Lynch, Strahan top Hall semifinalists

McClatchy news servicesDecember 1, 2012 

First-time candidates John Lynch, Michael Strahan, Warren Sapp, Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden were among 27 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2013 class announced Friday.

Lynch was a star safety for Tampa Bay and Denver over 15 seasons and was considered one of the hardest hitters in the game.

Strahan retired after the Giants won the Super Bowl following the 2007 season with 1411/2 sacks, including a league-record 221/2 in 2001.

Ogden was a fixture at left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens from 1996-2007, making the Pro Bowl in all but his rookie season.

Allen was voted to the Pro Bowl in 11 of his 14 seasons (12 with Dallas, two with San Francisco), playing both tackle and guard.

Sapp spent nine seasons with Tampa Bay and four with Oakland, making the Pro Bowl seven times, including 1999, when he was Defensive Player of the Year for the Buccaneers.

Among those making the cut to 27 are former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter and Charles Haley. Senior committee nominees Curley Culp and Dave Robinson automatically make the semifinals and don’t count in the 27.

The field will be reduced to 15 modern era finalists and the two senior nominees in early January.

BOUNTY HEARING

For about four hours, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith sat and watched while their lawyers cross-examined former defensive coach Gregg Williams during a hearing that is part of the players’ latest appeals of their bounty punishments.

Smith described the hearing, the third this week in Washington overseen by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, as “peaceful” and “not awkward.”

Smith and Vilma were not required to attend, but wanted to be in the room when their former coach was questioned.

“We know what we did and know what we didn’t do,” Smith said. “I mean, we just wanted to be there because it was our right to be there.”

EXTRA POINTS

Charlie Batch will make his second consecutive start for injured Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. … Niners defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs was arrested early Friday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. … The Raiders suspended linebacker Rolando McClain for two games for conduct detrimental to the team after sending him home from practice earlier in the week. … Philadelphia’s Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy will both miss the Eagles game Monday against Dallas.

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