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Former Raven Ray Lewis gets closer to Hall of Fame induction, is one of 18 finalists

The wait is growing shorter for former Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who learned Tuesday night that he’s one of 18 finalists for the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Lewis, who spent his entire 17-year career with the Ravens, will find out his fate Feb. 3, the night before Super Bowl LII. He’s considered a virtual lock to be a first-ballot selection.

To be selected, Lewis will have to receive 80 percent approval when Hall of Fame voters meet Feb. 3.

He’s expected to become the second player to have been primarily a Raven to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, where he’d follow offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome selected Ogden and Lewis with his first two picks of the 1996 NFL draft.

Lewis retired after the team’s 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII after the 2012 regular season.

Considered one of the best defensive players of his generation, Lewis was selected to 13 Pro Bowl teams, won two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards and was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XXXV.

The other first-time eligibles were fellow inside linebacker Brian Urlacher, wide receiver Randy Moss and guard Steve Hutchinson.

They join center Kevin Mawae, tackles Joe Jacoby and Tony Boselli, receivers Isaac Bruce and Terrell Owens, safeties John Lynch and Brian Dawkins, guard Alan Faneca, running back Edgerrin James, cornerbacks Ty Law and Everson Walls for consideration.

The seniors committee has nominated guard Jerry Kramer and linebacker Robert Brazile. The contributor's nominee is Bobby Beathard, a former general manager and administrator for five franchises.

The modern-era finalists were determined by a vote of the selection committee from a list of 108 nominees that was earlier reduced to 27 semifinalists during a yearlong process.

Kramer was a mainstay of the great Green Bay offensive lines from 1948 to 1968 and is famous for his block that led Bart Starr into the end zone for the winning touchdown in the Ice Bowl 50 years ago. Brazile was an outstanding linebacker with the Houston Oilers from 1975 to 1984.

Beathard helped build championship winners and contenders in Kansas City, Atlanta, Miami, Washington and San Diego from 1966 to 1999.

This is the second year as a finalist for Bruce, Boselli, Dawkins, James, Law and Mawae. In their third try are Faneca, Jacoby and Owens. Lynch is in his fifth year as a finalist. Walls made the final round for the first time in his 20th year of eligibility. Jacoby is also in his 20th year.

The semifinalists

2018 modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2018. Number of times the individual has been named a finalist in parentheses:

Tony Boselli, OT — 1995-2001 Jacksonville, 2002 Houston (2)

Isaac Bruce, WR — 1994-2007 LA/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco (2)

Brian Dawkins, S — 1996-2008 Philadelphia, 2009-2011 Denver (2)

Alan Faneca, G — 1998-2007 Pittsburgh, 2008-09 NY Jets, 2010 Arizona (3)

Steve Hutchinson, G — 2001-05 Seattle, 2006-2011 Minnesota, 2012 Tennessee (1)

Joe Jacoby, OT — 1981-1993 Washington (3)

Edgerrin James, RB — 1999-2005 Indianapolis, 2006-08 Arizona, 2009 Seattle (2)

Ty Law, CB — 1995-2004 New England, 2005, 2008 NY Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City, 2009 Denver (2)

Ray Lewis, LB — 1996-2012 Ravens (1)

John Lynch, FS — 1993-2003 Tampa Bay, 2004-07 Denver (5)

Kevin Mawae, C/G — 1994-97 Seattle, 1998-2005 NY Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee (2)

Randy Moss, WR — 1998-2004, 2010 Minnesota, 2005-06 Oakland, 2007-2010 New England, 2010 Tennessee, 2012 San Francisco (1)

Terrell Owens, WR — 1996-2003 San Francisco, 2004-05 Philadelphia, 2006-08 Dallas, 2009 Buffalo, 2010 Cincinnati (3)

Brian Urlacher, LB — 2000-2012 Chicago (1)

Everson Walls, CB — 1981-89 Dallas, 1990-92 NY Giants, 1992-93 Cleveland (1)

Contributor finalist

Bobby Beathard, general manager/personnel administrator

Senior finalists

Robert Brazile, LB — 1975-1984 Houston Oilers

Jerry Kramer, G — 1958-1968 Green Bay Packers

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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