The 15 members of the Centennial Slate wing of the 2020 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame are scheduled to be announced tomorrow. We already know two of them, as they have been formally announced, live and on air, with former Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys head coaches, respectively, Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson, were surprised with their induction notifications by David Baker.
13 members still remain, among them 10 senior candidates, players who have been eligible for 25 years or more, and the Steelers have the potential to add another name to the list. Former safety Donnie Shell is among the 20 player finalists, of which 10 will be selected.
Cowher getting in could be a good sign for Shell getting in. another good sign was revealed by Steelers president Art Rooney II yesterday in speaking with Stan Savran. In audio posted on the team’s website, he spoke about the Blue Ribbon panel, which voted on and elected the 15 members last week, and there was one familiar face in particular on it: Dick LeBeau.
“I talked to Coach LeBeau last week and he was in the room up in Canton last week, and he felt like the discussion with both Donnie and Bill Cowher went well, and he felt good about it”, Rooney said. “Hopefully we’ll get good news here again on Wednesday as far as Donnie’s concerned”.
That was actually the second time that he mentioned the call with LeBeau when speaking about Shell. He first mentioned it in light of Cowher, saying, “I had a good idea that he had a pretty good chance” of getting in. “I actually had a call from Coach LeBeau last week. Dick was on that Blue Ribbon Panel that met in Canton last week and voted on everybody. He felt like things went well in the discussion for Bill, so I thought there was a chance”.
Hopefully he felt equally good about Shell’s chances as he did about Cowher’s. Presumably, the Blue Ribbon panel—which also consisted, among many others, of Bill Belichick, Ozzie Newsome, John Madden, and John Clayton—voted on the class but was not specifically informed of which the final 15 would be.
At the very least, we know that we don’t have to wait very long to get the answers, because the announcement is scheduled to come tomorrow. As for the modern candidates, however, that will have to wait.
As is tradition, the modern finalists will not be voted on until the day before the Super Bowl. You surely are aware that Troy Polamalu and Alan Faneca are among the 15 finalists, the former in his first year of eligibility. He is a lock to get in, but whether or not he does on the first ballot will have to be seen.