For the second straight year, Bills all-time leading rusher Thurman Thomas is a finalist for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Joining him in that elite company for the first time is Bills all-time leading receiver Andre Reed.
Thomas and Reed were announced Wednesday afternoon as two of the 15 modern era players selected from a list of 25 semifinalists by the Hall of Fame's Board of Selectors to be considered for induction on August 4, 2007.
The 2007 Hall of Fame class will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 3 at a 2:30 pm press conference in Miami at the Super Bowl media center.
The first player in NFL history to lead the league in yards from scrimmage for four straight seasons, one of only four running backs in league annals to rush for 1,000 yards or more in eight straight seasons and the third back in league history to record 400 receptions and 10,000 rushing yards, Thomas appears to have very good odds of being enshrined this August.
Also being the only running back on the list of finalists should help his cause for induction this summer.
Thomas stands eighth all-time in total yards from scrimmage with 16,532 and 12th in career rushing yards with 12,074. He also holds the all-time postseason record for most consecutive games scoring a touchdown (9). He was selected to five straight Pro Bowls during his 12-year career.
For Reed getting enshrined may be a bit more difficult. There's a contingent of selection committee members who feel there is a disproportionate number of receivers already in the Hall of Fame. With three-time Super Bowl champion Cowboys wideout Michael Irvin and three-time Super Bowl champion Redskins receiver Art Monk also among the list of finalists, seeing even two receivers as part of an induction class, which will number six at the most, is considered unlikely.
When Reed retired after the 2000 season he was third on the NFL's all-time receptions list. He's still fifth in NFL history in career receptions (951) and is eighth all-time in receiving yards with 13,198. His 13 seasons, including nine consecutive, with 50-plus receptions is exceeded only by Jerry Rice. Reed was also named to seven straight Pro Bowls in his career (1989-95).
With two senior candidates chosen by the Seniors Committee there are a total of 17 finalists. The Board of Selectors will meet in Miami the weekend of the Super Bowl to select a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
The first vote reduces the list from 17 to 10. That's followed by another vote to reduce the list from 10 to six names. The six remaining candidates for Hall of Fame election are then voted on individually (yes or no) for membership.
Thomas made the list of finalists in 2006, his first year of eligibility for Hall of Fame enshrinement, but did not make it to the final six for a yes or no vote where a candidate must receive 80 percent of the vote for induction.