, GM/Administrator - 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League
- Gary Zimmerman, T - 1986-1992 Minnesota Vikings, 1993-97 Denver Broncos