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Tagliabue among 17 Hall of Fame finalists

CANTON, Ohio (Jan. 10, 2007) -- Recently retired NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and former Buffalo Bills star running back Thurman Thomas are among 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2007.

Also making the cut is Bruce Matthews, one of the game's most venerable blockers who played every position on the offensive lineman for the Oilers/Titans from 1983-2001.

Matthews is in his first year of eligibility, while Thomas is in his second year, as is former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin.

The other 11 modern-era finalists are defensive ends Fred Dean and Richard Dent; guards Russ Grimm and Bob Kuechenberg; punter Ray Guy; wide receivers Art Monk and Andre Reed; linebackers Derrick Thomas and Andre Tippett; cornerback Roger Wehrli; and tackle Gary Zimmerman.

Joining them are senior committee nominees guard Gene Hickerson and tight end Charlie Sanders.

To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum of 80 percent of the total votes by the panel of media members. The panel will vote on Feb. 3, the day before the Super Bowl in Miami.

Enshrinement of the class of 2007 will take place on the weekend of Aug. 4-5.

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