Single-season sacks leader Michael Strahan and two players who tried to block him are among 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Strahan, who had 221/2 sacks in 2001 and 1411/2 for his 15-year his career with the New York Giants, is joined by offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden of the Ravens and guard-tackle Larry Allen of the Cowboys and 49ers.
The fourth first-year eligible to make the cut is defensive tackle Warren Sapp of the Buccaneers and Raiders.
All four players won Super Bowls.
The Hall announced Friday that the other finalists are running back Jerome Bettis; receivers Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed; LB-DEs Charles Haley and Kevin Greene; guard Will Shields; defensive back Aeneas Williams; coach Bill Parcells; and former owners Edward DeBartolo Jr. of the 49ers and the late Art Modell of the Browns, who moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens.
The two senior nominees are defensive tackle Curley Culp – who played for the Chiefs, Oilers and Lions – and linebacker Dave Robinson of the Packers and Redskins.
Between four and seven new members will be selected Feb. 2, the day before the Super Bowl, in New Orleans.
Bettis played for the Rams and Steelers — he won the 2006 Super Bowl in his final game, something Strahan did in 2008. Bettis is in his third season of eligibility and was beaten out for the Hall by fellow running backs Marshall Faulk in 2011 and Curtis Martin in 2012.
Carter, Brown and Reed all were in the top 10 in receptions when they retired. Haley won five Super Bowls, two with San Francisco and three with Dallas.
GIRLFRIEND DEFENDS STEELERS’ RAINEY
The girlfriend for former Pittsburgh Steeler Christopher Rainey says she was not assaulted, and that the state of Florida should drop the battery charge against him.
That’s according to Rainey’s lawyer, Huntley Johnson, who read an email from the woman during a bond hearing Friday.
Gainesville police charged Rainey with simple battery Thursday after an alleged altercation with his girlfriend. Police say the two were arguing over Rainey’s cellphone, and that when his girlfriend got into a vehicle, the ex-Florida Gator tried to pull her out.
Witnesses told detectives that Rainey slapped his girlfriend across the face and then chased her when she ran away with his phone in her purse.
The girlfriend’s email said the witnesses were mistaken, and Johnson pointed out that officers found no marks on the woman’s face.
Rainey, who was cut by the Steelers after his arrest, was released by officers after the hearing but was ordered not to have any contact with his girlfriend.
The Browns introduced Rob Chudzinski as their new coach. He spent the past two seasons as Carolina’s offensive coordinator and previously worked as an assistant with the Browns, most recently as their offensive coordinator in 2008. …The Eagles are scheduled to meet with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on Monday, continuing their slow search to replace Andy Reid as their coach. … Reid, the Chiefs’ new coach, announced that former Eagles assistant Doug Pederson would be his offensive coordinator, and longtime Jets assistant Bob Sutton his defensive coordinator. … USC defensive coordinator and longtime NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was hired for the same poisition with the Cowboys. … Longtime NFL assistant and current CFL coach Marc Trestman denied a rumor that the Bears were set to hire him. … The Titans will not renew the contract of special-teams coach Alan Lowry, the designer of the Music City Miracle play that spurred Tennessee’s lone Super Bowl run in 2000. … The group of male Redskins fans who wear dresses and pig noses to games and call themselves the Hogettes announced that they are retiring after 30 seasons.