Ex-Ravens Ray Lewis and Matt Birk are among 11 first-year eligible players for Hall of Fame

The Baltimore Sun

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and center Matt Birk are among 11 first-year eligible players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Also part of the 108 early nominees who are eligible for the first time, having been retired for five years when the class is chosen next February, are wide receiver Randy Moss, linebacker Brian Urlacher, cornerback Ronde Barber, wideouts Donald Driver and Steve Smith (former Giant, Eagle and Ram), offensive linemen Steve Hutchinson and Jeff Saturday, and defensive linemen Richard Seymour and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Lewis, who played his entire 17-year career with the Ravens, was NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003, was Super Bowl Most Valuable Player in 2000 and was named a first-team All-Pro seven times. Birk, who played 11 seasons for the Minnesota Vikings before finishing his career with the Ravens from 2009 to 2012 was a two-time first-team All-Pro. Saturday was signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 1998 but didn’t make the team before going on to a 14-year career.

The roster of nominees consists of 53 offensive players, 38 defensive players, five special teams players and 12 coaches. Modern era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and, from there, to 15 finalists in January. During Super Bowl week, 48 voters will discuss the finalists, plus senior nominees Robert Brazile and Jerry Kramer and contributors nominee Bobby Beathard.

There is no set number for any class of enshrinees, though between four and eight new members will be selected.

Returning finalists from 2017 are receivers Isaac Bruce and Terrell Owens; center Kevin Mawae; tackles Tony Boselli and Joe Jacoby; guard Alan Faneca; safeties John Lynch and Brian Dawkins; cornerback Ty Law; and coach Don Coryell.

The list of 108 players includes former Ravens running back Earnest Byner, tight end Ben Coates, quarterback Randall Cunningham and quarterback Steve McNair, in addition to tight end Ferrell Edmunds (Maryland), punter Sean Landeta (Towson State, Loch Raven), former Colts offensive lineman Chris Hinton and former Baltimore Stars linebacker Sam Mills.

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